It’s been a couple of months since our last update — for various reasons we skipped a February Kickstarter update — but it’s certainly not for a lack of work being done on Dreamfall Chapters.
We are fast approaching our alpha deadline in late spring. This is when all features and systems will be in place, and the entire game will have received a 'first pass' on gameplay, art, story and dialogue. It’s a really tight milestone, there’s a lot to do still, but the team is highly motivated and working hard to get it all done. Which means there’s never enough time for everything else.
Despite hunkering down in the office, however, the team has been able to escape from time to time. What have they been up to? Here are a couple of recent highlights you may have missed:
Design director Martin Bruusgaard and creative director Ragnar Tørnquist were in Birmingham this past weekend for EGX Rezzed, where they demoed Dreamfall Chapters in front of an audience of several hundred passionate gamers.
You can check out their entire presentation here (including the world premiere of the teaser trailer for Draugen), but beware spoilers! If you don’t want to know what happens in the first twenty to thirty minutes of the game, you should probably resist clicking. We like to think this only whets the appetite for more, but we know that some of you prefer to see or hear as little as possible before the game releases, and we respect that.
(Note that we're planning on posting a YouTube walkthrough of the opening chapter of Dreamfall Chapters for our backers and fans — updated with extended developers’ commentary, and with proper voiced dialogue and sound — in case you want to wait for that instead.)
Team RTG also went to GDC — the Game Developers Conference — in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, in order to meet and mingle with friends, fans and partners both new, established and potential.
We showed off the Friar’s Keep prison escape at the fantastic Humble Store party, spoke with several localisation partners about our plans for the different language versions of the game, did a couple of exclusive interviews (which you’ll most likely hear about very soon) and got nowhere near enough sleep.
Most importantly, Dag Scheve and Ragnar Tørnquist had dinner with some of our backers (two Socialites and one Guardian of the Balance!). We hear that a great time was had by all who attended, proving once more that ours are the loveliest and friendliest of fans.
Kickstarter rewards, an update!
In the ongoing saga (verging on comedy, or possibly tragedy) of those elusive T-shirts, we’re still working out those pesky logistics.
For various reasons — logistical and otherwise — the shirts are still stuck in cardboard boxes in Poland, but we’re inching ever closer to getting them out the (proverbial and actual) door. As soon as we do, we’ll let you know: hopefully it won’t be very long now.
We apologise yet again for the delay. If we’d known it would take this long, we…well, we’d still have produced the T-shirts, because they’re awesome. But we wouldn’t have promised any firm dates. Important lesson learned.
The short story collection Journeys: Birth — originally due, rather optimistically and unrealistically, in retrospect — at the end of 2013 is still being written. A few changes to the game’s story, affecting the backstory of a few of the characters, has delayed things. In the process, these stories have also grown from short short-stories into quite-a-bit-longer short-stories, something we should probably have foreseen. We're not good at keeping things very short.
Mind you, this is not a bad thing: the stories that make up Journeys: Birth will be both significant and comprehensive, providing a great deal of context and depth to Dreamfall Chapters and the saga as a whole. We don’t yet know exactly when these stories will be ready, but it will be well before release, in order to give our readers time to get through them before experiencing the game.
As for the wallpapers and forum avatars: what’s the hold-up? For the latter, we had to launch our new forum first and then work out how to distribute and implement the avatars — no small task, apparently. With the former, it’s been a question of time and priorities for our amazingly talented and constantly harassed and overworked concept artists. But with a bit of breathing space, they’ve finally able to put pen to (virtual) paper and create some really cool desktops. So it shouldn’t be long now.
We’re obviously a lot better at making games than getting the rewards ready on time (and when we do a Kickstarter for Draugen, we’ll definitely take this into account!) but we’re learning as we go and trying to do as much as we can with a too-tiny team.
And, for the most part, it’s working out — at least in terms of the game development.
Thanks again for all your patience, support and good will. We’ve said this before, but it’s really true, and we’ll keep saying it: we couldn’t do it without you.
As a small reward, here’s a new piece of concept art from the game — spoiler free! — hopefully whetting your appetite for the future.
