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Sayonara Wild Hearts

Four years.

We’ve been working on Project Nightroad for what feels like a slice of eternity. But now, we’re happy, and to be honest also kind of scared, to finally be able to show you what we’ve been doing during this long silence.


 

Our new game! Our new pop album! Our new everything!

Sayonara Wild Hearts is pop album video game about being awesome, riding motorcycles, skateboarding, dance battling, shooting lasers, wielding swords, and breaking hearts at 200 mph.

Head over to the mini-site to read about all the nice features and whatnot!
 


 
…With the more market-y stuff out of the way, we’d like to talk a little more personal about what Sayonara Wild Hearts is, and how it came to be.

Sayonara Wild Hearts is a soup made of pop-culture. It’s OutRun, the teddygirls sub-culture, Carly Rae Jepsen, Rez, cafe racers, WarioWare, Blümchen, the 1950s, modern dance, Akira, F-zero, Space Harrier, Sia, Gradius, the 1980s, Charli XCX, Sailor Moon, Ouendan, Tron, Rhythm Tengoku, Punch Out and a good portion of ourselves, strangeness and mysticism stuffed into a blender.

It all started with a drawing of a woman wearing a mask and a couple of thoughts that had been bubbling for a while. After making three slow and thinky games, it was time to make something that had a swift soul. Something that was more gut than brain. Something that’d be thrilling, and fill you with euphoria, like a good pop song. And, we wanted to make a video game that was unashamed of being a video game.

We wanted to explore how to design a 3D action game that felt as spectacular and cinematic as a modern blockbuster game, but with the simplicity and nimbleness of the games we grew up with: the arcade games which never needed more than one button and four directions to feel amazing in your hands.

Because, honestly, video games have become scary and uninviting. And that’s a big shame.

We think video games is the coolest thing in the world. Why are we actively pushing people out of this amazing thing we love? Why can’t there be amazing looking 3D games that aren’t operated by 12 buttons and 2 sticks simultaneously? Why can’t there be awesome action games without convoluted systems? And, most importantly: Why do we keep on putting the same type of characters (dudes dudes dudes and more dudes) in them?

We realised that what we wanted to make was an action game that felt inviting, without compromising what makes an action game good: the thrill. A game that could be enjoyed equally by people who play videogames all the time and people who have no interest, or are even scared to play video games. We wanted that game to constantly throw new surprises at you, without having to explain new control schemes, mechanics or systems.

So. We started to make a prototype, featuring masked biker gangs based on tarot cards. One day while playing the prototype, a playlist with energetic electric pop music was on in the background, and somehow, what was happening on the screen married perfectly to what was happening from the speakers in the room.
It can’t have taken more than one day, until we asked Jonathan (who made the music for The Sailor’s Dream) to start writing pop songs about heartbreak, and Daniel (who made the music for Year Walk and DEVICE 6) to arrange them with a vibrant electric production.
A year earlier, we (admittedly somewhat starstruck) approached artist Linnea Olsson after a record store gig here in town, and told her that she should get in touch if she ever wanted to make music for a game. A year later, with an almost unbelievable amount of star alignment, an email popped up from her, just as we were looking for a singer for the first song of the game. And so, it seemed that we were suddenly creating a pop band, and the work of their first album–the soundtrack of this game–was starting.

It’s been a long ride. At times not entirely smooth, to tell the truth.
As the project went on, we started to realise that we needed a bigger team and some help with publishy stuff, to make Sayonara Wild Hearts into what it deserved to be. So, after more than a year of emails from Annapurna Interactive, we showed them one level of the game in 2016. And it didn’t take a long time until a partnership happened: we’re pleased and happy that Annapurna Interactive is publishing and supporting Sayonara Wild Hearts, which has made it possible for us to work with a team of two extra programmers (Magnus! Björn!) a 2D/UI artist (Åsa!) and an animator/tech-artist (Carl!) to tame this beast of a game.

