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A post-apocalyptic adventure/visual novel hybrid inspired by Ace Attorney and Zero Escape games set in Japan.
A post-apocalyptic adventure/visual novel hybrid inspired by Ace Attorney and Zero Escape games set in Japan.
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1,492 backers pledged $56,288 to help bring this project to life.

The "Better Late Than Later" Update!

Posted by Kwan (Creator)
25 likes

We're not sure how many versions of this update have been written at this point. The last draft we have saved in Kickstarter's editor is from a month ago. Our earliest attempt was drafted much earlier than that. We try to keep our Facebook page updated, but to those who haven't heard from us in a long time, and to everyone who has been waiting for this update for months now - we're very, very sorry for the delay!

As in Halloween late
As in Halloween late

So, first things first - Why's this update so late?! The answer to that has changed so many times, we'd bore you to death if we enumerated all the reasons. Ouya still existed as a company last we updated, after all, and we want to get to the part where we show you guys how much Exogenesis has progressed. 

But the gist of it, and what we've been trying to explain (in an admittedly limited manner), is this: we wanted to either finally sign a contract with Razer, or sign with the publisher we're in advanced discussions with. That way, we could end the update on a positive note, whether it's assuring everyone we have all the money we need get to the finish line with all the promised features intact, or that we already have a partner who will put us on 3DS and Vita, among other platforms they wish to publish us on. 

However, it's a little tricky to proceed with the publisher without knowing whether we will receive funding from Razer/Ouya's Free the Game's Fund, so we're left with one option. 

What's our current status, then? I'm not sure if we can divulge the details, other than there's been a lot of waiting on our end, but I think it's safe to say we're finally expecting the milestone payment this December. We've signed the finalized contract as far as we're concerned, and we've been told that everything will materialize soon.

To be clear, we didn't factor in the FTG funds when we planned the game and the Kickstarter. We didn't see ourselves in a situation where we'd be dead if we didn't get that additional funding. FTG was supposed to be the safety net that's crucial to game development, where unforeseen misfortunes could cause budget overruns. And overrun the budget we did, largely due to hiring the wrong people to set the game's foundation on Unity early on. It took a very long time to correct the problems they caused, and time is money in game dev. 

We still have just enough in the war chest to finish the game. What's the problem then, you ask? To be completely transparent with you guys, if you'll remember, the voice acting stretch goal was a big chunk of our total funding. 

I bring this up because, in the worst case scenario, we might have to release the game without full voice acting. Either that, or we record the lines for a game that will now exceed 200,000 words, then the VAs allow us to make a very late payment, as it'll be coming from the game's sales. Both are less than ideal, and we're hoping we can address them via the funds we'll receive from Razer. 

The Ouya Situation

Without getting into the whole narrative of Ouya being sold to Razer and Razer being pressured to honor the Free The Games program, which has been a hell of a ride (not a fun one, mind you), let's talk about the Ouya port. Like we've said in the "teaser" to this update, it has been a very long process. 

Despite having done a bit of work on the Ouya port already prior to our last update, it still took another two months to become fully playable on systems Razer wanted it to run on. Porting started immediately after said update, back when Ouya could still give us some assurance regarding FTG, but communication died down soon after. Various rumors about Ouya came out, and we knew it was a race against time. Turned out we weren't the only devs left in a tough spot, then the whole Razer thing happened.

Why did the port take two months? Well, it was definitely a lot more work than expected. Textures, images, even atlases that weren't in use had to be optimized. Our UI had to be redone from nGUI to uGUI because of a number of reasons, like having too many physics colliders which made the game slow to a crawl on the Ouya, and interacting poorly with the new input system. Speaking of which, a new input system had to be created because the game originally used the system mouse, which is a no-go for Ouya. A virtual mouse had to be created, and the implementation of this meant going back to all the other interactive portions of the game, which turned out to be using problematic scripts, as well as way more scripts than were necessary. Even then, the game still kept crashing; scenes had to be split up into smaller portions, and there were a lot of other under-the-hood optimisations.

That isn't to say the port was all bad news, though. The new input system and other improvements should benefit the game across all platforms. For example, the performance gains will make the game run more smoothly on older machines.

