Content Update 1
Thanks for your patience. Revealing content is very tricky business for us. It could affect your game experience, and we take it very seriously.
Obduction has already begun! We’re not talking about the Kickstarter campaign, or even the game production - the actual gameplay has started.
The game has begun, and you're already playing it. There are pieces of information that you are gleaning and gathering, you’re reaching some conclusions on certain things and you’re completely in the dark about a whole lot. That’s exactly how our games work when you play them. You land on the dock, or on the ledge, or in the desert - and you begin to learn about the new world you have been tossed into.
So, our philosophy is that we’re going to treat everything we reveal to you during this Kickstarter as if the game is already being played. We don’t want to ruin your experience - we want to make the experience even better. Sure we could simply dump large spoilers, but it would be like playing with a hint book - you get through it quickly, but it leaves you unsatisfied and wanting more. We want to feed you bits and pieces of information that make you contemplate, consider, and form theories that you can explore and test. We might even throw a few puzzles out there to create a little friction as you explore. But let’s face it - this is also a business proposition, so we also want to reward you with more information so that you don’t get too frustrated. So let’s get to it…
Those of you who have played our games before know that the goal is to get the interface out of the way. We want the experience to speak to you - we want the world to be as unobscured as possible. So there should be very little visual clutter on the screen, and the interface should be as intuitive as possible. That was actually easier with Myst’s slideshow technology (point & click), but Obduction will be realtime 3D. How will it work?
We want to please everybody. Gamers will get the full free-roam controls (customizable) that they are used to. But the tricky part is making 3D easier for people who may not even know what “free-roam” means. For those folks we’re harkening back to the simple Myst interface, but we’re welcoming it to the new millennium. For this legacy mode we will predetermine locations throughout the game that the player will stand. Clicking on the landscape ahead will seamlessly move the player in realtime 3D to the next location. Clicking on the left side of the screen will rotate the view to the left to a predetermined new view angle. This mode plays exactly like the old point & click games did, but has the advantage of full 3D movement. You can decide if you want to explore the world in this easy mode where you simply point and click or if you want to loose the chains and switch over to free-roam to see everything. We already know this legacy interface works really well because we’ll be releasing an updated version of realMyst very soon that has it.
(SPOILER ALERT: We’re going to reveal some things. If you don’t want to know anything - STOP HERE!)
You’ve seen our Obduction concept art. That’s just an early artist painting of what the world will look like. But the point of using the Unreal Engine 4 is to make the actual Obduction experience much more real than that painting or anything we’ve built before. We’ll be right on the cutting edge of what can be done in realtime 3D. For those of you who aren’t familiar with realtime 3D - think beautiful, fluid, living, dynamic scenery.
That shot with the farmhouse is our money shot. It summarize the situation you find yourself in - suddenly abducted from your nice comfortable Earth and dropped onto an alien world. Here are a few more details we can fill you in on…
That farmhouse has been damaged. There are perfectly burned holes in the picket fence (and there should also be holes in the house.) And the farmhouse is just the first building in a rather bizarre little town. That road in front continues to the left - more structures (rather odd structures), more distress. And there’s a small wooden sign just to the left of that shot - “Welcome to…” Wait, better hold off on that bit of information for a little longer.
Oh, and the farmhouse belongs to someone you might have seen already. Segue to...
You’ve seen a concept sketch of one of our female characters. Her name is Farley. She’s strong, she’s smart, she’s resourceful, she’s curious. She has a 2 year old boy (who has no name, but answers to “kid"), a pet mofang, a dead husband, and a longing for fine silk. She’s also a mass murderer. But don't judge her, because you don’t know her story… yet.
In Obduction, like our previous games, you will get to know things about the characters that help you understand what’s going on in the world, and help you make choices based on your perception of those characters. We’ve spilled some of the beans a bit on Farley, but no doubt you have a few more questions that you’d like answered.
All of the information we’ve just shared means something. Like our previous games (and like real life) you have arrived in the middle of an ongoing story. Each of the bits and pieces of information will fill in the blanks, and the story takes shape. We’ll bet you're already anticipating where this story might go - and we hope you’re excited to see just how you can participate and affect it with the choices you make.
Obduction’s gameplay is best described by playing Myst or Riven. If you haven’t played those games then you’ll need to know a few things. You end up in this new world without a huge cinematic or cut scene that gives you lots of information. We’re not trying to motivate you artificially by making you into someone else. This is you in this place - you have to act and react like you are really here. That will mean you have to scope out your surroundings - move around, look around, turn over a few stones, push a few buttons. Yes, there’ll be buttons… and levers, and cranks, and valves, and pumps, and more. As you explore there will be some places that are locked, or blocked, or walled, or crusted over, or more.
So your play will involve finding out how to get past those “challenges” by learning what they are, and how they work. Sometimes the puzzles can be really simple - like just turning on a light. And other times the puzzles are insidiously tough - like learning how a huge boiler works so you can open it up, climb inside, and crawl through the drain (like in Riven.) But it’s important to us that the puzzles are part of the landscape and culture, so that it doesn’t seem like there’s just a random vault with a random match in it. (Yeah, some of Myst had a bit of arbitrary-ness, but try Riven or Myst Online/Uru and you’ll see how our design evolved and just what we’re talking about.)
That’s all for now. Thanks for being patient as we try to reveal, without revealing too much. Tomorrow we’ll get a little more into it with a content update by Eric - including some design philosophy and early character concept sketches. After that we’ll go into a little more of the content scope and overview.