I Have No Money But I Must Pledge: STASIS

By Alec Meer on November 6th, 2013 at 8:00 am.

Sci-fi/horror pointer-clickerer STASIS might feature gratuitous use of the Inception Button in its trailers but it does look very mmmmmmm indeed. (That’s ‘mmmmm’ as in ‘lip-smacking’ rather than ‘Jeremy Paxman encouraging a duplicitous politician to keep on digging his own hole’, by the way.) It cites the likes of The Dig, Dead Space and Sanitarium among its influences , but it’s the hauntingly lavish isometric art which really makes it stand out and, perhaps, give it a shot at Kickstarter superhappytimes. The release of an impressive demo is only going to help with that.

Let’s start, as is traditional, with the Kickstarter pitch video, BWWWWARRRRRP noises and all:

A SERIOUS MAN.

Next, I could write a few sentences about STASIS, but in his internal mail suggesting we cover this today, Nathan unwittingly did that for me: “Stasis, which we’ve written about previously, is on Kickstarter. It looks quite attractive, even if it does hide really traditional point-and-click mechanics behind jargony names like Quantum Storage Device (inventory, naturally). Looks mighty spooky, though. Also, backers can get an EXCLUSIVE POLO SHIRT for their troubles. I ask you, what could possibly be better?”

What a flagrant abuse of editorial power, eh? Thathan.

Sadly, my smugness is undone by the discovery that it was none other than my good self who posted about STASIS previously, but I do not remember doing so, nor do I remember seeing or hearing of the game before. Now that’s the true face of terror for you. Where was I on April 2nd, 2012? Why can’t I remember it? Why is my scrotum covered in tattooed messages to myself? Oh no, wait, I do remember that latter – that was the day I ran out of Post-it Notes. Still coming up a blank on STASIS though, but hopefully second time’s the charm. More specifically, giving its whopping 1GB alpha demo a spin should help cement the game in my perished memory.

I’ve only played a little, but it does seem to have extremely high production values for what it is and a great deal of appealingly industrial spaceship porn. Its dialogue is so lasciviously fixated upon the grotesque that I worried it could fall into self-parody, but so far it’s stayed on the right side of creepy. It’s really promising – the artwork definitely sells the ghost spaceship you’re on as enormous and oppressive, and there’s a palpable sense of loneliness and anxiety. Distressing talk of cloning children quickly comes into play, and I’m enjoying that everything, from movement to animation, takes a long time. STASIS seems unhurried, very big on attention to detail and more intent on building atmosphere than inducing heart palpitations. I hope it can sustain it, and if it’s looking this strong on self-funding, I wonder just how glossy it might become if it did snag the sizeable $100,000 of Kickstarter money it’s hoping for.

It’s $17k towards that already, so I think it’s got a decent shot. It’s also doing the Greenlight poledance, naturally.

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36 Comments »

  1. stiffkittin says:

    Great news. I remember reading on his dev blog some time ago now, when a lot of people were suggesting he take the game to kickstarter, that he was against the idea. He was worried about the effect of stretch goals, feature creep and the often unrealistic and varied expectations of non-dev backers. Of how having the feeling of working for them might negatively affect the experience of creating his passion project.

    I really wanted to point him towards projects like Radio the Universe, whose creator has a clear and determined vision and where backers are encouraged to accept that very personal ideal of what a finished game would be or not get involved. It’s encouraging to see a dev with the foresight to be concerned about these issues which are indeed causing problems for more than one successful kickstarter.

    Anyway, really happy to see this take the plunge. It’s definitely one that will make the distance to completion and has already been impressing the hell out of me for over a year.

    • Zyrxil says:

      What! How did I never hear about Radio the Universe before? RPS, you’ve failed me at notifying me of Kickstarters relevant to my interests!

  2. kikito says:

    This is looking very nice, specially when you take into account that is is pretty much a 1-guy job. +1 for stasis.

  3. Darkhorse says:

    What did it say on your ass

  4. Henke says:

    “The release of an impressive demo is only going to help with that.”

    It wasn’t _that_ impressive. The pathfinding is pretty wonky, the character freezes in place every time a door opening/closing animation plays and the inventory doesn’t always close when you want it to. It looks great, but on the technical side it leaves a lot to be desired. I guess that’s what the KS money is for though.

    • harbinger says:

      *Alpha* Demo.

      • Marmalade Man says:

        Yes but there are no programmers on the team, just a 3D artist and a copy of Visionaire Studio, so it doesn’t seem like any technical improvements are coming. It is hard to tell though as there is no explanation of what the $100,000 is for.

        • Chris Bischoff says:

          I am working hand in hand with the developers of Visioniare to really push the engine! In its current form, the freely available version of Visioniare wouldn’t be able to handle STASIS.
          This version of the engine has already been highly optimised to handle the amount of artwork and animation that STASIS has (I believe my last count was 87 648 individual frames of animation in the current build).

          There are many improvements on the table, and I know that it will only get better!

          • Marmalade Man says:

            Are the Visionaire people working on improved path finding for you?

            It would be nice if you could add a paragraph or two to your kickstarter page about how you came up with the $100,000 figure, and how it would be spent. I know I feel more comfortable backing a project if there is some indication that the developers have done some financial planning.

          • Sic says:

            I absolutely adore how this looks. Nay, I love it.

