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RPGWatch Forums » Games » Indie RPG » Avencast vs Eschalon

Default Avencast vs Eschalon

December 6th, 2007, 20:45
It is very interesting to watch both Eschalon and Avencast. Eschalon went the route of shareware while Avencast found a publisher and is trying both retail and direct download. A look at the forums seems to suggest that Eschalon is having an easier time of it than Avencast. Avencast has 419 registered users vs Eschalon's 571. This is in spite of the fact that Avencast has been available longer. Eshcalon has 467 posts in the main forums vs Avencast's 186. Just watching forum activity, Eschalon has about 15 people in it at any given time while Avencast has about 5.

What do you think this means? Is Eschalon more popular because it's an old-school game available for multiple platforms? Do you think Avencast made a bad decision in trying to go through a publisher? I've never heard of Lighthouse Interactive. I wonder if Avencast has grounds for a lawsuit. The game is supposed to be out in retail and I haven't seen it anywhere. I live in a large city (St. Louis, Mo) in the United States. Another factor may be that because Avencast is more of an action game, people may not post as much about it.

According to some of the folks in the forums, Avencast is a pretty well written game. It's not a crpg but it is a nice Hexxen, Nox, Darkstone type of game with a variety of puzzles and riddles to break up the action. My personal experience with Eschalon is that it's a great first effort that matches the works of the Super-Indie Jeff Vogel.

Any thoughts?
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December 6th, 2007, 21:30
Avencast is being sold for $40 whereas Eschalon is 'in the 20's'. Also, Avencast is an action-RPG with a non-selectable main character whereas Eschalon is something that is unarguably a RPG (unlike your description of a whole portion of the genre as not crpg).

It might also be that Thom worked to set up an active site and cultivate an audience whereas Avencast really didn't. Heck, I'd have to search to find the forums and I'm playing the flipping thing!

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December 6th, 2007, 21:45
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
What do you think this means? Is Eschalon more popular because it's an old-school game available for multiple platforms? Do you think Avencast made a bad decision in trying to go through a publisher?
I think that there are a ton more commercial games like Avencast relative to AAA versions of games like Eschalon (hence those who prefer an Avencast sort of game could probably do better at Best Buy).

I tried both, bought Eschalon … in fairness … I didn't really give Avencast multiple tries to click with me … it doesn't take long sometimes to realize something just isn't your cup of tea
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December 6th, 2007, 21:49
Interesting point, although I'm not sure these metrics prove much. Maybe Eschalon's structure (different skills, the specific quests and puzzles) just induce more conversation? Dunno.

I actually know Lighthouse's CEO and they are decent guys. They're a small publisher and Euro-based, so I'm not surprised their NA presence is weak. Keepsake and Sword of the Stars are two of their biggers games and SunAge and The Darkness Within are current releases.

But I suspect Mike is right about community building. Thomas opened his forums and actively participated, plus he plugged into active communities such as here and RPG Codex. I suspect Avencast is aimed at a more "casual" (or whatever the best word is) audience who don't form fan groups as readily.

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December 6th, 2007, 21:55
Oh - and they are BOTH fun games, by the way. As is Avernum 5. All 3 are well worth having and playing - I'm in 'Mac Mode' today and have played quite a bit today. Don't know why they need to compete …

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December 6th, 2007, 22:24
Nope, the competition is make believe. I didn't mean that they should compete with one another. I was just bored and wondered if there was any correlation between the forums and the sales of a game. I'd say a strong yes to crpgs but a shrug to other genres. I can't add Avernum 5 to the equation yet. It hasn't been released on a real computer yet

Didn't really mean to say those games weren't crpgs. I meant they were action-crpgs which, to me, are a totally different animal.
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December 6th, 2007, 22:55
Actually, my thoughts on the competition come from comments that posts about Eschalon in the off-topic part of Jeff's forums have been deleted …

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December 6th, 2007, 23:02
Eschalon isn't a real true action rpg IMO. I've played both demos—maybe you have, too and formed your own opinion, but I'd say Avencast is going as a Harry Potterish standard arpg with magic instead of maces, and Eschalon is treading more in the footsteps of old school rpgs. I didn't find it very actiony in the clickfest meaning of the word, though to me it's always a fine line between the Baldur's Gate style full npc, full party, dialogue based, multiple character builds, dungeon crawling and loot rpg and the Diablo non-party, non-npc, non-dialogue based, multiple character builds, dungeon crawling and loot arpg.

Of the two, just from the demo, Eschalon might be a bit closer to the arpg as it lacks the party and dialogue—on the other hand it seems to be quite quest-based. I think the character creation and quest approach take it further away than something slicker like Avencast, but I haven't played either game all that much, just jumping in off the top of my head.


Edit : @Mike—that's bizarre—do I understand you correctly that Vogel's site is deleting Eschalon posts in off topic, the implication being that at least there it's regarded as competition?

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
Last edited by magerette; December 6th, 2007 at 23:24.
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December 6th, 2007, 23:42
I can't say I've even heard of Avencast, which points to the biggest problem, IMO.

