Update: OK folks, I'm off again. Going to Juegos Rancheros, the indie game event here in Austin. If you're local maybe I'll see you there (http://juegosrancheros.com/)

Update: I'm back for the next 30-40 minutes!

Update: Thanks everybody! It's been great so far. I'm going to go grab some lunch but I'll be back a bit later to check for new questions.

I'm Joe Houston and I'm a game programmer, designer, and writer. I'm best known for my work on the critically acclaimed game Dishonored, and for my recent articles on indie gaming and video game violence. I currently have an indie game team "Roxlou Games" and we have a new game "Unwritten" on Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1599677835/unwritten-that-which-happened

This is me: http://www.linkedin.com/in/josephhouston/

And this is my proof: http://www.roxlougames.com/pay-no-attention/

Some of those articles I mentioned, if you feel like it. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/01/14/dishonored-designer-joe-houston-on-violence-in-games/ http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JoeHouston/20121116/181786/A_Former_Dishonored_Dev_Why_Im_Going_Indie.php http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/02/05/the-telling-of-tales-unwritten-interview/

Thanks!

Comments: 187 • Responses: 81  • Date: 

Wravburn12 karma

Welcome, and let me say Unwritten looks amazing. (not just visually)

What would you call the #1 feature of Unwritten? (I don't want to marginalize the other features, I'd like to know what excites you personally).

PandaMittens15 karma

The "story fragment" system is probably closest to my heart, because it is the feature that eventually inspired our "story-tellers" theme, which prompted us to use the Balinese shadow puppets in our art style, and basically just created the whole game concept.

For those that don't yet know, the "story fragment" system is the concept that each decision you make in the game turns into a little token (which we call a "story fragment"). These modify your stats, are used in diplomacy with other tribes, and are an integral part of the game.

Another favorite is the feature where you can send a story fragment back home via carrier pigeon, allowing you to restart as the next generation of your clan after you die. The story fragment then starts with you, only now it has grown into a "legend", meaning its positive AND negative aspects have grown, making it more powerful but also more volatile.

dbemont3 karma

I read about the chance to send a fragment back home. If I remember right, this is an option offered once a game, and it somewhat ameliorates the permadeath of the game, in that even if you die, another generation can start again.

But you made it sound like an option, something you might choose not to do. Is there a reason? Is there some risk to doing this?

PandaMittens8 karma

When you send the story fragment back home you use it up, meaning that it won't be usable any more in diplomacy. You might send away a heinous act you did to bury it, but then you'll be saddling your descendants with it right away. More likely than not you're sending something good, but you might want to keep it for the current playthrough instead.

Also, since you can only do it once per playthrough, you might want to hold out for a better fragment. But of course you stand the risk of dying without sending anything at all, so it's a bit of a gamble.

anomalouskeklol12 karma

I'm super stoked for Unwritten (huge fan of Dishonored as well)!

Given working with Arkane on Dishonored and now in a smaller environment with Unwritten which do you like better? What are the differences?

PandaMittens5 karma

I like aspects of both, but I really believe in indie developer and that's where I want to be long term.

The biggest differences are flexibility and security. On a smaller team you can react to change much easier, and you have tremendous freedom. But those changes could also kill you at any time, whereas on a larger team you may not be able to change course, but you just absorb the bumps in the road.

On a good day working as an indie is unbelievably rewarding (nothing else touches it) and it's amazingly exciting. But on a bad day it's terrifying. Of course working without funding is a big part of this (come on Kickstarter, go!), but you also feel a much greater responsibility for delivering on your promises and delivering on the fan's expectations.

jamesk140227 karma

Loved the game! Although, who decided Samuel should turn on me? I was pissed...

PandaMittens8 karma

I'll be honest: that pissed me off too. I told some people :)

I don't think it was any one person that made that call. The design and writing team had a really difficult time balancing all the iterations of the game with a complex story. I've learned to cut them some slack.

For what it's worth, it does provide some context to the player about the morality of what they've been doing, rather than just saying "murder is great!" But I think a lot of people react negatively to it (like I did) because that judgement seems to sneak up on you and bite you when it's too late to change your actions.

Again, just my $0.02. Take it for what it's worth.

nicksatdown7 karma

Well Hello there Mr. Houson!

First and only question (MAYBE).

When are you going to be in San Diego so I can buy you a drink?

PandaMittens17 karma

This is a sexy start.

I would say that you could just mail me that drink, but my wife has asked that I stop putting things that come in the mail into my mouth.

nicksatdown3 karma

Well I will not be able to do that with fear of pissing off your wife. Either way, Great work thus far, Are you going to be making it down here for Comic-Con this year?

PandaMittens2 karma

I'm crazy busy most of the time, but never say never.

Salacious-7 karma

First, let me just say that I loved Dishonored. I thought the gameplay and style was fantastic. I was particularly impressed with the compact level design that allowed many different paths in such a small space; it really increases the replay value of the game. My one problem was the story, and in particularly the ending. I'll put my answer in spoiler text below, so just mouse over to read the question.

Hover over this to read the spoiler

PandaMittens7 karma

Glad to hear that you liked Dishonored!

The writing for the game was done by our co-creative director Harvey Smith and by noted writer Austin Grossman, so I can't claim credit (or responsibility) for that scene.

That said, I can tell from your description that you played the game in low chaos. If you had gone off the rails a bit you'd have gotten a very different ending altogether. You also might have seen a bit more of my work, since I mostly wrote code that helped you murder people left and right.

SlashStar2 karma

I thought the ending was excellent. The final enemy knows all about you. He watched you single-handedly tear down the government. Now you come back from the dead and break into the most secure fortress in the land. What the hell is he going to do about it? A boss battle wouldn't have worked with the theme at all because it would have required the final enemy to have supernatural powers greater than your own. By the end of the game you have demonstrated your ability to overcome any obstacle, and the game reflects that.

My problem with it is when you pick up the key the AI reads this as stealing and attacks you.

PandaMittens1 karma

As I recall it isn't that it reads that as stealing. It's actually intentional with the story and is meant to be interpreted as such.

You may draw your own conclusions. Also... MINOR SPOILERS.

Krantastic5 karma

Unwritten

I like the emphasis on the story of your playthrough. Everyone will have their own story from a playthrough of FTL or XCOM, but the proof of the story is your current state - what you gained or lost, battle scars, etc, whereas in Unwritten you cary your story with you. It seems that you guys have a passion for storeytelling and player choice, but you aren't telling a particular story. You're making a story-generating game. I'm curious how you ended up with heavy storytelling influence in a typically unscripted genre, and whether you were originally tempted to tell story of one clan with scripted plot points.

