Frustrated developer changes his game's name to 'Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles, a creative building sandbox' because Steam users keep tagging it as a strategy game

Seeking to quell confusion about what his new game really is, indie developer Tomas Sala has renamed his latest release to "Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles, a creative building sandbox," because players on Steam kept tagging it as a strategy game.

"Bulwark is [a] chill builder that just looks like it would be a cool deep strategy game, but it's not," developer Tomas Sala tweeted. "I just don't like cozy fucking designs, but this is basically chill sandbox. You make some cool fortress with some light resource and strategy gameplay to make it feel alive. You do that for a few hours then build something else.

"I will add more cool stuff to the sandbox, but it is a sandbox. when you start the game, there is me in my voice saying it's a sandbox. That is my artistic intent, a sandbox to play in, that looks epic and not like some cozy fairy tale ok. sandbox... saaand booox... Alright.. now you know."

Sala said the full title is now, "Bulwark : Falconeer Chronicles, a bloody creative sandbox not a fucking strategy game, build some cool shit expect no endgame cuz a sandbox," which isn't quite correct, although it does more aptly express some of the frustration he was apparently feeling about the confusion than the title he ultimately went with. 

Which, to be clear, is now the real, full title:

(Image credit: Tomas Sala (Steam))

Some of that confusion over exactly what kind of game Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles really is also appears to be impacting the game's rating on Steam: While overall user reviews remain mostly positive, recent reviews are mixed, with some complaining about a lack of depth or complexity. Sala has been responding to negative reviews, explaining his intent and offering guidance, but he decided to go with the title change after discovering that user-applied tags were overriding the ones he'd applied, making it appear more like a strategy game than a "relaxed, casual building sandbox."

"If you are doing genre-bending experimental development and you suddenly see a few weeks of negative recommendations with very similar complaints, you sit up and start searching what is going wrong, especially after six weeks of an incredibly solid 80% (positive reviews)," Sala told PC Gamer.

"So me and the producer at [Wired Productions] spent a few days trying to figure things out, literally changing all the store text and all that until I finally saw the tags, and it all made sense. That was when my inner little devil came out and said, for fucks sake, lets just change the title, pretty sure that cannot be changed by anyone but me."

Sala said the title change emerged from both frustration with Steam's tagging system as well as a desire to have a little bit of fun with the situation. The tweet about the title change came from the same place: "Most folks that follow me know I'm a passionate dev that does like a bit of swearing," Sala explained. He also said he's not "despondent" about the situation or unhappy with Steam or Bulwark players, he's just "very passionate about making a very niche thing."

(Image credit: Tomas Sala (Twitter))

"I think one of my problems is that I like to make that niche thing look really epic," Sala said. "Which is confusing to folks and I've learned that if you explain what you intend, folks are more flexible and appreciative of experimentation than often given credit for, but not if it is sprung on them as a surprise."

The new title is a bit cumbersome, although not unmanageably so—what makes it funny to my eye is the fact that the added portion is entirely in lowercase, as if someone just mashed it on there in order to make the point as quickly and directly as possible, formatting be damned. It's like a hastily-scrawled "stay out of my leftovers" note taped to the fridge: No points for style, but you definitely get the message.

It's not really a surprise, but Sala also confirmed that the title change isn't intended to be permanent. "It's just part of the things you experiment with when you try to survive on Steam, a store that is built on sales after all, not creative experimentation," Sala said. "That is my mentality for gamedev in a nutshell, I am constantly looking for new ways to do new things rather than following conventions. To me changing the name is just a fun experiment as much as it is a solution."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.