A New Look
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.
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/
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!