How does the combat resolve in Unwritten? Does combat involve player input? What does it "play like?" Will I be activating the special abilities of units or are they passive?

I think the themes and the art here are beautiful, I really hope you guys make it!

PandaMittens4 karma

We were never going to have scripted plot points because the game idea actually started with the "story fragment" system, and I feel it just wouldn't work in a linear, scripted game. We also have been inspired by the recent "rogue-like" games, especially "The Binding of Isaac" and "Spelunky" and we knew we wanted to be in that same family of games but with our own identity.

PandaMittens4 karma

The combat in Unwritten resolves similarly to how it resolves in Civilization. Your units and enemy units have a few stats and you can inspect what the result of each fight is going to be. There won't be any player input (like a mini game or something). It's more like chess in that regard. You know the consequences ahead of time (as many moves ahead as you can plan), and every decision you make will be the result of a careful decision. This was important to us because we want the player to feel ownership for the outcome of their decisions, rather than feeling like they were cheated because of a slow reaction time.

sovereignwaters5 karma

Dishonored question - was there a reason the ending wasn't left more open for Corvo's story to continue? I loved the game and would've been very open to a sequel of some kind.

PandaMittens9 karma

This is probably more a question for the game's creative directors, Raf and Harvey. However, I can give you my $0.02 (strictly my opinion). I personally like getting some closure in a game, and all too often franchise games leave too much unsaid in order to tease out that inevitable sequel.

That all said, I'd be really surprised if this was the last you've heard from Dishonored. I don't work there anymore so don't take this as fact, but ZeniMax (Arkane's owning company) has basically said publicly that "a franchise is born".

I can't find the link to the news article right now, but I'm sure some of the readers know what I'm talking about and can dig it up.

JRocSupreme4 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

I'd like to ask about the funding. If by chance the Kickstarter doesn't reach its goal (hopefully it does), what will happen to Unwritten: That Which Happened?

PandaMittens5 karma

I touched on that a bit in this interview with Rock Paper Shotgun: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/02/05/the-telling-of-tales-unwritten-interview/

But here's the short version: we're going to explore every opportunity to fund Unwritten. However, the only 100% sure way the game will get made and still be the game we envision is to fund this Kickstarter right here, right now. We're dedicated to the Kickstarter campaign, and it still has a strong chance of success due to the way more KS campaigns fund in the last 48 hours.

That said, we've been looking into a "Plan B" for some time. We have a few options, although of course none are as good for the game as the Kickstarter.

Da-Donster3 karma

How difficult would you describe the game?

PandaMittens3 karma

You mean how difficult is Unwritten?

It will be tuned for hardcore gamers, and will be meant to be played on "hard" difficulty, so it will be pretty damn difficult. We'll also be including a "normal" difficulty which will be a good introduction to the game, and also a good challenge for less hardcore players.

Ralof1 karma

I'd also like an 'easy' option. I've already backed the project on Kickstarter and I am not a very clever gamer. The one thing that destroys a game for me is frustration because it is tuned too hard. To me, being 'difficult' is not the mark of a good game. Being 'engaging' is. And difficulty will kill engagement 9 times out of ten if you can't get around it. I finished Dishonored twice, but I had it on easy both times.

PandaMittens1 karma

Fair enough! We'll chase the fun wherever we can, for as many people as we can without compromising the idea. Maybe an easy mode is something we can do.

sanguinekorrin3 karma

I don't have a question, I just wanted to say that I LOVED Dishonored. Excellent work, sir, and I will look out for Unwritten.

PandaMittens5 karma

Thanks!

anomalouskeklol2 karma

What can you tell us about the relationship between Arkane and Bethesda/Zenimax?

I don't know everything that goes behind the curtains but it seems some publishers really hinder the developers when making a game.

Did Beth/Zen really let the Dishonored team run with their own creativity?

Also, do you know what's in store for Arkane? I loved Dishonored and I'm very excited to see what's next for the studio.

PandaMittens3 karma

I can honestly say that the Arkane publisher relationship is a matter of public record, meaning that what you've heard is true. For those that don't know Arkane started out working for Bethesda as a third party developer, and was then acquired. Even when working as a third party (which is the relationship most vulnerable to publisher "meddling" you hear about) Bethesda was remarkably savvy about game making, and they seemed to trust us in our business.

I won't say that there weren't moments of frustration on both ends, but even "after the honeymoon" they stood out as a solid, smart publisher/developer.

screamingtree2 karma

I love your work.

What was something you specifically brought to Dishonored as a developer?

What were your influences as a developer in terms of modern games?

What did you learn from Dishonored that will carry over to Unwritten?

PandaMittens6 karma

I was on Dishonored for the full 3.5 years of development and I worked on a lot of stuff. I'm very tools oriented, and I'm obsessed with player experience, so that's probably where my influence is most felt. Much of my work is best when you don't notice it at all, like in the player's movement suite. Often times I was asked to solve a difficult problem, and the result is that you never even know the problem is there in the first place. It is strange, but many of the times I read Dishonored reviews in that first month I was hoping against hope that nobody mentioned my work on a particular feature, because that meant it was doing its job.

I'm a big fan of indie games like Spelunky, FTL, The Binding of Isaac, and Journey. I'm inspired by some elements of big AAA games. I'm inspired by Skyrim (and the Elder Scrolls games in general) because it creates a game that is so absurdly out of scope that it just shouldn't be possible to make, but because the developers went ahead and did it anyway it's a product like none other out there. It reminds me to check my insecurities at the door and be brave enough to try hard things.

I learned a lot about player experience and "affordance", which is a term the design team used a lot. Affordance refers to what an object seems like it should be able to do. For example the affordance of a door is that it can be opened, closed, locked, unlocked, etc. If the door is made of wood and the player has a grenade it now has the affordance that it can be blown up. If the door is made of metal the affordance changes again. We would talk a lot about how something has "poor affordance", which basically means "that's going to piss people off". An invisible wall wrecks affordance. The affordance of a big open space is that you can damn well walk through it. It's all about communicating with the player, and honoring your design promises.

dbemont2 karma

What I have seen, so far, Unwritten sounds fascinating. I love the collection of narrative fragments and the role these are to play when interacting with other tribes. But I also have some interest in the exploration, hunting and combat. I guess the exploration, in particular.

What kind of mechanic do you have set up for exploration? You have mentioned that it is risky. Is it analogous to finding and popping goodie huts in Civ? Or is there more to it?

