March 7, 2014

Project Temporality released ! And Desura front page take over in Effect !

by Niklas Hansson

DesuraLaunchFinally Project Temporality is now released! And we are running an extension of our preorder sale to reward early adopters. So if you are interested and haven’t gotten it yet do it now! And experience four dimensional gameplay for yourself !

Project Temporality

To celebrate our launch Desura has kindly agreed to give us a full front page takeover which we are really thankful for. After all of this time we can’t wait to see the press trying out the game to really experience the freedom of the time manipulation in Temporality.

So far all previews are from people who only watched the trailer. Sadly our game play can’t really be conveyed well in trailers as most of the game happens in your mind and that doesn’t really translate well into a video :/ But we are very confident that after actually playing the game people will understand what we are trying to do.

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Making a game that is different but not apparently visually different has been a tough thing. How can you explain why it differs when you can’t show it ? That’s an issue we have been wrestling with for quite a while and our realization is that we simply have to get the game out to the press to the players. The actual game and not just a trailer so people can feel the difference. But this is also a lesson learned, make certain that whats makes you different is easy to show off. Then again when a game is 4 years in the making it’s tough since what is completely different at the start might not be it at release anymore. Thankfully no one has done the same game yet, we was worried about reset the game but that was just another record and reset game.

Our press release does make a good attempt to describe it though.

Anyway today is release day so lets enjoy it and make spend some time playing the game :)

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Project Temporality released ! And Desura front page take over in Effect ! Project Temporality released ! And Desura front page take over in Effect ! Project Temporality released ! And Desura front page take over in Effect ! Project Temporality released ! And Desura front page take over in Effect !
March 5, 2014

Project Temporality and real-life oppression

by Niklas Hansson

Here is a re post from our post about our story at Gamasutra

Have you thought about how it’s fully possible – even in a democracy – for people to abuse, torture and execute each other until there are only two individuals left alive, and all of it without ever breaking the law?

Yeah, I hope that’s weird enough for an introduction.

The thing is, that’s the type of thoughts I have been nurturing over the last three years, thanks to Project Temporality. I didn’t set out to educate or alert the players, but I ended up weaving some of the most serious issues I can think of into a game that’s ultimately meant to be played for fun. I will tell you how it happened, and why at the end of the day it feels completely brilliant.

When I originally suggested to Niklas Hansson that I should write the story for his Project Temporality, it was all on a whim, just because we ran into each other at Nordic Game 2011. I imagined I would pour some sweat into my keyboard over the next couple of weeks, and then cash in some credit for a really cool-looking game and be on my way.

The first draft I made followed that whimsical and unassuming mindset. The player would be aided by a mysterious, masked benefactor, who later on would turn out to be the player themselves.

Niklas didn’t like this. He was looking for something more serious. Shucks. That meant I had to do more writing work.

Not that whimsical

My next attempt included a spectacular (but probably not unforeseeable) plot twist where the main antagonist had suffered forty years of regret following the events in the game, before traveling back in time to make a select few things right. In tone this was more like Twelve Monkeys and less like Back to the Future.

This didn’t fly either. It was still too fanciful and took away from the dystopian mood Niklas had been aiming for.

Up to this point it may appear as if I’m ordinarily a happy-go-lucky person who’s only interested in pop cultural references and attempts at clever plots, and who writes on serious matters only when coerced by an iron-willed superior. That’s not at all how I see myself.

I’m very concerned about how fascist parties all over Europe gain popularity by portraying immigrants and their descendants as faceless, alien hordes, how refugees drown by the hundreds in the Mediterranean because no country lets them enter port, and how anti-gay laws in Russia and other countries all over the world are used by governments to redirect the discontent of the citizens towards minorities. I fear that civilization may crumble during my lifetime as a result of a climate disaster, or because of our inability to adapt culturally and politically to a world where fewer and fewer of us are needed to do constructive work.

I tried twice to write the far out sci-fi story because in my mind that was a natural fit for something I expected to be a story-light game. Over time the whole thing grew darker and more down-to-earth (though still in space) not just because I made Niklas’ grim vision my own, but also because it became apparent that we needed more in-game texts.

We don’t have any power-ups or resources the player has to collect throughout the levels. Apart from the self-rewarding aspect of exploring the nooks and crannies of UMSA Aurora, the only thing we hand out for doing so are written messages the players may or may not decide to read in order to immerse themselves in the setting. We wanted the players to do a lot of sightseeing, which meant lots of texts.

