Greetings, fellow travelers,
A happy new year to you all! I hope the holidays have treated you well, you are well-rested, and you are as excited as we are for what this year has in store. (Not to mention, goodbye and good riddance to 2023!)
Causeway Studios has been through a number of twists, turns, and pivots over the last few years, but 2024 is finally the year of our first release. In this issue I'll give you some background on some of our recent strategic updates and how things are progressing with Project: Aftermath (title TBA), and Greg will have a guest spot to share a bit how Project: Aftermath is being driven by some of our creative pillars.
Our journey thus far and plans for 2024
Causeway has been on a winding journey these first four years. (Also, four?! Whoa.) We started with an ambitious project codenamed Janus and pitched a vertical slice that we were (and still are) extremely proud of back in 2022. Unfortunately this coincided with the downturn of the global economic climate (::gestures wildly at everything::) and ended up with positive comments but no funding.
After that, we pivoted to a smaller (but still ambitious because, come on, we're us) game called From the Deep. This is a survival horror game that takes place at an abandoned monastery on the cosmic shoreline and has us investigating an ancient order of monks delving into and harmonizing with the universal consciousness.
Alongside From the Deep, we also realized that we needed to stabilize ourselves to fund our development, and so we moved into developing games and game-like projects for clients (primarily academic institutions).
Most recently, in the second half of last year we pivoted yet again, realizing that even From the Deep would take us a while to finish with our tiny team and that we wanted to focus our efforts on something we could release before the end of the year. While the end of the year came and went without a release, we're very excited with where we've come to with Project: Aftermath and look forward to releasing it this year (within the first half if we don't have a large contract project take over our calendars a bit).
This means that in 2024 we will be releasing our first game. The exact timeline remains to be seen a bit as we're figuring out how long it's going to take and looking to get a publisher onboard for marketing (fortunately we won't need development funding this time around), but the whole team is practically vibrating with excitement as we're starting the new year. We will likely be officially announcing the game (name, marketing, and all) sometime in March or April so you have that to look forward to, and if you're the impatient kind we're running playtests a couple of times a month, just reply to this email if you're interested.
An adjustment to our upcoming games lineup
With our pivot to Project: Aftermath, we also took a deliberate look at our project lineup. Given our resources and current position, we realized that it's extremely unlikely From the Deep will even be the next game we focus on after Project: Aftermath, and so we've made the decision to delist the game from Steam. This won't have a big impact on you all (unless that's the one thing you were excited about from us), but it's something we wanted to acknowledge and be transparent about.
This means our first release (again, this year!) will be Project: Aftermath. After this, we have three potential projects we might move on to depending on how the game does financially as well as publisher reactions. The first would be a similarly-scoped story in a yet-to-be-determined world, the second would be reviving Project: Janus (a strollplayer akin to What Remains of Edith Finch and Life is Strange), and the third would be another ambitious adventure taking place in Healing Springs, AR (which was originally conceived as a short story that we didn't release).
Don't forget that if you want to help us get to the finish line with Project: Aftermath (and get exclusive behind the scenes development updates and sneak peeks), you can support us, but telling your friends about us will always have the greatest impact.
The Creative Pillars Driving Project: Aftermath
Here's our creative director, Greg, with some insight into the driving forces behind the story of our first game:
All products within the Worlds Across the Causeway share a common thread: they put an emphasis on narrative. While this helps delineate the types of experiences we create, describing something as “narrative-driven” still casts a wide net. To help guide and communicate the types of tones, moods, and themes — the vibes — that define a Causeway experience, we’ve crafted six Creative Pillars for the Studio. Let's take a brief glimpse at the three that are guiding the development of Project: Aftermath.
The first pillar supporting the game is Sublime — the strange is as alluring as it is dangerous, an oxymoronic tranquility tinged with terror. Next is Wistful — sadness is an unavoidable part of life and gives greater meaning to other, more joyful, moments. Finally, there is Optimism — as scary, weird, or wistful as things may get, there will always be hope for something better.
The intersection of these pillars manifests complex story-scapes, ones that we hope you'll find compelling and meaningful — even if that world is as small as a house in Oklahoma.
As some of you know, we regularly share new vignettes from the Worlds Across the Causeway—small views into the stories that take place across our universe—and in this issue I'd like to share a recent tale from Antwohnette and Caliban's adventures:
“How do you stay on top of the snow like that?” Antwohnette almost falls off-balance as her foot sinks into the snow yet again...
Continued in Why Is The Forest So Quiet.
Thank you for following along and being a part of our game development and storytelling journey. Our goal as a studio is to bring people together in stories of the deeply human within the vast, and the strange within the mundane, and each of you is contributing to that mission by listening and sharing.
If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing it with a friend who loves story games. And if you want more frequent tales from the Worlds Across the Causeway, make sure you subscribe to the "Worlds Across the Causeway" mailing list via our website.
'Til we cross paths on the Causeway,
Kjartan Kennedy (he/him), Studio Director