PandaMittens1 karma

Some of it is just like the goodie huts you mention. There are tiles with "food" and "roxlous" (llama like creatures that represent money in the game), and these are basically collectible. We also have "story events" which represent a major decision or event in the game, and many of these have to be discovered, and then the result of the event is unknown so participating in them is a form of exploration itself.

Exploration is risky because you cannot see into unexplored territory, and there are likely hostile units and dangerous story events out there. Plus, resources are scarce (especially units), so you'll have to balance whether going out and getting more goodies is worth the danger of losing units you can't immediately replace.

Ladranix2 karma

What was the most interesting aspect of Dishonored for you? Either the game itself or the development process.

PandaMittens6 karma

The "heart" gadget was something I didn't like in development, and was convinced that players wouldn't bother with. At some point though (after an internal change really polished it up) I "got it" and it turned into something I enjoyed. But what I especially liked was hearing about how it unintentionally (at least on our end) changed the game for people.

The heart lines were random, but we were hearing about players choosing to kill or spare civilians based on what the heart said. If the heart said "she informs on her neighbors", non-violent players would suddenly enact vigilante justice. There was no moral system in the game code (NPCs weren't considered "good" or "bad" besides the context set up by the dialog), but player's were reacting to what they heard for no discernible reward, and were getting their own satisfaction from it.

That was a big teaching moment for me, especially when I later designed Unwritten.

Ladranix2 karma

That's pretty cool, and the heart was a neat thing in the game for me too, always creeped me out a little though. Can you confirm/deny anything about the heart's back story?

PandaMittens5 karma

I can confirm the same thing that IMDB can confirm for you, that the voice of the Empress is the same as the voice for the heart.

;)

TooMuchProtein2 karma

My friend's a big-time Dishonored fan. Can you give him any insider secrets or tips?

PandaMittens11 karma

Oh and killing Assassins (the guys with the masks) doesn't raise your chaos level. Go nuts.

PandaMittens8 karma

Any time you throw a pot or bottle or something at a guard to make them stagger backwards, your next sword strike will instantly kill them. Carrying junk around with you is a good way to get free kills.

PthekidD2 karma

How did you guys come up with the teleporting idea?? It was awesome, I found myself really wanting that power IRL after playing that game.

PandaMittens4 karma

As I recall, a short range teleport is found in Dungeons and Dragons, and is actually called "Blink".

However, in Dishonored Blink was one of the very first powers pitched, and it was always described as being used to "move between different pools of shadow", so I think the stealth aspect of it was where it came from.

Eventually it evolved into "move all over the place, all the damn time". And it's awesome.

blahblehbloo2 karma

Awesome! Nice to see you've joined Reddit!

After reading Rock, Paper, Shotgun's interview with you on creating Dishonored, it was wonderful to hear your opinion as a game developer on the state of video game violence as well as the role of choice in how video games are understood as well as played.

That said, how do feel games will technologically evolve in the future? Do you feel technology such as the Oculus Rift will be successful? Also, what is your view on the current state of the video game industry in regards to engaging players with a "journey"?

Finally, Dishonored is a beautifully done game. I love its unconventional premise and background. I haven't had the chance to buy Dishonored yet, but will do hopefully soon. Kudos to you and your work!

PandaMittens2 karma

Glad you enjoyed the articles. I've been touched by the smart debate they sparked in comment threads everywhere, which is a tribute to the readers themselves.

I feel that game technology has plateaued because the industry never stopped to figure out how their latest tech affects the way they work. For example, new technology has required greater and greater amounts of hand crafted art be poured into it, but the industry's response has been to simply add more artists. When they could add no more, they started outsourcing. What we're seeing now is the upper limit of this approach, both technically and creatively. You just can't run a creative project with hundreds of people and get consistent quality, and you have to be risk adverse to make the investment of millions of dollars worth it.

I think the future is in new tools and new processes, and in getting out team sizes small again. Indies are doing a lot of creative innovation and are creating a demand for that again, but it's needs to be the re-emergence of mid-size developers to really change the industry. That said, it's a tough time for them right now. You might go support the Wildman Kickstarter (I'm unaffiliated with them) if you feel I'm right.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gaspoweredgames/wildman-an-evolutionary-action-rpg

PandaMittens2 karma

Oh and about the Oculus Rift: it looks badass and I'm excited for it. Confession: I've been a VR enthusiast for years, and I owned a few head mounted displays before I got a wife and baby and had to explain to them why daddy needed such things.

Is it the future of the industry? Honestly, I don't think so, at least not in its current form. VR probably is, but a HMD alone is a step along the path, not the destination. Maybe it's a promising start because it's actually engaging the public interest in a way that previous attempts just haven't be able to do.

FedoraBear2 karma

I love Dishonored with an extreme passion. What's your favorite video game?

PandaMittens5 karma

I'm a life-long gamer, so that's a hard question. The Civilization series (1 through 5) has probably taken the most hours of my life, so that's has to be it. But I've been profoundly affected lately by experience games like Journey, so I'd be remiss not to mention it.

amxn2 karma

Hey Joe, I just backed the game, even though I didn't quite like the art-style. I'm guessing it'll be flushed out after it is funded?

Regardless, as a huge fan of Dishonored, how huge was Bioshock an inspiration to the game - the heart device, abilities, etc. The stealth was a bit broken and led to often funny scenarios, was it not play tested? Or was it designed to be so?

PandaMittens1 karma

Thanks for your support! Yes, the art is not yet finished, but is our jumping off point.

I think Bioshock was a big influence, but not directly. Many of the members of the Dishonored team worked on the original Deus Ex, and we were all influenced heavily by Thief and System Shock, which were the inspirations for Bioshock.

Thief is probably the game that came up the most in the early discussions.

As for the stealth, I can tell you that everything in the game was heavily iterated on. Tremendous amounts of care were put into every system, but (without passing judgement on the stealth) it was tricky to balance them in the ecosystem of the rest of the game which was also changing all the time.

amxn1 karma

I didn't mean to be snarky, its just that the FOV of enemies was hillariously small and I could literally walk 10 feet from them (in darkness though) and not get noticed.

Coming back to Unwritten, are you planning to innovate with the core game design, or is it just going to be building off of Civ's design docs?

PandaMittens1 karma

Don't worry, I didn't think you were being snarky :)

Unwritten learns from a few features in Civ, but it's mostly limited to UI and player experience stuff many people won't even call out. Unwritten is pretty different from Civ (no city building, a different unit building structure, etc), so even if we wanted to clone the design it wouldn't make sense.

