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  1. Hi all, After considering our appeal to get We Happy Few reviewed for classification, the Australian Classification Review Board has decided to allow the release of We Happy Few in Australia! We Happy Few will be rated R18+ in Australia. We are extremely pleased with the decision of the board and excited that our Australian fans and new players will be able to experience We Happy Few without modification. We want to thank everybody who got involved in the discussion, contacted the board and sent us countless messages of support. Your involvement made a huge difference. Compulsion Games
  2. Naila

    We Happy Few in Australia

    We are still in discussions with them.
  3. Naila

    Future direction of Compulsion Games?

    Hello, 1. We will no longer go through crowdfunding but we'll continue to look for opportunities to take care of our earliest KS backers. 2. and 3. We do not know yet. That's a question for Microsoft. 4. Yes; our discussions indicated we would retain our creative freedom.
  4. Naila

    New forums

    Hey all! I am back from E3 and can finally dedicate my time to the forums. I see we still have some spam, I will look into it asap. We are also getting used to the new forums
  5. Hi everyone As many of you may know by now, yesterday the Australian Classification Board chose not to classify We Happy Few, effectively banning We Happy Few from sale in Australia. We are looking into it, and have asked for more information on the decision. To our Australian fans, we share your frustration. We will work with the ACB on the classification. If the government maintains its stance, we will make sure that you can get a refund, and we will work directly with affected Kickstarter backers to figure something out. We would appreciate if you give us a little bit of time to appeal the decision before making a call. We Happy Few is set in a dystopian society, and the first scene consists of the player character redacting material that could cause offense to “society at large”, as part of his job as a government “archivist”. It’s a society that is forcing its citizens to take Joy, and the whole point of the game is to reject this programming and fight back. In this context, our game’s overarching social commentary is no different than Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, or Terry Gilliam's Brazil. The game explores a range of modern themes, including addiction, mental health and drug abuse. We have had hundreds of messages from fans appreciating the treatment we’ve given these topics, and we believe that when players do get into the world they’ll feel the same way. We’re proud of what we’ve created. We would like to respond to the thematic side of We Happy Few in more detail at a later date, as we believe it deserves more attention than a quick PR response. In the meantime we will be talking to the ACB to provide additional information, to discuss the issues in depth, and see whether they will change their minds. Compulsion Games
  6. A Shelter for the Player The first issue we faced was that it’s very hard to control a tutorial when in a procedural world. It’s much easier to start somewhere controlled, so we decided to implement an introductory area. In Arthur’s playthrough, beginning with the Kickstarter builds, the player started in a shelter - an underground area that the player was always safe in. At first we started with small pop ups giving the player tips on crafting and how to get out of the shelter. Fierce debates raged inside the team as we argued over what was too much hand holding, what was really necessary, and we decided to err on the side of caution. However, as with many debates, reality had other ideas: most of these were overlooked and dismissed by the players. We experimented with different looks and wording, but in the end realised that we would need to introduce concepts more slowly, and one by one; effectively requiring players to learn the basics in order to move forward. As we progressed and observed players’ behavior, we created many variations of the shelter. In today’s version we have a much bigger shelter that introduces the player to combat and basic mechanics. We also tried creating small tutorial quests, but the procedural world made this difficult - new players would easily skip those (by simply not noticing them or choosing not to engage) and become frustrated later on when they didn’t know how to craft, or manage their needs. We tried small tooltips, but it turns out most players just ignore those completely - we now have a very few full screen pop ups because we had no other way to train the most important parts of the game. The good news is, these seem to be working and aren’t overly intrusive. However, after almost 2 years of working on it, all of this just wasn’t enough. Players still didn’t understand how the stealth mechanics worked, or the combat, or how to craft items (something that is still an issue in the Early Access game). Even today, we still get tweets saying “I still have no idea what to do in this game after 2 