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An adventure game based on Homestuck, by Andrew Hussie.
An adventure game based on Homestuck, by Andrew Hussie.
24,346 backers pledged $2,485,506 to help bring this project to life.

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A New Look

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Greetings, and Merry Christmas! We've been taking the last several months to pause production on Hiveswap and revise the overall approach to the game, as well as the visual direction, to make things a little more cost-efficient, and more rapidly producible over the full span of the series. Here's an example of what it's looking like now:

 The original 3D approach to the game began a few years ago with some high-level discussions with the original developer. Back then, before any work was done or money was spent, the main advantage we discussed about using 3D models related to efficiency. We talked about the ability to reuse character model templates and animation rigs for a big cast, and thoughts along these lines were what led to the 3D direction, even though it was kind of an aesthetic departure from the Homestuck look. Which at the time, I thought was fine! I've always liked to mix things up, try different styles and work with different kinds of media, so I welcomed that approach if it meant a more efficient production. I was sure there were some cool things we could do with that look. (And, in fact, we did!)  

When we moved the project to our own studio, and as the budget situation continued to evolve over the previous year, some weaknesses in that approach started to become evident. Some additional engineering challenges were starting to pile up that would not have been present with a 2D system. The modeling demands were also racking up, and over time the production started getting pretty heavy, in terms of both cost and time. So, rather than continue down that road and burn through the remaining budget, I thought it would be better to pause, reassess, and make some changes to make the production faster and less expensive. This seemed like an especially important call to make, given that we have an entire series to develop beyond the first episode, and I'd rather there be as little waiting time as possible between episodes.

The new approach should accomplish this. Not to mention, it's looking pretty great! I have a lot of incredible 2D artists working on this game, who have all been instrumental in making art for Homestuck itself at some point.

  Would this have been a better direction to pursue from the start? Maybe! Hard to say, since initial circumstances were so different from what they are now. It's been a pretty wild ride! Game development is very challenging, and strikes me as a big exercise in rolling with the punches. That's pretty much all I've been doing for the last few years. It is a shame it's gotten so delayed, but the most important thing to me is that the project is still alive, and is looking as promising as ever.

One silver lining to the game taking longer to develop than expected is it's now benefited from much more conceptual development than it would have if it had been released a year or two ago. Through additional writing and fine-tuning, Hiveswap has become an incredibly rich and detailed story, every bit as much as Homestuck is, but with a much more polished and accessible presentation than the webcomic had. It's gonna be very good, and I am very confident the fans will love it!

Also, while it may seem like a shame to let go of the 3D assets that were made during the previous iteration, I would point out that over the last year we have actually stockpiled a massive amount of incredible 2D art assets that are still perfectly usable, and will still make it into the game. So we aren't missing that much of a beat, aside from the last few months of reorganization. Below is a pretty decent sampling of the great art we've accumulated. It's just the tip of the iceberg, really.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:  

NYC STAFF: Most of the people who worked on the game in New York unfortunately are no longer with us, as the studio has been restructured to be more of a geographically distributed operation, to help save costs. We really appreciate everything they did for Hiveswap, and the passion that they put into the game. I would like to sincerely thank them all for the great work they did for this phase of the project. Running a studio in New York for a while was actually a lot of fun. They were all wonderful people and I wish them the best. At some point I think I would like to gather all the 3D stuff that was done and present it as an interesting behind the scenes look at the history of this project, so people can appreciate the work the NYC team did. Perhaps at the very least this could be some nice bonus material for backers when the game comes out.

TOBY FOX: Toby, who has been a long time contributor of music to Homestuck, is still working with us on Hiveswap. He's been making music for it, and is still offering creative input here and there. In case you have been direly underexposed to gaming news the last couple months, Toby has released a great game called Undertale. It has been extremely well received and I feel very proud of what Toby has accomplished with this very funny and charming and unique game! I've worked pretty closely with him for most of Homestuck's duration, and it's been rewarding to see his skills develop over that time until he was ready to make such a strong creative statement of his own. I will have to consider his game one of the better legacies of Homestuck, as well as my basement. (Actually, yes, he literally spent a period of time developing Undertale in my basement. I have always assumed this is why he titled the game as such.) If you haven't played it yet, I strongly recommend you check it out!

http://undertale.com/  

http://store.steampowered.com/app/391540/

TO RECAP: Hiveswap is still moving full steam ahead, despite pausing a few months to do some highly necessary project reorganization. It's looking very promising, and I'm probably as excited about the project as I have ever been. Thank you as always to our backers for their ongoing patience and understanding. Happy holidays!

Changes at What Pumpkin and game news

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There are a lot of changes taking place at What Pumpkin. These are mostly good things! But one consequence is an inevitable delay in Hiveswap's release date.

As you may know, What Pumpkin has been primarily concerned with selling merchandise related to Homestuck. Recently, we've partnered with We Love Fine to handle all future merchandising, and have been taking steps to put the company's focus solely on game development. This little restructuring phase means soon we'll be able to put all our resources and attention into games, ensuring that not only will the Hiveswap series be the best games they can be, but that we will be able to pursue other game projects in the future. The transition is keeping us pretty busy as we wrap things up at the warehouse, and make all kinds of other business adjustments.