I should add that I really like the “found messages” way of telling a story. I can’t expect the player to read all or even any of them, but on the other hand, the player won’t expect the texts to form a single, stringent narrative. It’s about creating a mosaic of thoughts and associations around a subject, which still allows me to build a network of internal references and a cast of characters with their own story arcs, for those who pay attention. Also, they remind me of one of the most inspiring writing exercises I’ve come across, which is “20 ways to describe X”.

Twenty is a lot. To even get close to reaching that number, you have to flex your imagination and think up wide categories of things to say as well as filling those categories with individual statements. If, for example, the subject is an isolated research facility on a spaceship, where something has gone very, very wrong, you may think along the lines of different professionals in the crew. Or different attitudes among them. Or focus on different aspects of the world, like the research, life on the ship, or the wider fictional universe.

Coincidentally, I thought for some time that twenty found messages would be enough for Project Temporality. With that number, I could have stuck to the categories I just mentioned. Now it turned out we needed close to fifty, not counting tutorials and mandatory briefings and story messages from the game’s main non-player characters.

No problem. The situation in Project Temporality has nothing to do with aliens or zombies. It’s all about human beings, and since humans have dished out so much abuse and oppression to each other throughout history, the thoughts about such acts is a category brimming with content for any writer with a suitably bleak premise. With the aim set at an abundance of found messages, I could use any such thought I could write about in a sufficiently entertaining or meaningful manner.

To sum it up, there are three proposals I’m trying to sell to you with this post. The first one is obvious from the onset: I’d like you to play our game! My second point is a tip: Look for serious stuff when you write for games! It’s a cornucopia for content.

My third proposal, however, is probably a little peculiar with these premises. As a part of working with the game’s content, I’ve made a small inventory of abusive methods that one can use to dominate a society. These methods are used in the real world right now, no matter the fantastic setting I’ve had in mind when I’ve come to think of them. What I’m asking for is that you watch out for these things, because I don’t want any of us to get executed and tossed into a mass grave.

There are mild spoilers in this list. I don’t think they will ruin Project Temporality for you, but if you plan to play the game and think I’ve almost revealed too much already, you may want to come back later.

Divide and conquer

Be sure people identify themselves and others by heritage or residence, or anything else but values and common interests. In a professional environment this may be about rivalry between teams. In any case, this prevents your population from uniting across groups when it matters.

Urgency

Stress the urgency of any abusive measures. Talk vividly about the threat against all free human beings, and about how sacrifices, regrettably, are necessary.

Baby steps

Always push the boundaries to where they still can be accepted by a majority of those who’s opinion still matter. For example, if you have human test subjects, you can get most of your researchers to agree that forbidding them from speaking decreases the risk for data-corrupting bias.

Influence first

Take away influence first, so those you will abuse can do nothing to stop you when you progress to more directly harmful measures. A very blunt way is to keep people in cryonic storage until you are ready to perform potentially harmful surgery on them.

Normalize

Once you have brought about your urgent new measures, transform them into something ordinary. Do the test subjects die from the experiments? No biggie. There are boxes to check on the form for it.

Dehumanize

Describe one smaller group at a time as animals, such as leeches, parasites or rats, or portray them as faceless, or as a homogenous mass without individuals. Make your test subjects use numbers instead of their names, and cover their faces with opaque visors.

Traitors!

Revile people who speak up for the abused ones. Call them traitors and make them look like a perversion against the natural order of established groups.

Pot odds

Mess up the pot odds, to speak in poker terms. Make it so disproportionally painful to oppose you that it’s just not worth it. Can you do keelhauling on a spaceship?

No, YOU are!

Accuse your opponents of all of the above, no matter how little sense it makes, preferably before they come around to do it themselves. I actually didn’t do much of this in Project Temporality, but I wish I had, because it’s hilarious.

Now be nice to each other, and have fun with the game!

You can find out more about Project Temporality and Defrost Games here.

Project Temporality is available on Desura from March 7, 2014.

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Project Temporality and real-life oppression Project Temporality and real-life oppression Project Temporality and real-life oppression Project Temporality and real-life oppression
March 5, 2014

We got featured on Kotaku !

by Niklas Hansson

We just got a nice article on Kotaku featuring Project Temporality, which we are very happy about :)

It has been a crazy day so far since the news broke and we are working really hard to try to get as much information out to everyone as possible. We hadn’t planned our press releases until Friday so we are working hard here through the night to get everything in place and to get a playable version out to as many people as possible. But it’s a good problem, it feels nice after 4 years to finally be able to show of our vision.

