I'm glad to report that after a month of intensive activity, Act I (of IV) is nearing completion; I'd say it's about 80% complete, with only two more towns and the climax waiting to be written. Each Act represents about 3-4 hours of playing time (or perhaps a little longer if you explore everything), but the game will be available as a single file, not as individual episodes.
A reshuffling of the character roster has also taken place. The three heroes of the original demo still remain, albeit with some changes in their sprites and personality, though their role in the story remains the same. However, they are now joined by Lavinia, a young musician who is more than a little reticent about her origins, and Martin, a soft-spoken gentleman whose gun will probably only be pried from his cold, dead hands. ^_^
The current build of the game also dispenses with EXP points, as they were dragging the original game down. Instead, the entire party levels up at boss fights (think Chrono Cross). All other enemy encounters are optional and can be escaped from (unless you trigger a hidden enemy while exploring), and can either be ignored (if you're a story buff) or fought for the purpose of acquiring trading items, armour, and even items that can permanently increase your stats.
And now, a question for you, loyal players, subscribers and browsers:
How interested would you be in playing a full-length Act I, as a demo?
This demo would represent a substantial (and radical) change from the current download, some parts of which are definitely in need of major improvement. It would include exploring an entire world (each Act takes part in a different location), five playable characters, the beginnings of a complex story, and around 25 boss battles, designed to be won by strategy rather than attrition.
Looking forward to your answers! I'll be putting up some screenshots soon.