We're mitigating our "design risk" as they say by drawing from turn-based games, tabletop games, and collectible card games, but the overall game is ours from top to bottom.

amxn2 karma

Thanks, makes sense :)

Also, all the best with your kickstarter. Btw, is there any mail address that I can get in touch with. (I've coordinated a few 11th hour funding successes :D)

Btw, keep your hopes up - Unwritten is getting funded! :D

PandaMittens1 karma

[email protected]

Thanks! We're in this thing all the way to the end!

smibzz2 karma

Unwritten looks like such an amazing game, and I hope it gets backed! Did you think Dishonored was going to be as big of a hit as it was?

PandaMittens3 karma

We always talked big. We said "we're going for game of the year". Truth be told though, I've been in the "game of the year" meeting on almost every game I ever worked on, even that canceled PSP tie-in for The Da Vinci Code.

Right before it came out I was so close to it (after working on it for so many years) that I couldn't tell if it was good or not. So I decided to play it through with my headphones on, and I got this sense that if nothing else, it was going to special to a certain group of fans. These were fans that hadn't been listened to in a good while, and I knew Dishonored was going to be great for them.

I was very proud of my small part in the game at that point. The mainstream success is nice and all that, but that one moment was all I needed to be proud.

TwistedTeacup2 karma

I'd like to see a breakdown of the $75,000 price, what all it's going to if that's alright? I'm also wondering what you want to put in, but decided not too at that pricepoint?

PandaMittens3 karma

Around 10% goes to Kickstarter and Amazon Payments. 5 grand is set aside for "Kickstarter fullfillment", which is shipping, printing, etc, and that's only so low because we were really careful with where we offered physical rewards. That leaves around 60K for the game which we would use to contract out the music (to Julian our music guy), and to hire me and Lee our artist full time. We also would like to continue contracting Amanda Williams, environment artist for "Waking Mars" and "Spider" from time to time.

All said and done that's the bare minimum price for that many people's work for 7 months, with everyone taking the smallest salary they can survive on. Many are also working for a share of the profits, and because they believe in the project.

There are a number of things we can't have at that pricepoint that ultimately result in fewer features. For example we can't have an Associate Produce/Community Manager, which means I run the Twitter/Facebook/Google+/Website/Publicity all myself, and each minute I devote to other stuff is a minute I take from the game. One other thing we've been exploring is doing some contract work on the side so that I don't have to draw a salary and so we can hire on a talented art director I know.

For both of those things above, hitting stretch goals means we could have all that without taking on other distractions. However, we're absolutely going to make the most game we can for every dollar we get.

andy246012 karma

What programming languages are games like Dishonored written in?

PandaMittens3 karma

Dishonored was written in C++ with a little bit of C# (mostly because the Unreal engine is C++ with a little bit of C#).

C++ is still the dominant language in the industry, although some of the managed languages like C# are making some headway. Some MMOs make heavy use of stackless Python, but you're still sure to see some C++ at least somewhere on the project.

KogX1 karma

Joe, what books and compilers for C++ do you recommend?

I do have basic coding knowledge in Visual Basic and I am very interested in learning C++ and hopefully creating video games in the future.

PandaMittens1 karma

Microsoft Visual C++ for Visual Studio is pretty much a standard. If you have academic ties you can get it for a reasonable price (well considering its full commercial price tag). You can of course get the GNU C++ compiler and IDE completely for free if you're willing to dive into the world of open source and are prepared to learn a lot that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with programming itself. Depending on where your technical comfort level is this can be harrowing on your first try though. If I were to do it again (starting today), I'd start with Visual C++. Well if you're on a PC. You can always use XCode for free if you're on a Mac.

As for books, I'm hopelessly out of date there (it's been a long time). My experience back in the 90s when I was starting was that all the books were basically the same, and that the best way for me to learn programming... was to program. I wrote a text adventure game while learning C++, and that's where most of my learning happened. You could also take a programming class at your local community college. They can help fill in engineering concepts that your own homebrew education will be lacking, and it's usually pretty cheap if you're a resident.

Your mileage may vary.

gunslingerfry11 karma

Joe,

Assuming Unwritten is a success, would you consider a release on the mainstream markets such as PSN/XBLA or the Ouya?

Also, any interest in coming back to Utah?

PandaMittens1 karma

Would love to bring the game to as many platforms that play the game well. We'd have to do some tests and a re-design to make sure it's fun with a controller, but otherwise there's no reason we couldn't port it.

Of course there are other barriers, like dev kit costs and an expensive submission costs on the Xbox, and we don't yet know what the new versions of the Xbox and PS3 will be like for indie games. But we'll cross those bridges if and when we come to them.

PandaMittens1 karma

As for coming back to Utah... nope :)

Well, never say never. The wife and I really like it in Austin, but the right opportunity would make the surface of the moon seem pretty nice.

Danneskjld1 karma

What are your top three games of all time?

PandaMittens2 karma

I had to think about this one a long time. Had to go with just the games that have had the most impact on my life. Here goes...

Civilization IV

Zelda: A Link to the Past

Journey

Sauledk1 karma

How do you keep yourself motivated? Do you have a preferred platform to design games for? (ex. DS, PC, XBOX, PS3, PSP) Not looking for a gaming system arguement, just wanted some insight on how you feel about working with the different limitations of each system

PandaMittens2 karma

Motivation is nine tenths just getting started every day. Once I start, I almost always carry through. Deadlines really help, even if you make them up yourself. "Past Joe" is always setting deadlines for "future Joe". I kind of hate that guy.

If you have trouble setting your own deadlines, get someone else to enforce them for you. Some of the most growth I had as a writer was when I joined a writer's group with two published novelists. I did a lot of writing just hours before our meetings, but I also did a lot of writing which is all that counts.

PandaMittens2 karma

Whoops forgot to answer the question about my preferred platform:

Right now it's probably Xbox for ease of programming and overall consumer experience. However, Xbox is also a really problematic platform for indie developers right now (very expensive and gamers are leaving XBLA). PC is far, far better in this regard, and my choice as an indie.

This is similar to my experience programming for iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc). For the right game it's a very convenient platform to make a game for. But the market and the problems with getting noticed scare the hell out of me. I think Unwritten (with a re-designed interface) would play great on an iPad, and I would want to own it there as a gamer. But chances are strong that platform won't make any money so we have to balance what is smart against what we want.

My compromise is that I plan on offering an iPad version of Unwritten as a distant stretch goal, solely because I think it would be cool for gamers. That way we focus on our core first, and if we make money on the tablet version it will be a bonus.

Switch3821 karma

Hello Joe!