years”. And in most cases this is because of the procedural world. So, we bit the bullet. In the end we decided to create a custom tutorial island - the famous introductory tutorial zone that we began work on in November last year. A Hand Made Island The tutorial island sort of came in because of unanimous feedback of people struggling a little bit to understand how our world worked. We had received the feedback that the core mechanics were tough to grasp during Early Access, but we also began receiving feedback that players didn’t get introduced well enough to the world itself - and in particular who the wastrels were and the rules of this part of the game. It felt like their motivations were hard to understand and the world was overwhelming because of how much you had to learn quickly. The only way to address this properly was to craft a unique island with a fixed layout, which allowed us to slow the teaching down. The good news is, this allowed us to craft the experience to not feel too much like a tutorial and more like a way to ease the player in the world and still be curious about it and wanting to know more. The custom layout allowed us to properly pace each new element we presented to the player, and give players time to get curious without being set upon by hordes of people. Combat and Stealth One of our big challenges was designing an area where we would teach the player combat and stealth. It was a bit difficult to satisfy everybody on that front. The art department wanted organic caves and the level designers wanted more like a bunker aesthetic that would allow us to teach players stealth more conveniently (pillars, crates, barrels are pretty easy cover options and are recognizable later on during the game because we use them everywhere). We often juggle realism versus gameplay needs and sometimes it might seem simple to come up with a level but can get very complicated. In the end, we reworked this area constantly over a period of 4-5 months before everything finally fit into place. One advantage of this was giving us a controlled environment to also polish our mechanics - if it didn’t feel right in the tutorial island, then it probably wouldn’t feel right across the rest of the game. Both stealth and combat have undergone substantial review and improvement since the last Early Access update and we’re very happy with how they’re working! Soon It took many, many tries for us to get the tutorials right. The introduction to a game is crucial in setting the tone for the rest and in keeping players engaged, so if a player is frustrated in the first hour of your game, they will most likely not play the rest of it. Likewise, something that is obvious to you or us will absolutely not be for a new player, which is why user research is so important. We learned a lot by observing playtesters, which includes many of you who streamed or recorded your first times playing - it’s a very big way that the community contributed to the game. It helps break us out of our bubble, where we are so familiar with our mechanics that sometimes we can’t see when things aren’t introduced well. You guys will have the opportunity to experience this very soon. We appreciate many of you have been waiting a long time, and this work was a big reason why we delayed the game past April - to make sure the first two hours introduce the world well enough that you can enjoy the story for what it is without struggling to craft a lockpick. Today we are happy to announce that with are really satisfied results and we cannot wait for you to experience it. Thank you all for reading, for contributing, and for showing us how to be better developers. We’ll see you all in Wellington Wells very soon! Compulsion Games
  7. Hi everyone, Before we dive into this topic we have a small announcement: today marks the end of our retrospective journals, and regular Friday updates, as we move into the big picture marketing campaign for the release of We Happy Few! For 2.5 years we’ve been writing weekly journals, every Friday, to share the development process behind We Happy Few: what the team has been working on, why we are making the decisions we’re making, and describing the evolution of the game. Open development was the name of the game: to help Kickstarter backers (initially) and then the wider community to keep in touch, but also to help provide a behind the scenes look at how games get made. As we approach the release of the game, things have been getting hectic here in the studio. The last few months before a launch are the busiest time for a studio, both in development and in marketing. We wound up our regular development weeklies a couple of months back, as we started focusing on bugs, and now it is time to finish up with the retrospectives as well. This will be the last regular Friday update, effectively saying goodbye to the weekly journals we’ve been posting since July 2015! Fret not, we are not abandoning you! We are still here answering questions, chatting about the game and posting announcements. However, we will soon enter our final marketing and media campaign phase, which means