The moment has come. The first episode of our game Orwell has just been released as a demo on Steam and Humble Store! Every week we will launch another episode up to the final chapter that is Episode Five.
We have been working in silence since we first presented our studio debut project Orwell to you in June 2015. Today, we are proud to present our massive progress since then and finally announce that Orwell will be released in late 2016. With the support of the awesome guys from Surprise Attack Games, who are now working together with us as a publisher for the game, we are delighted to present the official trailer for Orwell:
Big Brother ist da – und das bist du. Untersuche das Leben der Bürger und finde die Verantwortlichen für eine Reihe von Terroranschlägen. Hierfür stehen dir Informationen aus dem Internet, persönliche Mitteilungen und private Dateien zur Verfügung. Aber Vorsicht, die Informationen, die du lieferst, werden Konsequenzen haben.
Orwell ist ein neues staatliches Sicherheitsprogramm, mit der Fähigkeit, das digitale Leben jeder Person in der Nation zu überwachen. Es kann die gesamte persönliche Kommunikation überwachen und auf jeden Computer zugreifen. Um die Privatsphäre der Bürger zu schützen, untersuchen menschliche Ermittler die von Orwell gefundenen Daten und entscheiden, welche Informationen an die Sicherheitskräfte weitergegeben werden sollen und welche nicht.
Ausgewählt aus Tausenden von Kandidaten sind Sie der erste menschliche Ermittler von Orwell. Doch als ein Terroranschlag die Hauptstadt der Nation, Bonton, erschüttert, werden Orwell und Sie sofort auf die Probe gestellt. Beginnend mit einer einzelnen Zielperson helfen Sie den Sicherheitskräften, ein Netzwerk potenzieller Täter aufzubauen.
Aber sind diese Personen wirklich Terroristen? Was sagen die Informationen, die Sie an Orwell weitergeben, über sie aus? Was, wenn Sie Dinge über sie herausfinden, die nicht einmal ihre engsten Vertrauten wissen? Was ist der wahre Preis der Sicherheit, nach der sich die Nation sehnt?
Investigate the digital lives of citizens. Search web pages, scour through social media posts, dating site profiles, news articles and blogs to find those responsible for a series of terror attacks.
Invade the private lives of suspects. Listen in on chat communications, read personal emails, hack PCs, pull medical files, make connections. Find the information you need to know.
Determine the relevance of information. Only the information you provide will be seen by the security forces and acted upon. You decide what gets seen and what does not, influencing how the suspects will be perceived.
Secure the freedom of the Nation. Find the terrorists so the citizens of the Nation can sleep safe, knowing Orwell is watching over them.
We’re planning to update our progress regularly until the release of the game which is currently scheduled to be later this year. Be sure to follow osmoticstudios or orwell_game (or both) on Twitter. We hope you are as excited about the game as we are making it!
If you’re from the press, we’d be very happy to be able to talk to you about the game. Our Mel will also attend Gamescom, so if you are going to be present there or if you would just like to talk to us about the game, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week the folks from Welle Nerdpol visited our tiny Hamburgian office. We invited them to a “round” of Orwell, then discussed their impressions with them. The best part about that? They recorded the whole thing and put it online as a podcast (German only, sorry). Be advised that we discuss some game features and the beginning of the story in detail, so there are some MINOR SPOILERS ahead!
Thanks to Welle Nerdpol for the nice interview! We had a blast talking about the project in depth, even if Micha didn’t make it to the session – it was really fun!
After a long phase of working in silence, some playtesting in the weeks past and with our first exhibition looming at the horizon we finally feel both comfortable and confident to proudly announce our debut project: “Orwell”
A series of suspected terrorist strikes shake the most lively places in the city of Bonton, capital of the Nation. The reasons remain unknown. The only existing clues raise more questions than they answer.
As a new investigator in the governmental security program “Orwell” you are assigned the investigation of an activist group. Orwell itself is a software, a toolset that allows you to research online documents, observe messages and chats, wire-tap telephone calls and intrude into personal devices. It is your job as a trustworthy citizen to gather relevant pieces of data about the target individuals and fill their personal profiles to ultimately uncover the perpetrators of the assaults.
But are these people really terrorists? Are they really guilty? What if you find out things about them that not even their loved ones know? What is the real price for maintaining the security the Nation is yearning for? Digging through the most private documents confronts you with many inconvenient questions. And there is only one thing for sure: Nobody is innocent.
Orwell is an interactive thriller about digital surveillance in which the player takes on the role of the watcher. The game will first be shown (and be playable!) at the Magnology Hamburg and is scheduled to be released in 2016.