Just first wanted to say I have put untold hours into Dishonored, as well as the Dunwall City Trials, its been my most favorite game in quite a while (I am actually working on a Corvo costume for Dragon-Con this year).

Only 2 quick questions -

  1. Since there was pretty much a plot designed around being non-lethal in your approach, why were there so few gadgets/weapons/powers to be used for being non-lethal? Say, smoke grenade, maybe invisibility, maybe a big mana powered flash to blind all the enemies near you, etc. Everything seems to be geared toward lethality. (Granted, the lethal play through is a blast none the less)

  2. Do you have any of those Corvo masks laying around that were given out to random Gamestops? :)

Thanks!

PandaMittens3 karma

Glad you liked the game! Tweet me a picture of that costume when it's done :) (@PandaMittens)

  1. I can tell you that there were a number of iterations of Dishonored, and there were many gadgets and powers that didn't make the cut. I think that the ones that made it, made it because they were the most fun to the most people, meaning they were fun to stealth and non-stealth players alike. As a result, even the stealth friendly stuff is useful to an aggressive player, but it also means that the more creative/cool "stealth only" powers/gadgets got boxed out. However, that doesn't mean the balance is perfect. DLC is usually a good place for developers to try out ideas that didn't quite make it in the original game. I'm not confirming anything, but you might keep your eyes peeled for Dishonored's second DLC pack :)

  2. I had one of those masks but my wife made me give it away because it was "the creepiest thing [she'd] ever seen". So I'm afraid I can't help you there.

jeb9361 karma

Do you think the glory days of big game developers may be ending soon? Is there a shift towards Indie games, is this where in your opinion consumers are headed. Will their always be a market and feasibility for big games like Dishonored?

PandaMittens5 karma

I think the "glory days" of big game developers are already behind us. I mean that in the sense that making a big, well-known game is no longer about big royalties and rewards and being creative. The business aspect of big games is extremely prevalent, and the decisions on a large project are becoming more and more predefined.

However, that doesn't exactly answer your question. Indie games are no where even close to replacing main stream games. AAA games create an experience that is, as yet, completely unmatched in the indie space. This may not be true creatively, but in terms of scope, scale, and polish, AAA games don't compete with indie games, not really. This is not important to all consumers (notice I don't say "gamers"), but it is important to a whole lot of them. If you want to sell millions of units, packaging still counts for a lot.

I think consumers at large are always going to want big games. However, I think what we need to see (and will see eventually) is that same experience being made by smaller, more nimble companies with better tools. These are the mid size studios that are almost extinct right now. So I think that yes, there will always be big games like Dishonored, but I don't think they will be made the way they are now.

uboat571 karma

I FUCKING LOVE THIS GAME! Seriously, very good job with "Dishonored".

PandaMittens2 karma

Thanks!

uboat571 karma

Where did you get the idea for the surroundings of Dishonored?

PandaMittens3 karma

I can't take credit for that. Harvey Smith and Raf Colantonio were the creative directors, plus the whole thing was a big collaboration between their vision and the art direction of Arkane art director Sebastien Mitton and former Half Life art director Viktor Antonov.

I can relay some of the story I hear them tell when asked that question, that it started as an attempt to recreate London in 1666, around the time of the great fire, but over time it kept adopting more and more "alternate history" elements. Eventually it became the eclectic mix you see today.

jwhitt61 karma

[deleted]

JCSmusic2 karma

Hello. Thanks for your comments on the music. I'm sure Joe will take good care of me and I look forward to writing some cool tunes :)

PandaMittens2 karma

Hey Julian.

PandaMittens1 karma

We're going to be focusing mainly on raising awareness and putting out the last few updates we have planned. And of course talking to backers and potential backers. They're the whole reason we're doing this.

We've emailed totalbiscuit but haven't heard back yet. A lot of times you have to break through a bit to get replies (it wasn't until we'd make some campaign progress that the Rock, Paper, Shotgun interview happened, but we'd contacted them before). I think some of the backers have tweeted at Notch, but I haven't done it myself.

Julian won't be fulltime simply because there isn't enough work for him to stay busy for seven straight months. I want him to be able to keep promoting his own work and keep on crafting, but not to worry, he's our official musician. We're very happy with the work he's done with us, and so are the backers. Once the Kickstarter picked up some steam we were hit with a lot of other offers to do music, but Julian is our guy :)

We don't have a formal agreement with Amanda, mostly because how much money we raise will really affect our situation. We enjoyed working with her and she's excited about the project (she's been great about spreading the word herself). We're looking forward to future collaboration.

And thanks for your support in spreading the word! I know it feels slow sometimes, but every little bit really does help.

iDrinkFromTheBottle1 karma

Dishonored landed in my mailbox today and I've yet to play it. What should I know before I pop it in the xbox?

PandaMittens5 karma

Be sure to install it to your harddrive.

Save often.

Don't get obsessed with perfection. The stealth experience can be frustrating if you want to "ghost" the game, but you can still have a low chaos experience by running from the guards and losing them. That ebb and flow can be a lot of fun.

When you get to the Boyle Manor, don't just kill everybody. Walk around and listen. It's some of the most fun you'll have in the game. Then kill everybody if you still feel like it.

tinyutopia1 karma

Hey Joe,

Being a fellow indie game dev in Austin, and having just released a new mobile title Epic Mech Wars I'm curious about your thoughts on the growing indie scene in Austin.

Do you think that there anything we can be doing to collectively grow the strength our individual indie power that Austin devs are not already doing? Also, are you working with any agencies or outreach PR that you can recommend to get the work out about "Unwritten"?

PandaMittens2 karma

I'm pretty impressed with the Austin indie scene, thanks to the work of people like Brandon Boyer. "Juegos Rancheros" and the upcoming "Nation of Indies"events are great in that they are consistently getting out there and doing stuff.

That said, I still feel a lack of meaningful support. I have places to go to talk to other people, but it's still up to me and my own wits to find providers to partner with, to meet other indie-curious types, etc. The biggest place I feel alone is in health care and all the resources one needs to go indie as an adult with a family.

However, "Nation of Indies" sounds like they want to cover some of that, so I'm really interested to go. I've got my RSVP and it's the day before our Kickstarter campaign ends. Depending on our outcome I'll either gather some good info about our indie project, or I'll drink a lot.

Nepene1 karma

I looked at your new game. While it looks interesting, there is a feature of it I am not so fond of- it looks like your success in the end game is not dependent on your actions as your god may decide due to the random number god that making friends is a sin and smite you. How does your game's ending relate to the actions of the player?

Also, were there any especially brutal or fun ways to kill people in dishonored that were cut that you could tell us about?

