I have never created a Steam page for a game before. I have made some art assets for one, but I never did the actual setup. Now it was time to learn.
This will be a very boring devblog post, but in the spirit of building in public, I decided to take you trough the process step by step anyway.
Becoming a Steamworks Partner
First, I had to apply to be a Steamworks Partner. The process was pretty complex – I thought. I did not find any way to create a new organisation using my own steam profile, which already is a user in multiple Steam partner organisations. So I ended up creating a new steam account under my company name and applied to be a Steamworks Partner. I put in my banking details and paid the 100 dollar fee for adding my first game.
I also had to send out my company and tax information. I felt that this step was quite unnecessary, as was the banking data, as I am going to be adding a freeware product in the service. No money will change hands. But this was the only way to do it.
A few minutes later I got an email asking for more information. Maybe some company legal documents proving that I had the right to apply for the Steam Partnership for the company. I have no idea where that paperwork is at! My wife did the registration like a decade ago and it is now midnight and she is asleep. So I just grabbed a screenshot of the Finnish company registry website and send that in as proof.
I did not hear back for a week, but after logging in to Steamworks with my company data, I noticed that everything was fine and the application was approved. I could now add my actual Steam account to the new organisation and start creating the Steam page for Echoes Of Somewhere!
Steam page creation
After you have created the project in Steamworks, you are provided a helpful checklist on everything you must do in order to have the game page published.
The checklist contains: basic info and description, mature content settings, self rating questionnaire, planned release date, system requirements, 5 or mode screenshots, capsule images, library assets, support info, developer and publisher names, store page descriptive tags, community icon and client icon.
It is a hefty list, but nothing too bad. The only problem with the list is that do not know the answer to all of the items yet.
The basic info for the game was actually all of the info for the game. App type, name, developers, publishers etc. External links, supported platforms and system requirements.
For the description of the game I did not write anything too long. But it became the first time the setting of the game is publicly “spoken” of.
It is the year 2042, all of the human work has been replaced by AI powered robots. It is punishable by law for a human to perform ANY work.
The hard core criminal underworld is bustling with gangs and criminals selling illegal pastries, dressing hair in high security basement-salons and stealthy ninjas cleaning streets in the dark of the night.
Meanwhile, the upper echelon of people are imprisoned in their golden cages, unable to escape their lives of excess and absolute safety.
Echoes of Somewhere is an experimental 2.5D point and click adventure game anthology series developed by a group of game industry veterans on their free time.
Each episode in the series is about 1-4 hours of classic point-and-click gameplay in a new setting with new characters. The episodes will be released as free updates one by one when completed. Series 1 will take place in a dystopian future.
The project relies heavily on AI generated content and as such is an experiment in itself. The development progress is documented on the game’s website. For good or for worse.Echoes Of Somewhere Steam Description
For the supported platforms, I added Windows, macOS and Linux + SteamOS. I have built the game in Unity 2021 LTS using URP (Universal Render Pipeline) mostly on a M1 mac. This should guarantee that the game runs on most platforms, and for sure on Windows, Mac and Linux. So I feel pretty good about that. I decided not to support Intel Macs. (If you still are on one, you should upgrade to apple silicon asap).
The minimum system requirements were a total shot in the dark. I just went to steam and looked at the system requirements for the newest Monkey Island game and copy pasted them in. My game will be mostly 2D graphics. So it should be somewhat comparable.
The mature content settings were easy: there is no mature content – for now. If scenes slip in that have gore in them, I will just go in and change the answer later.
The self rating questionnaire was weird. It seems to be a requirement for distributing the game in Brazil. It was pretty basic though: just a long list of all of the nasty stuff in the game. Profanity – yes, criminal acts – yes, suggestion of minor involved in a sexual context – no. And so on.
In the end this questionnaire gave me an age rating for the game: 14. It might get bumped up to 16 as the storylines become more solid. But that is fine for now.
