So, yesterday was a big day – we finally released something playable.
Why now, and why that demo… First, a bit of what has been happening since the last blog post.
For the past year or so, we have been dredging over what to do with Trip the Ark Fantastic. It has long been our flagship project, one we spent many years working on, since the birth of the company, and one which has attracted people from all over (London, Manchester, Brussels) to come to Croatia and work on it. It was the first Croatian project to receive funding from Creative Europe, and it has received funding from the Ministry of Culture, City of Zagreb, and some private investments. However, the chunk was too big to bear alone and we needed an investor to finalise the game in the scope we intended.
We developed a huge demo spanning 3 hours with 20.000 lines of dialogue and sent it out to publishers and investors. Unfortunately, everyone we approached was not interested in publishing Trip the Ark Fantastic at the time, and we were faced with a dilemma – to continue or to pivot.
Our first thought was that maybe the reluctance of publishers to publish the game was due to the discrepancy between the art style (which is very classical) and the story (which is very serious). Perhaps they were also put off by the amount of text, we thought.
So we decided to make a NEW demo that would put the player “in medias res” – it would be shorter, sweeter, and showcase the main gameplay mechanics without a lot of prelude. It would also introduce a more modern artstyle that modern audiences might prefer. That is the demo we released publicly yesterday.
Unfortunately, both the old and the new art style were not met with a publishing contract. Unlike our previous games (vApe Escape, Speed Limit, Midwintar) which all found publishers rather quickly, this one become a “black sheep” of Gamechuck.
All those years of worldbuilding, all those tools developed, all those assets – just sitting there, waiting for a solution. It did not help that as we did not continue working on the project, the team members from London, Manchester, and Brussels left us to do other, very different stuff. For a taste, check out what Piet is brewing these days:
We were also faced with another dillemma – if we do continue working on the game (somehow, without funds secured), do we use the old art style or the new one? We placed the question to internet audiences and the question went viral. On 9gag we had over 20k upvotes and 2k comments, some were very enthusiastic about the old art style, and some about the new one… What to do, what to do… What to do, indeed!
So, after a year of meditation, we decided that we will take things into our hands and continue development… in both art styles!
The main game, “Trip the Ark Fantastic”, will still be a huge sprawling epic with 30 hours of gameplay, and it will be told through the new art style we developed. However, it will be accompanied by many shorter stories about the world, in various art styles we tinkered with over the years (my personal favourite is this black and white one).
The first of these “standalone games” will be in the old art style and is mostly ready for release, but more on that next week.
In any case, whether you are a fan of the old art style or the new one, there will be a lot of fun for you quite soon. For now, use the spring holidays to enjoy the demo of Trip the Ark Fantastic we released yesterday, and right after we come back from holidays, stay tuned for another bombshell news!
the entire TtAF team!