I’m having a tough time giving a title to this post because I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to cover. There are a lot of things shifting at Intuition, there’s been a lot of change this year already and it looks like we’ve still not found a real “groove” that we’re comfortable with.
Greg and I have gotten a lot of inspiration in the past couple weeks from going to Indiecade and TIGJam, and we’ve more or less realized that we don’t feel comfortable continuing work on Liferaft, which is a very difficult decision this late in development. We started production back in March and we’ve been investing our time in the project since then, giving a little time off for Fig. 8, and that’s a lot of work to just put aside because we’ve gotten tired. I think the source of the problem isn’t that we’re incapable of doing the work or that we don’t like the game, but it is the constant creative challenge and the pressure we’ve put on ourselves to create an amazing game which lives up to all the games we love. There are so many design challenges with a somewhat open 2D platformer which we have never encountered before that we just have no idea how to create the best levels and encounters, and we don’t have the time or money to just keep iterating it until it’s perfect.
I’ve spent a ton of time trying to create tools which would allow us to create a rich living environment, but that simply shifts the problem to actually creating that environment. Building rich levels which really give a sense of place and meaning is incredibly difficult, and fitting that into a series of encounters which gradually push the learning curve is a huge challenge. I believe that we could overcome this challenge if we were rested and excited (and if we had a lot of cash to burn on iterating), but the reality is that we’re too tired to continue pushing.
This obviously doesn’t mean our time on Liferaft was totally wasted, we may still pick up the project if we feel we can return to it, and we’ve also learned a lot during the production. Part of the problem of such a big project is that it becomes very difficult to implement lessons learned into the early part of the project, which isn’t a problem with the development of small games like Fig 8. The thing about our small games, Gray, Wild an Free and Fig 8, is that they’re not perfect and that’s OK. We have the crutch of saying “Well, it’s just a 2 week game, it’s good enough,” which is something we can’t really say with Liferaft. This allows us to create something pure and quick, and we don’t have to worry about perfection because we’ll do better the next time.
So we’re working on two new small-ish Flash games, and Intern Rob is actually doing a third game in Unity, which I’ll be helping with as well. It may seem counter-productive to take on three separate projects when we’re supposedly too exhausted to work on Liferaft, but the reality is that working on small games is really energizing for some reason. Perhaps it is the thought that the end is in sight from the very start that keeps us pushing harder, but Gray and Fig 8 were more like vacations for us than actual work. We truly believe that we’re good at making small games, so it seems natural that we focus on that for a while.
To be honest, I still love Liferaft, and I sincerely hope we get a chance to return to it with a stronger focus and confidence. We haven’t worked very hard to promote interest in it and yet a lot of people have told us how awesome they think it is, which is really gratifying. The response on Kickstarter has been great as well, and it’s really awesome to see people coming out to support us, but the reality is that development over September has been pathetically slow, and we’ve lost a lot of the vision of where to go.
Expect some new stuff from us soon, and hopefully a lot more experimentation. We need to keep trying new things if we’re ever going to make this company work. We’ve got some really neat ideas we’re working on with other indies and I’m really excited about the games we’re doing now, hopefully we can start releasing some info about them soon :)
OH, forgot about the Kickstarter side of the issue. Everything donated so far through Kickstarter has been a pledge, which means no money has changed hands and nobody has actually given us any money yet. We’re going to cancel our project which will make all of the pledges null and all that stuff. We always viewed the Kickstarter page as an experiment, and it’s been a pretty interesting thing to watch, but if we’re not sure we’re going to complete Liferaft then there’s no way we could take any money from our fans. We would much rather just cancel it before we got the money than take your money and then fail to make the game.
To everyone who did support us, thanks so much! Even though we’re not actually going to get your money, your support really does mean a lot to us, it’s awesome to know some people believe in us enough to give money before the game is even done :)