April development update
With little warning, May has rudely arrived, which means it’s time for our April development update. Except, you know, in May.
(Yeah, it’s confusing, we know: just think of this as a Maypril update. Or ignore our ramblings and read on.)
Casa Red Thread has had another incredibly busy month, with the team busy wrapping up the alpha and preparing for the beta phase. This phase will continue until October, culminating in a beta build and the beginning of our final polishing-and-shipping phase.
During the coming phase, we hope to gain a better understanding of our milestone schedule. The team is still aiming for November of this year, but game development is a fickle beast and we have no intention of delivering an unfinished, unpolished or un-fun game.
Of course, if anything affects the release date — which we set more than a year and a half ago, long before the Kickstarter campaign — you guys will be the first to know!
From alpha to beta
We're right in the middle of evaluating our alpha milestone, and as part of that we had our first alpha version focus test this past Friday — the second is set for this coming Friday, with a third and possibly fourth test scheduled for late June.
Friday's focus test lasted almost three hours, and participants played through the opening parts of the game — chapters one and two — from Storytime through Europolis, something that appears to take well over two hours.
With the feedback from this test, we hope to improve the opening parts of the game, the controls and game mechanics, the dialogue, puzzles and the overall flow and pacing of the narrative.
So how did it go?
Well, aside from some delays and unfortunate technical issues, it went pretty well. There was some praise, there was constructive feedback, and there was much to criticise — but nothing we can’t fix.
We won’t share all the feedback, but we can say that our biggest challenge right now is making the player feel in control of the storyline...and that’s something we’re actively working on.
You will hear more about our alpha version later this month, as we start showing the game to more people and giving hands-on time to press.
From text to speech
Part of the transition from alpha to beta also means we're stepping up voice recordings in a major way.
As we nail down the story and gameplay, the dialogue is written, scripts are compiled and actors are cast and booked. Right now, we're only recording at Side UK in London, but this will change as we fire up the microphones in both Los Angeles and New York.
We hope to make some major casting announcements before summer, and to show more of what we're working on. For now, here's a little teaser: the dulcet sounds of an actor preparing for his recording session — edited for effect, and a natural candidate for an eventual Book of Secrets.
From Europolis to Marcuria
Many long hours this winter and spring were spent wrapping up Europolis, one of the largest and most complex environments in the game — an entire cyberpunk city for Zoë (and the player) to roam and explore.
Now that Europolis is (mostly) done, our artists are moving onto the final implementation of Marcuria.
Marcuria is as big of an environment as Europolis; perhaps even bigger, with a massive amount of detail.
We are working to combine the Marcuria of The Longest Journey with the Azadi-occupied-and-altered Marcuria of Dreamfall — a task our artists are committed to and passionate about.
Our goal is for this new Marcuria to be the ultimate representation of the city. We hope to show more from this large, magical fantasy environment in our late June update!
Either the End of Days is upon us, or hell has frozen over: T-shirts are on their way to backers worldwide!
We have received reports from several lucky recipients already (feel free to tweet us your T-shirt selfies, and we’ll retweet them to make people everywhere jealous) with many more to come in the days and weeks ahead.
(We would post pictures of the team wearing the T-shirts, but we decided to send out tees to our backers first. In fact, we still have no idea what the final shirts look like!)
If you haven’t received your shirt(s) yet, DO NOT PANIC: the further you are from Poland (where the shirts are being produced and shipped) the longer it will take. It might be several weeks before you get yours...because we’re on a tight budget and went with the lowest shipping rates.
If you have good reason to believe your shirts are lost in transit, or if you received your order and there's something wrong with it, or if you have any questions, you can write us at email@example.com and we will help you out.
We will make more T-shirts available in the future, now that we know more about what we’re doing, so stay tuned for that!
Digital rewards fulfilment
Good news, everyone:
We have partnered with the amazingly awesome guys at Humble Bundle to distribute your digital rewards — including the desktop wallpapers, the soundtrack and the game!
What does this mean? This means we will be sending out a separate email to backers with instructions about how to access the Humble Store and claim the first batch of three wallpapers, and to permanently add Dreamfall Chapters to your Humble Store account.
Why are we not using BackerKit for the digital distribution? There are several very good reasons for that:
BackerKit is not a digital distribution system, but rather a way for us to keep track of backers’ personal information — like shipping and email addresses — and add-ons. BackerKit is also where we handle all the physical rewards, like T-shirts and game boxes.
In order to handle the digital distribution, we would either have to create our own system (horrible idea) or partner with someone who can do it much better than us (great idea). The Humble Store provides a proven, safe and convenient way to serve our backers, and we will continue to use the Humble Store (rather than PayPal) for future digital pre-orders.
When it comes to privacy, all your contact information remains safe and sound. Your email address is only being used to check against your pledge and reward level, and we never share names, shipping addresses or credit-card numbers with anyone, ever.
Backers will receive a separate email soon with instructions on how to redeem your digital rewards. And everyone else will soon be able to buy the game via the Humble Store!
As always, we want to remind our backers to connect with Red Thread Games on Facebook and/or Twitter in order to receive all the latest news and updates as they happen. We will continue to send out regular Kickstarter updates, of course, and you won't miss out on anything important if that's all you read.
If you're into good music and you're a fan of Dreamfall Chapters — that's probably all of you, then — we'd wholeheartedly recommend checking out the latest single and music video from singer/songwriter Egil Olsen.
In fact, we'd encourage you to list to his entire live album, because it's awesome. (Also, this won't be the last time we mention Egil Olsen.)
And don't worry, while the hilarious talky bits in-between are in Norwegian, the songs are all in English and they're fantastic.
Since we're already doing recommendations: our friends at Big Robot just released version 1.0 of their fantastic (and Kickstarter-funded) first-person stealth, tweed and survival game Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Grab it while it's on sale!
That's it for this sunny Maypril update. Enjoy your spring (or, possibly, your autumn) and we will be back soon with more news and updates from the Dreamfall Chapters development!