among other things, a lot of traveling to meet with the press and showcase the game, and less time to write. If you don’t already know all you want to know about the history of We Happy Few , feel free to reach out! We will remain as active as ever on social media and the forums. We’ll still write the occasional blog post, as we go through the usual marketing phase most games do, but we’re also going to get started with the usual fun things like trailers, or even story and character teasers (maybe soon? ). Thank you for being here with us every week since 2015. Tutorials: Or, why you must tailor your introductions to your audience For the last retrospective, we will touch on the topic of tutorials! As most of you will know, the simple concept behind tutorials is “to teach players how to play the game”. However, what this means can vary wildly, and is one of the most challenging aspects of game development, because every one of you reading plays games in different ways. Creating tutorials that teach everyone what they need to do, while not treating the player like an idiot, has been one of the biggest focuses of game development for the last 15 years, and has seen tremendous growth in the subtlety of tutorials. A developer needs to tailor their tutorials to the game, its audience, and how you thematically want to present them. A simple game with a hardcore audience won’t need to be taught “press the D pad to move”, and can get stuck in. A more involved game, with complicated mechanics, will need much more information. And while the games vary in scope, so do your audience - someone who has played a hundred games has a very different understanding to someone who is sitting down with a controller for the first time. One of the concepts we’ve tried to live by is to introduce what players need to know, with a little bit of flavour, but not tell them exactly what to do. To do this, we’ve been to multiple conventions (and collected information on people playing the demo), had Kickstarter and Early Access / Game Preview feedback, and run a large number of internal playtests. This field in games development is known as “User Research”, and is an important part of reducing frustration in people playing your game. Early Builds If you’ve played the early versions of We Happy Few, then you will know very well that tutorials were not on our priority list. In fact, we didn’t want any! We wanted players to learn the harsh reality of our world the hard way - through repeated failure, like all roguelikes. Our first tutorials weren’t even in the game - at PAX East 2015 we brought along controller cards showing how the controls worked, but otherwise left it up to the player. Other than that, it was all about experimentation. However, this was short lived: we first noticed this at PAX East 2015, where a lot of players were drawn in by our art style but had never played a survival game. They became frustrated very quickly, and we realised that we would need to make changes and adapt.
  8. Naila

    We Happy Few FAQ

    @lex920 No you don't have to, the full game will update automatically
  9. Optional Survival? Two of the most overwhelming comments we received from Early Access players were: “I don’t like survival mechanics” and “I like survival games, but I don’t like getting distracted from exploring a strange world and its strange people and rules by being punished for not finding enough apples or getting enough sleep”. It turns out that we’d done a good enough job in world building that the types of people who wanted to play our game had rapidly expanded and we needed to provide choice to players. This is in some ways a good thing, because we couldn’t have done much to change the setting, but we certainly could work on the survival mechanics. There was also legitimate balance feedback - the survival mechanic rates were very intense at the beginning, and we really didn’t teach you much about the world. So you’d have a ton of players who were excited about a story, but then stuck in a punishing survival game. So, the first thing we did was tone them down and up the narrative experience. We spent the next couple of updates tweaking the mechanics, and then added a mode (birdwatcher) that would remove the survival mechanics completely, to test whether that would work. It turns out, it did - Birdwatcher was probably the most well received feature that we built during Early Access. However, this was just a first attempt - it still did not feel right. When you give up permadeath and make survival mechanics optional, then a ton of content and lore didn’t make a lot of sense any more (and not in a good way). If your game is thematically about a city that’s hard to survive in, then the mechanics should reflect this. The big question for us was: how do we create a system that allows people to feel safe enough to explore the world and its characters, not get bogged down in “meter management”, but still think food, water and sleep is important? Hybrid Survival After many many months of research, redesign and community feedback, we settled on a system that makes the survival