I'll pile on with Mike and Dhruin that Basilisk did a good job of "shaking hands with the people". My interest in Eschalon started after a very short news bit here. Upon visiting the Basilisk forums, I was drawn in quickly by BW's obvious passion and the fact that he was asking US what WE wanted. When was the last time you got that from a "professionally published" title? A few of us started championing the game here at the Watch, and it snowballed from there. Again, since I haven't even heard of Avencast, I think it's safe to say it didn't pick up any champions on this site.

For the power of champions, I'd refer you to a few no-name games that became minor rages around here due to the passion of a person or two. Sammy started a FastCrawl movement last year. Arma started the Puzzle Quest craze with a little post. PJ got people thinking about Dwarf Fortress, an ASCII game ferpetesake. Now Sammy's spreading the gospel on Virtual Villagers. I'm pretty confident those games would have missed the radar of just about everyone here.

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Last edited by dteowner; December 7th, 2007 at 00:11. Reason: Added last paragraph
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December 7th, 2007, 03:25
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Eschalon isn't a real true action rpg IMO.
I would say that Avencast is more of an action-RPG than Eschalon … but boy I do enjoy both.

Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Edit : @Mike—that's bizarre—do I understand you correctly that Vogel's site is deleting Eschalon posts in off topic, the implication being that at least there it's regarded as competition?
That is an unsubstantiated rumor … however searching the 'General' forums at Spiderweb for 'Eschalon' gave me no results whereas I get many hits for Spiderweb, Avernum and the like on the Basilisk forums … so I dunno.

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December 7th, 2007, 17:15
My original post was just comparing the forums of the two games. Eschalon and Avencast are totally different animals. Avencast is kinda like Hexxen but with more wandering around in the beginning. Eschalon is an old-school crpg that chose to be single-character rather than party-based. If you had a party, it'd feel just like Exile, Aethra Chronicles, Amberstar, etc.

I think that Clockstone made a mistake trying to act like Avencast is a commercial title. It's not. I think he would have made more money if he had kept to the shareware philosophy. This game can't compete with Bioshock or Mass Effect. It's an indie game made by a few folks and it shows. There is nothing wrong with the game if you compare it to other indie titles. I think this is indirectly shown through how little traffic his site is getting. The game is too expensive and if he had to pay to get it published through Lighthouse Interactive, then he threw that money away.
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December 7th, 2007, 17:27
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I would say that Avencast is more of an action-RPG than Eschalon … but boy I do enjoy both.
I find action rpg's some of the most fun to be had out there, but then I'm not bringing a pnp or pre-windows rpg gaming history along to compare them to.

That is an unsubstantiated rumor … however searching the 'General' forums at Spiderweb for 'Eschalon' gave me no results whereas I get many hits for Spiderweb, Avernum and the like on the Basilisk forums … so I dunno.
Rumor or not, you'd expect to find *some* reference to Eschalon on a site which makes comparable games and would attract comparable fans…

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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December 7th, 2007, 17:49
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
I think that Clockstone made a mistake trying to act like Avencast is a commercial title. It's not.
Absolutely agree - especially releasing it at such a crowded time of the year …

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December 8th, 2007, 00:00
Well, two comments. First, there is an Eschalon thread (albeit a new one). Mike has posted in it.

And second, Spiderweb simply doesn't have an off-topic forum. The "General" forum is clearly labeled "A general discussion forum for our company and games."

Emphasis mine. There is some off-topic discussion but I don't know what their moderation rules are.

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December 8th, 2007, 00:05
I need to go look for myself(obviously-should have done so anyway but I'm lazy)—but that makes a bit more sense if they really don't have a place for open discussion of various games. I wouldn't think with all the experience under Spiderweb's belt that they would feel particularly threatened by someone else joining the party.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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December 8th, 2007, 00:57
I doubt Jeff would be threatened but I can see him getting very, very tired of people saying Eschalon looks better.

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December 8th, 2007, 01:17
Might make him improve his graphics a little!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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December 8th, 2007, 03:45
I honestly couldn't see him deleting threads based on my history on his forums, but I don't know about other mods.

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December 8th, 2007, 04:02
I have to fault ClockStone for not promoting their game with RPG websites. I've been aware of Avencast for years but I stumbled upon it. For whatever reason, no effort at all was made to promote the game. How hard is it to send out an email to various RPG sites to encourage an interview? Post a few trailers? Don't cost anything!

Whether you like the game or not you have to be impressed with it's production value. I was very surprised by that. They should have promoted it!

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December 8th, 2007, 06:37
I think I can have a bit of confidence in saying one thing: the future of indies is looking pretty bright. I know the final financial verdict is still out on many of these (DoP, Avencast, E:B1, The Chosen, etc.), but jsut the quality of these releases gives me lots of hope. Could it be that technology has advanced enough and the market for good games (regardless of wiz-bang graphics and huge, movie-like production values and their budgets) has evolved to a point that a guy/gal in his/her figurative garage can spend a couple of years developing his/her own game and actually have a decent chance of making a living if he/she puts out a quality, well-supported product? I sure hope so…
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