Meanwhile, as our warehouse winds down, things at the studio are trending very much in the opposite direction. So much so that we'll be moving to a bigger office. What Pumpkin NYC launched last fall with just a handful of people in a tiny office on Wall Street, but since then we’ve grown so much, we literally can't fit everyone in the room anymore. So an office upgrade is definitely in order. We'll be moving somewhere that not only can sustain our current operation, but accommodate future growth as well.

All this is putting a dent in our development schedule, but the truth is, having more time to spend on fine-tuning the game isn't going to hurt at all. Act 1 of Hiveswap is turning out to be quite a deep adventure game experience with a lot to explore, and thus, there’s a lot to perfect before release. It really feels to the whole team like we're making something special here, so we don't want to rush it just for the sake of nailing a particular release date. So we'll be taking the little adjustment period this month to revise the schedule and come up with a new date to reflect the amount of polishing and testing we think the game could still use.

We'll announce a new release date once we're sure the estimate will be final, and you will be the first to know once we do. Thank you so much for understanding! We’re so grateful to our fans and supporters for giving us the time and space we need to make a really great game. In the meantime, keep an eye out for more updates. We'll still have a lot of cool things to show you between now and the launch, like concept art, screenshots, behind-the-scenes insight into the development process, and more. Be sure to check out our dev blog, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

The Hiveswap trailer is live!

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Have you noticed that we're posting more updates lately? That's because things are really moving on the game right now, and there's a lot of exciting progress to report. Tonight we're launching the first official trailer for Hiveswap, which you can view here at What Pumpkin Studios' new YouTube channel. You might want to bookmark that page now since we'll be posting more cool stuff there in the coming months as we get closer to the game's release. 

More fun stuff to check out—a few new interviews with WP's creative director, Jess Haskins, on the making of the game:

http://reviewfix.com/2015/03/review-fix-exclusive-jess-haskins-talks-hiveswap/

http://tap-repeatedly.com/2015/03/what-pumpkin-hiveswap/

http://www.heypoorplayer.com/2015/04/07/interview-hiveswaps-jess-haskins/

And one more thing—this weekend What Pumpkin will have a booth at Mega Con in Orlando, Florida, which will include a sneak peak of the game. If you happen to be heading to that show, stop by and see us at booths #520 and 522. 

Come to Seattle this weekend to see more Hiveswap stuff in person!

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Obviously this update is going to be the most exciting for Homestuck fans who happen to be in Seattle this coming weekend for Emerald City Comiccon. But even if you won't be there, this is still great news because it means Hiveswap is getting closer by the minute to its release!

If you're one of the thousands of comics and gaming fans who'll be hitting the Seattle Convention Center this weekend for ECCC, don't miss your chance to visit What Pumpkin at booth #305 to try a preview segment of Hiveswap. Bear in mind this is an early preview of a work in progress. It's one room, with some features disabled, but it's playable, looks very good, and gives a strong sense of what it will be like to play it. It's not the sort of thing we can put online anywhere yet, but we're more than happy to let people visiting the booth try it out on our machine.

We're eager to see what everyone thinks! We hope you can make it.

More Hiveswap Assets and Info

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Hey! Here's an asset reel for you, including some model turnarounds, concept art, and music from the game.

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You may have noticed a few trolls in there. That's far from the full cast of them. Those are just a few of the game's NPCs, of which there will be more than 100. That's an awful lot of trolls to come up with unique designs for. We managed though. Here's a quick look at what that process was like. We messed with tons of these 2D concepts, kept tweaking and refining their details like hair, horns, clothes, accessories, until we felt good about 'em. Then our modeler Mike takes over, who is some sort of crazy modeling machine. Still hard for me to believe how well he captures these concepts, while cranking them out so quickly.

Troll Concept 1
Troll Concept 1
Troll Concept 2
Troll Concept 2

 Oh also, maybe you remember these two? They haven't been modeled yet. But they will be!

Troll Concept 3
Troll Concept 3

The original Homestuck trolls corresponded with zodiac signs, of course. You can see these ones are wearing different symbols. We ended up making quite a few new ones to create an "expanded zodiac." Around 250, actually. The majority of which won't appear in the game, but we made a bunch of extra ones I guess in case of an emergency. This can be considered the canonical extended set of troll symbols. I'll let you see them later, in a more meaningful context. If there is really such a thing as a meaningful context for 250 fake zodiac signs. If you watched the video, you may have been curious about the music. Music for the game is being made by James Roach and Toby Fox. Toby has made quite a large number of songs for Homestuck, so perhaps you will recognize his sound. Both he and James are great to work with. It's turning out to be an awesome soundtrack that I believe will be one of the more memorable features of the game. We're also working on a game trailer. We should have that ready to show you soon. What Pumpkin will also be attending a few conventions in the near future, and showing off some Hiveswap teaser stuff wherever it is exhibiting. Keep an eye out for updates on those events. 

And just a reminder, here are all the relevant links to Hiveswap on social media and such —Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook