After four arduous years in development, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey released earlier this week from Panache Digital Games. But the journey to release was far from smooth, as studio head Patrice Désilets told me at Gamescom.
I joked with Désilets that I had trouble explaining Ancestors to people when asked about the game. Then I wondered, how did he sell the game as a concept to investors before Panache actually got the funding for development? "We received a lot of "nos," says Désilets. "I met roughly 45 people before someone actually said yes."
"The very first one that said yes to Jeff and I was my uncle," continues Désilets. "I'm lucky enough that my uncle works in medical business, and so he said, 'You know what, let's do it, but not because I'm your uncle.'"
But the journey to get funding for Ancestors was far from over after Désilets secured his uncle as an investor. The Panache studio head tells me that after doing a talk at a Montreal games summit, he put up his personal Gmail address on the screen, inviting anyone from the audience to email him about investing.
"From that we were in the local press and someone called us up and said, 'Do you need money?'" Désilets told me. "And then we pitched, and they weren't at all in the game business, so they said 'okay, how does this work? How does it make money?' So we came back and pitched them again explaining how we make money, and then once they said yes Private Division came calling."
Désilets also spoke briefly about the development cycle for Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. "So how we work at Panache is that we work in six-week sprints. So the first week of the six is design and planning. Then you divvy up the four weeks in development, and then the final week is all about shipping something."
But what happens if there isn't anything new to play after the six-week cycle? "It has to be playable, 100 percent, always," Désilets says. This entire process is built around being able to show off the latest build to anyone from Panache's office, and add something new to Ancestors on a regular basis.
So there you have it, a glimpse behind the curtain on getting Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, from creator Patrice Désilets. If you're interested in learning more about Panache's evolutionary adventure, check out our interview about its potential livestreaming appeal.