Beta Foot Forward: 7 Grand Steps

With Unwritten: That Which Happened now a thing That Is Happening and Ritual Dementia still a distinct possibility, 7 Grand Steps isn’t the only multi-generational story in gaming, but it’s still the only one I’ve played and therefore the one I’m most capable of writing about. It’s a fascinating game, with the appearance of a mechanical device, token-operated and belonging to another time. Mousechief’s earlier work, Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble, was a parlour game packed full of moxie and 7 Grand Steps has similarities in design, but is a much more open, user-directed experience. The demo provides a taste of the cultural voyage through the ages and the beta of the clever IGF-nominated oddity is now available to pre-purchasers. The cost is $9.99 now or $14.99 at release.


  1. MuscleHorse says:

    Looks genuinely fascinating. I look forward to giving the demo a spin on the train home!

  2. Sinomatic says:

    This looks like some interactive boardgame, token-based version of The Sims.

  3. Keith Nemitz says:

    My best Valentines present, today! Thanks, Adam. I’ll be tapping on ‘refresh’ to answer questions about 7 Grand Steps, the pronunciation of Mousechief, the weather and/or climate in the east San Fran bay area, and illicit love affair with a certain RPS peep.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      Ok, I’ll bite.

      How does one pronounce Mousechief? I just assumed it was… y’know, mouse chief.

    • X_kot says:

      Hi, Keith, congrats on the IGF nom! I enjoyed the demo a lot and am looking forward to the full release. You mentioned in your Gamasutra interview that you wanted to take the Civ grand narrative and refocus it on a single bloodline. Two other games in this genre spring to mind: Real Lives and Crusader Kings. Have you played them, and if so, have they influenced your design?

      • Keith Nemitz says:

        Thank you, X_kot. I have not played either. The Guild II also has generations. So does Infinity Blade, and there’s an indie game about heros that allows it. I’ve only read about them as well.

        The main difference in 7 Grand Steps is, the world changes during generations, especially the story world, as your family survives into each new age of history. In the other games, the world remains pretty much the same, (except possibly for Crusader Kings)

        • X_kot says:

          Oh, yeah, The Guild series! Another good example of modeling the ebb and flow of a family’s fortunes over time.

          The story events are really cool – one part Choose Your Own Adventure, one part storytelling. Do you have a rough estimate of how many different events will be available in the release version? I find the act of creating history to be a major source of engagement with the simulated family; being able to look back at the decisions and pitfalls that befell the ancestors is compelling.

        • Keith Nemitz says:

          The current Beta contains roughly the final amount of events as the finished version. Our main focus until then is to improve the events, replace weak ones, double check the history (which changes all the time, according to the internet :-) Rough estimates:

          120 ‘tale’ events (as in “tales in the life of..”)
          54 discovery tales
          30+ heroic challenges, and 12 challenges of the age.
          24 rites of passage tales
          9 social advancement tales.

          All of those (except discoveries) contain multiple choices each with multiple results.

          Current word count for the stories is 140,000. That does not include the writing in the three narrative, ruling games.

          TMI ???

          • X_kot says:

            No, no, that’s great information…and a lot of permutations. Good luck with wrapping up production!

    • lordcooper says:

      What timeframe does this take place over?

      • Keith Nemitz says:

        Step 1, ‘What Ancients Begat’ covers the ancients periods: copper, bronze, and iron ages. That’s the current game. Step 2 and the rest would be sequels. Each step can pick up where the previous one ended. You get to keep playing your family.

        One play-through of Step 1 takes about 15-20 hours.

        Writing the stories alone, for step 1, took 2 years.

        • lordcooper says:

          Oh wow, I had this pegged as a 1-3 hour game. Downloading the demo right now, and I’ll very likely be buying it on release day :)

          E: Tried the demo, I’ll be buying this for sure.

  4. Martel says:

    Looks interesting, I don’t recall seeing this before.

  5. Artist says:

    Tried the demo and had to notice that the gameplay is rather dull. It becomes very repeative after you understand how it works – no heights, no lows. It lacks motivational devices to keep playing.

  6. soulblur says:

    Can we get a WIT? Has there been one, and I’ve missed it?

    • lordcooper says:

      You’ll have to wait for them to finish the game first :p