Still Not On The Road To Kentucky Route Zero Act III

By Alec Meer on February 11th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

[Waves arms wildly]I DON’T HAVE RELEASE DATE FOR YOU DON’T GET EXCITED[/waves arms wildly]

Wolf Among Us isn’t the only recent episodic game playing silly buggers with our expectations: there’s still no sign of when the passenger door episode III to RPS GOTY 2013 Kentucky Route Zero will open and offer us a ride down its strange, whip-smart highway. To some degree I’m less troubled by the wait than I was by WAU’s, as I’m not really in KRZ for the plot – it’s more of an experiential thing for me, as wanky as that might sound. I would like more of it and soon, though.

Devs Cardboard Computer have attempted to allay fears that something terrible has happened behind the scenes, and explained why no KRZE3 date yet. Apparently it will be “significantly more involved than the first two acts.” Maybe that means it’ll have guns! Or a jump button! Or microtransactions!

On the delayed releases of episode 1 and 2 they say “it was pretty demoralizing to miss deadlines, and the barrage of negative attention that followed made it only more difficult to focus on work. More importantly, we’ve learned that our process is quite exploratory, experimental, and unpredictable anyway.”

As such, they prefer to “allow the project to grow organically”, letting things become more complex or even be discarded as required, in order that they’re “respecting the game rather than the timeline.”

For this project I think that’s the smart call, though I’ll likely change my tune if we find ourselves many months down the line without any outward results. I want KRZ to keep feeling special, not wind up rushed or compromised in any way because someone was too worried about meeting a deadline or getting shouted at by internet people.

The devs also point out that the freebie act 2/3 interlude/perspective-shifted interactive play The Entertainment wound up being a larger undertaking than they’d expected, but “we’re very happy with how it came out.” Apparently its true import will only become clear in the wake of Act III proper, but they reckon The Entertainment is “at least as important a component of the Kentucky Route Zero project as any other.” So go get it, basically. I really must get around to trying the Oculus Rift version.

As for Act II itself, all they’re giving away is that there are “components of it that grew in scale beyond our expectation, but we feel they’re worth the time and effort.”

I hope so. Again, the wait grates a little, but I’d certainly rather that than be met with something that was in any way perfunctory.

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42 Comments »

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  1. soul4sale says:

    *grumble grumble grumble*

  2. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    I’m cool with that. I hope they take their time, thoroughly enjoyed Act 1 & 2.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Agreed. Obviously I want more KRZ but if it ends up being one episode per year I won’t be too upset, so long as they succeed in what they’re trying to do with it.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Yes.

      I’ve decided to wait til the whole thing’s done for a proper play. I know that will be a while. And because I never had any illusions about what “buying” episodic games is – donating money, and nothing more – I don’t get all Internet Angry about it.

      I really want them to finish it ASAP, but I’ve also seen enough that I want them to be able to stick to their vision of what they’re aiming to finish.

      • Person of Interest says:

        I agree that for a TV series or The Walking Dead game, I want to watch/play the season all at once because cliffhangers and continuations nag me otherwise. But I don’t think KRZ is like that. It benefits from the months-long gaps between episodes and intermissions, and I’d miss out on a lot of the enjoyment, or get burned out, if I played it straight through. The slow, incremental releases reinforce the style of play.

        What I’m trying to say is: consider making an exception to your rule of not playing episodic games until they’re done, because KRZ is an exceptional game.

    • Premium User Badge

      caff says:

      This game deserves as long as it takes. It’s like a fine wine, a story and experience that will age gracefully. I’m sure it will still be just as appealing when I load it up on my holographic virtual reality system’s emulator in 30 years time.

      I just hope they stick to their original vision and don’t let time, money or the public distract them.

      At the current price on gog.com it’s a steal, even if you want to wait until more of it is complete.

      • captain nemo says:

        I could’nt agree more. To paraphrase Pirsig, If you rush something, it often means you care more about reaching the finish line than the thing itself. I’d rather have no ep3 than a mess released just to meet a deadline.

        • WrenBoy says:

          I agree that they should take their time with it and that a delay for KY0 shouldnt be judged as harshly as delays for more narrative driven games like the Walking Dead.

          The only criticism of the game that I have is that, especially in Act I, too many scenes are text only. Hopefully the delay means that we will see less of this.

          • Ross Angus says:

            I know what you mean, but what about that scene in the bar with the lights out? That was my favourite bit.

  3. Darth Gangrel says:

    I dislike companies who use the term “ecosystem” when describing their different product brands. It sounds like a hollow buzzword and plain wrong.

    However, “to grow organically” is a similar expression that I might lash out at, but that I actually like. Perhaps, because it means to me “no rush, we’ll see what works” and that such a mentality corrolates with my perhaps romanticised view of game developers as artists that can’t be pushed to deliver greatness. All in due time and all that jazz.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Indeed, and it comes from this anti-scientific almost religious idea a lot of Sillicon Valley companies have that everything can be reduced to cybernetic diagrams of “ecosystems” whereby complexity is reduced to pictograms with lines between them. Basically even ecologists dislike using the term ecosystem for describing nature now, having discovered that the complexity of the natural world doesn’t fit into cybernetic circuit diagrams, but somehow the term has been fully adopted by Californian Ideologists to describe the “ecology of internet businesses”, so pretty much every worthless tech startup/behemoth in existence (Facebook et al.). Which is annoying, but also cleverly disguises how ruthlessly they chase teh moneys.

      https://encrypted.google.com/#q=all+watched+over+by+machines+of+loving+grace

  4. Zeliard says:

    I saw the game’s distinctive art and a flash of “Kentucky Route Zero” in the header and got excited.

    Then I became sad.