elements affect how strong your character is, but won’t kill you. We have removed a meter that fills based on the “value” of the food or drink, and moved to a buff/debuff system. When fully fed, hydrated, and rested, the player receives buffs for stamina recovery and maximum, for example. When hunger, thirst and sleep deprivation are high, the player is penalized in the same way. In between those states you’ll operate about normally. This doesn't kill you outright, but it makes combat and running away more challenging when you’re debuffed, and gives you advantages when you need it. For those players who prefer to play without those penalties, the new easy mode allows you to remove the debuffs (meaning you’ll never be bothered by a red debuff icon). You can also customize which option you want, with custom difficulty settings. This feels like an approach that solves what we and you guys are looking for: a system that gives you control over what you’re doing, doesn’t interrupt story moments or exploration, has thematic importance, but still is an important part of gameplay. The primary gameplay loops of: survey terrain -> control terrain -> loot terrain -> repeat remain, as does crafting. You do all the same things as in the early days, and it is still the majority of the gameplay. And, for the survival purists out there, the more traditional, survival aspects will be back in sandbox mode (which will be an update to the game post release). Community Feedback The survival mechanics have probably been the most discussed and iterated on systems in the game - and that’s entirely due to community feedback. PAX, Kickstarter, Early Access and Game Preview were all essential to help make this game what it is, because it gave us ongoing feedback during the growth of the game. What started as a survival simulator punctuated with story moments in the form of cutscenes has evolved into a hybrid actiony-adventure story and survival game, with narrative woven intricately throughout every part of the game. Creating a flexible system that appeals both to players who enjoyed the survival mechanics with those who didn’t, while keeping these thematically consistent, was one of the toughest challenges of the project, and we hope you enjoy it on 1.0. Thanks for tuning in! Compulsion Games
  10. Hi everyone, This week’s journal will be on the notorious topic of Survival mechanics! To understand the evolution of the survival mechanic, we’ll need to go back to the beginning, when we first started conceptualizing the game. At the beginning of the project, we had a few specific ideas of what we wanted for our game. The first one was that we wanted the game to take place in a procedural city - people had created procedural games before, but very few in urban settings (most in forests, space, etc). . The second idea we wanted to look at was a dystopian society. However, we did not want it to be bleak - it had to be a fun and colorful one. So with these themes locked down, we started thinking about why and what would a player be doing in a procedural dystopian city, and what would this mean gameplay wise? This led to the idea of urban survival. We chose survival mechanics for two reasons. First, thematically it was super interesting - survival should be easy in a city because in theory there is plenty of food, water and shelter to go around. What if there wasn’t? What if it wasn’t safe? Second, we needed some simple but well understood mechanics since we already had so much on our plate with the procedural city and the social stealth (conformity) - the beginning of a game project is a lot about understanding what challenges we should tackle and what we should choose not to iterate on (risk assessment). With all these ideas fitting into one another, the game started to take shape and we loved the idea of having to survive in a happy dystopian city. Hardcore Survival At the beginning stages, we designed the game as a hardcore rogue-like survival game, meant to be replayed a lot with short playthroughs. We didn’t want a tutorial, and permadeath was mandatory - no saving! We wanted our players to learn by dying and doing better in the next playthrough. That went well with the harshness of our fictional world. We had a story in the form of cutscenes, and the player had to survive until encountering each of them, and we were pretty excited at the prospect of intertwining story and roguelike survival. Between PAX East 2015 and Early Access, things were going pretty well. We were receiving positive feedback from our Kickstarter backers and making tweaks to the gameplay. One important piece of feedback that we implemented during this time was to remove permadeath - a mechanic that is fun when you have short games but can be extremely frustrating as your play sessions get longer and more involved. However, players were becoming more and more interested in the world and story we were building - and that meant their priorities about what they were doing in the game was changing. And then Early Access happened, and that feedback exploded.
  11. @UncleJackSays Not in May unfortunately.