PandaMittens2 karma

Actually a big rule of ours on Unwritten is not to randomly penalize the player. We want the content to be random, but the decisions the player makes are carefully considered. In the case of the God in the mountain, you actually can learn the god's moral code by playing the game. By exploring and participating in "story events" you will learn what the god values, and can then decide how to balance those desires against your needs in surviving.

PandaMittens1 karma

On the Dishonored thing, the spring razors at one time actually made all these little flesh giblets fly out. We couldn't do it, partially because of time, and partially because once the game has gotten a rating you can't touch the gore factor.

kevin110401 karma

[deleted]

PandaMittens1 karma

This really depends on how big a game you're making. But they all have some combination of the following.

Concept/Pitch - Coming up with an idea and getting someone to listen to you

Pre-Production - Feeling out your concept, "finding the fun", prototyping, figuring out your art style, exploring your technology options, making plan after plan after plan (which will be obsolete as soon as you write it down).

Vertical Slice - Taking your pre-production plan and trying to create the smallest chunk of game you can that shows all the elements working together. A VS should show your art style, your gameplay systems, your level design, etc. But it also should (in an ideal world) have your production pipeline working behind the scenes. This is about creating your plan and tools to do the same thing you did for the VS, but for the whole game.

Production - Scaling up your production pipeline and actually "making the game".

This is an ultra simplified version of what a game goes through, and all stages have testing, iteration, and (sometimes) starting over.

wehaveherpes1 karma

Can you think of anything about dishonored that you wanted to do better? Are you happy with how it came out?

PandaMittens10 karma

Like any project, I'm happy with some things more than others. I'm rather pleased with the player movement (which I wrote and tuned in conjunction with producer-designer Seth Shain). I like that the player is seldom locked down, seldom hung up, and extremely mobile for a first person game. After working on Dishonored for 3.5 years I was frustrated playing other games where I couldn't move as easily, but the game wasn't even out yet so it wasn't like it was a standard or anything.

I'm also very happy with the fan reaction to the game. I feel like it was an important game to a lot of people, and that it delivered in a AAA space a lot of features that gamers were being told "these things don't sell". I can't take credit for that as that was a big effort by the whole team and the leadership in particular, but I'm still proud for them and for the game itself.

Truth time: I'm most annoyed by the game's presentation. I'm very sensitive to animation hiccups and abnormalities, and I know Dishonored's quirks better than probably anyone. Maybe not a fair criticism for your average gamer, but I'm a game developer and so I'm hyper critical in that way.

[deleted]1 karma

[deleted]

PandaMittens3 karma

Do you mean Lady Emily?

She was voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz, and I think she was 15 when she did the job. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1631269/

I think the character's meant to be precocious, but she's 8 to 10 (I don't remember how old the actual dialog says she is), so that is a bit of a mismatch.

wehaveherpes1 karma

Wow, thanks for your reply. While playing dishonored, I was really happy with how movement came into play, because in an FPS being locked up in a location or being restricted was a big negative for me, and dishonored made me feel free of that. Did any other mobile FPS elements come into play? (Mirrors Edge, BRINK, etc.) Or were you particularly trying to make it something new?

PandaMittens2 karma

The "mantle" feature (where you automatically climb a surface by holding the jump button) was a big center piece of the game and was one of the very first things we did. That one was programmed by former Arkane Programmer Jeff Lake, and he hit it out of the park. It was inspired by the mantle feature found in the early Thief games, but I've never played another game that has done it as well as Jeff did it for Dishonored. That's probably a feature that most people don't even recognize is there... until they try to play a game that doesn't have it.

It was interesting though: we were specifically not going to spend the kind of time Mirror's Edge and Brink did in world traversal, but as it happened the Slide, Blink, and Mantle features ended up making the player so versatile that I feel we approached that level of mobility anyway. We weren't as flashy maybe, but it feels very playable to me and that's what counts.

kevin110401 karma

[deleted]

PandaMittens2 karma

A few little shout outs I think. Some of the game sites have pointed out a reference to "Portal" in Piero's workshop, and I can think of an homage to Thief in the Assassin's hideout in the Flooded district.

kevin110401 karma

[deleted]

PandaMittens1 karma

I've worked for several in my career. Arkane was independent when I got there, with a large number of people working in France and a small team in Austin, TX where I worked. Partway through the project we were acquired and the Austin team scaled up to about 20 people, while in France I think there were 60 or so. It was an interesting environment, and unlike anything I'd ever been a part of.

I also worked for Midway, and was there right before (and after) the first round of layoffs, and saw it through until its bankruptcy. I also worked briefly for EA by way of Bioware Austin. At both of these companies budgets were a lot higher, and money never really felt like a concern. There were a lot of employee perks, but of course in Midway's case there was a time of reckoning that made one wonder if that was the best course.

I also worked for Sensory Sweep at the beginning of my career. It made news, not for its games, but for failing to pay its taxes and employees and for getting the president of the company thrown in jail. But that's a story that would fill several separate questions!

KogX1 karma

What will push the players in Unwritten to continue to new areas?

Will it be like how FTL have the rebels slowly follow you or will it be a resource limitation (ie. you have a limited amount of food in the area and your people will starve).

PandaMittens1 karma

It's a combination of the clan's reliance on food, and the fact that new units join you periodically under the cover of "quick storms". You can explore at your own leisure if you can get the right balance of "hunter and gatherer" units and warriors, but you also know that new units are coming that will need to be fed out of your personal stores.

You aren't being pushed to continue so much as you're being pushed to use your units well and to make room for more, but it has the same effect without you feeling like you're being persecuted all the time.

KogX1 karma

Have you guys try contacting Jesse Cox (youtube/OMFGcata) who is in love with Dishonored and a very good friend to TotalBiscuit.

I am aware he love story and the idea of Unwritten should be very exciting to him.

PandaMittens2 karma

We haven't tried Jesse as far as I know. Thanks for the tip!

david_ca12261 karma

Do you play Minecraft? That's literally the only question that came to mind....

PandaMittens1 karma

I've got big chunks of time that I can't account for, but when I dream at night it's all in little blocks of earth, wood, and wool.

So, yeah. Sometimes.

Andres13371 karma

Being one of those that has not yet played dishonored(can't afford it right now)It looks really awesome.

To my question Do you have any regrets?Career path or decisions?

PandaMittens1 karma

Honestly, no I don't, but not because I've had a perfect run (I haven't). It's just that everything that has ever happened to me has been part of making me who I am today. I have done things I regret in the past, but had I not done those things I would not have become the kind of person that knows better. I'm a work in progress, but I like who I am so far.