That’s more or less the story of how this game came to be. The story of the game itself however, is a simple interdimensional road movie cartoon. To be frank, after having made three very story heavy games, it feels refreshing to do something that tells a fun story with almost no text. Characters express themselves with dancelike gestures, and the backstory can be summed up in this short paragraph:

As the heart of a young woman breaks, the balance of the universe is disturbed. A diamond butterfly appears in her dreams and leads her through a highway in the sky, where she finds her other self: the masked biker called The Fool.

We’re getting close to completion, and we’re very pleased that Sayonara Wild Hearts is coming to Nintendo Switch and other platforms in 2019. We’ll talk more about those other platforms next year. Stay tuned.

Oh, and the title?

Well.

We knew that it was going to be a difficult game to make. We knew that if this turns out to be the last game we make, then the title should say it all.

Sayonara, Wild Hearts!

Simogo turns 8


Seasons change. Days become weeks. Weeks become months. And then, out of nowhere, you’ve run a game development studio for eight years. Who could have guessed it?

Thanks for sticking around with us, friends. We could, truly, not have done it without you.

Love,

Simon & Gordon

The Year of The Devil

When we started this blog, we promised ourselves to make a new post weekly. That worked!

For some years.

We realize this blog has turned into somewhat of a desert. We’re sorry about that, because we’ve always enjoyed knowing that people could come here and get a nice overview of what’s going on at Simogo. But, the simple truth is that … we haven’t had the energy or time to be able to update this blog at the pace we want to. Because, goddamnit, running a videogame studio can be time consuming and energy draining.  We hope to update the blog a bit more frequently in 2018. As we start to lift the curtain on the project we’re working on, there will be more reason for us to show and tell. So, please don’t give up on us yet!

We think a nice start to get things rolling ever so slowly again here, would be to look back, and contemplate on the year that was 2017. It’s been a tough year for the world. Mad men at the helm. It’s been a tough year for us personally, too. But, we’re gonna look at the Simogo year, and just pretend for a few minutes that the world outside is not falling apart.

Let’s get the rough things out of the way first. This year we spent a lot of time updating our old mobile games, to make them run properly on new OS versions, new resolutions, and whatever new things that were introduced which broke our games on iPhones and iPads around the world. We’ve put months of work into this, because, well, we care that our games live on, and we want you to be able to keep playing your games. Had we known back in 2010 that we would be updating our games seven years later, we would have shook our heads in disbelief.

This year, a lot of time we had planned to spend on our current project, ended up being spent on just making sure that our games would not be gone from the app store. Because sadly, the platform holder seems to have no interest in preservation of software on their platform.  We can criticize and be angry and mad about it all we want, but we don’t think that any efforts we put in can change that direction. So, instead, we’re thinking a lot about how we can find ways to preserve our games, and our own history, because it is inevitable that our mobile games will be gone sometime in a distant, or not so distant future, as iOS and the app store keeps on changing and evolving. We don’t have a definitive answer, or any final ideas how this would be possible, but we’ll keep on thinking about it, and try to come up with solutions, and we welcome any input and ideas on this from you too!

As you can imagine, this has led to thoughts about platforms in general. Mobile changed a lot of things, and our tiny studio would not exist if it weren’t for the app store and the iPhone. The iPhone has, literally, changed our lives!

The ease of mobile game development drew us to making iPhone games back in 2010. But, it’s getting increasingly financially unviable, tiring and unenjoyable for us to keep on making substantial alterations for new resolutions, guidelines, and what have you, as they seem to never end. The appeal of the mobile platform is less evident today than it was a few years back. Before we started Simogo, we had made console games, and had grown really tired of the clunky processes, politics, certifications and primitive development environments that was involved in making a console game. Today, a lot of that clunkiness is gone, and sadly, for a small developer like us, mobile has become more difficult to support than consoles. Releasing a mobile game means supporting it perpetually, and justifying that is tough for us, at the moment. So, as you have probably understood by now, our current game in development, “Project Night Road”, is indeed a console game.

