Shambling: Eador studio pull Zombiest Adventures

As attempts to get a struggling studio back on track go, publishing “a silly (and trashy at times) game that had LGBT pirates, forced transgender striptease and a Nobel laureate in literature as a game character” is a surprising move. That’s precisely what Eador creators Snowbird Games did though, releasing The Zombiest Adventures In The Perverted Age of Enlightenment With a Pinch of Woodpunk [Steam page], only to pull it from sale six days later.

The last few months have been difficult for Snowbird. Before reaching The Perverted Age of Enlightenment, they lost most of their dev team in March, and have been looking for ways to revitalise the company ever since.

Snowbird’s new administration swept in on March 30th, and here’s their explanation as to why they let the dev team go:

“Reasons for this being the unsatisfactory results of Eador. Imperium, as well as the slow development rates of Blood & Gold: Caribbean! — two primary projects of the studio. Right at the start of 2017 the investor did an independent code examination and had a talk with developers. As a result, it was decided to let go of the people behind both of these projects and invite new specialists.”

They’ve been pretty frank and sensible about some of the problems with those two games as they decided their next steps. Examining Blood & Gold, which borrows the engine and fundamentals of TaleWorlds Entertainment’s Mount & Blade games then adds pirates, the new administration pick at its “lack of focus”, technical problems, and “incorrect” marketing. They conclude:

“A very complicated and content-heavy project was based on the outdated technology. The problem in this case lies with the management who took decision regarding the game’s concept and its engine.”

Oof. They’ve since started patching it to make the best of a bad situation. It has been a long mess. We had a look when the game first launched into early access under the name Caribbean! in 2014, when it wasn’t in the best state. Snowbird cut a lot of planned features to squeeze it out of early access in February 2015, but players weren’t best pleased so a few months later Snowbird expanded and relaunched it as Blood & Gold: Caribbean.

Snowbird are working on Eador: Imperium too, adding a tutorial and a customisable Sandbox mode.

And that brings us to The Zombiest Adventures In The Perverted Age of Enlightenment With a Pinch of Woodpunk. Made by Orgs Studio, it was a survival-tinged Mount & Blade ’em up set in a wacky 17th century zombie apocalypse. Snowbird chose to publish it in April but the reception wasn’t warm. Complaints aren’t about the silliness, more that it’s too stripped-down for a M&B ’em up, buggy, and just not fun. Six days after launch, Snowbird stopped selling the game.

“Well, it’s pretty safe to say this experiment did not turn out too well,” they said.

“Our plan was pretty straightforward — its main point was not to compete with mods that ‘have a bit of everything’. So instead ORGS Studio made a silly (and trashy at times) game that had LGBT pirates, forced transgender striptease and a Nobel laureate in literature as a game character in it. Reviews showed there’s some people who would be into this kind of stuff, but the majority of players just weren’t very impressed by this idea.

“We think the game is pretty good, most players don’t — there’s no point in arguing, so we’ve decided to stop selling The Zombiest Adventures on Steam and return money to everybody who purchased it.”

A dead game is truly the Zombiest.

Eador is Snowbird’s flagship series but its latest version is wonky enough that they feel a need to add large features months after launch. They have a history with Mount & Blade, having worked on the official standalone expansion With Fire & Sword too, but all of their Mount & Blade ’em ups have had their share of problems. Trying stranger things rather than building on their existing experience might not be the most sensible option right now. Their commitment to improvements might see them build a firm foundation for future games but their investors will need to have patience and deep pockets.

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14 Comments

  1. Phantom_Renegade says:

    1. You should consider fixing your log-in system since it’s horrible.

    2. I’ve played Eador and thought it was the most boring and ugly HoMM ripoff I’d ever played. This game with the transgender pirate strippers at least sounds interesting. So obviously that’s the one they pull… with decisions like these, I can see why the company is in trouble.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      The login system is very screwy. Half the time I get logged out the moment I leave my profile page. Today I couldn’t log in after 4 attempts and gave up. Then upon reopening the site 5 minutes later, I was logged in.

      I forget what comment I had planned to write.

  2. Anvilfolk says:

    “forced transgender striptease”

    What. Just no. This absolutely awful, unless I am misinterpreting it.

    • AlexClockwork says:

      This. This confuses me. WTF? I still don’t understand how someone could write such a phrase and not stop to rethink it. I have no idea what the game is actually like, but this sounds terrible.

    • Ghostwise says:

      Sounds like a good way to end up on a lot of shitlists. I suppose they’re about as good at PR as they are at making games…

    • Unclepauly says:

      It sounds exactly as it’s written. Some trans people are being forced to striptease. Like sex slaves. It’s not real people though, it’s a videogame.

      • pepperfez says:

        Oh, huh, so much for assuming the best. That’s…a really gross and weird thing to decide your game needs. Like, they were determined to include a scene of sexual humiliation, and they went with humiliating trans people?
        Huh.

    • pepperfez says:

      I’ve gotta imagine they meant “forced drag striptease,” which might go in an ugly direction but is a pretty solidly established comedy trope.
      Otherwise…ugh.

  3. trooperwally says:

    Gosh this looks bad. Snowbird were the people behind taking the seemingly good idea of putting Mount and Blade in a pirate setting and creating the mess that was Caribbean. And now it looks like they’ve marginally reskinned that game and added a load of poor taste and worse judgement.

  4. Humppakummitus says:

    I have no idea what those guys are doing these days, but Eador: Genesis is one of the best games I’ve ever played. Right there next to Homm3.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I always feel a bit bad for folks when they make a creative work and people complain until they have to pull it.

    That said, this particular one sounds like it’s trying a bit too hard to be wacky.

    Still, though.

    • April March says:

      I dunno. If I had put out a creative work and people were saying it was complete shit but it was what I wanted I wouldn’t pull it, never. Of course, that assumes I worked by myself and have sole say on whether to pull it or not. Things get difficult in the magical world of corporations, but I’d still say “have to pull it” is too strong a turn of phrase.

  6. April March says:

    I watched the trailer and now I want to play Mount & Blade: Turok.

    Or a M&B game in which every named character is a Nobel laureate.

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