Shadowhand Dev Diary #1: History and character

September 17th, 2015

Development blog by Helen Carmichael, Game Designer

The idea for Shadowhand came from our last game, Regency Solitaire. One of our older Regency characters, Lady Fleetwood, hints at earlier adventures in her youth. Regency Solitaire is set in 1812 – what if we were to find out what Lady Fleetwood was up to some 40 years earlier?

1770 – 1812

Regency Solitaire is essentially a romance, but Shadowhand is more of a whodunnit/adventure plot. Our female protagonist this time is not looking for love or to sort out her family debt issues. She is an heiress with a complicated family background. The victim of a heist where her close female companion vanishes, Lady Darkmoor is prepared to take matters into her own hands – including duelling and breaking the law – to get to the truth.

Those who have read up a little on 18th century women will know that, while they were strictly controlled by the men in their lives, some of them did get up to remarkable things. Aristocrats acted eccentrically or scandalously, often the subject of gossip and ridicule, but a few managed to weather the storm and get on with their lives nonetheless.

A common theme is that of being incognito: masquerade balls were hugely popular, and were an excuse to get up to mischief under the flimsy pretence of being in disguise.

Cross dressing was another way to get things done: the Chevalier D’Eon dressed as a woman for a spy mission and then continued to dress as a female (on and off, depending on which way the political wind was blowing) for the rest of his life. Women went to sea in breeches to be pirates. Some twenty years earlier, even Bonnie Prince Charlie had dressed as a maid to escape with Flora MacDonald to Skye after the battle of Culloden.

Where Regency’s Bella uses her charm and engages her friends and family to help her achieve her dreams within accepted social norms, Lady Darkmoor creates an alter-ego, Shadowhand, so that she can fight, loot, and move around the less acceptable areas of society more easily. She needs to leap into action immediately following the heist – ditching her dress and grabbing the (recently deceased) coach driver’s breeches.

Have you ever tried to get out of a corset in a hurry without assistance? Reader – I have. I decided that Lady Darkmoor simply wouldn’t have bothered. The resulting outfit is a mixture of male and female outfits from the late 18th century, chosen for practical reasons and expediency.

Fortunately for Shadowhand, she will get a chance to upgrade and improve her costume to make herself increasingly battle-worthy as the story progresses.

Shadowhand unveiled!

September 14th, 2015

It’s time to reveal our latest project – the mysterious “Project 11″ – which we have been keeping under wraps for a few months now, despite perhaps letting slip a few hints about tricorn hats…

We are delighted to announce our new game, Shadowhand for PC/Mac!

Card Battling Adventure
Shadowhand is a card battling adventure game that combines visual novel and RPG elements with collectible cards, set in late 18th century England. Lady Darkmoor is drawn into a web of intrigue and skulduggery, and must transform from aristocrat to outlaw to defeat her enemies and retrieve an incriminating family heirloom.

She will face down enemies in duels, looting their gear and weapons like a true highway woman as she goes.

Grey Alien Games is delighted to be partnering with Positech Games on this project. Our friends at Positech are behind hit games like Democracy 3 and Gratuitous Space Battles, and have also supported and published other exciting titles, such as RedShirt and Big Pharma.

Come and see it at EGX
EGX 2015 is the UK’s largest game show. It’s happening in Birmingham later this month and we invite you to come and see us and try out the game. It’s in the early stages of development and we would love to hear what you think. In true Grey Alien Games fashion we will be there in historical costumes, so head to the Rezzed area and look out for us in our corsets (Helen), breeches (Jake) and tricorn hats!

If you are press and would like more information or to set up an interview, please contact our friends at Indigo Pearl:

Email: [email protected]

You can download promotional artwork here. (23Mb)

Regency Solitaire – Steam Summer Sale vs Weekly Sale

August 4th, 2015

We just ran a 25% off weekly sale for Regency Solitaire on Steam and I collected the sales data so that I could compare it with the recent Steam Summer sale (June 11th-21st) which was also 25% off.

