This is a special announcement from the Ghost in a Bottle Family Entertainment company to warn you against paying heed to the content of the previous communiqué. It was written by a disgruntled employee and does not represent the values the Ghost in a Bottle family stands for. Work on our magnum opus continues with the help of our ever-expanding army of infinite monkeys typing furiously on their typewriters.
Because we know our fans deserve the best, our market research department closely follows the latest and greatest in market trends. At a time when our puny competitors still cling to the antiqued 4:3 aspect ratio, our research indicates that 10 years from now more "widescreen" resolutions will be commonplace. Given the protracted pace of development, we worry about the unlikely possibility of releasing our simulation in a dead format when everyone has already switched to wider displays. That's why we are making the world's first HD-ready Octopus City simulation.
This means we have to revisit some of the older completed areas and manually re-scale them to match the new screen resolution. This also gives us the chance to improve many of these scenes. You can see some of the before and after examples below:
For old people resistant to change, we will also have an option to experience the simulation in either resolution. After all, the goal is to appeal to everyone and everything; we will do whatever is possible to make more money, including selling information about your firstborn to the highest bidding death cult.
Aside from graphics and area design, we recently fixed a long-standing performance bug with text rendering. While inferior products from our competitors struggle to maintain 30 frames per second on the so-called next generation consoles, we are happy to announce that Octopus City Blues will maintain a healthy 300 frames per seconds on your grandfather's toaster. That's 10 times the FPS, so mathematics tells us we are at least 10 times as good.
In the past we've released small alpha builds to make sure everything is running well. We want to start doing that again in the future, hopefully with the next update. At some point we were also considering releasing an improved demo, but it's not clear if that's needed. The first demo was a decent representation of what to expect, and while a lot has changed, it might be better to wait until we're closer to a final release. Do let us know what you think about that. We promise to pretend that your opinion matters.
In other news, we have finished some new areas as well. Unfortunately, you have already seen too much, and you know what happens to people who see too much. Maybe next time...
(Concept art by the great Jacob Janerka, check out his newly released game Paradigm if you haven't already!)
I don't want to call you that, it's too impersonal. I will give you a name. The name will be a fine one, worthy of our friendship. You might be some Arbogast or another Hortense in your waking life, but in my heart of hearts you will always be Borgliddle. Let's do this thing again:
I am sorry that we don't talk often. Talking to me directly, the ignoble Firas, is quite difficult. The voices take over and I am helpless to resist. Chief among them is is the voice of the Ghost in a Bottle, a powerful being from another dimension (or is it the future? The mythos are unclear...) This entity is the malevolent chairman of a large corporation developing the so-called Octopus City Simulation Software. Ghost in a Bottle is the dominant voice, the one that entrusted me with this holy quest, but there are other voices as well. From concerned mothers to leet hackers, many voices speak through me and start to babble about the latest and greatest in Octopus City entertainment.
Look at me, wasting your precious time with this nonsense. I am sorry, I am a simple creature not accustomed to speaking to high-born dignitaries such as yourself, the magnificent and most honorable Borgliddle. I wanted to speak my mind, to tell you the truth about this cursed project, but instead I jot down all this meta garbage. Maybe I'm a little afraid of what I will have to say.
So let's talk about Octopus City Blues, a game ("Games are for kids and plebs", the Ghost in a Bottle protests) I have been developing for years. The voices will assure you that progress is made every day. They will fill your little head with dreams of mothers, beetles, and twisted tentacles.
Tentacles are so funny, aren't they? It's really easy to make tentacle jokes, tentacle puns, tentacle innuendo. The voices love talking about tentacles; whenever they want to cheer the Borgliddles up, they will write a tentacle joke or two. After all, everyone loves tentacles. Some misguided Borgliddles even go and write comments like "I don't even care if the game comes out as long as you keep writing tentacle jokes". You mean well, but you are feeding the beast.
