The story of how ihobo games made Silk, a neo-retro game with the exploration of classic tile-based games like Eye of the Beholder and The Lords of Midnight, and a unique Advisor system where who you hire determines the choices you can make. Out Now!
The Steam update went live last week, and the proofs for the Retro USB cassettes have been ordered... more on this soon. Nearly 90% of backers have answered their surveys... not sure what the hold up is with the remaining 10%!
Working very hard on getting the Retro USBs ready before the end of November... more on this soon. In the meantime, there is an update to the Steam version in the beta branch, and it should go live for everyone on Halloween.
The marvellous Ben Chandler at Wadjet Eye sent this letter earlier this week... He's been playing the game since release - and by all accounts is getting rather good at it to!
Having put a little over 11 hours into Silk, and having had time while doing so to collect my thoughts on the game and genre, I thought you might be interested in them. Forgive me if I run long winded here.
One of my greatest memories of a computer game experience ever was when I was around 10 years old, at a friend's birthday party. All of the other boys were looking at car magazines, which did not interest me, and so this friend's father asked me if I wanted to see his new computer game. He knew I would, he'd shown me computer games before (including the original Discworld adventure - small world, right?), and so we sat down and he loaded up Civilization II, and guided me through the process of creating my very own fledgling civilization, founding a city, and creating a trireme. Having done so, I set out to explore the mysterious, huge world with my little ship, heeding his careful warnings about not venturing into deep water, and unearthing all sorts of exciting things I'd never seen before.
The experience of this play session was so vivid and profound on me that when I returned home I told my mother that I had to have this game. Nothing else could be more important. I'd do whatever chores, whatever dull tasks a mother could think up (I seem to recall some wall painting jobs, at the very least) in order to get the princely thirty Australian dollars one required to own a copy of the game.
I then, like many other people in the 90s and since, became hopelessly addicted to the game. I read the manual like a book, again and again, until the pages were dog-eared. Whole Sundays disappeared as I maneuvered my little men (let's be fair - they were almost always men in that game) around and built city after city. I checked out books from the school library on people that I'd never heard of, especially the wonderful Aztecs, whose name alone I had never heard of, and whose culture seemed like such a mysterious, incredible thing.
But Civilization II - and later games - never really recaptured that first moment for me, that magic feeling of setting out with my tiny lone ship, exploring perilous coastlines, uncovering a world rich with potential. It was a game of planning, of economics, of strategy, but very rarely of adventure.
Playing Silk makes me think that in missing The Lords of Midnight I may have missed the true genre that 10 year old me was really drawn to. Perhaps the closest thing I can think of is Cryo's lovely Dune adaptation - I found that the way the game takes you from being a single, vulnerable man in a strange world to the commander of a vast army that can take control of the planet was a lovely escalation of drama, and works particularly well in that setting. But the strategy genre went a different direction. I think, too, that a lot of modern games like to mix exploration with resource management in the form of things like survival games and roguelikes, but the direct interaction with those worlds feels often more tactical than strategic, and success in those games more often that not seems to rely on actions or decisions directly in the moment, rather than being the result of one's planning and preparation.
In short, I think you've really captured a lovely balance between the exploration of adventure/RPG titles, the resource management of strategy titles and the steady progression of characters that makes RPGs pretty good, too. In recommending it to a friend earlier this evening - who happens to be fond of The Lords of Midnight - I mentioned to him that playing the game feels like being a single unit in a game of Civilization, but where those games tend to have endgames that feature endless automation, countless small decisions, and massive political overthrows in order to keep people happy and productive, Silk is, from start to finish, always one step at a time, every decision being important, every action a direct choice. It's a great approach, and a lovely alternative. I'm curious to see what further challenges the Warlord destiny will bring now that I've completed a playthrough of The Noble.
And with that, I've likely talked your ear off enough. Cheerio, and congratulations once again on the release!