The Good Stuff

On the bright side, a lot of progress has been made on the game itself. After a short break from the porting madness, our programmer was back on track implementing content and programming the all-important puzzles. Chapter 2 is 95% ready, and we've found a workflow that will allow us to encode the remaining game text in 4-8 weeks depending on how long the final script is going to be. For this, we've hired two encoders who work on a part time basis, allowing our programmer to focus on setting up assets, puzzles, animations, game logic and other important stuff.

As far as writing goes, some of you may already know that we're now way past the original 150k word count. While this brings Exogenesis closer to large AAA visual novels, the increased volume comes with its own set of problems. 

Sometimes the problems aren't problems at all
Sometimes the problems aren't problems at all

We have to make sure the story flows nicely, the exposition feels natural, the mood is the way we want it, loose ends are minimized as the plot becomes more complex... Just thinking about it makes me want to go back to work. There's a lot more to be done! This is considering we've already removed parts that are too simple or cliché, which include a scrapped mini-game, and a major puzzle section that's been overhauled to become larger and more challenging.

Then there's the all-important editing phase
Then there's the all-important editing phase

The World Realized

How do we post new art without spoiling anything? How?! Tell meeeeee!

Ahem... What I meant was, we already have a lot of art done. But it's getting harder to show new things without entering spoiler territory, particularly because we saved ending CGs for last. We're also taking the time to improve our main puzzle sections in terms of themes and content, to the point where they've departed from the original design document. They could be revised at any given time, so they're mostly in their non-final state.

We did post some art on our Facebook page, and we'll try to squeeze in some more here.

The dentist is in
The dentist is in
What could have happened here?
What could have happened here?
A Man With An Elusive Name
A Man With An Elusive Name
A Door To God Knows Where
A Door To God Knows Where
She waits...
She waits...
In a world that has ended, what is there to hold on to?
In a world that has ended, what is there to hold on to?

Suffice to say, we have even more new characters than before. How about we go with a theme this time? Tell us if you can figure out what the theme is. :P

Hayami's trying to figure it out...or is she?
Hayami's trying to figure it out...or is she?
Oops!
Oops!
What's a post-apocalyptic world without cats?
What's a post-apocalyptic world without cats?

Our Soundcloud also now hosts a few more tracks. It's only a small selection from the new tracks that were made since the last update, but I think people will be happy with the diverse and well-rounded score the game will have in the end. :)

Final Notes

We've seen Kickstarters where the devs talk about needing more money from investors, others who discontinue the project and offer minimal refunds, still others who put their game on early access and then sell it as an actual product with early access issues still unfixed, or projects that disappear completely. It's frustrating for me, because given the long delay of the game, I'm sure a few, if not many, are having doubts, wondering whether we're committing the same mistakes as the others.

Yes, we've made mistakes. Other than our initial bad hiring, which led to severe repercussions (and crippling personal anxieties), we were also in a situation where I practically had to fight for our programmer's freedom from a third party so that he could put in as much time as he wanted into the project and be compensated fairly. Programming had roughly 6 weeks of downtime total, including our guy moving back to his hometown to minimize distractions, but we're good now.

We've experienced many missteps and disappointments, but we've recovered from all the setbacks, and production is now going better than ever. I wish I could express this clearly enough on behalf of the team, but we do feel your frustrations and fear of whether the game will ever come out. This is an extremely important endeavor for us, and a very personal commitment for me as the director of Exogenesis, so I hope for your patience and you can rest assured that we're never giving up! :)

Comments

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    1. Specie8470 on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    2. Kwan Creator on

      Thanks for the input, guys! Really wish the VA situation was that simple re: getting it free, but of course our priority will be getting the game out, and we'll fight hard to have it voiced on day one! :)

    3. Missing avatar

      saluk on

      I like the compromise option: I think you should focus on voicing key scenes only, to keep the scope small enough. It kind of throws a bone to those who really want voice, and lets everyone have an idea in their head of what characters sound like. Maybe even pepper in some grunts or voiced lines where appropriate. If the money comes through, or in a patch, you could move to fully voiced lines.

    4. hihey54 on

      While I would rather get a game with no VA than no game at all (who wouldn't, though?) I must say that I'd be very disappointed should the game be not voiced (although I don't ask it to be fully voiced).

