The Future & Fate of Norse Noir
Hello everyone this is Brad, the writer and designer for Norse Noir. I know it's been a very long time; I am truly sorry.
As said before external communication has never been the strongest suit of our team, particularly when it seems like there's always bad news to report. I apologize for that again, and I promise we are all very thankful for everyone's patience.
Today's missive is a mixed bag, and one that comes with a lot of words about the decision and how/why we've come to the point we're at, all of which I will happily go into in a moment. But, in respect for those of you who've already waited this long and don't want to wait any longer, I'll write up the tl;dr first.
Norse Noir: Episode 1 will be available to the public in its final form in early-to-mid October
- The title will be released for free on PC & likely Mac as well
- It will be missing a majority of cutscene animations and a small amount of voice lines
- Missing cutscenes are being replaced with a text box describing what was to take place in the cutscene
- Missing audio lines will be blank; we expect this to comprise less than 10% of all dialog in game
- Norse Noir will otherwise be playable from start to finish as initially intended
- There are none of the planned translations for the title (as per our stretch goals)
- The epilogue scene may be included at launch; if not we will try to include it in a free update soon after
- The game will be marked as "unfinished" where ever possible, including inside the game itself
When we started work on Norse Noir many (many) years ago now the adventure game market was going through a very strong upswing and we saw an opportunity to ride that wave; all of us were adventure game fans from back in the day so why not? It matched our skill set and sounded like an entertaining project that could also be profitable.
We made a prototype, secured an initial round of funding from the Norwegian Film Institute, and after the majority of the work was done on the title (at the time) we came to Kickstarter and the community of adventure game fans worldwide in hopes we would find the help to let us finish things out.
We found that help and we are eternally grateful for it. But here we are, not having upheld our end of the bargain, and not having finished things out.
Though not dire we are running slim on cash again, and we have definitely run slim on motivation and energy. It's easy to be one's own worst critic but the issues with Norse Noir feel myriad, and though a mountain of cash would certainly help the truth is that none of us feel as though we've managed to create a very 'fun' game. The elements are there - the set pieces and the window dressing, some beautiful art and an excellent voice acting cast and some decent puzzles and everything you'd think you'd want for an awesome game but... somewhere along the way we just failed at creating what we think is a compelling product.
Maybe we're wrong. It's hard to say - Again, easy to be your own worst critic. But we've taken a good, long, hard look at Norse Noir and what's left to accomplish, and combined with the current state of the market overall we have two very large reservations.
#1: Are we going to make a worthwhile return spending more money on this game?
As some may have noticed our last post here on Kickstarter was a comment regarding our search for a new artist to take over the cutscene work needed in the game. This has not gone very well and by now it would be an expensive proposition to have things done to our standards; we have a hodgepodge of very different styles from the four different artists that have contributed to the cutscenes right now, and though all of them are good in their own rights consistency is very important. Starting over from scratch, like we need to do, is a large and costly task.
The same goes for the remaining voice acting; we've made numerous edits to the script over the last few years that do make for a better overall product but getting the voice actors back to re-record lines is not cheap. As stated above the actual work is estimated at a relatively small amount but the lines are spread over numerous actors - Most characters have at least two or three lines that we haven't recorded and the cost for a recording session comes with a flat rate per actor. It'd be cheaper if it was just one character but at this point the re-edits have touched pretty much everybody.
#2: Do we really want to release and charge for a game we feel hasn't reached its potential? Particularly one that's meant to be episodic?
Even with the cutscene & voice issues fixed, are we really *happy* with Norse Noir? Is it the game we want it to be? We don't really feel like it is. And maybe that's an issue that can get better with time, maybe it isn't. But it isn't fair to keep everyone waiting for a product that they've already paid for one way or another. Even if the version that's been sent to backers here is fairly close to the 'release' version that will be coming out in in a few weeks you guys paid for a game *launch* and, well, that's what we feel obligated to do.
That brings us an ethical question - If we don't have much faith in the game selling well that means we don't have much faith in being able to finish the series. And if we don't end up finishing the series, is it right to charge people for something that may never see a resolution? The entire promise of releasing an "Episode 1" is that you should and will be releasing an "Episode 2,” and if I personally paid for something like Norse Noir, enjoyed it, and never got a sequel I would feel cheated. And I don't think it's right to make anyone feel cheated.
So. The game comes out. Warts, bumps, missing cutscenes and all. As said, it is fully playable from start to finish as intended by the original scope for the title (and then some, honestly) and what is missing is mostly cosmetic; these are important cosmetics, though, and things that wouldn't be proper missing from a paid game.
We will not be releasing the game in any fashion of "early access" - We are considering it 'done,’ and it will be free and available to download from any place that cares to carry it. Torrent the damn thing, we do not care - Actually please do, because at this point it isn't about making money, it's about letting people experience what we've spent this long and this hard working on, and seeing what (if anything) can be done to make it better.
We will set up a donation button on our website for any newcomers to the game who happened to like it well enough to leave us a tip; again, while we may have our qualms with the game it isn't like it's a flaming train wreck or anything and we on the team would love any support anyone cares to give us.
Right now we are all a little burned out on Norse Noir and looking forward to working on other opportunities, but if the game garners enough attention and support post-launch we will continue work on it and the series as a whole. Our immediate attention would likely go to finishing the voice work followed by the cutscenes - After that, if it seems like a sound decision, we'll look into finding funding for Episode 2.
If we think there’s enough interest to fund the second part of Norse Noir we would then likely release Episode 1 on other platforms as a paid product while we work on the sequel. From there we would bundle Ep 1 & 2 into an "Ultimate Edition" for PC as a paid program, and patch Episode 2 into the other platforms of the game as DLC. But. We see these as very, very slim possibilities, and at this time are not making any concrete or solid plans in this vein.
So there we are. We have dropped the ball. We have failed, and we have to admit that we have failed, and while there may be a chance to pull back from that slightly from that failure it is exceptionally slim. Everyone here paid for a fully voice-acted game and we have been unable to deliver, and I don't think we can apologize enough for that failing.
Though we would all love the chance to make it right in the future we don't want to raise any false hope; if the game is better received than we think it will be then there's always that opportunity. But we aren't faithful that will be the case, and don't want anyone else to mistakenly feel that way either. Failing anything miraculous, after the game is launched, Norse Noir is likely dead.
As has been said before, if anyone would like to be issued a refund we will gladly return their money; Kickstarter does not allow for direct refunding but we will gladly send money via Paypal. We will also be double checking our backer list over the next few weeks to ensure that everyone has received their promised reward - If you have not received your reward please contact us and we will make it right as soon as possible.
Once the game is launched we will post here with links to download. We thank you all for your support once more, and offer our heartfelt apologies again. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask and we will respond as soon as we are able. Our thanks to you all for being wonderful, sincerely.