With nine days left in its campaign, The Good Life — a combination murder mystery, pet simulator and role-playing game — is sitting at 19 percent of its crowdfunding goal. But lead designer Hidetaka “Swery” Suehiro is staying optimistic.
“Originally and even now I have been concerned, of course,” Swery said about the project’s struggle to sway backers when we met with him during Tokyo Game Show. “I’m not going to give up, though. There’s no way. I’m going all the way through to the end.”
The Good Life is both Swery’s first release with his new studio, White Owls, and his first stab at pitching a video game through a crowdfunding service. The designer of cult hits like D4 and Deadly Premonition receded from the public eye for several years, and launching this ambitious new project through a program like Fig may have struck fans as a gamble.
Fig’s spotty track record could be why. It started in 2015 as the first platform to offer equity to backers, offering a share of the game’s profits once funded. But few of the games pitched through Fig have made any money for contributors; the first to do so, Kingdoms and Castles, launched this past August.
But Swery was attracted to staging his comeback through Fig for other reasons, he told us.
“The guys at Fig did something really nice, in that they only choose something that has been very exclusively selected,” he said. “Only high-quality people are chosen to be able to fund and be part of the project.”
That’s obvious when looking at Fig’s advisory board, which includes Double Fine head Tim Schaefer and Obsidian Entertainment co-founder Feargus Urquhart. Name recognition has yet to be enough for getting Fig projects funded, though, and The Good Life’s sub-$300,000 funding on a $1.5 million ask looks ominous.
To hear Swery talk about The Good Life — whose inspirations include Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley, aesthetic departures from the psychological thrillers and horror titles that influenced his earlier work — makes his dedication to the project no surprise. He told us that the game’s emphasis on cats (which the protagonist, a New York-based photographer who moves to an English village suddenly besieged by a murder spell, can transform into) comes from his own love for the animal. He told us with a straight face that the game idea came to him after spontaneously buying 12 cats of his own, which ... we still find hard to believe. But Swery is nothing if not sincere about his quirks.
His hope is to create a game that juggles light and dark, tough puzzles and passive sidequests. Whether that bears out through Fig or not doesn’t faze him, at least when he spoke to us.
“Everybody loves cats, right?” he said after admitting that White Owls has yet to drum up a contingency plan, should the project not hit its goal. “And I want to make people happy. So I’m not going to let go of that.”
The Good Life’s funding campaign ends on Oct. 12.