As independent game developers, Kyle and I want to be more open and transparent about development than we could be in our AAA past lives. Kyle explained the reasons for this in some detail in his indie announcement, but my interpretation is: silence is a form of dishonesty. The ubiquitous “no comment” deflection serves mainly to obscure unattractive truths about a product. I would rather be frank (“Sadly, Eldritch won’t have cooperative multiplayer.”) than to lead a customer on (“We can’t talk about our plans for multiplayer yet.”).
So in September, I announced Eldritch for Windows only, and the inevitable question of other platforms was asked. I explained, in cautiously noncommittal terms, that I was certainly interested in doing Mac and Linux versions, but they would not be available at launch. In retrospect, I wonder if I should have been more open about the reasons (Eldritch was written on a custom engine that only targeted Direct3D, I had only purchased an FMOD license for one platform, etc.), but this answer seemed to satisfy people.
Of course, I would have liked to ship on Windows, Mac, and Linux simultaneously; but I had no prior experience with Mac or Linux development, no idea how long it would take to port my engine, and a very constrained schedule due to my budget. So I planned to ship on Windows first, then do a cost-benefit analysis to determine if and when it would be beneficial to release on the other platforms. For the cost, I estimated 4-8 weeks of my salary (inasmuch as I have a salary), plus the FMOD licensing fees for the additional platforms. That’s a relatively small sum, but my other debts take precedence. Benefits are harder to determine. Common knowledge puts the combined Mac and Linux gaming market share at around 10% of Windows. Being cross-platform also opens other doors, such as the potential for inclusion in Humble Bundle sales, but I could not rationally depend on that in my analysis. I finally determined that if Eldritch sold on the order of 15,000 copies (at full price on Steam), then it would become beneficial to move forward on the port.
Then something unexpected happened. I ran out of bugs to fix during the Eldritch beta. I added a New Game+ mode because I had the time to do it. I started to get bored. So I decided to investigate what it would take to make my engine cross-platform. Investigation turned into implementation, and after a couple of weeks, I was sitting on a relatively portable codebase. The estimated 4-8 weeks from my cost analysis vanished, rolled into the time I had allotted for finaling the Windows build.
At the moment, I have Mac and Linux alpha builds ready for testing, and I intend to send those to interested friends next week. A wide release is still pending the aforementioned FMOD license fee, although I am reconsidering its priority relative to my other debts in light of the new timing.
All of which is a very long-winded way to finally confirm that Eldritch is coming to Mac and Linux. I’ll follow up (probably on Twitter, in somewhat fewer words) when I figure out the release date, but rest assured that it won’t be long.