Now, it's not a lie to say progress is made. Thanks to the voices, I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Centipede trains on fire off the shoulder of a giant robot. I watched a tentacle bloom in the dark near the Hotmog Colosseum's gate. These moments will not be lost in time. So I continue to slowly chip away at the purple tapestry that is Kaf's story. Believe me, dear Borgliddle, I am trying. Sometimes I fail and give in to temptation. Sometimes I... I... play a game or watch a movie. Sometimes... I even leave my underground bunker (it's not really a bunker. I was just trying to impress you.)
It's easy to tell myself to cut corners or to discard entire sections because the game must be released. It's not as easy to actually do it. The Octopus City of my nightmares is not a Bethesda kind of world. Every Octopus City quest has a large number of conditions, choices, and consequences. These quests require a lot of thought and planning, little Borgliddle, something beyond the capabilities of my underdeveloped reptile brain.
So, I wanted to say that I still have no idea when Octopus City Blues will be out. I mean, I do have ideas, but I've been wrong too many times. With that said, I wanted to give you some options, because Octopus City is all about options, and you are a wonderful humanoid who has supported me for years.
Continue with the current pace. Not much changes. Although I am also trying to do something about my job situation to give more time to Octopus City Blues. It will take time, and I will continue trying to improve things, but don't complain if your mutant son is already old enough to assassinate you and take over your castle by the time the game is out.
Split the game in two. Octopus City Blues was always a story in two largely distinct chapters, with the second and smaller chapter greatly shaped by all your choices in the first one. This option would result in getting to play something sooner (how soon? don't ask!), but it isn't a magic bullet; the experience of two separate parts is simply not the same as one combined game. One benefit is having more content in total as I get more time to implement a more substantial second chapter. Still, I can imagine some people would hate the whole idea with a passion.
Give you back your money. I know it's weird to say this, but sometimes I wish I could simply give everyone their money back. This isn't because I plan to stop or slow down development. It's just that money is no longer the main issue and I don't want anyone to feel bad about their investment. Even if we decide to go with one of the options above, you can always send me an email asking for a refund.
Because I know you like bulleted lists so much, another way to look at these options is like this:
Good for me, good for the game, probably bad for you
Good for me, good/bad? for the game, probably good for you
Good for me, doesn't matter for the game, probably good for you
I win regardless of your choice, and that's all that matters. To conclude this rant I invite you, cool beans Borg, to write down your opinion and to use this opportunity to vent your frustration and disappointment. Nothing is set in stone yet, so if you have other options I would also love to hear them.
By the way, regardless of what we end up doing I want to start having monthly updates, alternating between my own pathetic voice and one of the scary other voices whose tentacle jokes you all like so much. I promise I will not rant as much next time. It will be more like boring more technical progress updates vs. cool and educational corporate propaganda.
Now that I've written this wall of text interspersed with random images, safe in the knowledge that no one would actually read it, and happy that I did my Octopus City related thing for the day and I can go back to wasting my time, I bid you farewell and wish you the best on your own Octoblood-induced hallucination.
My name is Henrietta Rotwang, a hard-working mother of four living on space colony Pluke. I wanted to write to you regarding your corporation's upcoming Octopus City Simulation Software, Octopus City Blues. You see, my ten year old daughter is fascinated with the simulation you are developing. Posters of Kaf, Daisy and the Conman are all over the walls on her room. She prints and memorizes all of your press releases, and she even wants to be an "Octoblood junkie" when she grows up.
Now, I view myself as a fairly modern and open-minded parent. I appreciate all the great things your corporation has done for us and for everyone in the colonies. I am also aware of the historic significance of the Samarduk octopus city ruins and your ambitious project to simulate what it would be like to live in and explore such a city. I can see the educational value of the simulation, and I am happy when my daughter shows genuine passion and interest in any subject. However, I am a little concerned about the nature of your simulation.
