Today, Hidetaka Suehiro aka SWERY, is relaunching a crowdfunding campaign for his slice-of-life, murder mystery game The Good Life. We spoke with SWERY at GDC last week to talk about the new Kickstarter initiative, and what SWERY learned from the first crowdfunding attempt.
Last year, SWERY launched a crowdfunding drive for his first game with his new studio White Owls and Japanese studio Groundlings. The original campaign ran on the crowdfunding platform fig with the original goal of hitting $1.5 million in funding. After 40 days, The Good Life hit $700k, but failed to reach the original funding goal. However, with the renewed Kickstarter campaign, SWERY hopes to succeed where he once failed.
The Good Life is pitched as a debt-repaying, murder mystery game, The Good Life follows New York City-based photographer Naomi who through one way or another, accrued a crazy debt. To pay it off, she's sent to an idyllic English countryside town where she must work various odd jobs to pay back her debt. Oh, and once a week all the villagers in town turn into either cats or dogs. Oh, and also a murder occurs that Naomi has to solve. It's basically a mix between a job simulator and an Agatha Christie novel.
One of the big changes with The Good Life's Kickstarter campaign is that the game will have additional help from publishing partners. SWERY told us that "while the game's overall budget [for The Good Life] has not changed, we have a much lower initial goal for the Kickstarter." This is thanks to various partners that have agreed to help the project financially. This is how SWERY was able to lower the original $1.5 million funding goal from fig, to $650k on Kickstarter.
One of the partners is Unties, the new video game publishing label from Sony Music which previously helped with the launch of Tiny Metal last year. SWERY says that more partners will be revealed as the campaign continues.
This also helped The Good Life improve and expand its unique visual style. SWERY provided a new video comparison trailer that shows just how much the game has improved visually, expanding its aesthetic from simple polygons to a more refined texture, while keeping its cubist look.
Another area where SWERY says could have been improved with was in explaining some of the expanded mechanics in the game. There are RPG elements to the game that weren't clearly defined in the first campaign. For starters, Naomi starts out with a very simple and basic camera, but as she earns more money she will have the opportunity to purchase better gear and equipment.
There's also an opportunity for Naomi to become e-famous as a social media star. Players will be able to take photos of the world and post it in an in-game social media service. Players can track what the local townspeople are liking and posting and have Naomi take photos that will draw more likes and followers to her own page. The more success she has on social media, the more money she can earn.
There will also be some new online features where players can visit their friend's version of the same town where The Good Life takes place. But thanks to the open-nature of the game, and the AI-generated NPCs, the way the player behaves can affect how the townspeople act. That means a NPC from one player's town, could be completely different from the same NPC in their friend's town. This feature is almost Animal Crossing-esque in concept.
But my favorite gameplay feature that SWERY discussed with us was the fact that depending on how the player actually plays the game and goes about The Good Life, the culprit or murderer will change. That's been a mechanic I've honestly dreamt about for murder-mystery style games and I'm so excited to see that it will be in this one.
SWERY says that the game's central theme of "Debt and Death" contrast with the game's optimistic title, but SWERY hopes that as players progress, they will learn the joys of overcoming these modern hardships.
The Good Life is live on Kickstarter now with the game expected to launch on Steam and PS4.