(Who is Bip? Bip is important, is who. And he'll be a big part of Kian's quest. More than that we won't reveal yet, but you'll probably see a bit more of Bip before November.)
Thanks so much for reading, and we’ll be back again, sooner rather than later, with more updates, art and information about our progress and the development of the game.
Before we go, we wanted to highlight a couple of interesting Kickstarter campaigns, both with eleven days to go and both in need of some assistance.
First off, from our Norwegian friends at Snowcastle, there's Earthlock: Festival of Magic; a turned-based RPG with a very cool visual style and a really interesting setting and story. Definitely worth a look, particularly if you like your RPGs Japanese and colourful.
And from Spanish developers Fictiorama Studios, there's Dead Synchronicity; a 2D adventure game featuring "space-time distortions, a dystopian atmosphere... and a dark, bloodstained plot". It looks very cool and very original, and these guys need a big push to meet their $45,000 goal, so please help them out.
That's it for now. Have a great spring, everyone!
From all of your friends at RTG
Hullo everyone, and welcome to 2014, the official Year of Dreamfall Chapters! (And also horse, according to the Chinese zodiac.)
In today's mail, we have a production update, a brief T-shirt update, and some fancy new art. Enjoy!
Please note that there are light spoilers below. If you don't want to know anything about the story in Dreamfall Chapters, please tread carefully!
With the pre-alpha completed, the design team has switched attention back to the beginning of the game. Until the end of February, the focus will be on chapters one and two, iterating on and polishing the gameplay, story and dialogue for the early parts of the game.
(Chapter nil consists of two important non-interactive sequences, bridging Dreamfall and Chapters: those won't be revealed until the game is released, and we plan on completing that chapter towards the end of the production phase.)
The art team is following the same roadmap as the designers, but since most locations appear in multiple chapters, they're spending a bit more time polishing things up now before moving on. Consequently, they're a half-step behind the designers.
The latest location to receive those final artistic brushstrokes is a location we added during the Kickstarter campaign: The Enclave. After bringing that location back into the story, we realised how lovely and atmospheric it is. It's therefore grown significantly in importance, becoming the headquarters of the rebel movement in Marcuria.
Here is an early piece of concept art from the Enclave.
In this in-game screenshot — taken straight from the Unity engine — a couple of the rebels are conferring at the Enclave. The girl on the left is Enu-Mar Sand'ya, Twilight Child, Daughter of Te'a-Mar; a very important new character in Chapters. The gentleman on the right will be familiar to Dreamfall players: he was once known as Blind Bob; or, more accurately, Theoretically Blind Bob. What his name and role is in this game, we won't spoil.
Contrary to rumours, he didn't kick the bucket in Dreamfall; he's not an ex-bird, pushing up the daisies. Crow's back, baby, and he's the same old Crow. Sort of. Things happened in the previous game, and Crow will never be quite the same. But he's still funny, sarcastic, inappropriate and, well, Crowy. (Crowish? Crowesque?)
Also, Crow's looking better than ever. We'd argue that he's the best looking talking bird sidekick in any game ever made. And as solid evidence, we present this brief, never-before-seen in-engine animation of Crow crowing, all birdlike:
The Crowmancer (YouTube link)
Groovy! And don't worry: he'll have a lot more to say in Dreamfall Chapters with proper words and stuff (once we've actually recorded his dialogue).
Friar's Keep walkthrough
Just before Christmas, GameSpot featured an exclusive video walkthrough with almost thirty minutes of gameplay from Friar's Keep, the jail where Kian Alvane has been incarcerated since the end of Dreamfall.
That walkthrough is now available in HD quality via our official YouTube channel (subscribe!), and (by popular request) we've also posted a second, commentary-free version of the video, for those of you who want to hear all of the dialogue (some of which is still placeholder and work-in-progress):
Friar's Keep walkthrough with commentary track (YouTube link)
Friar's Keep walkthrough without commentary track (YouTube link)
What's going on in the ongoing saga of the backer T-shirts? Take a gander at this, gang:
With the help of our close friends and Polish partners at ImagiNation, we've finally been able to produce these beautiful shirts:
And pack them into these beautiful cardboard boxes:
We don't have a final ETA on when they'll be delivered quite yet, but it obviously won't be too long now. Huzzah!