  12. Our goal in going to PAX was to show what we’d been working on for the past year, and to start building a community. To do this, we gathered the emails of those who were interested in We Happy Few but did not have time to stop and play the game, and we gave keys away to people who successfully finished one of our two demo encounters. We also also had a key-giveaway drawing for people who signed up for our newsletter. What did the experience mean for us as devs? It meant introducing the game to thousands of players for the very first time, gathering emails, helping players who were stuck in the game or had a question, apologizing profusely for bugs, and doing interviews with the media in the back of the booth. PR-wise, we worked with a specialized company (Evolve) that reached out to the media to tell them we will be at the convention, they then gave us a schedule of all the media that were interested in playing the game (which, when fully booked, meant around 12 to 15 appointments per day -- and that is without counting the impromptu ones). At the end of day 3, the convention closes at 5, but that’s not the end of the day for developers -- it’s merely the halfway point. Once the conference started closing, it was time for us to deconstruct our booth, pack the van, and hopefully get on the road fast enough that we wouldn’t get home in the middle of the night with broken knees and hoarse voices. Overall, it was an amazing trip. We got some great feedback on what worked, and what didn’t. And we had a lot of fun, watching people try over and over again to beat the demo. This was also when the comparisons to Bioshock started. While very flattering, this worried us quite a bit back then. It’s definitely a good thing to be compared to something as high-quality as Bioshock, but it meant that we needed to make a few changes. We needed to make a better game than we were making at the time. PAX East 2016 By PAX East 2016, we were successfully funded on Kickstarter, were picked up by Microsoft for their Xbox One Game Preview program, and we’d moved to a bigger office (still a leaky one) and our team had increased to 24 people. We were really grateful for both the players at PAX, and our pre-alpha backers on Kickstarter, for all the fantastic feedback. The game had improved immensely as a result. For PAX East 2016 we had a bit more budget than before. Some of you might remember the bigger booth with the giant masks we had that year. We’d asked a creative agency to come up with a cool design and build something, and that’s what they came up with. The plan was that they would send and build the structure of the booth -- and the super thin walls (important detail) -- while we would bring the TVs, PCs, props and giant masks. We also bought mannequins and some authentic 60s furnitures from thrift shops, which was great until it started falling apart. One of the very old 60s TV caught on fire out of nowhere in the middle of the day! Some of the chairs were crumbling under us! This time we’d planned to have 8 stations and a private room for the media. And by private we mean a room made of thin, paper-like walls. This was still quite an upgrade from hiding behind the banners at the previous PAX 15 booth. By then we were already on people’s radar, and we had a very close relationship with our backers. Between greeting players, assigning them a station, answering all their questions, giving swag away, socializing with players in line, and answering media interviews, every single person from the studio who came down was needed. Packing for this PAX was excruciating. Between really heavy mannequins, cool-but-unreliable 60s furniture, and extremely fragile props, it took 10 people and 2 hours just to pack the van. Then when we got to US customs, they turned us back because we forgot a black container (back in the office), which was on our famous list of items you need to have to cross the border. But instead of driving all the way back to Montreal, we stopped in the closest (and smallest) town to the border, bought a black storage/seat, kicked it around in the dirt and keyed it to make it looked used, then grabbed lunch (to make it seem like we went all the way back to Montreal) and tried again at the border. Of course, Customs decided to make us unpack our van, which had taken 2 hours to pack in the first place. After a few minutes of witnessing us slowly unloading things to the ground, they decided it was good enough for them. They probably didn’t want to spend 4 hours with us and must have realized we were harmless geeks. Once in Boston, we did the same dance of unloading the van and setting up the stations. Have you ever accidentally borrowed the strolly of a syndicated worker? Hell hath no fury. This PAX was also a turning point for us, and to say that the booth was buzzing is a understatement. The line was at least 2 hours and went around the booth. We met so many fans, old and new, and were even surprised by some fantastic cosplayers! We haven’t officially been back to a convention since, except for E3 2016, where we didn’t have to set up since we were under the Microsoft booth -- which meant they had stations with our game already prepared, and all we had to prepare was ourselves and a demo version to show off to the media. Oh that sweet, sweet Microsoft carpet! And that is the kind of preparation it takes to attend a convention and they are worth every bit of sweat and tears. Next time you will see us at a convention, the game will have launched and we hope to have a fun and weird booth, with really good carpet! (Looking at you Gearbox). Thanks for tuning in! Naila