      I did like VNs with no VA, but the ones that had it were, all in all, way more entertaining than those who didn't. Works like 999 and Higurashi are definitely to be praised, though, however I can't stress how better they would have been if there were some good actors to dub the main characters.

      So, again, I'd be very disappointed if the game came out with no VA. After all, I pledged this game BECAUSE it reached the VA stretch goal.

      Don't get me wrong though. I played the demo and was really pleased with how this project was progressing, so I'd love to see Exogenesis being completed, even if the tradeoff is no voices.

    5. Julie Doster on

      If it's any consolation, I'm glad I gave money to project leads that want to make a quality product. You guys can do it~!

    6. Missing avatar

      spoderman on

      999 is one of the best VNs of all time and didn't have voice acting, so while it would be disappointing if the game ends up with no voice acting, it's not a dealbreaker for me.

      I agree with Ian though, we were lead to believe that the voice actors would work for free.. I don't understand how that changed.

    7. Aurelien VANDOORINE on

      Well not much more to say than other I've no issue with game taking loonger or the voice being removed if that proved impossible money wise. After all I would believe somehow that it is somethign that could be added later if money come from the sales or things like that.

      I didn't knew about the Ouya issues, but I'd say I'm not surprised I've never been confident in their project, bascially making a console on an OS that is not primarily made for games, and also made by press people, I don't hink they had the right team. and the result was what we know, though it was nice about their idea of giving more funding to attract games on their platform but I'm quite sure they had not the funds required to do this correctly, hence the buyout by Razer.

      Well I really hope the best for this project also because I went quite high in the pledge(dominion) but well I pledge higher in the project that interest me the most ;)

    8. James Hirmann on

      I'm not worried about a deadline. I'd rather wait and miss out. Plus that sounds like a lot to deal with and I'm sure most of us aren't gonna hold it against you.

    9. Kwan Creator on

      Some VAs are very flexible, but we have a large cast, and we did discuss a rate early on before we decided what the stretch goal amount for voice acting was going to be.

    10. Ian on

      I thought the voice actors were willing to work for free, and you were only paying them because you had extra money. Under those circumstances, there's no reason for the game not to be voiced.

    11. Kwan Creator on

      Definitely, Sam. We mention that as the worst case scenario.

    12. Missing avatar

      Sam
      Superbacker
      on

      Better to release the game without voice acting than risk the whole project.

    13. Kwan Creator on

      I'm a bit old school in the sense that I want all of a game's content on the proverbial disc, and another huge consideration is that we did have voice acting as a stretch goal, so we owe it to everyone who supported us that the game is voiced.

      We do consider options, but let's see if Razer delivers this December first. They do seem serious about it. :)

    14. Alex Hamerling on

      I will not lie, sometimes I do have my doubts about whether this is going to happen. However, when I pledged, I knew full well that I would never be sure what was going to happen, so in the end I'm merely happy that you people keep going.

      Has it ever been an option to voice only part of the game? Or add in a voice patch at a later date? Or a combination thereof?

    15. Tracey Craig
      Superbacker
      on

      Keep up the good work :)

    16. Missing avatar

      chrisg on

      I think that a game without voice acting is better than no game at all. Maybe you should plan without it as long as the additional funding by the free game's fund isn't definitive, so you don't run out of money. There are many VNs out there without voice acting which are just as good as the ones with voice acting, because in the end what really counts is the good story. Or only add voice acting to some key scenes - I have seen that in some VNs too. I think that most backers would understand if you tell them about the OUYA problems.

    17. Quinn Marchicelli on

      Sad to hear about the voice acting, hopefully you guys find a way to make it happen! Still looking forward to this game a lot though.

    18. Kwan Creator on

      Thank you! :)

    19. FlamingFirewire on

      Didn't even realize that Ouya had been purchased by Razer! I should pay some more attention to these things...

      Very glad to see you guys still making progress on this project, and I really hope it pulls through for you in sales post-release. Perhaps it's too early to think about that, but I only wish the best for everyone involved and I hope everything works out with that publisher to increase the eyes on this game that is very clearly having a lot of hard work put into it.

      Keep up the work Kwan!