Last month, I wrote about my indie game, Zafehouse: Diaries, and its voyage towards the Australian Classification Board. I'm happy to report the game's currently with the ACB, being reviewed and right now, it's the only thing stopping us from turning on the "buy" switch.
Since that post, the Classification Board has updated its requirements for PC games (at least, the builds used in the review process) to include Windows Vista and 7. I'm not sure if we prompted the change, but it seems too much of a coincidence. It's really positive, I think, to know the ACB isn't afraid to stay up-to-date. Which I realise is a bizarre statement to make considering the effort required to get R18+ across the line.
As I mentioned, we're just waiting for the game to be classified before we can sell it in Australia. Technically, we could be offering it for purchase today, but we thought it would be strange to have it available everywhere except, you know, the country we live in.
When I realised we'd have to get classified, I was annoyed and frustrated. We'd already cleared plenty of hurdles and then to have to cough up close to $900 and wait a month seemed unnecessary. Now, in hindsight, having to meet the requirements of the Board was a good thing for us. It gave us a date we had to hit; an external force was being applied to our scheduling, reinforcing deadlines we might not have otherwise hit.
I should mention we've been pretty good at hitting our oddly-shaped milestones, but getting through those extra bits you don't think about — system menus, saving and loading, the manual, credits, etc — was made all the more important when faced with the immediate demand of making the game an actual game. It's a bit like putting the wrapper on a chocolate bar — it doesn't make the chocolate any more delicious, but it's critical part of the bar experience.
If such a thing exists.
The 20 or so days the Board states as the potential time required to classify the game has been beneficial from a polishing perspective too. With so many complex systems whirling their gears, its taken a while to tame them all and provide the player with a consistent experience. Zafehouse: Diaries is an almost pure sandbox — your objectives are clear, but we don't force the player to do things. You can died within minutes of firing it up. Actually, you'll probably get your survivors killed a lot.
With the extra days added to our schedule, we've been able to finalise the modding and customisation options. The amount of power we give to the player is exciting. We're also planning to open-source our diary-editing tool, so players can add whatever features they want to it.
Hopefully, we won't be refused classification (it's an outside possibility — Zafehouse: Diaries throws you its fair share of morality-bending dilemmas) and we'll be able to start selling the game in early-to-mid September.
Otherwise, well, expect a post about the latest game to be RC'd in Australia.