The last few days have been amazing. Following the appearance at EGX Rezzed and this week's moving VICE article, there has been a surge of interest in DEEP. Tweets, Facebook messages, and emails are coming in from all over the world with kind words, and often with a question I was not ready for:
The short answer is, we don't know. The long answer is below.
This is a weird position for a game to be in, but DEEP is a pretty weird game. When I started this project it was never intended to be any more than a little experience to help me calm down when things got tough. As such, a release plan was not something that was built in from the start. How will a player get a controller? How much will the controller cost? Where will it be available? None of these questions occurred to me. It was just a little personal project. In a way, that was for the best. It was freedom from these practical questions that has allowed us to build such a ridiculous and wonderful thing. If this project had been started with these concerns, DEEP would not be as good, effective and meaningful as it is now.
Where we are now
Right now, DEEP is an installation game. It requires a custom controller (of which there are very few), a VR headset and a fairly decent computer. That means that for the short term, the only way to play DEEP is at the festivals and events it gets invited to.
I am going to add an events calendar to the site so that you can see where DEEP will be. Hopefully it will be near you soon.
Where we are going
Over the next few weeks, we will be getting the game ready for the A MAZE festival in Berlin. There will be a few key changes in the A MAZE version:
- Larger world to explore
- Improved graphics
- Mark 3 of the controller
- A new creature to meet
After that, things open up a little and me and Niki have time to think about what makes sense in terms of a next move.
Stay on target
We keep on truckin'. Apply for some grants and keep bringing the experience to as many festivals as we can. DEEP remains as an installation and because of this we can push the technical side very hard, making elaborate and ever more accurate controllers while at the same time upgrading the experience to the very best VR and computer hardware. This is the no compromise path where DEEP become the strongest possible experience. On the other hand, the number of people who get to experience it and benefit from it remains small.
This basically sounds like hell to me. DEEP would essentially become a business. In my fears, I no longer get to have fun making the game and instead am shackled to a computer, doomed to forever answer increasingly boring and stressful emails. Maybe I'm way off the mark here, but that is how I feel about it now.
We team up with Oculus, Valve or Sony and work with them to get DEEP as one of their launch titles. There would be significant challenges to overcome but we would have the help of someone who knows what they are doing to solve them.
A few institutes have mentioned to that DEEP could form the basis of a PhD. While being a Dr of video games would fulfil some fun fantasies, the volume of non development and design work is very intimidating. On the other hand it would mean that we would never be forced to consider the commercial side of thing and could continue developing the game for a significant time.
This is the one the comes up in all the messages, the one that everyone keeps pointing us towards. But here's the thing. I am scared of Kickstarter. It is insanely stressful and harrowing. The last one I was involved with was the most stressful professional experience of my life. Steve Swink's harrowing GDC talk from last year explains the special type of horror that awaits many Kickstarter creators.
On one hand, it would mean a very tough 2 months, but on the other it would mean that we would get to make the game on our terms and give many people a chance to play the game at home. A few weeks ago I had totally ruled this option out, but now I find myself considering it once again.
If we did one, it would be a small goal to cover the first run of controllers. Perhaps the fact that it would be to fund a designed and built physical item rather than to fund an idea would make things easier. I don't know.
What can you do?
- Tell us what you want. Any of these options look good to you? Got a better idea? You can let us know your thoughts in the comments below, via email or on Twitter.
- Let us know if there are any festivals or events near you that you think DEEP would be a good fit for.
- Sign up to the mailing list and we can let you know whenever we get some sort of release plan.
Thank you so much for your interest in the game. It means everything to us.