Tale of Tales is probably familiar to anyone of off-kilter games like The Path and their most recent Sunset, wherein you play as a maid of a wealthy gentleman in a country in the throes of revolutionary civil war. Unfortunately, not every new game by an indie (and Tale of Tales is probably one of the few developers that can honestly lay claim to that title) is massively successful. “After the barrage of sad tales about depression caused by indies turning into millionaires overnight, allow us to raise your spirits with a story about the liberating and energizing effects of complete commercial failure,” opens the post, which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the piece.
Tale of Tales explains that Sunset was developed both with their existing artistic leanings, but with an aim of expanding their reach beyond their niche audience. Having survived on a combination of art grants and commercial revenue, Sunset was developed with an eye on other successful games that emulated their own style combined with a more focused PR campaign compared to what they had done previously.
Sunset has distributed just over 4,000 copies since the month of its release, including those for their Kickstarter backers and discounted sales. Sunset reviewed averagely, so it’s not that an incredible game is somehow being snubbed. It’s obviously one that, like their previous works, appeals to a smaller audience, but the disappointment this time seems to be at least commercially inspired.
“In the end, we spent more money than we had on the production of Sunset. Because we wanted to make it really good and reach a wider audience. Compared to the ambitions we had for the game, the extra $40,000 seemed like a relatively small sum… It’s hard to deal with this intense feeling of disappointment in a context of glowing reviews and compliments and encouragement from players. A small group of people clearly deeply appreciates what we do and we curse the economic system that doesn’t allow us to be pleased with that,” they explain.
For their part, they seem optimistic. “So now we are free. We don’t have to take advice from anybody anymore. We were wrong. Everybody whom we consulted with on Sunset was wrong,” they conclude. “We are happy and proud that we have tried to make a ‘game for gamers.’ We really did our best with Sunset, our very best. And we failed. So that’s one thing we never need to do again. Creativity still burns wildly in our hearts but we don’t think we will be making videogames after this. And if we do, definitely not commercial ones.”
I encourage readers to check out the post in full – as it’s open and direct in terms of what they consider their failure to succeed, though perhaps just a tad bitter at the “gaming masses”.
Source: Tale of Tales