    Having said that, I will happily wait however long it takes for the next installment. This game is destined to become a classic and eternity cares not for trivially short development snags.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    Infinite sadness. :(

    Also, it’s currently 50% off at GOG.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Cheers for the heads-up, picked it up. I was looking for something relaxing and visually pleasing to play during the evenings and this looks like it will do nicely.

      • WrenBoy says:

        Youre in for a treat. Evenings is optimistic though.

        • Squirrelfanatic says:

          That short, eh? Oh well, if it lasts at least ONE LONG evening, I will be satisfied.

  6. MadTinkerer says:

    As long as they don’t run out of money to actually do continued development, I’m fine with it. We already have two solid episodes of proof that they can deliver on… time… even though the third is… late…

    WHY am I suddenly getting a horrible sense of deja vu?

  7. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    Bought during the steam sales. I really should get around to playing it…

  8. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    So far, I’m disappointed with KRZ.

    MINOR SPOILER

    So far I’m at what seems like an interminable mine section. Am I missing something about this game?

    • horsemedic says:

      You’re missing that plodding back and forth across a mine and clicking on dialog bubbles is the gaming event of 2013.

      In fairness, the mine is one of the worst scenes in a very uneven game. It has some truly excellent scenes down the road but also some even worse ones (that office building, ugh).

      • AngoraFish says:

        I thought that this piece of interactive fiction was engaging, albeit limited, however the mine was absolutely my favourite bit. You need to turn the light off and on to appreciate it. Make sure you explore all six directions, one of which is the way out.

      • SpiceTheCat says:

        The office building that’s an impenetrable and apparently pointless bureaucracy, where uncaring people with no interest in helping you shuffle you off to some other office, until you have a tantrum? Hm. Maybe that scene is having the desired effect?

    • Ross Angus says:

      As AngoraFish says, the trick is to turn out the lights.

      The readme for the first episode says something like “if you’re feeling bored, go with it”. It’s a bit like Stalker (the film): once you get yourself in a very specific mood, it’s quite, quite magical. Hmm. Now it sounds like some sort of cult.

  9. meepmeep says:

    I haven’t played Act 2 yet, on the basis I knew Act 3 would be a long time coming.

  10. Shazbut says:

    I very much want to play this but I don’t want to get involved in a story when there’s a chance that it might not finish. I’m fully aware that for many people this is no issue but for me it is.

    It’s not just the emotional niggle of loose ends, it’s that I don’t believe something can be properly evaluated until it’s complete.

    Self contained stories within a larger arc don’t count though, even if such a definition is blurry. Is KRZ like this or is it all about the next episode?

    • Person of Interest says:

      I’d say it’s up for debate whether KRZ leaves you hanging. I didn’t feel that way at all, but then again I didn’t mind reading Harry Potter books as they came out (though I stopped after #4, I think.)

  11. MichaelPalin says:

    Can someone remind me what was the positive about the episodic format for games again?

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Well for one, we have 2/5ths of a game instead of no KR0 at all.

      • bitesize says:

        Also, they have the money so they can keep developing further episodes, rather than just going bust cos they couldn’t get the whole thing out.

        • MichaelPalin says:

          Yes, it is useful as a financial method for the developer, but for the player and, ultimately, for the game itself, how is it a positive?, how does it improve anything? It’s the same for early access. If we allow developers to indulge in these models, doesn’t the medium suffer in the end?

          • Premium User Badge

            Llewyn says:

            Simple answer: we don’t know. That’s something that only time will show.

            Something we do know with a degree of certainty though is that the medium has definitely suffered through established, creative studios being unable to finish projects due to lack of funds, unable to start projects and unable to remain in business independently. We can’t even guess how much low-profile talent has been in this position.* Personally, I think exploring other options is likely to be a good thing for the medium.

            *Yes, it might be ‘none at all’.

          • MichaelPalin says:

            @Llewyn

            Well, I know the story structure of Broken Age is broken thanks to this model. I understand what you say, but we also have to put into question the management skills of these developers in the end. Broken Age is a problem of management, not a problem of funding. Maybe don’t chew more than you can eat?

  12. Freud says:

    I treat episodic gaming like I treat any other pre-order. I don’t do it unless I just can wait. Otherwise I just let them do their thing and I’ll play the game once all episodes are released.

  13. Just Endless says:

    I just want to point out that it’s really easy to forgive basically anything Cardboard Computer does in my case:

    -> I bought the first single episode as a standalone, not wanting to pay for game that hadn’t yet been made.
    -> They got approved for Steam.
    -> To clarify their product stream, they up and gave me a code for the entire thing.

    Solid customer treatment, almost too solid. Plus two polished bonus free chapters? Awesome.

  14. JOJOFACE says:

    I love that you guys love this game as much as I do. So much respect for the devs taking their time and creating a product they can be proud of, instead of a rushed game just to meet deadlines.

    • BiggerJ says:

      Dammit. Here’s what I meant to say: One guy on twitter went crazy and pledged to buy gift 100 copies of the game if it’s released this month. That’s $2499 for Valve and Cardboard Computer.

    • BiggerJ says:

      Dammit. Here’s what I meant to say: One guy on Twitter went crazy and pledged to buy gift 100 copies of the game if it’s released this month. That’s $2499 for Valve and Cardboard Computer.

  15. Fathom says:

    The entire thing was supposed to be out by the end of 2013. I figured they took the money and ran a while back, honestly.

    • Zeliard says:

      Took what money? (The $8k KS money? The profits they made on a game they created and legitimately sold after the fact?)

      Ran where? They are on twitter all the time answering questions. Their real identities are public. They are forthright about their intentions in development.

      Obviously a scam, eh?

  16. Urthman says:

    One of the reasons I’m OK with this is that I want to replay each of the previous episodes when the new ones come out. Longer time between episodes will make it that much more fresh when I go back to the earlier episodes.