New website and forum
We haven't gone out and advertised the new forum yet, since it's still in open beta, but we'd like to invite everyone to create an account — unfortunately, you won't be able to use your old forum account, due to technical issues and the enormous amount of spam-bots — and take part in the new-and-improved discussions at:
With fresh security measures and better policing and moderation in place, we hope and trust the new forum will be well protected against spam and bots. And with the forum finally hosted on our own servers, we'll be able to integrate it better with customer support and other key services in the future.
That's it for now, folks! We hope this update has been informative and interesting. We'll be back next month (if not before that) with another look at the Dreamfall Chapters development.
Until then, take care and thanks again for all your questions, comments, support and engagement. As always, we are happy and grateful to have you all onboard for this amazing ride!
We have an awesome Christmas surprise for you all:
GameSpot has just posted a twenty-five minute gameplay video from Dreamfall Chapters!
Taken from the second chapter of the game, this walkthrough covers Kian Alvane's escape from Friar's Keep, and features a commentary by design director Martin Bruusgaard and creative director Ragnar Tørnquist.
Check it out over on GameSpot right now:
Greetings, fellow travellers!
December is upon us like a wet and cold blanket. The constant drone of Christmas music and the scent of gingerbread biscuits and clementines — it's a Norwegian thing — fill the hallways and offices of Red Thread Games, as the team lingers longer and longer into the lengthening nights to wrap things up before the church bells chime and we stumble, exhausted, into the holidays.
The days may be getting progressively darker, but we have some updates today that will hopefully make this particular day a tiny bit brighter.
A big, huge THANK YOU to everyone who attended this year's inaugural JourneyCon! On Saturday, November 23rd, fans from seventeen (!) different countries congregated in Oslo for a full day of talks and presentations, and a chance to party with fellow fans and the development team.
We had a packed house and schedule — both at the con and at the awesome party — and team Red Thread was kept busy, but it was worth it: we had a blast! It was a real honour to meet and interact with so many passionate supporters from all corners of the world, and to be able to share brand new footage from the game with a roomful of engaged and enthusiastic fans.
We will of course be sharing everything we showed at JourneyCon with our backers in the weeks and months ahead, so even if you weren't able to make it to Oslo, you won't miss out on anything — aside from the unique opportunity to chat and socialise with fellow fans from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Romania, England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Russia, France, the United States, and many more countries.
For a chance to live vicariously through the eyes of others, here are just a few of our favourite photos from the event. Check out our Facebook page for more pictures:
Head on over to our Facebook page for a lot more pictures from the event! (And credit goes to our buddy and team-member-for-the-day Dan Olthen for the awesome photographs.)
Just after the event itself, we sent out a survey to all attendees asking for their feedback. An amazing 100% of respondents said they would "most likely" or "definitely" attend JourneyCon again. We couldn't have hoped for a better response.
So will there be a JourneyCon 2014? Nothing has been decided yet, but we certainly hope so. We will gauge interest again early next year, so stay tuned for a chance to decide the ifs and whens and wheres of next year's event!
Dreamfall Chapters pre-alpha
On Friday December 6th, we reached our long-in-the-planning pre-alpha milestone. This was a big milestone — our biggest so far — and we weren't even sure it was realistic meeting all the goals prior to Christmas. But the team pulled it off, and we now have a large chunk of the game ready for internal testing.
Our definition of pre-alpha means that almost three quarters of the game is in a playable state, with most of the core features in place, along with final, in-progress or white-boxed versions of all the scenes.
White-boxing means that our artists use simple shapes or untextured geometry to represent buildings and items in the game world. Using these unfinished scenes, our designers can script the gameplay without having to wait for the artists to complete their work. The purpose of white-boxing is to get each level of the game to a playable state as quickly as possible, without worrying about aesthetics or graphical details.
