We've had an interesting past several weeks, to say the least, and it has us rethinking re-approaching and fine-tuning Shuyan Saga to meet the interests of a fanbase we didn't know we had.
Shuyan Saga went live on Steam Greenlight in mid-November, and something unexpected took place: it received a huge amount of attention from Chinese gamers.
Here's an English promotional image before the campaign:
And here's a Chinese promotional image from after:
One of the biggest questions they had for us was whether Shuyan Saga will include native Chinese language. After checking with our dev team, and after seeing it would be possible, we answered back, promising we'd do it if they helped us reach the top 20 spot on Greenlight (we were 88th at the time).
Here's a before screenshot:
Here's a screenshot two days later:
Their response was overwhelmingly helpful, and truly humbling for us. Our Chinese fans placed Shuyan Saga on all Chinese social media platforms, told their friends, and someone even bought us advertisements in China.
Then it happened. People on all the different Chinese social media platforms started talking about Shuyan, word got around to Chinese gaming websites, and Chinese-language websites including QQ, ChuApp, and GamerSky reached out to us for interviews.
Here's a screenshot of some of the coverage:
We jumped from 88th to 13th on Steam Greenlight; and from start to finish, Shuyan Saga was Greenlit in just over a week.
Of course, for us this also means we need to follow through on our promise on including a Chinese language option, and we're already working on that direction. It also has us in a unique situation, where when you find a fanbase you didn't know you have, and you need to start asking them what they'd like to see.
While Shuyan Saga is a pretty unique story by Western standards, in China it actually fits into an existing and very popular entertainment genre known as Wuxia.
The thing is, there aren't many games that would fit into this genre (Jade Empire is arguably one of the few). It's a bit ironic, actually. We were told an interesting point that, despite there being a large number of Chinese gamers, nobody is really making games for the Chinese market that is authentically Chinese; and seeing Shuyan a lot of them were like "finally!"
We received some nice comments about the authenticity of the art and music, as well as some of the deeper concepts we're trying to include in Shuyan. They found this interesting, since first off it's mostly Westerners on the team behind Shuyan, and second that no Chinese company is really working on Chinese games that are true to Chinese culture.
Here are the three leads on the project. Art Director Daxiong is on the left, Mark Media CEO Jason Loftus in the center, and Creative Director Drew Parker on the right:
They mentioned some examples in film as well. Mulan, for example, is more of a film using Chinese characters to tell a Western story. Kung Fu Panda, they said, is a story of Western characters and Western personalities, but has a story with Chinese values—of course, a more Chinese version of the story would have focused less on the main character's personal victory and more on his values of loyalty and filial piety.
The Shuyan Saga tells a story closer to more traditional Chinese values; following Shuyan on a journey to save her kingdom. Part of this is about self discovery, but it leads to a larger goal.
Of course, all of this puts more pressure on us to deliver something that's both authentic, and also accessible to gamers in many different parts of the world.