This is an image from an article in the latest Electronic OctoSim Monthly, the one titled "OCB Goes HD: Fatter Widescreen Tentacles Confirmed". In this image, a homeless young girl describes symptoms of "Octoblood addiction". Now I know that Octoblood no longer exists, and maybe it's silly to even bring this up, but... I am worried about the message your simulation is conveying to my children. When my daughter saw this image, she told me being an Octoblood addict must be exciting: living on the edge, bleeding a thick dark blue liquid, and having to consume the same liquid to stay alive. It all seems very graphic and disturbing to me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
This is another image from the same article. It apparently depicts a dark and dangerous slum area in the lower part of the city, a place so perilous that even the local police force doesn't dare to patrol. I am ashamed to admit not knowing much about history, but it almost seems like your simulation is highlighting the darker, seedier elements in order to sell more copies. All this talk of drug abuse, crime syndicates, ambiguous moral choices, and corrupt government is starting to worry me. What kind of role model is Kaf Kafkaryan? He may have been an important historic figure, but it seems quite irresponsible having children assume the role of an ugly middle-aged man who talks to tentacles, consumes forbidden substances, and commits heinous crimes. Are they supposed to identify with characters like a crafty swindler, a childish mad scientist, a deformed horse, or a jealous tentacle-wife?
This one is from your own marketing material. What is Kaf doing to the poor man? Did he kill him? What is he planning to do with the body? Why is a rat watching them? Does that graffiti show a cyborg blowing their brains out? It's all very dark, gritty and amoral. What happened to good old values? Why doesn't your simulation emphasize more positive things about our past? How about the ingenuity required to build something as impressive as the Samarduk octopus city, or how the actions of one insignificant and cowardly tentacle cutter changed the course of history? Our past was not perfect, and an authentic simulation would have to show a lot of dark and questionable things. I think you should definitely portray all the negative aspects of the city, but it's one thing to show the destructive effects of Octoblood consumption and the consequences of overpopulation and greed, and another thing to focus on these things and make them "cool" and acceptable, using them to market your purportedly educational package.
One more thing, I am very concerned about the release window of your simulation. My daughter started following your simulation over three years ago. So far all we have seen is images, videos, press releases, and the occasional demo. It must be difficult to make something this ambitious, but I want my daughter to have closure already. I'm just saying... people are getting tired of your excuses. I hope you make some concrete announcements regarding that topic soon.
A Very Concerned Mother
PS: I am sending this message anonymously because I heard strange rumors of people disappearing and something called a "spider-bot". Naturally I don't believe such things, and I'm confident that Ghost in a Bottle has our best interest at heart, but it doesn't hurt to be a little prudent...
W00t! an early holiday gift 2 all u spiffy c0mRadeZ in armz!! teh entire Gho$t in a Bottle email archive haxd and leak'd by urz truly, ~=ShadowDaHedgefund92=~!!!1 pathetic p0zerz liek DharmaAndGregFanboy1 said i couldnt do it & here i prove every1 wrong again. Bow 2 ur l33t senpai as she exposes teh evil mega-mega-corporation, this 1 is 4 u MAGI (Momz Against GiaB Inc, duh!)
see, all it took was a Protocol 7 botnet tunneled thru a visual BASIC reverse proxy... once the MDOS took the GiaB auth gateway, a 0 day buffer overflow in init daemon allowed code exec & GiaB gets epic haxorz pwnage! i couldn't believe it myself. . . n00b sysadmins didnt even configure crontab magic quotes to block sql injection 8-)))
tons of sweet digz in this gold mine, stuff 2 bring GiaB down 4 good. u can dl teh entire 14TB encrypted file, but heres somethinto get u excite:
Wo0oah!! rare sneak peek of top secret arts... u saw it here 1st!
muzak too! ch-chek it out teh skillz:
evil corp in league with teh evil net algoz. what does it mean!!?!
