The Elongating Escapades of The Last Night
When you’re an indie developer or you’re part of a notably smaller indie game development team, you typically have to expect there being barriers in place that you’ll have to jump over as you’re going through the various processes of developing your game. In the industry we have these days though you need more than just a good game to spell success, you’ll need successful marketing and generally good PR associated with your game in order to even peak an audience’s interest at the start line. While it’s typical at all of these stages to maybe see a few hiccups and it isn’t always an easy stride to success, I don’t believe I’ve seen as much trouble circulate around a high budget indie game in recent memory as I’ve perceived with the upcoming cinematic cyberpunk platformer called The Last Night.
The Last Night is currently being developed by a small development team called Odd Tales and is their first major commercial product. The game is also being published by Raw Fury Games, publishers of some both commercially and critically successful indie games such as Kingdom: New Lands, Kingdom: Classic and Kathy Rain. The Last Night was first unveiled at E3 2017 during the Xbox Show and the reveal trailer that was shown there was met with high critical acclaim.
Despite The Last Night placing a lot of it’s selling points on just this reveal trailer alone, the audience was sold on the unique and beautiful art style and the cyberpunk theme along with developer promises of delivering a story and setting showing a “deep and vibrant vision of the future.” Taking inspiration from classic platformers from the 90s such as Another World, Flashback, and Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, as well as basing its environments on the city of Hong Kong, citing it as a “visually rich environment” as well as wanting to capture the same feel of the 1982 movie Blade Runner from both a cinematic and an artistic perspective along with many other inspirations from countless other pieces of media, the game held a lot of promise.
The game was born as just a game made by a small team for an itch.io game jam in 2014, however, this version is very different from the version that may or may not be seeing release, but for those that are curious, you can play it for free here on itch.io (Adobe Flash needs to be enabled.) It was posted up and development was lead by Tim Soret, a man center towards some of the controversy that’s been facing and has continually haunted the game’s development cycle. After receiving praise for the game’s launch on itch.io, work commenced making the game a fully fledged title. As development continued into 2016, partners came forward such as Microsoft along with them obtaining assistance from the UK government through the UK Games Fund, and finally came Raw Fury.
As I mentioned earlier though, the game has been faced with a miriad of troubles all stemming from one person behind the development team: Tim Soret, the original creator, director and designer of the game. Various users went sifting through Soret’s history on Twitter and found some tweets that were deemed “offensive” by some, and by that, I mean people found out back in 2014, Soret was pro-GamerGate.
For those unfamiliar with GamerGate, a brief rundown, if you’re familiar, you can skip this paragraph. GamerGate was a movement spawned from a hashtag that was spread around after allegations arose from dirty laundry being aired surround video game developer Zoe Quinn and Kotaku writer Nathan Grayson amongst others. What this was I won’t reveal as I don’t want to spread any misinformation here but it’s out there. Essentially allegations came about of Quinn and Grayson having a “friendship” while Grayson reviewed Quinn’s mixed received game Depression Quest for Kotaku and Grayson did not disclose this. This triggered a large debate about gaming ethics and conduct that was the hot take in 2014 but has since mostly died out now. While it was born out of a desire to have journalism sites be more transparent with readers and for pushes to be made for honesty in media, some saw it as an attack and harassment campaign against journalists and women, hence why it became such a controversial topic.
These along with numerous other tweets posted by Tim Soret were posted with people labeling them as anti-feminist ideals and identity politics. After continuous coverage from the media, and further backlash, Tim Soret went to Twitter again to further explain himself in a thread posted in June 2017. This didn’t do too much to sway the crowd and when Polygon reached out to the game’s publisher Raw Fury Games, they had some pretty harsh words with regards to the comments made by Tim, however defended Tim as not being any kind of misogynist or any other form of extremist label that he had been painted as a result of these tweets resurfacing. The quote is pretty lengthy and I won’t be including it here just for the sake of its length and further elements towards the quote, but you can read Polygon’s article if you want to read up on that.
Microsoft, on the other hand, wasn’t as merciful as what Raw Fury Games were and a spokesperson stated: “We don’t support comments that fail to reflect our commitment to diversity and inclusion, which are part of our everyday business and core values.” All of this led to Tim issuing an apology at the PC Gaming Show for his comments. “I want to apologize for those [tweets], they don’t in any way represent where I am today or what The Last Night will be about.”
Jumping ahead to the more recent stuff, Tim Soret went to Twitter as the new year rolled in with a handful of tweets talking about the ups and downs of 2018 and what is in store for the game come 2019.
While there were some positives that Tim Soret made note of, such as the size of the team working on The Last Night increasing, supposedly doubling it, purchasing a new studio in London, game budget seeing an increase and more. There were some notable negatives that Tim Soret talked about namely large business, legal and financial issues that Soret can’t make much comment on and canceling a planned trailer that was to be shown at The Game Awards
Currently, that is where the story lies, there’s little to no details apparent about what is tied towards the issues that Soret and Odd Tales may be facing.
As for a personal take on the entirety of this, I have to say I have a lot of respect for Tim Soret as a person, he is the embodiment of everything that I do like to see from an indie developer. Regardless of what you think of his politics, if you put that aside, the guy is optimistic about his game even in the bleakest of times which shows a desire to see his creation through. Even though I think apologizing for the tweets he put up really just alienates people from both sides and how I personally think it wasn’t a good move for him to pull as really anyone can be offended by anything these days and no matter what he says and no matter what side he’s on he is still going to get flack for it regardless. I feel the best option is to just believe what you want to believe and stick to your guns and see it through.
Personally, I’m really looking forward to The Last Night, I hope that it does see a release and it can be seen through to completion as it’s a true passion project in the making.