That doesn’t mean we’re saying farewell forever to mobile development. But for now, we felt that we needed a break, and try out something new.

And new it is! While Simogo is still Simon and Gordon, we have more people than ever working on our game. We’re working with a number of freelancers and friends, (many of which have worked on previous Simogo games), and several of them work full time on this project. Which means more project management, higher costs, and, you know, let’s be honest; less time for the actual fun stuff: making a game. Which is why we’ve partnered with a publisher on “Project Night Road”(!). Simogo and publisher! The 2010 version of Simogo would have laughed at the very idea. But, we’re, quite confident that this is a very cool, exciting and fitting partnership for us, and we’ll tell you more about it next year when we announce the game. To be very honest, we still have quite some time to go before this game will be out, but hopefully it won’t be way too long into 2018 before we can show you “Project Night Road”.

Because we’ve worked on it for so long, the game has evolved significantly from what we thought it would be when we started the project. We’ve been very iterative with the design of this one, sometimes straying too far from the original vision, which has always been (like any Simogo game), that anyone should be able to play. But, we have a good chunk done, and we are now mostly filling this box with fun things; our focus is to finish up in 2018!

We hope you’ll be with us until then, and that “Project Night Road” will delight and surprise in all the ways we hope it will. Thank you for believing in us.

You’re always the best. <3

/Simon & Gordon

PS. Sonic Mania was the best game of 2017, in case you wondered.

The Great $imogo $ale 2017

Step right up! We have everything you need. Leave your ideals at the door. We have seven years in business and seven damn fine mobile game on sale for seven days. All just under a buck.

But you’re not here to hear us talk. You are here to spend your hard earned gold and we’re here to happily fulfill your needs.

Everything on display is $0.99 and as good as new. Trust us.


KOSMO SPIN

WAS $2.99 – NOW $0.99


BUMPY ROAD

WAS $2.99 – NOW $0.99


BEAT SNEAK BANDIT

WAS $2.99 – NOW $0.99


YEAR WALK

WAS $3.99 – NOW $0.99


DEVICE 6

WAS $3.99 – NOW $0.99


THE SAILOR’S DREAM

WAS $3.99 – NOW $0.99


SPL-T

WAS $2.99 – NOW $0.99


Don’t hesitate, buddies – these are only on sale for a very limited time.

Your Friends,
Uncle Gordon and Dr. Simon

Simogo turns 7

We know we don’t say much lately. But, we’re still here and we’re still alive. Maybe a bit older, maybe a bit fatter, but alive, still.

And speaking of older: Simogo turns seven (7!!!) on this very day, so we just thought that we’d let you know that we’re alive, that you mean the world to us and that we are eternally grateful for all the support you’ve given us during these seven years.

We hope you’ll stick around with us, if not for seven more years, then at least until we show you the next wonderfully weird chapter of the Simogo saga. It’ll be a little while before we can do that, but hopefully it will be unexpected, surprising, awesome and worth the wait. This project’s been, and is, a wild big ride, with new and old friends, buttons and screens.

Meanwhile, we’ll soon start to roll out 64-bit ready versions of our iOS games, to make sure they’ll survive the transition to iOS 11. Keep an eye out for that.

So. See you on the flipside, sweethearts. You’re the best.

Love,

Simon & Gordon

Project Night Road

Hi!

It’s been unusually quiet on this blog. The biggest reason is that we’ve not had much to say, as it has just been too early to start talking about our current project. We do want to try and share a little about what is happening over here, and maybe share a few hints about what the next thing is.

Last summer, while wrapping up the Wii U version of Year Walk, we started working on the project which we internally refer to as “Project Night Road“. This is not the final title at all (we do have the final title already, but we’re keeping that a secret until the announcement).

After keeping projects small for so long, we decided that we wanted to try and make something bigger, and take our time to be very iterative with the design, story and universe. Around Christmas 2015, we had a few playable bits, and while we liked it a lot, we decided that it had some crucial things in the design and visuals that needed reworking. While still being very iterative with the design and letting ideas come and be incorporated as we went along, we then decided to make a vertical slice of the revised vision of the game. When we refer to a vertical slice in videogames, we mean a very contained small portion of the game, which is fully representive of the final game — so not a prototype, a real, finished, part of the game.