Maybe you’ve heard the news on social media a while ago or just us screaming at the top of our voices: We got funded by EXIST! Today the official funding confirmation finally arrived at the office!Whew!
But … money? Really? Aren’t we “independent”? And still no word of the first game? Why bother with two months of boring paperwork? Well, read on. Also if you don’t know what EXIST is – don’t worry though, you don’t have to.
Most people who are in the so-called “independent” games scene don’t like to talk or even think about it: Money. After all, we are into entertainment and fun. We want to craft games. All day long. So money is a topic which is too serious for us, isn’t it?
Inevitably, the moment you set out to make games for a living, money is something you absolutely must take into consideration. The need to make money (or to have money to begin with) is pretty dominant, unless you have the infamous rich uncle paying for your everyday expenses and you can work in the even more infamous garage (or alternatively in an attic).
At the beginning, we were fortunate enough to be capable of covering our costs through the award money that we had received from the German Games Award in 2013 for GroundPlay. Shortly after this we were granted a rent-free office by HAW Hamburg. Still, it was obvious that this black day when we’d run out of shiny metal coins would come. And it was bound to come before we’d be able to release our first game in order to make money at all. It felt like a dead end sign, hinting our path would soon stop continuing. We needed to make more money with the money we had. Quickly.
There were a few possible ways to go from here:
Make a publisher deal.
Find an investor.
Pick up a loan.
Find work for hire.
Apply for public funding.
The list could certainly go on a bit, but these were the main options to choose from. However, our very own self-picked constraints narrowed the options down a little. If possible, we wanted to keep out third parties and obligations to those out of the equation. That excluded options 1 to 3. Also 4 to a degree, because even if we like the idea of crowdfunding, the crowd is yet another “party” to report to.
Work for hire is something we considered and already did to a degree, but it is nothing we are planning to continue on a larger scale. Since this is very time-consuming, it would have taken us much longer to get anywhere near the amount of money necessary to complete our first game. We feared that splitting resources, on the other hand (like some of us working exclusively on assigned projects, and some exclusively on our game), might be discouraging and counterproductive to the team spirit.
So we kind of chose the risky shortcut: We applied for public funding. In Germany, there are several ways to get public funding for games: Filmförderung (movie funds) usually include games nowadays. But most of them are tied to a certain federal state or region. Unfortunately, there is no such thing in Hamburg, where we are located. Although Hamburg has a really awesome game dev scene, this is something that is really missing in the self-proclaimed “Gamecity.”
Alongside InnoRampUp, which is only considerable when you already have something close to a prototype, EXIST was our best public funding option, since it is a scholarship, closely tied to a college or university (just like our office). EXIST is public funding from the European Social Fonds for technologically-oriented start-ups. To get funded, all you have to do is apply and describe your idea, financial plans, and market research as detailed as possible. But that is easier said than done. For us that meant doing research and writing plans for nearly two months. With three people. Full-time. We never imagined it to be this time-consuming.
To make all the tedious paperwork worthwhile, EXIST will, when accepting your application, fund the living expenses of three people for up to one year, while granting additional money for hard- and software as well as hiring more people. There also is a small budget for business coaching. But if they refuse you, you get nothing. You lose. And to make things even worse, many promising game development studios who had applied for EXIST in the past got turned down. So we pretty much went all-in with that. Not getting the funding would have meant losing 2 months we could have used to work on the prototype, which in turn is essential in order to pitch the game elsewhere.
This is why we were eagerly waiting for the result during the next three months to come, anxiously calling our advisor Werner Krassau again and again and asking for a response from EXIST – to no avail. Finally, the relieving result came in: “Decision positive.” And what a relieve that was! We can still hardly believe our luck, as you might witness below.
This does not mean that we’re rich now, nor does it guarantee success of what we do. This does mean that we are able to work on our game for another year, (for the most part) without troubling thoughts of the unpleasant, but yet essential money-issue. The dream of the “indie” game developer has come true!
Thank you for being so tremendously supportive, HAW Hamburg, Werner Krassau and EXIST. We’ll make it count.
Finally, after months and months of struggle, our website is finally online. Okay, it really wasn’t THAT hard. It neverless took its time. But forget about it! What’s done is done. The most important part is: We have a web page and are hereby now officially digitally existent!
Feel free to take a look around, browse here and there. You may find something interesting. Also, maybe not. Who knows? Certainly not you, ’cause you’re still here reading this uninteresting news!
Have a most awesome day,
the Osmotic Team
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