            Still, I’m a bit reluctant to fork over anything until I know there will be (a) programmer(s) working on the code for Stasis (not just the middleware Stasis is using).

            It seems such a waste having this level of visual design (and hopefully writing) and not have a proper game to back it up.

  5. rustybroomhandle says:

    It’s nice to see fellow South African projects get RPS etc. coverage (see also Desktop Dungeons, Viscera Cleanup Detail and our game). The game development “industry” here is still tiny at the moment, and could use some attention to help it grow.

    Weirdly though it’s almost easier to get international news coverage than local. It’s all very flashy lights and AAA-obsessed around here for the most part.

    EDIT: Ha! Just as I post this I notice Broforce also making an appearance. :)

  6. belgand says:

    How far would I go to save my family? Not very. Maybe the kitchen perhaps, but I’m certainly not leaving the apartment and that includes going out to the mailbox. Then again, I don’t really care for them.

    Along those lines though $20 is a rather high price to pay for a first game from an inexperienced indie team. Perhaps after release that might make some degree of sense, but this is still a future development with no idea of how good the game will actually be upon release. And if this is being released to backers for $20 how high is the full price? $40? Either they’re going to charge far too much for this or the discount given to early backers is a bit too low.

    It looks interesting, but count me out.

    • stiffkittin says:

      You make a good point but personally I think that’s kind of good. More people should enter into kickstarters without the notion of preordering or as a purchase. And more kickstarters should be prepared to stand firm on clear and realistic goals and court the kind of backer that really wants to help the dev make their game.

    • Oberoth says:

      I feel the same way about my family, but the thing that’s keeping me from pledging is that this a 2D isometric game. It looks great, but I just don’t see how I’m supposed to get invested in a character that’s basically going to be a silhouette during most of the gameplay, nor do I see a way for the horror elements to really work when the POV is so detached from the actions in the game.

  7. Alien426 says:

    If you namedrop The Dig in a Kickstarter campaign, I will pledge. Let’s keep this a secret, mkay?

  8. Maxheadroom says:

    I never actually got around to playing The Dig back in the day (despite working in a computer shop at the time) Is that something I need to rectify or, not having the benefit of nostalgia goggles, did it not age particularly well?

    • Alien426 says:

      In my opinion, you should absolutely play it. It was kinda overlooked at the time. Even nowadays it’s often not the first game that comes to mind, when talking about LucasArts titles. But it’s one of my favorite games and a lot of people remember it as fondly (including this YouTube reviewer).

    • Sic says:

      I started playing it a couple of times, but I never really got into the stride of it.

      The puzzle logic in the opening felt really arbitrary and shallow, so I guess that’s why I never continued playing. It gets better, I guess?

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Thnaks.
      My followup question was going to be ‘Does anyone know where I can pick a copy up nowadays?’ but since a quick google revealed that it’s only 3 quid on Steam I figure it’s worth a punt anyway :)

  9. Neki says:

    Oh right, now that you mention it, it does have an IHNMAIMS kinda atmosphere.

  10. Dermott says:

    I love the look of the game.. could become a really great thing from africa! :-)

  11. Bluerps says:

    I don’t think that “everything, from movement to animation, takes a long time” is a good thing in an adventure, to be honest.

    Not that I have anything against a game that is calm and unhurried, but adventure games tend to have a lot of moments in which you aren’t a 100% sure what to do next, and in which you are just moving around between rooms you have already seen a dozen times, constantly waiting for the character to finally arrive somewhere, so that you can try something else that might be the solution needed to progress. In fact, I think that the most important thing that was ever invented for point&click adventures was the double-click-to-teleport-character-to-cursor mechanic.

  12. wodin says:

    Love the look and atmosphere in the game.. very interested in seeing how it all turns out. It could end up being a classic..hopefully.

  13. Syphus says:

    Now I want a “I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream” remake.

  14. malkav11 says:

    Chris has been teasing those of us who frequent Quarter to Three with gorgeous screenshots for years now, so I’m glad to finally be able to give him money for the game. :)

  15. The Random One says:

    The link to the Greenlight page links to the Kickstarter again. WHAT TRICKERY IS THIS

    Just so no one says I’m not helpful, here‘s the correct link.

  16. Gamera says:

    I played the alpha. It’s boring. The puzzles give no reward except to let you enter the next room. There’s no story advancement or clever feeling pay off like in the games it cites as inspirations. There’s too much pixel hunting and waving the mouse around to find something you can interact with. Less time should have been spent on the graphics and a lot more on game theory and thinking about what makes things like The Dig actually fun.
    The graphics are good but if there’s anything adventure games have taught us it’s that graphics don’t matter. There are a lot of free homemade adventure games that beat this in every category except graphics.
    It’s a little TOO based on other games. The visions, the tram (even The Dig has it), the premise, the crew diaries (who would actually write down this stuff if some random guy didn’t need it to fix the same machine in the future??), it’s all “space sci fi paint by numbers.”

    I posted a more polite version of this on the Greenlight page and the dev deleted it -_- how rude.

    I’m not worried about the wait time for animations and doors and UI and path finding and stuff. It’s an alpha after all. But the core design just seems more of a portfolio of this guy’s artwork than a game you’re supposed to enjoy playing.

  17. hideinlight says:

    I’m from South Africa, good luck!
    But yes really local coverage of local games are awful, we once had a local TV show dedicated to gaming, but that also fell flat.

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