Anyone who’s been playing GameDigits’ episodic installments of their Red Dwarf XI mobile game are probably starting to wonder where the Krysis episode might be. At the time of writing it’s been around four and a half months since Officer Rimmer released and given episodes prior to this were put out roughly two months apart, and with Series XII rapidly approaching, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the entire thing might’ve been dropped.
Well, according to a Tweet from the official GameDigits account, there’s nothing much to fear. The Red Dwarf XI game still lives but will be on hold while work moves over to a new, free, Red Dwarf XII game.
It’s great to hear you’re wanting more @NitroChrisUK! Currently the game is on hold while we focus on the new free game for series XII
— GameDigits Ltd (@GameDigits) August 16, 2017
I think at this point most people had expected even the best case scenario didn’t involve Krysis and Can of Worms making it out before Red Dwarf XII aired, so it’s interesting to see how GameDigits and UKTV are handling the situation, and it seems the option they’ve gone for is being rather up-front about the whole thing, which certainly matches the candour we’ve seen throughout the development of the episodes thus far.
In something that might vaguely resemble journalism, we reached out to Ian GameDigits himself for further comment on the situation so we have a little more light to shed on things. On the subject of the XI being ‘on hold’.
Ultimately the Krysis & Can of Worms episodes from series XI have been put on hold while we focus on XII and we were currently half way through Krysis when direction change was confirmed.
One of the main reasons for this change was that less than one percent of players had reached the point of unlocking these episodes, therefore it made sense to focus on series XII instead. We do however hope to continue with the previous game as interest increases.
So “on hold” certainly doesn’t seem to be code for “shit canned” which certainly is good to hear. The one percent figure is an interesting one, too, and to be honest it’s easy to see how this has lead to the decision to focus entirely on XII for now. It’s the big, big problem with the episodic release structure because even the completion rates for games that are released in one big chunk are pitifully low in most cases, and that drop off in general interest is only compounded when your game is being spread over the course of a year or more. It’s very important that we eventually see everything released, but it’s also easy to see the thought process that’s lead to what must’ve been quite a difficult decision when you’re in a situation where you’re only really developing for 1% of your original audience. Must be a bit of a fucker, really.
So, what of this new Red Dwarf XII project? Well, Ian GameDigits lifts the cloche on a few more details.
We are currently working on a new game to tie-in with Red Dwarf series XII which we’re all very excited about. Since meeting the fans at DJ, we have taken a great deal of feedback on board in order to make something that suits a much wider audience of Red Dwarf fans.
The game will be free to download, and will include other features to cater for fans who want something more than a game. It will not be episodic or aim to follow the story directly from the episodes – although this worked well for series XI, we felt it was quite restrictive. Instead series XII will focus more on gameplay, rather than mirroring a linear storyline from the show.
Something that’s always been self evident is that GameDigits are really keen to react to feedback from the fans. While bug fixes were obviously a big focus of a number of their patches to the XI game over the last year, a lot of attention was also put into game balance which ended up drastically changing the feel of some sections in order to be more inclusive. With this in mind, mention of catering for fans who want some thing “more than a game” is a very interesting detail and one that could indicate a structure that is less reliant on skill based mini-games that will always alienate a portion of the potential audience. Also worth noting that the game will be free from the start (unlike Red Dwarf XI’s initial $£1.99 cost) which will, without the shadow of a hint of a doubt, have to come with some alternative way to earn money. As ever, this is a fine line to tread but it’s one that was handled quite elegantly before.
Of course, the biggest change here is moving away from the episodic format that has clearly caused issues for XI and while it is exciting to see what this means in terms of the game itself, I’m also left wondering what a Red Dwarf game that isn’t beholden to the stories and structure of XII will look like. Will this open the door for a lot more exclusive material, possibly written by Doug? Will it mean something that can be classed more of a general Red Dwarf game without being tied to a particular era? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.