[EDIT]I’ve removed sale numbers from this post so I don’t get into trouble with Valve, but I can still share my conclusions with you.

First up, here’s a graph of the weekly sale:

And here’s the data I recorded so that we can drill down into it:


Weekly Sale Notes
- The sale was 25% off.
- I didn’t get any special feature (but I did run a Visibility Round on day 1, more on this below)
- The sale started at 6pm UK time, which is 10am PST. Days on my chart are based on UK time, which is why there are 8 not 7.
- Day 1 includes a few (not many) sales from the UK morning before the sale began.
- On Day 8 I recorded the revenue/units sold as soon as the sale stopped.
- I didn’t record wishlist adds at the same time each day but they aren’t updated in realtime anyway on Steam, so the daily change is only approximate. The totals are accurate though.
- I didn’t have any big news/press/streamers during the sale, but I did constantly self-promote the sale via Twitter.

Weekly Sale Numbers
- Total Gross = REMOVED
- Total Units = REMOVED
- Wishlist adds = 124% of unit sales
- Refunds = only 0.9% of total
- Mac units = about 9% of total

Visibility Round
- I launched the Steam Mac version on the same day as the sale started and used that as the update news for a Visibility Round.
- A Visibility Round gives you 500,000 views on the Steam front page in the Recently Updated section.
- I started the round at about 7pm UK-time and it ran out a few hours later.
- It may have boosted sales on day 1 a bit, but not a lot.
- However, there were 5x as many wishlist adds on day 1 as on day 2 so maybe it affected those more?

Summer sale is between the red lines

Summer Sale Notes
- The sale was 25% off.
- I didn’t get any special feature.
- The summer sale ran from 11th-22nd June in UK days = 12 days total.
- I didn’t have any big news/press/streamers during the sale but I did some self-promotion on Twitter.
- I hadn’t yet released the Mac version on Steam.
- Regency Solitaire was newer and “fresher” in people’s minds from press during the Summer sale but it had a lot more competition with other discounted games.

Post Sale Dip
- There’s an apparent lower level of sales after the Summer Sale compared to before the sale. I guess this is to be expected.
- The dip lasted for about 2 weeks until Felicia Day tweeted about the game which resulted in a small spike followed by a higher base level.

Summer Sale Numbers
- Total Gross = REMOVED
- Total Units = REMOVED
- Total Wishlist adds = 18% of unit sales

- Both sales were roughly equal in terms of revenue and units sold.
- The Weekly Sale performed slightly better in average revenue per day even if I take into account extra Mac sales, but not really enough to be significant.
- The Weekly Sale definitely performed better in terms of wishlist adds, even if I assume the large amount of adds on day 1 were due to the Visibility Round I ran.
- It hasn’t been long enough since the Weekly Sale ended for me to check for a subsequent dip in sales like after the Summer Sale.

Big Takeaway
- Why wait for Steam sales? I should do more weekly sales! (Unless weekly sales hurt normal sales between discounted periods, but I haven’t analysed that yet).

General Reception
People who play the game love the game. It has had nothing but glowing reviews in the press and it has 94% positive reviews on Steam and Big Fish Games. So that’s pretty cool.

However, it’s not selling that great on Steam as you can probably guess by these sale numbers. It’s just too niche for the Steam audience, although if it got promoted by Valve or a giant youtuber, I’m sure it would sell a whole bunch more. There are always more potential customers out there who haven’t seen the game yet, or who just need a reminder.

Anything you, dear reader, can do to help get the word out is always appreciated. Thanks!

This isn’t a disaster for us though because we aimed the game at the casual download portals such as Big Fish Games, iWin, GameHouse and more. In fact the game has grossed 10x more on those sites than on Steam!

Overall the game is a success for us, and it’s bound to have a long tail as well, like our other games.

Steam Keys for Press/Streamers

Press/streamers, if you want a review key, please request it here.
There’s also more info about the game here.

Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!