So I wouldn't take any of it back, and I like to keep my eyes to the future.

dancing_raptor_jesus1 karma

What can a young computer animation student in England do to get a year long placement? What is really important for me to show that in your industry that would make me stand out?

Also, awesome game, haven't played it yet, thouh my brother has and he has only good things to say about it!

PandaMittens1 karma

I'm not sure what the situation is like in England but in the U.S. you would most likely try for an internship. However, art jobs are extremely competitive. My understanding is the best thing you can do is put together an awesome portfolio. And like anything else, whenever you're not working just keep creating art and improving your craft.

I'll see if I can find a more specific answer from games artists I know working in France. Not the same as England, but at least it's on roughly the same continent :)

dancing_raptor_jesus1 karma

Haha same continent is good :P If you don't mind answering, what's it like working on a game in general? To know that your work is going to be seen by so many people?

PandaMittens1 karma

Some aspect of that is surreal. You can kind of get a sense of "a lot of people", but that tends to be in the hundreds in your brain. Even after you hit the thousands it starts to feel weird and disconnected. You really never understand what it really means to have millions see your stuff, should you be so fortunate. VGChartz has Dishonored sales in the multi-millions, and emotionally I just have no idea what that means.

That said, it's still great and I'm very grateful for the experience. On bad days a game job can be frustrating, tedious, and devastating, a lot more so than you would experience doing something normal like opening the mail for a bank (a job I actually did when first breaking in to the game industry). But on good days it really is great. You create something and then it's out there, and has somehow become "real".

It's still a job. But it's a badass job.

PandaMittens1 karma

I sent your question to Etienne Aubert, animation lead at Arkane. He and I worked together on enough first person assassination sequences to haunt the dreams of City Guards for years.

Here's what he said:

That’s a difficult question, as we don’t have any clear obvious answer for him. Btw, from my point of view, what could really show a difference between 2 candidates are the following points :

  • Showing that you’re not limited to a very specific task. Being able to animate a character in Maya is nice, but being able to explain and understand how you then use theses animations to have them ingame is far better. If you want to apply for an animation job in the videogame industry, it’s really important to know how it works.
  • Try to be involved in a MOD team if possible. That’s probably the best approach for videogame. On his demo reel, if he can show some playblast rendered animations, then the final result ingame, that will really be a big plus for him.
  • On the demo reel, he should try to show different styles of animations. Too often, I receive some demo reels with only cartoon animation. A good animator need to be able to adapt his work to the project. On a demo reel, it’s way better to have few but distinct animations. Also, try to avoid generic animations. Instead of having a typical Man walk for example, it would be much better to show an Old man walk, a sexy woman walk and an Orc warrior one.
  • Having a background in traditional animation is a big win too. Showing some traditional hand made animations in his demo reel is rare, and will definitely add to it
  • Showing some skill in human anatomy will be really helpful too. I like to see human nude and anatomical drawing being part of a demo reel. Understanding how a human body works will greatly enhance his animation skills.

That’s what came in my mind right now. Hope it helps !

ScandLynx1 karma

Hi there Joe!

I wonder what sort of experience or qualification do you need to become a game writer? I'm personally leaning towards studying medicine, but being part of the writing of a game has been a small dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I honestly don't want to have to choose between those two jobs, because I've always wanted to do both, so I'm hoping that I can study medicine and still be able to get a job as a writer at some point in my life.

So, is there some qualification or experience I would need in order to become a writer for a game studio?

PandaMittens2 karma

As they say, in order to be a novelist you need to have written at least one book. So to be a game writer, you need to write for games. How many writers do you know that don't actually write all that much? More than you'd think. Certainly it wouldn't hurt if you were already a well-known writer in another field, but I will give you the same advice I give to aspiring designers, programmers, and really anybody. If you want to do something for games, do it right now however you can and don't be ashamed of being an amateur.

Maybe find a project online to contribute to for free. Can't do that? Then just write for a hypothetical game for yourself. Just put it down on paper, in any way you can. And show it to people. Let them tell you it sucks, say "thank you for your feedback", and mean it. Then do all that again. And again. Put it on the Internet and have the trolls tear it apart and call you an idiot. And keep going. Eventually someone will want to work with you, mostly because you'll be getting better and you'll be worth it.

The trick to doing creative work is that although nobody is going to reach out to give you your "big break", you are guaranteed to get better as long as you actually do the work. And if you get better, you're going to get opportunities. The most successful people in life are either extremely lucky, or extremely tenacious. Tenacious is the only one you can bet on.

Praise6The6Sun61 karma

what advice would you give to an aspiring artist hoping to one day work in the game industry?

PandaMittens2 karma

I've answered a few like this on the page already so you might take a quick look, but I'll give you the short version :)

  1. Make art and do it for games, however you can, no matter how basic (and learn from it)
  2. Get feedback (and learn from it)
  3. Put your best work into your portfolio and show it to people
  4. Get used to rejection (and learn from it)
  5. Be tenacious and repeat all these steps forever, including after you get your first games job.

Csnyder231 karma

is there any inkling of an idea for a follow up to disonored? (I LOVED THAT GAME> MAKE ANOTHER PLEASE)

PandaMittens1 karma

Spokespeople from Bethesda/ZeniMax have publicly said that they're pleased with Dishonored and that it's the start of a "franchise". I can't confirm or deny anything (especially since I don't work there anymore and don't actually know), but I think you can read between the lines there :)

Mannered1 karma

First off; thank you very much for all the time and effort that you've put into Dishonored. One of my personal favourite games from last year and thank you for taking some time to do an AMA.

Q1: What do you think is going to be the major challenges from heading into Indie Development?

Q2: Also; curiously I dont know if you know this but as a major console gamer myself living in Australia. A lot of people that are currently making indie games actually have quite a hard time even thinking about releasing indie games on Australian consoles due to the pure fact of mandatory classifications needed for any console release games over here.

In turn that's effected places like the Indie Arcade section over here to not existing at all and releases to completely miss Australia because of it such as Retro City Rampage and a few others.

While you've not faced this yourself I believe; what are your thoughts and opinions on the matter and do you think there are solutions that the gaming industry can put forward to issues like this?

PandaMittens2 karma

Q1: Personal stability. The game industry is volatile in the best of times (just look at the number of studio closings in any given year), but at least in the U.S. it's very difficult to survive as an individual. The single biggest worry for me is health care/health insurance. I've noticed that nearly every indie post mortem I've read (including the Super Meat Boy post mortem) has some account of sickness and tremendous personal debt, and I don't think that's a coincidence.