This demo was completed in July, and we were super satisfied with the results. Seeing and playing the vertical slice, allowed us to get a real feel for the game. We then decided that because of the scope, we had to pin down all design and work less iteratively, which is very unusual for us. So the last couple of months, have been less about experiments and more about writing a big old game design document, building editors and tools allowing us to make the game. It’s been an unusual journey, because we do have a lot of assets completed for the game still, as key characters, scenes and music had been decided early on.

Planning.

Ett foto publicerat av Simogo (@simogogames)

The music is perhaps the most important part of this game. If there ever was a typical Simogo style of music, this one is quite far from it. Jonathan and Daniel have teamed up to create the main tracks, and there’s another really exciting collaborator which we’ll talk more about in the future. We’re a bigger team this time around. We mentioned our freelancer Carl some time back, who is helping us out with 3D modelling, animation, scripting and what have you. Daniel is not only making the music this time; from his home in San Francisco, he’s helping us out with sound effects, modelling and even design.

We’re not sure when we’ll announce the game, but it definitely will not be this year, even if we might show you bits and pieces and various hints. It’ll be quite some time before you can play it yourselves. But we do think it’ll be worth the wait!

Jamming a new track for the game.

Ett foto publicerat av Simogo (@simogogames)

 

It’s still to early to talk about a platform for Project Night Road, but we do think it’d be fun to drop a few hints about the game. In some ways this is the most gamey game from us, but in other ways it is not. It’s gamey in the way that it has goals, it has scoring systems and we’re designing it to be enjoyable to play over and over. It’s less of a game in that it’s very influenced by many aspects of pop culture, both from now and our childhood. If adjectives like “thinky”, “slow” or “creepy”, were words we associated with DEVICE 6 and Year Walk, words for Project Night Road would be “fast”, “fun”, “cool” and “spectacular”. While those words might seem like common adjectives for many games today, we’re really aiming to be as literal and extreme with them as we can: one of our main visions with this game is that it should be as enjoyable to watch, as it should be playing it.

So. Lastly. Some things this game has: A bunch of characters. Motorcycles. Dancing. Masks. Weird powers. A mysterious thrift store existing only in a girl’s dream. And a really really cool soundtrack.

Simogo turns 6

6

It’s been six years since we stepped into those 10 square meters in a shared office space, and began the wild ride that is Simogo.

We know and never forget that none of this would be possible without the people who play our games, talk about them and support us. We’d like to thank you for always trusting us and letting us keep doing all these crazy things we do.

We hope you’ll be joining us for the next bonkers adventure, too.

Love,

Simon & Gordon

From the archives: Rollovski

rolling_rollovski

First of all: We’d like to make clear that this is not a project we’re developing at the moment.

After finishing Beat Sneak Bandit back in 2012, we began to work on two prototypes. One would eventually become the game Year Walk, while the other one never got past the prototype stage.

At the time, we were keen on doing something for the 3DS, so we decided to spend some time on concepting ideas with the hardware features in mind. Throughout a week or so, we went through ideas called The Great Ziorawski Acrobats, Common Sense Police, My Triangle Friend, Observe Agents, Inverto Maze – but only one would leave the idea stage and become a playable PC prototype.

rollovski_3DSXL
It was called Rollovski. A stealth game about a small limbless round detective, who must infiltrate a strange hotel with only circular rooms. As you can probably tell, it shares a lot of ideas with Beat Sneak Bandit, and we actually did imagine that this game took place in the same universe. It also shares one of its main ideas with Bumpy Road, as you don’t directly control the actual character, but rather the environments. The concept focused on two features of the 3DS: the circle pad and the stereoscopic screen.

