Sorry for the lack of updates here; We haven’t had much to say!
So what’s happening here at Simogo?
Basically, we are working on GAME5. Our hope is to have the first chapter ready any day now. It’ll be what the suits call a vertical slice. A vertical slice is a small portion of the game that represents the final product. Unlike a lot of other studios this is usually what we do instead of creating rough prototypes. For us it’s more valuable to get a feel for what the game will feel like early on, rather than to try out loads of small rough different stuff.
Anyhow! It feels really good to have something new to work on. Once again it’s quite different from our previous games, but it has a lot of things in common with Year Walk. It’s strange (possibly the oddest thing we’ve done?), very story- and narrative focused, not very gamey at all and a bit puzzley. And it seems that the full Year Walk crew is reuniting… (But it’s not Year Walk 2!).
Hopefully production should be a bit faster than Year Walk. Excited to share more in the coming months.
Ok! That’s all for now!
The production of our next game has started, and it’s all going rather well! Hopefully it will be a smaller project than Year Walk, but you never know with these things, do you? So, as we need to focus on GAME5, we thought that it would be fitting to close the book on Year Walk with the last part of the Year Walk “behind the scenes” posts.
Without further ado, here are the last things that we couldn’t fit into the previous posts.
Enjoy, and if you haven’t played the game CLOSE YOUR BROWSER NOW, THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE!
Oh, and make sure to click these to get super big views of them.
That’s it. Cheers!
As we got back from GDC and San Francisco (which was amazing thanks to all the wonderful people that we met!) we got some great news:
Year Walk has now sold 100.000 copies on the App Store.
This makes it our fastest selling game yet.
To think that this step into the unknown would reach so many people is almost unbelievable to us. We’d like to thank everyone who got the game and give big virtual hugs to those of you who have gotten in touch with us about the game. You’re the best.
This is all extremely encouraging, and it makes us confident (and very happy) that there is room for creative and different things out there.
With that in mind we have now started work on GAME5, which will be our most experimental venture in the world of digital experiences yet.
Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for making Year Walk a success.
Time for another round of Year Walk making-of pics! Let’s look at some characters this time. This post contains some spoilers, so be warned!
Human bodies + animal heads = FUN, so we knew early what we wanted to do with the Brook Horse. He didn’t change a lot from his first concept, but he went through some iterations in which he either looked too psychopathic, too evil or too cute. We wanted him to be mysterious, and we knew early on that we wanted him to not feel evil or scary.
Visually, Downton Abbey was an inspiration!
We didn’t even have a concept for Stina, her face worked from the first test, but finding the right type of clothes was harder. We didn’t want players to read too much into her clothing; the first dress looked a little too “worky”, while the second felt a little too posh.
It was important that she wasn’t too pretty or too cute, but players still needed to feel a connection to her, so she had to feel charismatic. We also wanted her age to be left to the players imagination, so she couldn’t look to child like or too grown up.
Too make her feel alive, we made a set of different expressions, very subtle eye movements and blinking, and she even has a breathing animation that is very very subtle. We really wanted to avoid the classic idle animations that you see in most games, where characters seem to have a really hard time to stand still.
The view/perspective is inspried by the Ace Attorney games.
We struggled the most with the Mylings. At first they were supposed to look a lot more human, then we decided to blend in some roots and sticks (don’t ask!), until we went for the final more “ghostly” mylings.
In one of the tests a myling is crying some black liquid. In the game, drips signal where mylings are hiding, and for a long time those drips were black. We wanted the black goo to be some kind of materia that was connected the netherworld/the other side/the place between time and space (and that black liquid is present when you open the rift that breaks reality after meeting the grim), but during tests we found at that a lot of players didn’t see the little black tears, so we decided to change them to red – Which is kind of fitting too, as the mylings are ghosts of murdered children.
The Huldra was tough! At first we had imagined her as being naked but that just felt really juvenile and Tolkien-silly, so we went for a more dressy approach. In the first test she looks too much like Stina and we wanted to avoid that confusion. She also looked to ghostly. The second test is really close to the final one, but she blended to much with the background and you didn’t feel her connection with nature. So tinting her green was a natural choice. By having her eyes closed she feels independent and focused on her song. She only opens her eyes once, and those of you have played probably remember when that is!
Alright! That’s it for now. We’ll be off for San Francisco next week as Year Walk is nominated in the Independent Games Festival for Excellence In Visual Art. Wish us luck!
So it’ll be quite for some time here. Hope that’s ok!