A was also worried about setting the release date. Who knows when this game will be out! Next year, next decade? But a date had to be set. I set it super far in the future. 25th July 2025! I figured it was something we could hit for sure, and when we eventually got there way sooner, that would have been great. After setting the date Steam allowed me to select a way to show the date. One of the options was “To Be Announced”. Perfect. I chose that.
For support info, a website address was enough. I created one. I will do some nice support setup on that page later.
Setting up the tags was also pretty straightforward. Steam asked me to give some descriptive tags one by one, based on various criteria. It then showed me a list of games that matched the same tags. The list was pretty good. There also was a button to let Steam rearrange the tags to look sexier. I pushed the button.
Creating art assets for Steam
The asset creation progress for a steam game is something I have already done once before, but back then I had PSD templates and support I received from the publisher. This time I did not have these templates and I had to figure all the required assets myself.
It was not too difficult though. Steamworks has clear descriptions for all of the required assets.
But even though the instructions were very informative, I was left hoping for more visual help. To have some picture that shows the art in context in the store or the library would have been super helpful.
For most of the art assets I simply went with the logo. As you uploaded the images, Steam automatically assigned them to the correct uses based on the image dimensions.
For the steam library view, there was a simple tool to help you place the logo of the game on some background image. The placement options were fairly limited. You could align the logo in 4 different ways and adjust the scale. That’s it.
One requirement was also to send 5 screenshots in either 1280 by 720 of 1920 by 1080. This was fast as I just grabbed some screenshots of the videos I had captured from the game build.
This list of screenshots is quite possibly at all representative of the final game, as locations and characters might change, but these shots do represent the visual quality of the game very well.
The icons were a total mystery to me. I managed to make one 32×32 ICO file and after that I got my checklist completed. I need to get back to creating the remaining macOS and Linux app icons later. Luckily they will not matter for a long time.
After this a new button for reviewing the game for store presence appeared. I submitted my changes for review.
Now it is a complete mystery to me if the game will even be allowed on Steam as it does include AI generated content. I did explain this in the game description. These are still the very early days of using generative AI in any context, so anything might happen.
But as I have no copyright claim, nor will the game be sold, it will be a free product, it should be fine.
As I expected, I got an email from Steam support, telling that the steam store entry can not be accepted.
But as I read trough the info, it was about me using forbidden text in the images I provided. This was good news, as this issue would be very easy to fix and the it is off to the races!
I guessed the issue was that the logo for Echoes of Somewhere includes the words “Adventure Games Anthology”. It was very clearly stated that it is forbidden to include any other text than the game name in the images. I just had not thought about it as this text was very small and also part of the logo.
Also, as per usual, when creating the app I had forgotten that I wrote “Series 1” in the logo, not “Season 1” as is the name of the game in Steam, even though the store page says “Series 1”. Classic!
Needless to say, the support message outlined all my mistakes, but no solutions were provided.
I spent some time looking for every possible spot where the name was wrong in the app settings and changed it from “Echoes of Somewhere: Season 1” to “Echoes of Somewhere Series 1” so it matches the logo perfectly. It had propagated to surprisingly many places!
Then, instead of guessing the extend of my mistakes, I wrote a friendly letter back to the support personnel. Asking them what exactly should I do to the images before I change something random and submit new assets and have to wait for another day for a sure fail. Wasting everyone’s time.
As I had suspected. The issue was the extra text in the logo. Luckily this is very easy to fix! I just removed the offending line of text and replaced with some flourishes.
After replacing all the images, I resubmitted the application.
It is ironic that the one thing I had any experience in with Steam application was the thing that failed when I went trough this process – the art assets. But now everything was in order and the application was approved!
Now the only thing left to do was to publish the game page on steam! I did that and lo and behold the game is now available to wishlist in the Steam store!
This was a little bit of a different blog post. Not so much related to AI or art or programming, but about the administrative side of gamedev. Maybe this will be of some value to someone! There will not be too many posts like this one, but I decided to document the whole dev progress and this is a part of it.