 

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We got featured on Kotaku ! We got featured on Kotaku ! We got featured on Kotaku ! We got featured on Kotaku !
March 4, 2014

We just got Greenlit on Steam !!!

by Niklas Hansson

So both going gold and being greenlit on the same day! It’s almost too amazing that both happened on the same day. In fact I was just going to greenlight to post about going gold an upload the new trailer when I noticed it. And right there in front of me was a big sign saying we have been greenlit! After over a year on greenlight this is an amazing feeling which showed we did the right thing by not resetting our greenlight and instead support those fans that has supported us.

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It’s hard to describe how happy a day this is for us both shipping this title which we have been working on for almost 4 years (that’s over 10% of my life and a lot higher for some on the team). And then get this greenlight information on the same day. We are so thankful to all that voted for us and supported us. And we promise we won’t let you down. We will take the time to make a proper steam port with achievements,leader boards,trading cards etc. This mean that you will have to wait for it for some weeks but you can already purchase the desura version and we will hook you up with a free steam key afterwards.

We are kind a sailing on a high here, but tomorrow we’ll be back on earth working hard to make the best games possible. And you will be hearing more about the steam version in the near future. For now we will buckle down and make sure we make this launch go right so that everyone who wants too can enjoy the game as soon as possible.

TemporalityScreen167 copy

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We just got Greenlit on Steam !!! We just got Greenlit on Steam !!! We just got Greenlit on Steam !!! We just got Greenlit on Steam !!!
March 4, 2014

Project Temporality has gone gold !!! New Trailer and preorder sale

by Niklas Hansson

After almost 4 years of struggles I am happy to announce that Project Temporality has gone gold and that we are now finally finished. The game is currently available with 20% discount on preorder at Desura where we will be launching on 7th March (Any purchasers will of course recieve a complimentary steam key also when we launch at steam. We are sitting pretty at spot #26 at greenlight now).

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So how do you wrap up a road so long and winding as what we have traveled ? This journey begun as a simple husband and wife project back in fall 2010, just a way for me(Niklas) and my wife to do something interesting together. It was supposed to be a quick project to play around with XNA and release to XBLIG before we moved on to the real project. And while I had plenty of experience from my Massive days Carolina had never made a game before.

But somehow out of this something special was born. We started realizing it when we did our first focus test and everyone (even those who don’t normally plays puzzle games) liked it so much that we decided to try and take it one step further. and theres where road started winding back an forth, as Carolina due to her studies wouldn’t have the time to be the sole Artist anymore. Thanks to some friends we manage to get together a short playable demo for Dream build Play 2011 where we reached the semifinals despite being so early in development.

We don’t need to document all the bumps in the road but finding artist that had the time and the skill-set to work on the project took time and work, especially since we all worked from home during weekend and evenings. But that gave us time to ramp up the technology and perfect our custom engine Sparta3D , for the record the game does run on xbox360 and yes it looks almost the same. We spent a lot of time on physically based lighting,parallax corrected local reflections high quality temporal SSAO solutions to make the art we did produce look as good as possible. And we thin you will agree with us that the game can look quite stunning sometimes. But thats not the reason why we created a custom engine, we just didn’t have a choice with the vision of making the fourth dimension as accessible as the other ones we knew we had to move forward and backwards through time seamlessly and that is not supported in any middle ware engine. This also makes sense as you would have to remove a lot of optimizations to support it. But for our goal it was clearly important, we also wanted to create a vivid but sharp look with nice high res but soft shadows everywhere which meant that pre-calculated light maps just wasn’t going to cut it. We needed to be all real-time all the time. And while we have some pre-calculations for bounced light that still holds true today.

But after that the production on the game started for real, and while it has taken a lot of time to build all the content considering our Core team consists only of 4 persons. We have finally reached the end after what feels like endless iterations of art,maps and puzzles.

An we are really happy now to show of Project Temporality to world and hope that you will have as fun playing it as we had creating it.

TemporalityScreen227 copy

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Project Temporality has gone gold !!! New Trailer and preorder sale Project Temporality has gone gold !!! New Trailer and preorder sale Project Temporality has gone gold !!! New Trailer and preorder sale Project Temporality has gone gold !!! New Trailer and preorder sale