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Announcement Ragnar Tørnquist

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#1 Morten

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 14:36

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.

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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.

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FAQ

 

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.


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#2 Mivey

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:09

Well, at least the subtitle Chapters makes more sense now.

Don't mind the added wait,  if it means there's no compromise on quality.


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#3 TalkingOak

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:12

Oh this news I like! :D I kinda guessed that you might be going back to episodic when you announced the structure of the game and here we are. This will be awesome! ^_^


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#4 agirlnamedbob

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:13

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed. But it's disappointment born out of just really wanting to return to this world and play the entire game.

 

Honestly, any disappointment at not being able to play the whole thing this fall is outweighed by my excitement at getting what sounds like an even bigger and better game than originally promised. And I'd rather have it released this way than have cuts be made or get a lower quality finished product. 

 

In short, you have this backer's support. 


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#5 Bruno

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:14

When the episodic content was announced seven years ago, I wasn't very thrilled with it, mainly because I hadn't played many episodic games and I thought the format would not work for a game such as Dreamfall.

Many things have changed since then - Telltale's success is an obvious point to consider, with plenty of games I have absolutely loved.

So... I think this will be good. I understand Ragnar's reasons, they seem very valid. The important thing is that this game is happening and we will be able to go back to this incredible world and to these incredible characters.

I really don't mind the episodic format now. I fully trust you guys at Red Thread. Your passion shows in what you are doing and I believe we will get the best possible Dreamfall Chapters.

I'll be counting the days until Book One :)


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#6 Vainamoinen

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:16

That is crap.
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#7 TalkingOak

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:16

 

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.)

 

Yes I did squee at the bit in brackets..... *dances around the room like a mad man*


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#8 Ceridwen

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:16

A little disappointment aside, I can respect and understand that decision, as well as all the back and forth-ing to make it. Now I just have to decide whether to play it when I get it or wait until I have all of it and play it then. What if they end the books on massive cliffhangers and I have to wring my imaginary moustache every day while waiting for the next one?! They never recovered from the last time around! They've not grown out as bushy and sea-lion-y at all. 

 

But this backer is supporting the decision made as well.


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#9 Yann

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:17

Thanks for the update. I am perfectly confident that you are going to work the episodic format out in a way that's appealing. What puzzles me though is your reasoning and especially "financial reasons". Didn't we give you 1.5 Million Dollars last year and thus almost twice as much as you asked for? As a backer (aka "investor") I am concerned and hope you will adress this in a FAQ or some way.



#10 Edreamer Jamil

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:19

Well, at least the subtitle Chapters makes more sense now.

Don't mind the added wait,  if it means there's no compromise on quality.

Actually that about sums up how I feel too; Although it would have been nice to have read some of the supporting material along with the game, rather than after Book 5 is released.

Perhaps you could consider releasing some of that material digitally to backers as it is ready over the course of the 5 releases ?

 

Anyway this can't have been an easy post to write and I know how keen you were to keep things to schedule. Keep up the excellent work Ragnar and Team, we (that's pleural hopefully ;) ) got your back


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#11 vaiomaniac

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:19

5708456539_81bf258ec0.jpgI support this decision and I am excited to play book one earlier take your time guys :)


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#12 blaster

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:21

A part of the game this autumn? Couldn't be more excited. 

We will get plenty to discuss and give our feedback to you guys. 

It is normal thing to delay games this year since huge titles like Witcher 3 and others were delayed due to same reasons that you mention, quality, storytelling and polishing. 

I bet that 2 or 3d book will come some time just before Christmas :) 

Good Luck Team RedThread.


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#13 kozelet

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:22

I honestly would've preferred to wait until (possibly late) 2015 for the whole experience - TLJ's setting is very complex, relies heavily on attachment to the characters and going through it in an episodic fashion does not do the franchise justice. Of course, I can and probably will wait until all episodes are released, but it's just not the most correct approach for a complex game such as Dreamfall.

