Dear backers, supporters & also everyone else,
When we first conceived of a sequel to Dreamfall, eight years ago, it was as an episodic game: divided into chapters, we named it…Dreamfall Chapters.
(We're nothing if not staggeringly inventive.)
Returning to the drawing board in October 2012, the first thing we did was abandon the episodic format — partly because we didn’t yet know the scope of what we were making, and partly because that's how we've always made games.
We did keep the 'Chapters' name: despite changes to the business model, the game’s structure and themes remained unchanged.
The creative process is unpredictable, however, and the story we’re telling has turned out to be bigger and more ambitious than first envisioned. We’re not on track to meet the release date we estimated a year and a half ago, and we've had to take a long, hard look at our schedule and budget.
After much internal debate and careful consideration, we’ve decided to return to the episodic format.
This autumn, Red Thread Games will release Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn — the first of five episodes — on PC, Mac and Linux.
Kickstarter and PayPal backers will receive all five episodes free of charge as they're released. New customers will be able to purchase a season pass via Steam, GOG and the Humble Store.
Here’s why we’re taking the leap into episodic distribution with Dreamfall Chapters:
We could have made deep cuts, removed a lot of the characters, story-lines and locations — but we would have ended up with a different game than the one that's played inside our heads for the better part of a decade, a different game than the one we've promised our backers. We would have lost much of the magic and narrative depth. And we would've still had to delay our release into next year.
We’ve also realised that while, as a small studio, we are capable of producing a massively ambitious game like Dreamfall Chapters, we’re not satisfied with our ability to properly finish, polish and bug fix the whole game in one go. The amount of work that goes into every chapter of every book is enormous, and we do not want to compromise on the quality of our game and our story.
By releasing Book One this autumn, we hope to start generating income, all of which will go right back into improving the quality and scope of subsequent books. And by dividing our work into five standalone releases, we’re able to give each book the focus, polish and attention it needs.
This will benefit the game in terms of quality and stability, and it will benefit the team in terms of how many balls they need to juggle at once.
We initially debated splitting the game in two, like other recently Kickstarted adventure titles. This would have meant a much longer wait between halves, however. And since our story is already divided into five books, this felt like the natural way to break it up. The shorter wait between books will also, we hope, be easier to endure.
This is not going to change the game's story. The five Books will tell the story we always intended to tell; a story that concludes the Dreamer Cycle and Zoë Castillo’s role in The Longest Journey saga...but not the saga itself. (Yep, there's more to come.)
As a team, we believe we’re making the right choice — organisationally, financially and creatively. As writers, storytellers and artists we get to work in a format we love. And with every release, we will gather your feedback and improve on subsequent releases. In return, you’ll be getting a bigger, longer, more ambitious and more polished game.
Of course, we never like breaking promises or letting our supporters down. This is why we've debated this decision for several months, and why we’re informing you, our backers, first.
For those of you disappointed or skeptical: we understand and we apologise. We hope and trust you’ll be convinced — or at least considerably less skeptical! — once Book One releases this autumn.
We will announce the release date for Book Two soon after the release of Book One, and we will work very hard to keep the wait between books as brief as possible. Book Two is already in alpha, and Book Three isn’t far behind.
We know most of you have waited long enough for the conclusion of Zoë’s story — at least now we’re getting started on that conclusion sooner rather than later: Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn will be coming out before our originally announced November date.
Thanks as always for your support, patience and patronage. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on this past year and a half — and in a few short months, we will!
Ragnar Tørnquist, Creative Director
If you want to join the discussion on our official forum, we've created a special thread for this message.
Will I still get the rewards that come with my pledge level?
Absolutely! We will deliver on all of our promises (even if some dates will change).
Certain physical rewards — like the boxes and accompanying materials — will not be sent out until all five books have been finished, in order to avoid shipping an incomplete game.
We don't yet have a date for when Book Five will be available.
How long will each book be?
We try to avoid playtime estimates. We don’t feel game length and playing time have much to do with quality and fun factor. But each book will be several hours long, and the full game will definitely be longer than initially estimated.
When will each book be available?
Book One is coming out this autumn.
We don’t know yet how long the wait will be between subsequent books — that depends on a complex mix of content, code, quality and bugs — but we’re planning an aggressive release schedule.
Won’t story and pace be affected by the episodic release schedule?
Since the story was designed for episodes, in-game time already passes between each book — sometimes weeks, sometimes months — and the story won’t feel any more fragmented than originally intended. Each book also has its own, self-contained arc, with a beginning, middle and end.
Couldn’t you have gone to a publisher for additional funding?
When we founded Red Thread Games and went to Kickstarter with Dreamfall Chapters, it was because we wanted to make OUR game, without any compromises...and without a publisher. Publishers want a game that’s as mass market as possible. We do believe there’s a huge market for Dreamfall Chapters, but it’s also a mature, story-driven adventure game; a niche that doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone.
In order to preserve our vision and tell our story, we want to fund and publish this game ourselves, with your help and support.
How does this affect plans for The Longest Journey Home?
The Longest Journey Home — a point-and-click sequel to The Longest Journey — is still on our roadmap, and it’s a game we’d love to make. It all depends on how well Dreamfall Chapters sells: if we exceed our initial sales targets, we hope to begin preproduction on TLJH in the second half of next year.
What about Draugen?
Draugen has a separate budget from Dreamfall Chapters, and the two games don’t share any production resources. We’re still in preproduction on Draugen, and we hope to release it some time next year. This might change, of course.
Can I pre-purchase Dreamfall Chapters Book One?
Of course! You can still slacker-back Dreamfall Chapters and get all the episodes as they're released.