Basically, we imagined a game where circle pad being directly connected to a flat surface displayed on the 3D screen, so that they would “physically” move around, 1:1 to your thumb movements. We came up with the idea of having several surfaces layered in 3D, and having a ball rolling between them. The ball eventually became a round little detective and so Rollovski was born!

We’ve been talking about this project for some years now, and it’s been so long that we think it would be a shame to just let it stay in the archives. So, we’ve decided to share the playable prototype for PC and Mac with you. Keep in mind that this prototype was created in under two weeks, so it’s very basic and just presents the core concepts of the game. We have also uploaded an early concept PDF, which presents the project a little more in detail.

The prototype has support for XBOX 360 controllers (you can download unofficial drivers for mac here), but is playable with the arrow keys and space on a keyboard too (although it’s not as good!). Although it doesn’t have sound effects, please make sure you’ve turned your volume up – the prototype features a really fun tune by Daniel Olsén (who you know from Year Walk and DEVICE 6, of course!). We present it as we left it, without any changes or polishing.

This prototype was only created for PC and Mac, and was never playable on actual 3DS hardware – that said, we did produce to 3D screens of the game to get a feel for how it would look in 3D. You can pop those on your 3DS’ SD card or look at them in your browser.

So! Without further ado: ladies and gentlemen, start your downloads:

DOWNLOAD

Rollovski Prototype (PC)
Rollovski Prototype (Mac)

Rollovski – Concept Document

Rollovski 3D Screenshot 1
Rollovski 3D Screenshot 2

Enjoy!

SAYONARA 2015

We’re off for a little break, but before we leave the office, we think it’s appropriate to sit back with a glass of glögg, summarise the year … and look into the future too, perhaps.

The Lighthouse Painting

lighthouse_cover

Our first real non-interactive project! It was made together with Simogo Troubadour Extraordinaire Jonathan Eng and the awesome Christopher Sabat and his crew at Okratron 5000. And, it featured wonderful hand-painted cover art by the ever amazing Johanna Meijer!

Year Walk for Wii U

A dream came true: We released a game on a Nintendo console! And it allowed us to work with the amazing Dakko Dakko in Wales, and the lovely Nintendo team in Kyoto. And for the first time, people could now play the game in all the big European languages, as well as Japanese in “Year Walk 最後の啓示”, the version published by Nintendo in Japan.

Foto 2015-06-17 13 03 55

Oh, and we also rebuilt our studio during one day to create the weird home-made trailer, featuring a real brook horse, playing Wii U.

Bedtime Stories for Awful Children

Huldra-02

We once again teamed up with Year Walk writer Jonas Tarestad to create what we thought would be a tiny bonus to celebrate the release of Year Walk for Wii U, but grew into a 16-page story collection with lovely illustrations by Johanna Meijer.

SPL-T

SPL-T box

We were going to have some vacation, but had this little great seed to a puzzle that we simply could not resist to try out … We had been talking about this idea for maybe a year or so, and finally found a few days between projects to start trying out some rule-sets. And when things finally got going, we just couldn’t stop, so we decided to just roll with it (as we do), finish and release it. And so we did!

Other things that happened
• We stopped working on a project that was quite far along in February. It was very playable and had most of its systems up and running. It was all was about typewriters and pulp literature, but even though it was a ton of fun to play, we ended up putting it on hold because it didn’t feel different enough to our previous works.

• Satoru Iwata passed away, and we created a tiny game to thank him for everything.

• To celebrate the 5 year anniversary of our first game, we decided to go against trends and raise the price.

• A man travelled to every destination of The Sailor’s Dream and wrote a 20-page travel log. Wow.

… Aaaaand probably even more things we forgot.

What’s next?
So, 2015 has been a very busy year, with lots of smaller projects. It also marked the first year were we truly dipped our feet into non-interactive works. Next year will be all about a grand thing (which we have actually been working on for quite some time already). It will combine our love for both interactive and non-interactive media in one piece, and will let us collaborate with some good old friends, as well as some new.

So…

Sayonara 2015
Thank you for all your love and support this year. You’re the best!

/Simon & Gordon