Moar evil, twisted, immoral arts #camrip
now u know what this tasteless corp does with ur precious private Data!!!!1!and u thought Googl$ was bad... at least this transaction doesn't involve any "monies" xD
what can i say?? look at this here, this... this will NOT be tolerated! Say NO to GiaB & NO to Octoblood. capitalism and nihilism and all i$ms are teh sux0r!
there's plenty moar where that came from. dl teh archive urself and dig thru millions of similar emails. so far i couldn't find much about teh mythical demo, let alone full version of their octopus wareZ, maybe it doesn't even exist... looks liek they're pushing that demo release back several months, prob to add even more crappy Contents. As for teh full thing... who knows, maybe next year is teh year of desktop octocity sim, they're cranking out all teh arts & musics & stuff, so we gotta do our best to stop it before its 2 late!!!
N'joy & till neXt time, DoritoLeHedgefund93 over & out 8-^) (in ur face DharmaAndGregNo1Fan)
Almost 3 years have passed since we've launched this Kickstarter campaign, and it's about time we've had a heart to heart chat about the future of our relationship. In the words of a great Octopus City poet, "Nobody tells me it’s them not me, if it’s anybody it’s me."
We've already talked about our progress in previous updates, including the obstacles we've faced and the things we've tried. Today I'd like to focus on what's done, what needs to be done, and how long it'll take to get there.
Development has been obviously slow, but the good news is that we now understand our own limitations and pacing better, so our expectations are more grounded. Financially we're still within budget thanks to your generous support and also the people who pre-ordered after the campaign. There's still a lot to be done before the simulation is ready, so let's dive into some details.
Octopus City Blues is composed of 9 major chapters or main quests, where each chapter is about the size of the demo we released. Each of them consists of an Octopus City part (e.g. the Professor's mansion) and a number of dream segments (e.g. the beetle war.) About half of these chapters are more or less complete, and the other half should take less time due to shared areas and elements. This includes some of the biggest scenes such as Clock Tower Plaza, in addition to stuff like a large number of animated sprites, tentacles, menus, arcade games, the intro, and all of the major systems.
We've also become quite good at reusing assets, which you can see by watching some of Marina's pixel art videos. Most new scenes start with elements from other scenes, and entire locations such as offices or apartments take little time thanks to the tiles and existing props we've already developed.
In addition to the main story quests, we also have smaller side quests, random events (e.g. a band playing in the park or a giant tentacle exploding,) arcade games, and full screen animations (e.g. Kaf stepping on beetles.) Two of the four planned arcade games are done, but the smaller quests and side events have a less priority at the moment, and will have to wait until we're done with the main content. The way it works is that we have a minimum number of such content planned, so for example the four arcade games are a minimum, but we can have more if we can afford it. Having the minimum number of such content is an essential part of the experience, even if it takes a little more time.
Everyone in our team has a full time job in addition to Octopus City Blues, so unfortunately we can only dedicate so much time to the project every week. I don't like giving estimations because every time I tried to I was flat-out wrong, and unexpected things happen all the time. But we have two plans at the moment: the first is to release a more polished and complete demo to better represent the final product and give us some more feedback. We've been working on this simultaneously with other stuff that's beyond the scope of the demo. We want to do it properly, however, and not rush it out like the previous one. I think it's safe to expect this demo later this year, probably around October or November.
The other plan concerns the full simulation. I think it's clear by now that it's not happening this year. My own current estimation, based on monthly progress since last January, is 9-10 additional months of work. While this estimation does include some buffer time, it has quite a few assumptions that could be optimistic. That's why I want to revisit it early next year and give you a more accurate one.
I know this is a lot of time to wait, and you've heard similar stuff in the past. Everyone has been very patient and we appreciate all the support. We will continue to do our best, and we will keep you updated. If you have any questions, doubts or suggestions then don't hesitate to contact us here, on twitter, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours, A molting centipede shredding its fungi infested exoskeleton