"What you really want to know is this:..."

It’s been a HUGE fortnight for us monkeys.

We were part of Tacticon, a Steam festival celebrating strategy games run by our publisher Hooded Horse, alongside Firesquid Games.

  • I was honoured to be invited to be on a panel discussing ecology and climate in strategy games with the phenomenally talented, passionate and well-informed Paula Escuadra and Adriaan Jansen. Here’s the page with all the talks on it (scroll down) and here’s the direct link to my one.
  • Thanks to the popularity of this event, we now have over 15,000 Steam Wishlists for Beyond These Stars! (Shameless plug, get amongst the wishlist action here.)

At the same time, thanks to the magic of modern cloning technology, we also attended FINS–the Festival of Interactive Narrative and Storytelling held right here in Ōtepoti.

L to R: Sam, Anna, Emily, Mereana, giant sunfish temporarily filling in for Tom, Isaac, Sarah, Nina.
  • Our remote team members Nina and Emily joined us and we had a wonderful time together petting butterflies, diagnosing the most gruesome complaints (playing “Trust Me I’m A Doctor”), and throwing axes. The guy who was looking after us at Megazone commented to me that these people must be a lot of fun to work with and I had to agree.
  • The festival itself had tons of very interesting and relevant workshops, which also happened to be highly entertaining. My highlights were going for a walk around the Sinclair Wetlands (see the photo at the top of the page) and hearing local Māori stories (pūrākau) of the land; and, along with Emily and Sam, volunteering to come up with elements of game narratives in front of a crowd, while the speakers threw curveballs of the kind that you get when you actually work in narrative design (“Good news! We now have a sponsor so you need to add 'the delicious and refreshing taste of Monster Energy energy drink' to your poignant proposal scene, which cannot otherwise be changed”). I wish I could have managed to see Emily’s talk, but I heard that it was excellent! When the VOD is available we’ll post a link.
  • On the Sunday, which was Mother’s Day, Com2Tech ran a narrative jam for 11-14 year olds. The theme was “Something a Mummy Would Play”, so of course we had to have an actual mummy there, performed by my eldest son. He walked around the museum for a couple of hours handing out chocolates to all the mothers (“Are you a mummy? Happy Mother’s Day!”) and terrifying children. It made my day to overhear small children asking their parents “Is he a real mummy?”
You do not want to know how many times we had to stop walking and add more safety pins.
  • I was one of the judges of the narrative jam, which was a first for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. All three teams came up with hilarious and inventive ideas in the few hours that they had, and I hope they enjoyed themselves and will consider continuing in game development!

I could also write a few paragraphs about how excited I am about the additional funding for game development that the New Zealand government made available through last week’s budget, but I know that’s not what you’re here for. What you really want to know is this:

  • You can now create fertile ground by spreading compost around, just like in real life!
  • Your home spaceship can now take off as well as land (though it’s looking a little… peculiar)
  • The load menu is looking preettttyy
When your UI designer is Gen Z
  • And the tutorial is in the game and functional!
  • We're about to start our second round of playtesting, and I can't wait until we can open it up further. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter or join our Discord to stay in the loop.