As we reported earlier this week, developer Playdek abandoned the Yasumi Matsuno-involved Kickstarter Unsung Story and sold it to publisher Little Orbit. Not being known for games like Unsung Story, or non-licensed games in general, the move was odd and raised a lot of questions about the future of the $600,000 Kickstarted tactical RPG. We reached out to Little Orbit to try and fill in some of the blanks.
“Little Orbit is in a period of reinventing itself,” states CEO Matt Scott.
“We’ve had a somewhat successful history doing licensed-based retail video games. I feel like each of our projects has the kernel of a fun idea at its heart. A roller derby arcade racer. A Kung Fu online multiplayer brawler. A 3D point and click adventure. But inevitably those timelines are always short with excessive rounds of approvals. Many of our licensors have no working knowledge of the video game industry or development, yet they get 100% authority over what we can and can’t do.”
Scott went on to explain that he discovered Unsung Story by chance at an unrelated meeting with Playdek.
“Like thousands of backers who spent their money on it, I love the game that Unsung Story wants to be,” he explained, “so ultimately we decided to take it over. But there is no universe where Little Orbit would get involved but not fulfill the rewards. Since there wasn’t any significant money exchanged, that meant we needed to do that at our own expense.”
Despite Matsuno being an integral part of the game’s genesis, he has not been involved in the project since he and Playdek parted ways. Scott states that they are trying to get him back on board, but are doing everything they can by respecting his preexisting work for the game.
“We are going back and retranslating everything from Japanese to make sure all of the game design and narrative ideas are as close as possible. So far, we’ve found some significant things that either the translators got wrong or that Playdek decided to change, but I can’t share those yet. And we’ve also found some less significant things including a lot of variation in the names for places and characters from the story.”
Unfortunately, Scott says, they were not given any of Hitoshi Sakamoto’s music, and were told no music was ever created for the game. It adds to the growing list of Playdek’s promises that Little Orbit wants to at least try to make good on.
While most publishers announce new projects with gusto and optimism, Little Orbit and Matt Scott seem to realize the enormity of the work ahead. This is a game that is mocked and derided as the strongest example of a bad faith Kickstarter that the gaming community has ever seen, culminating in this week’s announcement that Playdek was abandoning it. After years of broken promises, genre changes, and a lack of refunds, Unsung Story has an uphill battle from people desperate for a hail mary pass. Why, then, should anyone believe Little Orbit will do any better?
“I’m not asking anyone to have blind faith in us,” Scott said. “This has been incredibly frustrating for a lot of people, and there is a lot of toxicity in the project. I knew going in that this would be a lot of work, but I also felt that it couldn’t get any worse that it already was, so why not try.”