One of my favorite titles I’ve put my hands on in the last few months is the lovecraftian-inspired, Metroidvania title Sundered. Since I first tried it out at TwitchCon 2016 I’ve been eager to learn more and get my needy little hands on it, which the recent closed alpha allowed me to do.
Since then I was interested in hearing more from William Dubé regarding the recent Kickstarter project, and he was gracious enough to answer some of my questions. Take a look below to see what he has to say about the final week of the campaign!
Tell us a little bit more about the decision to utilize Kickstarter at this phase in the game’s development. I know there were a few raised eyebrows about it considering the game is very close to completion. What are some things you’ll be able able to accomplish that wouldn’t have been possible without this campaign?
One of the great things about planning our follow-up project after the success of Jotun was identifying the key positives that we absolutely wanted to repeat with Sundered. And Kickstarter was one of the no-brainers in that regard – we can confidently state that Jotun was transformed from a good game into a great game on the strength of the the feedback we received from our Kickstarter backers. Having a solid core of backers in our corner throughout the Alpha and Beta phases of Sundered’s production, helping us polish the core experience of the game, is simply priceless – it was always part of the plan.
To be clear, the money raised during the campaign will allow us to extend the production phase through June, so we can implement the improvements as they become clear through the Alpha and Beta phases. There are limited elements of the game that we already know need improvement, such as the Skill Tree and global player progression, for which we’ve already collected *tons* of actionable feedback from our backers. But we fully expect that once our backers have logged a few hours in the Alpha, we’ll start receiving feedback that has us tweaking what defines the core gameplay experience, as well as the overall balancing and pacing of the game.
You mentioned early on in the Kickstarter campaign that you weren’t interested in adding stretch goals. Given that there’s not much time left, is it safe to assume this will continue to be the case? If so, what are some of your plans for the funds that are above and beyond your initial goal?
We know that stretch goals almost *define* some people’s idea of a Kickstarter campaign, but I can confirm that there will be no surprise stretch goals added to the Sundered Kickstarter. Avoiding feature creep was another takeaway from the Jotun experience – we look back at the stretch goals we’d have committed to for Jotun, if the Jotun Kickstarter had hit the 100K$ milestone that Sundered has… and we shudder. Too often, we see unrealistic stretch goals that would add months of production time just to add game gravy, and the Jotun Kickstarter stretch goals were a little guilty of that, in retrospect.
So again, until Sundered is launched, the Kickstarter funds will be invested in the game polish and improvements. That said, we’ve also just announced that all of our backers will be receiving all future Sundered DLC for free, so it should come as no surprise that the Sundered production timeline stretches well beyond the initial July launch as well. We can’t go into specific details right now, but the Kickstarter funds above and beyond the goal will help finance that phase of production.
For indie game devs interested in putting together a Kickstarter campaign, what suggestions would you have for them? Well, besides making a very popular and well-received game first – like some people…
The Jotun and Sundered Kickstarter campaigns were similar in one crucial respect, which we believe can make or break a campaign: you have to do your marketing *before* your campaign is live. For both campaigns, we did the groundwork to maximize the amount of people that were ready to pledge on Day 1 of the campaign. The difference was that for Jotun we literally called everyone we personally knew – friends and family, etc. to get them to come out on Day 1. But for Sundered, we gave our put out the call to all Jotun backers, all our fans on social media, all our mailing list subs, then reached out to other crowdfunded projects from Montreal (Moon Hunters, Children of Zodiarcs, We Happy Few, and Ultimate Chicken Horse) to offer their backers free copies of Jotun if them came out on Day 1. All this, plus the usual press releases and the like, can be credited with helping us hit our goal within 6 hours on Day 1.
One of the biggest draws of Sundered is the procedurally generated map – what were some of your inspirations for this system?
We’re actually going for a mix of procedural and hand-crafted in Sundered. We are, of course, taking some inspiration from Rogue Legacy, as our map regenerates upon each death. But the twist in Sundered is that the overall structure of the world remains set in stone, the landmark rooms, boss rooms, etc. are fixed, while the subsections between them are randomized upon death.Think of it like Diablo 2, where the progression of the levels is always the same, but the individual tiles are always different. This allows us to make design choices which are core to a Metroidvania experience, like backtracking and unlocking new abilities that unlock new subsections, while keeping the experience fresh.
Any final comments or plugs?
Our Kickstarter campaign is live until February 16th! Check it out here!
Resist or embrace.