It is true! Daniel Olsén has now released his marvelous soundtrack for Year Walk, and it’s available for download almost everywhere. And guess what? The soundtrack also includes Jonathan Eng’s beautiful credits song “Oh The Joy”.
A song journey through Swedish folk music played on electric organs and timbale, lullabies sung by wooden dolls, soundscapes in the place between time and space and long forgotten hymns.
We suggest you go and buy it right now. We will!
+ A load of other places! Search for Daniel Olsén and/or Year Walk!
Oh and if you click these images, you can download nice hi-res version of them to print them out,
We’ve got tons of making-of type of things for Year Walk, and our plan is to start off to show some of these things on the blog now in a couple of posts.
In this one we’ll focus on the absolute earliest stuff.
These are the first art tests:
…Then we tried to make things a lot flatter:
You can definitely see where it’s heading in this pic! As you can see, we had no design for a character yet…
And it turned out we didn’t need one as we decided to switch to a very old idea we had about making a game in two dimensions from a first person view.
Here’s the first first-person-view concept:
We were going for something Mignola/Hellboy-inspired here. This would probably have been pretty nifty, we could have made a lot of “fun” stuff hiding shadows with this siluette style.
In later March 2012, we made a super small prototype in one week to try out the control scheme. You could move between two scenes, and it had a little ambience playing and the song played on the electric organ (which is still in the final game!).
Here’s a screen grab directly from from that prototype:
That’s probably it for now. We’ll see what we’ll find lying around next time! Perhaps some more Work-In-Progress from the mid-phase of the production along with scrapped puzzles and things?
Oh, by the way this showed up at our doorstep today:
Does anyone know how to open it?
The update that just went live adds widescreen support for Fruit That Slightly Resembles Pear Corporation Telephone No. 5.
Grab it from the App Store while it’s warm and fuzzy.
Year Walk was released a few days ago, so we thought it would be nice to make a little round-up. The reception has been quite overwhelming, and all the kind words you have been sending our way means a lot to us.
Apple has featured the game in the App Store, and made it Editor’s Choice in a lot of English speaking countries! It peaked at 3 in the iPad overall charts in the US and is currently still in the Top 10! So nice!
Year Walk has currently got a metascore of 92 at Metacritic, which means that it is now the highest rated game of 2013 (together with Fire Emblem: Awakening, which was released in Japan last year). Be careful when clicking some of those reviews though if you haven’t played yet; some contains serious spoilers.
Here are some selected qoutes from and links to some of the spoiler-free reviews!
“An iOS game like nothing else you’ve seen on the format to date.
This is a brave and truly original work, and if this is what happens when Simogo explores its dark side, it should do so more often.”
Edge – 9/10
“Elegant and artful, Year Walk is an unmissable piece of work – and one that is surprisingly hard to disentangle yourself from once it’s done. You can close the app and put down the phone, but the forest may spread beyond its glassy confines, its spindly, silver-skinned trees taking root in your own home, your own dreams.”
Eurogamer – 9/10
“A game this distinctive, this different, this thrillingly new is the best possible demonstration of the format’s versatility; indeed, of the narrative power of the interactive medium. Simogo has made something very special here.”
The Telegraph – 5/5
“It’s a gripping, somber, atmospheric, and elegantly-designed game, and everyone should play it.
I’ve never played anything quite like it.”
Touch Arcade 5/5
“An incredible showcase for the potential of tablet games and will undoubtedly become influential over the next few years.”
CVG – 9/10
“Simogo has packed Year Walk with a hefty share of spine-tingling jump scares, but it’s these external trappings that cause the game’s lore to get under your skin and stick with you long after your phone or tablet has been turned off.”
Gamezebo – 4,5/5
“Year Walk is smart, thrilling, and absolutely stunningly crafted. It’ll throw you for a loop, leaving you transfixed to the screen until you shake out all of its dark secrets.”
Mac|Life – 5/5
“As with any good page-turner, you won’t want to put this game down until you get to the end. It’s quite a journey, too. Year Walk is a beguiling adventure, and a truly memorable experience.”
Pocketgamer – 8/10
Thanks to everyone who bought the game and helped us spread the word about it.
You’re the best!
It’s true, but almost unbelievable. This thing we have worked on for almost 10 months is now out worlwide.
Thank you for being so enormously patient in your wait for this experience. We hope that it can live up to your expectations.
We know the urge can be strong, but we definitely recommend not watching any gameplay videos of Year Walk. Going in fresh is the best way to experience this game.
Try to not get lost in the woods. And don’t panic.
Happy year walking.