Here is what one of our white-boxed locations currently looks like:
Even though we can now play through the game from the title screen and all the way through chapter nine — of thirteen — that doesn't mean we're close to the finish line quite yet. The gameplay is very rudimentary; you can get from start to finish if you know what to do and how to do it, but there are no alternative paths, no support or feedback for doing the wrong thing, and no signposting. It's a loose framework, a foundation to build on, but not particularly fun to play for anyone outside the development team. You need to have a lot of imagination to see through the rickety framework, and, without proper dialogues, you need to know the story in detail to understand what's going on.
The upside is that we can really see the game taking shape. We can walk around and experience the (white-boxed) worlds. We can poke and prod and get a sense of scope and size and ambition. We can assess the gameplay and narrative flow, the puzzles and pacing, and we can finish the writing and begin recording the final dialogue.
It is all that a pre-alpha needs to be, and we're very, very happy with it.
As for chapters ten through thirteen, we plan to have those in place by our alpha milestone in 'spring' 2014. After that we will focus on getting all the final assets into place for beta, hopefully in late summer. And post-beta leading up to release is when the polishing and tweaking and bug fixing takes place.
Of course, some polish is already being applied, along with final (and very, very pretty) assets for characters, locations, animations, effects — even some dialogues, although those are often the last to be finalised, due to constant story tweaks and changes.
The player driven choices in particular are creating many narrative challenges that we need to sit down and play to uncover, something that's relatively new to us. One conversation in particular that we looked at last week is directly affected by over a dozen different decisions and consequences, which means that until the gameplay is properly in place, it's hard to decide on all the words.
On the positive side, however, these player choices — our 'Decision Points' — are becoming so central to the game's narrative that players will really feel it's their story. And that's exactly what we've been aiming for.
We always like to share something new from the art team in our Kickstarter updates, and today is no different.
Here's a piece of concept art from a location many of you will recognise, one you'll visit early on in Dreamfall Chapters: Zoë Castillo's hospital room in Casablanca.
Zoë, our heroine, begins the game in a coma, having been drugged by a woman named Helena Chang at the end of Dreamfall. The first hour of Chapters is all about Zoë escaping this comatose state and reemerging into the world. To be born again. To start a new life.
This image also contains the subtle revelation of Zoë's hitherto unknown middle name. Can you spot it?
In case you missed it when we posted the art to our official Dreamfall Chapters Facebook page last month, here's a look at another scene from the first thirty minutes of the story:
What exactly is going on? Feel free to theorise, though you'll have to wait another year to find out if you're right!
Our monthly T-shirt update is here, and after almost half a year of searching, we have finally found a factory that meets our ridiculously high quality goals.
If you haven't done so yet, please log into your BackerKit account to choose your T-shirt size as soon as possible. For reference, here is the sizing chart:
If you ordered a T-shirt, either as part of your reward tier or as an add-on, please consult the above chart and make sure you're happy with your selection. We will lock down your order this coming Sunday.
If you pledged for any tier of $1,000 and up, you are entitled to one or more free T-shirts. Please log into your BackerKit account and make sure you have selected the style and size you want.
If you want to make changes to your selection, please log into your BackerKit account at https://dreamfall.backerkit.com
If you have any trouble changing your selection, please shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will do our best to help you.
We are ready to begin production on the shirts, so as soon as backers have confirmed their sizes, we will start shipping them out. The shirts should arrive at some point in January.
The Red Thread Yuletide Game Jam
With the team having met their Christmas pre-alpha milestone, we’ve given them a tiny bit of a breather from Dreamfall Chapters in order to work on something completely different.
It can be good to get some distance and perspective when you’re neck deep in a project, and we firmly believe that the brief time away from the constant deadline pressures of Chapters will end up benefitting both the project and the team.
So what are the team jamming on? We won’t tell you yet, but we hope to have something ready before Christmas — and if we're happy with the result, we'll share more at some point next year.
That's it for this update — but it won't be the last you'll hear from us before Christmas. Next Monday we'll have a little surprise and a Christmas greeting from the Dreamfall Chapters team.
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THE WARM FUZZIES • Support Red Thread Games and Dreamfall Chapters! • Receive a nice JOURNEYMAN FORUM BADGE on the official forums, and feel warm & fuzzy inside because you helped us realise our wildest dreams! • You will also receive three beautiful, high-resolution WALLPAPERS!Estimated delivery:
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