It's been a while since the last post. Several months, in fact. Firstly, I apologise for the scant amount of information revealed about BeMuse. The whole move to Unity has been taking a lot longer than I'd like.
Fear not - BeMuse is still coming along - I've just had to restart it about 3 times so far, as my ambition exceeds the ability of one lone developer, requiring redirects and re-thinks about what it is I'm trying to do, and if I'd like to finish it before I turn... old.
In other news, Fluttermind is moving to San Francisco. I just thought I'd toss that in there.
The reasons are numerous, and complex, mostly circle around the fact that:
a) My wife's work is largely based in the US these days. As is she. This is not ideal for a Londoner.
b) The indie scene in San Francisco is healthy. I am a hermit. I hope to change this in a place where...
c) ...Great vegan food is available in quantity.
d) Oh, and I have some really nice friends out there, too, which makes it better than New York.
BeMuse - The Story
BeMuse is proving a tricky mistress at the moment, so I thought I'd take a few moments to tell you more about the game.
BeMuse is primarily set on a friendly-looking, Moomins-like Island. It is the story of a small child who is washed up on the beach one day, with no memory of where he came from or what he is doing there. Over the course of the game, the hero will learn a key fact about the island: there are Demons everywhere.
Behind every bush.
In the heart of every tree.
Sometimes their presence is given away by the soft tinkling of bells.
Sometimes they disturb the leaves.
Sometimes they cause a ripple in the water.
Sometimes they just watch, the pale green orbs of their eyes glinting in the night.
They are everywhere.
The first Demon the hero meets is a giant bunny-like creature who serves as your point of contact. She says that if you can summon and then banish every other Demon, she'll recover your memory and help you escape the island.
Of course, nothing is as it seems, and over the game's span, you'll encounter many different Demons, and have to re-evaluate what you're doing and what recovering your memory really means.
Demons, RNGs, and Why You'll Probably Hate This Game... and Moomins
"What's that? Demons? You mean Pokemon, don't you? Ahahahahaha!" said nobody.
No. These are Demons. These things will rip out your heart and feed on it just to watch the light in your eyes flicker out.
These are beings that will mislead you and get you to do things that kill you. These are the most evil, tricksy, mercurial beings in existence. Most of them want you to die... while they applaud. Summoning a Demon is a potentially life-threatening event you need to take very seriously. You'll have to learn rituals to protect yourself, and hope that you've done enough to not have your spine removed through your nose. Think 'Hello Kitty meets The Exorcist' or 'Dark Souls with bunnies'.
It's actually likely to be nastier than Dark Souls. Each time you die, you will forget much of what you knew.
Yes, that's right - I'm toying with permadeath, procedural generation and a whole host of other things that make people go "EEP!"
So why am I doing this? WHY!???? WHY NOT JUST MAKE A FIGHTY-KILLY GAME?!!! YOU PRETENTIOUS ARSE!!! AAAAAGHHH!
Well, I want to create a world people love to spend time in, regardless of whether they are actively playing the game or simply wandering about. That's how I felt about the Moomins when I rediscovered them some years ago (yes, I really said Moomins again). There's a warmth and a cosiness to knowing you're living on a pretty but dangerous island and that darkness and lethality lurk just around the corner. Ask the residents of the Isle of Man. Carefully. While backing away.
As a developer, I view this game as an ongoing relationship, rather than the 'fire-and-forget' of Incoboto.
I'm personally going to love this island, but I'd like to keep building it and its inhabitants for years, and for players and the community to help me add to it as time goes on.
This last point is important: I'll be asking for ideas for rituals, suggestions for how I can use the island's assets in a novel way, and even for other activities you'd like to be able to engage in. Ultimately, if I do things right, it's going to be your game as much as mine.
Like many indies, I find developing games really, really hard. The way I work (and my brother, Simon, had to point this out, such is my lack of self-awareness) is to have an aesthetic/mood in mind, to develop that into a piece of representative artwork, and then to explore that picture as I go along, in game form. It's really, really sub-optimal, as the gameplay is one of the last things I think about. Yes, really.
Anyhow, this is *that* picture:
I know, it looks a bit like a painting. That's the idea. This is what I start from.
I also start off by trying to reject every single trope I can. Movement, death, menus, violence - all are sacrificed on day one. By the end, many will have crept back into the mix, but only after fighting their way in, not just by default. I think this is useful. If I were more intelligent, I'd make sure it was part of a well-honed process rather than a novel extension of ego and self-doubt. But that's just how it is.
I'm also aware that the approach I take is just so wrong-headed. If I were tutoring me, I'd give myself a good talking to. Luckily I'm not. For me, most good games have been done, in the same way that most stories have been told. Everything you see is likely to be 'Like X with a dash of Y'. I think it's important to take the opportunity to try something different, something that people won't just dismiss like that... or at least not immediately.
If it doesn't work out, you can just point to this post and tell me how stupid I am. That's what the internet is for. And cats.
If you've read this article on 'releasing' and not 'launching' and found yourself nodding in agreement, then you'll be pleased to know that my aim is to follow this model.
I shall be releasing web versions of the game in VERY early forms, long before the first Demon sets up shop. Hopefully it'll give people a chance to feed back early on and tell me how much I suck, and how they hate my stupid face, how I have ruined their lives and... be all angry and internetty and stuff. Most likely they'll just ignore me to death.
In the meantime, as ever, if you have any thoughts at all, please feel free to contact me., or post on the forums. It's still early days, but they'll be critical as time rolls on.
Just don't ask me about timescale, or whether I'm ready to accept Jesus as my personal saviour. Come back to me after I've finished my game about summoning Demons.
Fluttermind’s director, Dene Carter, is a games industry veteran of over 25 years, and co-founder of Big Blue Box Studios, creators of the Fable franchise for the XBox and XBox 360.