 

IMO, if it were up to me, I'd go with the following business model:

 

Book 1 is released first and is purchasable separately - it serves as an affordable teaser/fundraiser/pre-order incentive and possibly as a demo down the line, to get new players, etc.

2-5 are released as a single package - so once you get to the full experience, you are no longer getting constant interruptions, and can immerse yourself in the story, which is IMO the right way to experience Dreamfall.

 

The full-blown episodic format for a game such as Dreamfall is just a detriment, it serves no purpose, hurts the experience, and brings no financial benefits - nobody will buy e.g. Episodes 1,2 and 5 - it's either just chapter one or the whole thing.


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#14 Bruno

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:22

Yes I did squee at the bit in brackets..... *dances around the room like a mad man*

 

Same here :)


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#15 Zach055

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:23

What about the beta which you promised would be released today?



#16 TehOwn

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:23

I completely support this move. Can't wait to play Book One!

 

Episodic content has done excellent justice to stories in books, TV series and movies for years and years.

There is no reason why games cannot benefit from this format. Especially since it allows small developers to get regular income, build excitement and gather feedback.


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#17 Riaise

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:24

I have no problem with this decision, it works fine for me.

 

However, I do have a gameplay question: will the decisions I make in each book only have consequences within that book, or will the effects follow through across the entire game? I suppose what I mean is, will the separate books come together as one whole game (like Broken Sword 5), or will they be separate games with one encompassing story (like Tales of Monkey Island)?


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#18 yodagreen3

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:27

I honestly don't see what has anyone upset. I might just wait until all episodes are out then purchase them when they are reduced in price. :D  I can wait, heck I didn't even seeHunger Games II in theaters as well as other movies. I might catch Star Wars Episode VII on video. Life goes on , as much as I want to play this game I am patiently waiting. I could easily see myself playing it 3-4 maybe even 5 episodes in.  TLJ is one of my favorite games ever created as well.

It actually makes a lot of sense to do it this way. Game companies like TTG  does it this way. I see no real problem here personally. In the long run it means a better game. I'm not saying people aren't entitled to being disappointed or frustrated but to me it's just a game and I'll remain patient. I got my whole life to wait haha and a lot more to think about. You got to do what you got to do , it is what it is and Ragnar seems to have valid reasons for this.

I can accept it. I'm hungry for pizza...

I'm sure that all 5 chapters will make for a terrific game. Tales of Monkey Island I waited to play mostly all at once and it was awesome.


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#19 Bruno

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:27

I have no problem with this decision, it works fine for me.

 

However, I do have a gameplay question: will the decisions I make in each book only have consequences within that book, or will the effects follow through across the entire game? I suppose what I mean is, will the separate books come together as one whole game (like Broken Sword 5), or will they be separate games with one encompassing story (like Tales of Monkey Island)?

 

Good question - from everything that Ragnar and the team have said so far in this respect, I am pretty sure everything will still be connected (such as Telltale's The Walking Dead). That has been a key objective of the game design so far, I wouldn't think the episodic format would change it.


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#20 Jana

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 15:28

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed.

 

Yes, of course. But honestly, given how things have been shaping up so far I was under the impression that most of the content ist far from finished. We've seen a few things deliberately leak through, but given that we've seen in the trailer, RTG would have either kept HUGE secrets or... just not gotten around to getting a lot of stuff even close to being finished.

 

Having the whole game finished by November as envisioned would have been a miracle. Or terribly rushed and unpolished and shortened version. Also, if you compare the finding wrt/ Dreamfall, it appears a tiny bit unrealistic. I just HOPE the funding won't run out until all chapters are finished.

 

It makes sense. Also, I think that the focus on having a good game is more important than meeting deadlines.

 

Also, since there won't be a physical version until the game is complete, I guess, the existing books/episodes can always be "fixed" afterwards if something creeps up during the production of subsequent books. I think the final game should be a consistent unity.

 

Well...


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