De-Void’s been out for nearly a month and I couldn’t be prouder. Despite Steam’s revamped review system disqualifying nearly half of our reviews and slashing our aggregate score to “Mixed,” PulseTense’s sophomore release (and my first as Narrative Designer) has resonated with precisely the niche gamers we made it for. The praise for De-Void’s depth of story and experience, as well as its microbudget charm, confirm that the PulseTense voice speaks to an audience beyond our development echo chamber.
However, in the ever-shifting aether of indie development, increasing saturated by expectation management crap shoots (see No Man’s Sky), Steam Greenlight shovelware conspiracies (I’m glaring at you, Digital Homicide), and other potential pitfalls, De-Void’s reception by its audience has also raised important questions about how to best reach that audience into the future. It should be no secret that we’re looking ahead. We’re slipping comfortably into Unreal Engine 4 and exploring ideas beyond the walking sim genre. As always, story and atmosphere are the priority, but now that we’ve built our creative foundation on these elements, we are embracing experimentation. To this end, we’ve begun preliminary brainstorming around a brand new IP. While we plan to revisit the Solarix universe in the future to explore its remaining loose threads, we’ve been working on an entirely new world and new ways of bringing it to life.
As I’ve written before, point-and-click adventure games are an integral part of my history as a gamer, and they contribute a great deal to how I conceive of game design as a whole. I can say without exaggeration that titles like The Longest Journey and Grim Fandango contributed to my most formative years. To see the recent resurgence of point-and-click titles in the indie world is a dream come true, and I see it as an opportunity to explore a genre that resonates with me at a personal level. Our lead designer, Baris, is a relative newcomer to the genre, but has similarly found inspiration in the clever and deceptively simple mechanics of newer titles like The Silent Age.
We see the point-and-click format as a logical extension of the PulseTense workflow. It allows us to foreground story and atmosphere while providing the freedom to experiment with mechanics without lapsing into gimmick. It’s a classic approach to design, but, at the same time, it’s fertile for organic innovation. For this reason, it seems like the optimal choice for exploring our new worlds.
And speaking of new worlds…
I can’t say much, but for our new IP, we’re working with themes of psychiatry, revolution, and the inter-dimensional journey of the soul.
And that’s all you get for now!