Friday, March 10, 2023

Marauder Films Adapting Primordia

 As I’ve mentioned before, a couple years ago we were approached by Bastiaan Koch of Marauder Film about adapting Primordia into TV or film. Bastiaan is an acclaimed VFX artist able to push the visuals to the next level, and he has had a longstanding interest in post-apocalyptic settings and robots, making him a great match to our game. (Just to hit a few of the highlights: Bastiaan is a VFX Supervisor at FuseFX and a veteran of LucasFilm, and he’s been a part of three Oscar-winning and five Oscar-nominated VFX teams.)

As anyone who has worked in the industry knows, it’s a lot easier to express interest in adapting a game than to actually adapt one, particularly when the game wasn’t trying to be “cinematic” at the outset (the way modern AAA action games are, for instance). But Bastiaan has stuck with the project doggedly—through a pandemic, no less—and, along with others (including Walker McKnight), has put together an initial screenplay and outline for a Primordia movie. Walker is himself the winner of the Academy’s prestigious Nicholl Fellowship for screenwriting.

What they’ve crafted is not “Primordia the game in a screenplay format.” Instead, Bastiaan and Walker found the elements of the game that resonated with them most, and as well as the elements that go best in the cinematic medium, and then they added a great deal of themselves and their own vision into the project. That’s how it has to be. The thought of folks creating something out of Primordia without putting their own souls into it would be terrible! A theme of Primordia is humanity’s inheritors taking responsibility for building a new world rather than mechanistically sticking to their programming in a context where it no longer made sense! So too with this: if Marauder manages to pull this off (and so far, Bastiaan has proven indefatigable), they will bring forth a new world of Primordia, rooted in the old one to be sure, but suited to new creators in a new context.

As a jumping off point, here are some thoughts from Bastiaan:

Ultimately, I expect this will be a different story with different dialogue and a different take on the characters and themes than mine, different visuals from Vic’s, different voices from Abe’s, Logan’s, and Sarah’s, different music from Nathaniel’s... and of course none of my puzzles or inventory mischief! But for the reasons above, I see a reworking in a different medium as something different from a sequel or a remake.  Primordia the game will still be the product of my soul (and Vic’s, James’s, and everyone else who poured work into it. For me, this will be the chance to explore that world we created through the eyes of a guest, rather than those of a host!

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Primordia Turns 10

Over the next few days, we will be sharing in various places our reminiscences about developing Primordia. But first, a few numbers:

• 10 years since release

• 3 friends who set out on the adventure of making this game

• 306,105 copies sold

• 17th place, its highest ranking on Steam (September 21, 2015)

• 2582 days in the top 250 on Steam

• 2911 Steam player ratings, 160 player reviews, 187 MetaCritic player ratings

•  completed fan translations (French,  German, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, Turkish, and Russian)

• and only Crispin

• infinite gratitude for you, our fans, who defied the critics, loved our game, and supported us over this decade

It’s been a helluva decade!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Strangeland Releasing 5/25


Just a few days left till Strangeland is released!  For the tiny percentage of the population who reads our site, has not wishlisted the game, and can somehow be persuaded to do so: please consider wishlisting, as it will help our visibility on launch.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Wadjet Eye Games Publishing Strangeland

We are delighted to announce that Wadjet Eye Games is publishing Strangeland. Many years in the making, Strangeland is a “cabinet of curiosities” comprising the striking memories and bizarre visions that Victor Pflug (artist) and I (Mark Yohalem, writer/designer) have gathered over our lives. That cabinet has been built with thousands of hours of care by Dimitrios Thanasias-Spanos (coder).

Put otherwise, and as our last update probably indicated, Strangeland is as personal a game as I can imagine making. I spent the last weeks annotating its more obscure references, and realized it really is a map from my childhood wonders and fears to adulthood’s responsibility, regret, and recognition. I know Vic drew deeply from the well of his own personal experiences. Further, Dimitrios has achieved things with the engine (Adventure Game Studio) that no one has ever done before, allowing Vic’s surreal imagery to come to life in smooth and seamless way, and he has done through by throwing all of himself into the game’s development.

Given all the toil and anguish that went into making it, there’s no one we’d be more comfortable entrusting the game’s publication to than WEG. Our collaboration on Primordia was not just a business relationship, but a friendship and creative partnership. Dave Gilbert is second to none in directing voice acting, and WEG has earned a well-deserved reputation for releasing thoughtful games that hearken back to the classics while presenting innovations in setting, design, and narrative. We are proud that Primordia is a part of that legacy, and we are excited that Strangeland will be part of it, too. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Bradbury, Goya, and Peake: Discussing Some of Strangeland's Inspirations

The seed of Strangeland’s narrative was sadness, and the soil in which it fell included the works of Mervyn Peake, Francisco Goya, and Ray Bradbury.

Read more in this development update on Steam.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Arnold Hendrick, Rest in Peace

On May 25, 2020, Arnold Hendrick, the creator of the revolutionary board game Barbarian Prince and the revolutionary computer game Darklands, was taken by cancer, just shy of the three-score-and-ten years the Psalmist allots us. “It is too soon cut off, and we fly away.”

I never met him; I know next to nothing of his life story. But all the same, Mr. Hendrick had a direct and significant impact upon me. Fallen Gods is inspired by both Barbarian Prince and Darklands. Both games are marvelously inventive and brilliantly realized. Sometimes works of fantasy are called “escapism.” To “escape” literally means to shed one’s cloak. (One can ponder the age of brigandage when slipping a robber’s clutches in that manner was frequent enough to coin this expression and put it in common currency.) Mr. Hendrick’s games were the opposite—the player does not shed his cloak so much as garb himself in another’s clothes. Contrary to the genre’s name, most RPGs do not achieve this effect. The player’s role is not that of a hero, but that of a hedge fund analyst, crunching numbers, maximizing upside and minimizing downside. But in Barbarian Prince and Darklands, the player is immersed in the characters and the setting. For a while, he sees a different world through different eyes. A person is greatly enriched by such an experience, while merely shedding a cloak—in contrast—leaves one a little poorer, even if we sometimes need to escape to survive.

When I began designing and developing Fallen Gods years ago, I tracked down Mr. Hendrick’s email address. When our game was ready, I wanted to show it to him as tangible evidence of the impact and inspiration of his work. But I kept delaying the email because I wanted to make sure Fallen Gods was worth his time. Now there is no time left.

So I must end where I started: I never met Arnold Hendrick; I know him only through his published games and articles about game design. To me, all of them bespoke an abiding curiosity, a creative vision, and an overflowing generosity toward his players. The man put 136 saints in Darklands. May they speed him to his Maker.