Sometimes it takes time to perfect something really special. Such is the case with retirement-home-in-the-sky simulator Wayward Strand.
Wayward Strand is one of many truly exciting Australian titles announced for release this year, being developed and published by Melbourne-based indie studio Ghost Pattern.
The game follows your journey of meeting elderly individuals in an airborne hospital, where you write about their stories for an article.
The visuals are gorgeous, the gameplay is fascinating. It truly looks like Wayward Strand is going to be a properly heartwarming (and maybe heartbreaking) experience.
This is why it’s probably important for the developers to get it right, hence the delay announcement.
In a blog post on Wayward Strand‘s Steam page, the team revealed that their original release date on July 21st will be pushed back to a new date, September 15th. The game was first shown off at Freeplay Parallels in 2017, later shown again at PAX East in 2019, and then most recently was part of Nintendo’s Indie World showcase in May.
So you could say that people have definitely been waiting for this game, but the wait should definitely be worth it, right?
The team working on Wayward Strand asked the question themselves: ‘So, why the delay?’ And then, of course, they proceed to answer. I’d prefer not to mince their words, so take it from Ghost Pattern themselves:
“In truth, very few games like Wayward Strand exist. When you set the timelines for making a new game, you might think about other similar games you’ve heard about or worked on. You might try to compare in your mind how long similar things have taken in the past. So, when we set out to make Wayward Strand, we had a think about similar games.
“Games with 25,000+ lines of voiceover dialogue… and with all action taking place within real-time mechanics… and with 14 characters, each with their own 3-hour-long in-game journey… and with richly decorated and intensely researched 3-storey doll-house worlds… and with a focus on heartfelt stories, where the nod of a head or a momentary pause between dialogue can make a world of meaning… and all made by a small, self-published indie team.
“As you can imagine, we were left scratching our heads. Regardless, we did our best to set realistic timelines. But as we review each scene in the game and how it all comes together, we felt it was important to spend some additional time to bring the experience closer to our vision. We’re doing our best to bring our characters and stories to life for you.
“This delay means we can release Wayward Strand at a level of quality that we’re happy with. Importantly, it also allows us to do it in a less stressful way for the team. Wayward Strand is a game about care, and it would make no sense to make this game without caring for each other. From day one, we’ve been rigorously committed to empathy, openness, and anti-crunch. Game releases are almost always stressful and difficult for the teams behind them, so we’re trying to find ways of approaching our release that reduce some of those pressures.”
In short, not only do they want to make sure the end product of Wayward Strand is true to their vision, but they also want to take care of one another and make sure nobody is overworked. Y’know, genuinely nice things.
Since I started writing for Kotaku Australia, my perspective on release dates and delays has changed. Before, I would kick and scream at the thought of a game I was excited about being pushed back.
However, now I’ve gotten the opportunity to talk to so many incredible game developers, many of them working either all on their own or in very small teams. Teams like Ghost Pattern, who are putting out games like Wayward Strand all on their own.
The result of those conversations made me realise that making a game is fucking hard! The trials and tribulations of developing a video game mixed with the desire for your team to actually feel like they’re supported in their plight mean that sometimes, you need that extra time to get everything right.
And for a game like Wayward Strand, I for one am more than happy to wait.
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