Hi everyone. It’s my great pleasure to be here today to announce the details of the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita ports of Lone Survivor. I’ve been so exited to tell you guys about it for the last few weeks, but I had to hold it in until it was finalised! Anyone who knows me or follows my twitter feed will be aware that I’m a massive Sony fan and literally play 95% of the games I play on my PS3. It’s the console that fits me the best, and it’s the controller I imagine when I’m designing my games: so this really is a dream come true!
But for those who missed it the first time round, and what with it having been out almost a year now (my goodness!) … what is Lone Survivor? It’s a game very personal to me that took almost seven years to get right. I guess you could call it a blend of ‘Lynchian’ psychological horror, point’n’click adventure mechanics and a virtual pet-like ‘physical and mental survival simulation’ – the idea being that how you choose to survive is up to you. It’s the last record of a nameless, masked protagonist, holed-up in a city full of diseased monsters, starving and exhausted. When we join him on his quest, he has already begun to question whether all of what he sees is even real.
My hope is that you can play through the game in the style that suits you best – I wanted to try and make a role-playing game with meaningful choices. It’s an experiment in making every insignificant fact in the game having an invisible, or murkily visible effect on your outcome, however small. And also to try and get away from showing statistics so that people ‘feel’ their way around… perhaps people are more inclined to role-play when that’s the case? There’s no longer a need to ‘min-max’ everything? And I think it sort of came together? It’s certainly an area I’m interested in exploring in my future games.
To my amazement, Lone Survivor has turned into something of a phenomenon over the last year. Since its release, it’s been nominated for a Golden Joystick, picked by many blogs and magazines as Horror Game Of The Year, and has received many glowing reviews. Sales have been beyond anything I could have imagined: I only wanted to be able to fund the next game, and that bas been done several times over, probably. Its story seems to provoke heated debate amongst fans and critics – I never get tired of reading people’s different interpretations, that has definitely been the highlight of sharing it with so many people. People seem to love the music, the weird mechanics, fans write to me about the ‘depth’, ‘realistic treatment of adult themes’ and ‘warm humour’ in the writing etc.
As a brief personal aside… my late papa, Johnny Byrne, who the game is dedicated to, was a writer. And Lone Survivor actually contains at least a brief novel’s worth of text. I found this out when I hacked it out of the game ready for translation! It’s the first large piece of writing I’ve ever released into the world, and it did take far longer than I imagined, and it didn’t click with everybody… And to get a bit deep for a second, a large theme was his own illness, and me dealing with that… But, basically, what I’m trying to say is, for people to get what I’m trying to go for, and maybe even to take something away from it… Well, I’m completely floored and humbled. I really could never have expected or hoped for this to happen. I just needed to make this game, even though I had no idea if it would connect with anyone else. More than anything, I wanted Lone Survivor to be a game that approaches issues rarely touched on in games – the effects of grief, mental health issues, the examination of drug use and abuse. And, somehow, the stars aligned and the good news is I’m able to keep making games for the foreseeable future, because I really do love it!
I have the utmost confidence in London studio, Curve, who are handling the conversion duties, to produce the ultimate version of the game. They are moving into publishing with such excellent titles as Thomas Was Alone, and I’m proud to be joining their stable! It is still important for very small development teams, such as myself, to have help in publishing on console platforms. And, while Sony are doing great work to reduce the amount of bureaucracy needed to make it possible, and I applaud them for this, it is still impractical for a one-man team to self-publish (go through certification, age ratings, translations etc.) As I said, this has been a life-long dream for me, to release a game on a great console with a bespoke controller, and this shows just how far things have come that a one-man team can do that with minimal help from a publisher. Whether that still makes this an indie release or not is up to you to decide (see Spelunky’s Derek Yu’s great article that deals with this subject.) To me it’s just a word that’s occasionally useful to give context, not something I give much weight – I consider myself a maker of games first and foremost! The main thing is that all the content is being made by me, with my own funding, without any external input. Besides which, Curve are an entirely independent entity, so this is a very grey area and again shows me how easy it can be to get hung up on the word. Anyway, the important thing is that their excellent track record speaks for itself, and that their own games have a really good sense of feel (something that’s very important to me personally.) I’m positive that they’ll only improve the game with their years of console development experience, and are just the right people for the job. And of course I’m overseeing it closely at every stage to make sure it looks, sounds and plays exactly right!
Extra secret bonus stuff And stuff…
One exciting aspect of this announcement for me is that I’ve secretly been devoting a lot time and resources into adding additional content into the game, initially exclusive to the PS3 / Vita. I even disappeared to another country for two weeks to work on it in complete isolation, to get back into the right vibe (making sure to eat and sleep poorly!) Of course, there will be Trophies, Cross-Buy and Cross-Play support, but I’ve also been working on (amongst one or two other surprises) more than twenty new items, new dialogue with all NPC’s, two extensive new side quests, two new locations, and a brand new ‘Yellow’ ending, featuring a new piece of music for the ending. I’m looking into touch control for movement and inventory use. The idea is that this version really will be enhanced in every way, smoother, nicer to control, with a lot of little extras that don’t change the game itself, just add to it (in fact, almost all of the content is only accessible in … wait for it … NEW GAME+!).
I hope you enjoy the game. And for those who’ve already supported it, thankyou so much. I can’t wait to share the new content with all of you in the summer!
I don’t have anything to announce at this point regarding bringing the additional content to PC / Mac / Linux, at least until I can focus my resources on it after the release. But it’s something I hope to do, so I’ll keep you posted about that!
I’ll leave you with a link to the new trailer, which you can also find on the Sony EU blog… Just click on the image at the top!
PS More NEW GAME+ news to follow soon, it’s had a short break while I’ve been doing this, but I’m constantly testing and tweaking it! I took it to the Local Multiplayer Picnic in Utrecht while I was in Holland last month, and it was a fantastic day. Thanks to JW, Rami & friends for that! Be sure to pick up their Super Crate Box on your Vita if you have one!