Pleased to report that Silk is now out for Steam and Switch! Infinite thanks to all our wonderful backers, without whom the game would never have come to pass. If you are playing and enjoying the game, don't forget to mention it to anyone you know who might like it! You've all got spare Steam keys you can give out, of course, so help us spread the word and get this game in the hands of players who might enjoy getting lost in three million miles of wilderness.
Every backer who answered the survey by Monday and requested a Switch key should now have received one... if you replied since Monday, you'll get one the next time we wrangle the surveys. It's quite a complex process, as we have to export the data from Kickstarter, import it into our absurdly complex Backer Tracker spreadsheet, then run the keymailers for each platform. And although generating the text is automated in the spreadsheet, every email we send out is compiled by hand - no robots were harmed in the distribution of your keys, although we melted our producer Sean's eyes when we sent out all the Steam emails!
Next step is the Retro USBs, which will come with a DRM-free version of the Windows, Mac, and Linux versions of the game. We are actually ahead of schedule for these - we vouched February next year, but we plan to get them to you before the end of this year. Stay tuned!
A little surprised and shocked to report that our release date has completely crept up on us: Silk will officially launch on Switch and Steam Friday 11th October at 2 pm UK time. That's just two days from this post! I've been so busy testing the v1.5 release candidates for Steam that I haven't had time to stop and compose a devblog update mentioning the launch...
If you are a backer at the Digital Game Bundle tier or above, you should have received a survey from Kickstarter asking you to confirm which Digital Key you want to claim... those of you who have already responded and asked for a Switch key should get your code on the launch day (probably just a little after the launch time), provided Nintendo release the codes to us in time. Anyone who hasn't responded yet still has a chance to get in this first batch of Switch keys if you complete the survey at least twenty four hours before launch (and if not, you'll still get your key, you just might have to wait a little longer).
Thrilled to report that the store page for Silk just appeared on the Nintendo Shop for the Switch - along with a pre-order discount of 20%. Our official release date is a week from today, Friday 11th October 2019, and the game will be available on both Steam and Switch then. You have seven days to pre-order the game on Switch at the lower price, and then another week before the launch discount ends. (Sorry, Valve won't let us discount pre-orders, but it will get a discount at launch!)
If you're a Kickstarter backer at the Digital Game Bundle tier or above, look out for the survey message you're about to receive - you'll need to let us know if you are claiming your Digital Key (or Keys) for the Switch version within a few days or we won't be able to get you the keys for launch. We strongly encourage you to claim your keys for the Switch if you have a Switch, not only because it's ready now but also because it will help us a great deal if as many backers as possible support the earliest console release.
We are one week from launch everyone! Thank you all, as ever, for your support!
As we wait for Nintendo to certify the Switch build, we're beavering away at various other things, including Steam integration issues like Cloud Saves and Achievements, optimisation for the Mac version (although Unity is not our friend in this regard...), and of course - the remaining Backer rewards. The Retro USB Cassette and the Limited Edition Retro USB Cassette are both in production... they will share the same inlay card, but the Limited Edition version has leagues of extra features inside and out... more on that in a future week.
The cover design features the Personal Advisor Portraits of the development team. From left to right, Becky (Portrait Artist) as a Nomad Shamaness; Patrick (Producer) as a Parthian Rider; Jamie (Artist) as a Han Rider; Nathan (Programmer) as a Kushan Merchant; and myself, Chris (Design) as a Kushan Warrior.
The Limited Edition version is exclusively available to Backers and a few selected supporters of the project, whereas the Retro USB Cassette will retail for £19.99 and comes with a DRM-free copy of v1.5 of the game.
Last week, we shared the last of our Personal Advisor Portraits for Silk on the devblog. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank every one of the Backers who helped these come about. It is literally the case that there would be no game if you hadn't chosen to support the Kickstarter. And I absolutely adore the results - Becky, our portrait artist, created some wonderful characters from your reference photographs, and I'm hard-pressed to pick favourites from the results.
I hope you'll have as much fun hiring these Advisors as I am!