  13. Hi everyone, This week we will discuss all the preparations that go on behind attending a convention! As you know, we are a medium sized studio that makes video games. While crafting games is our main passion, it would be wasted if we didn’t put ourselves out there to show the games and meet players. Here’s what that’s like: PAX East 2015 Early in 2015, we released the first concept art for We Happy Few, along with the very first . This was the first glimpse anyone had of the game. We did not reveal what the game was about other than it involved drugs, masks, and memory loss. Along with the trailer, we also announced that we were going to attend PAX East and bring a demo with us. To show the game just a month after having announced it was unusual for us. With Contrast, we took a year between announcing the game and showing it. But we always intended to show We Happy Few to the public early, and to have an open development. We knew that making a story-driven, first-person survival game in a procedural world was not going to be easy and that input from players was going to be crucial! Bringing a demo to a convention requires working on a separate version of the main game -- a smaller, more controlled version we can customize. At the time, we were a studio of only 12 people, and the entire team focused on the demo. This doesn’t mean we took time away from working on the main game -- but it was an opportunity to improve our features and see how they were being received by the players. Even a small booth can be a LOT of work! Once we’d chosen our location and booth size on the convention floor (in the Indie Megabooth), it was time to design our setup. There are more decisions to make than you’d think: How many stations (aka our own work PCs) do we want? PAX provides you two complimentary table for a 10x20 booth. With two tables, we could host 4 players, but then what about the media? We also had to think about costs: PAX has list of things you can rent for your booth for quite a hefty price, which means it is often better to just bring your own furniture; that is what most Indie studios do. We spent a while designing the floor plans to optimize the space to make everyone comfortable, while not blocking floor traffic and allowing passerbys to see the game. We also needed enough space for player lines, as well as a designated space for the media to play the game and do interviews. We will not tell you how many to Ikea and the hardware store this took -- let’s just say it is a good thing our studio is across the street from a Home Depot! But, of course, it’s not enough just having a booth space -- it has to be appealing! Aesthetically, we did not have a fancy plan. We brought some props from an Uncle Jack shoot, made some banners, and brought some posters from Contrast (so players walking by would know we were the same devs.) Oh, and going to PAX doesn’t just mean bringing PCs and furniture and setting up a booth -- it also means giving print shops a run for their money. Swag-wise, there are of course staples such as pins; they are easy, cost-efficient, and everyone loves them. (We decided to make bookmarks instead of fliers, because it’s easy to throw away a flyer but a bookmark can at least be useful.) Naturally this meant a lot of extra design work for the art team (Thanks, team!). Boston is about 6 hours from Montreal, and the best way to get there with all of this equipment was renting a van and driving. Since most of us only have a standard driver’s license, there was a limit to how big a van we could legally rent. We weren’t sure until the last box was shoved in the van if we’d be able to fit everything. The day of departure (2 days before the convention started) was a grueling Tetris-like process -- all the while knowing there was a strong possibility we’d have to unload and reload it all at the US border. To cross the U.S. border with so much material, you need what they call a “carnet” -- an official document listing every single item you are bringing with you. This means that if you decide to add a power plug our a mouse at the last minute and the US custom decides to check your now inaccurate list, they might not let you in! But once we’d crossed the border, we could finally relax, listen to our COO’s cheesy music, and practice our messaging for PAX. We were 7 people traveling, and we needed to all be on the same page about the messaging of the game, agreeing on what we could and could not share story-wise. The day before the convention starts is always really interesting. The convention center is in a frenzy. Indie devs go back and forth, bringing equipment on skateboards or whatever they can find from the loading docks, while the bigger companies all have cranes and heavy machinery building their stages and giant props. After finding our booth location, it was time to build it! Do you know how you can tell the big dogs from the smaller ones at conventions? The carpet at their booths! Companies like Microsoft and Sony have very thick, padded carpet while others will have a very thin one barely covering the concrete floor. This might seem like a small detail but after spending 3 days standing up on concrete, it makes a huge difference, and renting a proper padding underneath your carpet might be one of the most expensive items from the list of things PAX provides. It is not unusual for an indie dev to take a break and go enjoy a temporary moment of relief and bliss walking around the Microsoft or Sony booth. In our case, we ripped off our thin carpet and put some foam tiles underneath! (It helped, kind of.) Setting up the booth took a full day: we set up the stations, built the furniture, hid all the wires, set up the decorations, ran to a store because we forgot something (a couple of times), and -- oh, right -- had to make sure the game worked. And then the convention started.
  14. @UncleJackSays Yes! currently finishing it
  15. @UncleJackSays Very soon for the launch date! As for the reviewers, they will get access to the full game before the early access players because it's only a handful and they have embargos, which means less risk of the game getting leaked before the release. Yes we will release a story trailer before launch