Without dipping into politics (which I honestly don't care about), I do wish that the U.S. had an environment that was more conducive to small, creative businesses.

But this is the reality, and at least right now you just have to ask yourself if you want it enough to take the risk. For me that answer is "yes", but it's a real challenge and danger.

PandaMittens2 karma

Q2: I'll be honest, I don't know a lot about this situation. I do know that Australia is late to get a lot of big releases (mostly from hearing Yahtzee at Zero Punctuation complain about it).

I may be wrong, but they can't monitor and restrict digital distribution via the PC (or at least it would be very difficult). Is that right? Is it just a console thing?

Mannered1 karma

Yes, you're correct that digital distribution via the PC is not restricted in that sense. But all content on consoles are unfortunately. There are situations where games such as Terry Cavanagh's VVVVVV had been delayed for it's DSi release over four months when it was expected to drop the same time as the EU release; this was all due to mandatory classifications.

The developers behind Retro City Rampage was not released in Australia on the Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3. All consoles that it was originally developed for because of how expensive the classifications are over here and simply cannot afford it. Article

Computer releases are safe. But this is something that I honestly wouldnt know how to combat as a consumer and frankly I dont think many people even know about this subject.

PandaMittens2 karma

That does seem difficult to tackle as a consumer. You can't exactly "vote with your wallet" because it's a legislation issue.

What I can say is that I am a long time console game developer, and I love consoles. However, consoles are proving not to be a great place for independent developers right now. The "Team Meat" guys have been pretty vocal on these problems, and as someone looking to get started, consoles are scary (business-wise). This may be because they're still transitioning to a new market and a new console generation, but for now it seems that many of the most interesting indie games are on the PC.

Not much of a consolation I'm afraid. I will say that "voting with your wallet" is overrated anyway. Getting out there and raising awareness, writing emails, and starting discussions in the right places may get some traction over time.

Very interesting. Thanks for bringing it up!

bahtaz0 karma

simple question why PandaMittens ?

PandaMittens3 karma

Why not PandaMittens?

I needed an Internet handle that was never taken, didn't have any numbers or symbols in it, and was awesome.

PandaMittens! If you take it from me on any site I will destroy you with my panda claws, but only after I take my mittens off first.

BenLeafMe0 karma

Hey Joe! Loved Dishonored and the concept of blink jumping!! Welp my off handed question would be if you have any tips or advice for trying to make it into the games industry, preferably QA testing? Also on a scale of Smash Brothers to George Washington how much do you love pizza?

Thanks for the AMA!

PandaMittens3 karma

QA is considered an "entry level" position at most companies, although your career path isn't exactly clear. You might break out and become a designer or associate producer. Or you might become lead of QA. Or you might just get fired when the project ends.

It's kind of been done to death on the Internet, but QA is one of those tricky jobs that is a great stepping stone for some, and a difficult "less glamorous than you thought it would be" dead-end job for others. But I do personally know many high-profile developers that started in QA, so don't let me put you off it.

For QA I would just try applying. Major skills for QA are communication related, especially in writing detailed reports. But above all, actually apply for the job no matter what your prospects. Incidentally, this is good advice for getting anything you want in life. Try. Try over and over again. Get rejected, figure out what went wrong (if anything) and then try again. The only venue with a 100% of failure is doing nothing.

In answer to your second question: platypus-pogo-stick

Shadowpad0 karma

Question about Unwritten: Will there be multiplayer? I can see racing too the God first would be fairly exciting :)

PandaMittens1 karma

We have some ideas about asynchronous multiplayer like you might find in games like Dark Souls. Something like you seeing the campsites of other players in your game, being able to barter with others via carrier pigeon, etc.

However, for the money we're currently asking we just can't afford it. Maybe as a stretch goal :)

Shadowpad1 karma

Sounds good! That'd be my second question, as too why you haven't infact put any stretch goals down on the main page?

PandaMittens1 karma

It felt strange to me to put in stretch goals before we were close to our funding target. However, I may have been wrong on this. If people want to see them we'll put them up. Heaven knows we've thought about them.

LostMyPasswordNewAcc0 karma

am i cool

PandaMittens3 karma

Dunno. Ask your mother.

Hroppa0 karma

Love the concept of Unwritten.

How are you planning to introduce strategic variety in Unwritten?

PandaMittens1 karma

Not sure I understand. Could you explain your question a bit?

dbemont1 karma

Hroppa hasn't responded, but I think I know what he means, and I am curious, too.

Many games become formulaic. You play awhile and eventually discover the best way to play -- the ideal build order for a city, etc.

I think his point -- my point, at least -- is to wonder how you are avoiding repetition. Both from map area to map area, but also from game #1 to game #2.

PandaMittens1 karma

Gotcha. Yeah we want to avoid that problem, because once you've discovered a dominant strategy in a game that is all about novelty and variety (like Unwritten) it's pretty much done. It's all well and good to say a game is "endless", but it really only lasts as long as your attention span for it.

Our approach is to make it so that each unit you control has actions that may completely subvert the game, and then we put hundreds of them in there randomly. This is what makes collectible card games like Magic the Gathering (in my opinion) infinitely re-playable. You have the same basic rules, but you're reserving the right to override them and do something crazy, completely changing your strategy.

So far we really like the results.

peterflores95-1 karma

[deleted]

PandaMittens2 karma

How fast is this horse sized duck? Can it fly?

Wait, what am I saying? 100 duck sized horses. I'll stand on a chair.

PandaMittens2 karma

By the way, this is my strategy for defeating swarms of blood thirsty rats in Dishonored. Chairs and tall curbs are their natural enemy.

kevin11040-1 karma

[deleted]

PandaMittens2 karma

Permanent decisions and infinite variety. Create a nomadic tribe and guide them across a randomly generated tundra to meet its God.

Here's our Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1599677835/unwritten-that-which-happened/posts/400919

internetonsetadd-1 karma

Space pirates, I think.

PandaMittens1 karma

Maybe as an expansion pack.

MINE! I just copyrighted it!

ParadoxToaster-2 karma

Hey Joe, would you rather fight 100-duck sized horses, or one horse sized duck?

PandaMittens2 karma

Hmmm. Thought I already answered this one.

AMohajer-2 karma

[deleted]

PandaMittens5 karma

I'm indie now, so I'm also broke as fuck.

Melopahn-5 karma

Dishonored was terrible, Next game you make focus your budget on making the game smooth and amazing. Don't blow it all on advertising so you can get huge sales on a broken game.

PandaMittens3 karma

Thanks for the tip.