There's been no official backer update since March, and so it's about time we told you what's been happening at Red Thread Games. And what's mostly been happening is
Dreamfall Chapters Book Three is progressing really well. Our focus is now on finishing all the final assets — models, animations, sound-effects, music, voices, cut-scenes — and putting them into the game, before the final round of testing and polishing can begin.
But when is Book Three coming out?! we hear you yelling.
It's difficult to estimate exactly how long this final phase will take, and we're not going to announce a release date until we're about 5-7 days away (lesson learned from last time around!) but we are getting close.
So what exactly is the team working on?
Right now, the Chapters team counts eight full time members, along with a few part-timers (primarily RTG employees who split their time between projects) and a freelance animator.
On the design side, Quintin is implementing the gameplay. Martin's enjoying a leave of absence as a full-time father (a mandatory thing in family-friendly Norway) but he'll be back after summer to work on the final two episodes. For now, Quintin's pulling double duty scripting the gameplay mechanics, dialogues and cut-scenes across three chapters — not an easy task for one person, but his experience and technical expertise are paying off.
Aside from some of Marcurians you'll come across in the game (including backers, transformed into NPCs by co-art director Rikke) the character models for Book Three (and most of Book Four) are complete. 3D modeller Hans Kristian has moved onto the third interlude, before tackling the few remaining character models for episodes four and five.
There are no new features being coded for Book Three. Programmers Audun and Morten are currently working on porting the game to new platforms (along with a couple of other things), but they're both on standby to fix any issues that may pop up. Book Three remains their highest priority.
The environment art is still in progress, but will wrap up next week, leaving our two environment artists — Morgan and Øyvind — to polish and optimise models and environments, before starting work on Book Four (which will include a bunch of really cool new locations).
Our animator, Eivind, is aiming to have most of the animations ready this weekend (we don't usually work weekends here at Red Thread, but he's putting in extra work in order to take some days off). After that he will focus on adding polish, before also starting work on Book Four. Eivind is assisted by freelance animator Leigh, and together they have created all the animations for the game.
Simon is hard at work composing brand new music for Book Three. He recently received a nomination from the Develop Awards for audio accomplishment — competing with the likes of Alien: Isolation, Forza Horizon 2 and The Sailor's Dream — and our fingers are crossed for Simon at this summer's award show.
And finally, this past Wednesday we wrapped the last voice recordings for Book Three (after four intensive weeks of work across three time-zones: Los Angeles, New York and London). As soon as all the voices have been edited and put into the game, Ragnar's focus will shift to writing the script for Book Four.
Of course, once Book Three is out the door, the cycle starts anew. Doing episodic development is very much like releasing a new game every few months (with no time off in-between), but the team's getting very good at the iterative production process, and every episode's development goes a bit smoother than the last. By the time Book Five rolls around, we'll be experts — just in time for our next, non-episodic project!
Speaking of Book Three, we're very pleased to announce the name and key art for our third episode — and you, our backers, get to see it first!
Here it is:
Please note that this art is not final. Art director Christoffer will continue to tweak the art next week — but Book Three is indeed called 'Realms'...and both Kian and Zoë have gone through some dramatic changes in the time that's passed since the end of Book Two!
Backer rewards update
We haven't provided a reward update in a while, and some of you have been asking about the timelines for when things will be released and shipped out. A few digital rewards have been fulfilled — or are being fulfilled on an ongoing basis — but here's a brief update about the most-asked items:
Physical rewards will not be shipped out until after Book Five has been released. We want to put the complete game in the box, DRM free, preserved on a silver disc for future generations. All physical rewards will be mailed out at the same time, and our tentative date for this is the end of the year (though this may change).
Digital short stories. The original plan was to have the short stories ready for the release of Book One. Due to a combination of workload and the way the story's being told, we’ve obviously pushed the release date quite a bit. The short stories tie into the plot of episodes three through five: our current plan, therefore, is to publish these after the summer — before the final two episodes are released — in order to better fit into the chronology of the game, and to not spoil any surprises in Book Three.
Additional digital books and graphic novel. The first part of the Art of Dreamfall Chapters was released together with Book One in October. The plan is to continuously update this book as more episodes are released, and Christoffer is planning an update for Book Three. The remaining material will be published when all five episodes are available.
Digital soundtrack. We released the Book One soundtrack in November (and Simon received a nomination from the prestigious Music+Sound Awards for his work on that) and there will not be any more standalone soundtracks for individual episodes. The full soundtrack — containing many new tracks — will be available after all five episodes have been released.
If you have any specific questions about other rewards — digital or physical — feel free to get in touch with us directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise to get back to you as soon as possible!
Fellow Norwegian indie developers Antagonist have launched a Kickstarter for their intriguing horror game Through the Woods. Check it out and give them your support, if you can. We wish them the very best of luck with their campaign!
That's all for now, folks. We'll be back with more on Book Three soon, including screenshots and a new trailer!
Team Red Thread