Our last roadmap began with the words ‘2019 was a particularly chaotic time for all of us here.’ Oh boy, were we in for a big surprise, because we all know how 2020 turned out. But was it really all that bad? Let’s find out!
In the roadmap for 2020, we announced not one but two new projects: Hellcard and Book of Aliens. Internally, we had big (not to say brazen) plans: to find and onboard five new team members and finish moving into the new office.
What we didn’t exactly plan for was abandoning our new office pretty much the day it was finished! Thankfully, we were ready for the transition to home office model since our philosophy was always to be flexible and if someone on the team needed to work from home it wasn’t an issue. What we never tried was everyone doing so at the same time. The pandemic helped us improve our work organization and lower heating and electricity bills at the same time (hello, remote work!). Unfortunately, it also tossed a wrench into our recruitment efforts. Still, we were lucky enough to welcome aboard two new team members: Wacław – a new graphic designer, and Mateusz – a new community manager (that would be yours truly, actually!). We are still recruiting and even though the process is moving slower than we have hoped, we are on track to hit our 2020 target of 5 new team members in 2021.
Book of Demons
Despite having moved onto new projects, we have been keeping Book of Demons up-to-date and alive. Not only that, but it also made it to new platforms! iPad users can now play Book of Demons: Tablet Edition. With the great help of 505 Games and Sonka, we released Book of Demons on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch as well. Last but not least, Book of Demons was included in Humble Choice in February, helping us spread the word about our games and the Return 2 Games vision.
As you can see, 2020 wasn’t all that bad for our team. But now, let’s move onto some exciting stuff you’re all waiting for!
As you might remember from our previous announcements, Hellcard started as an idea for a Book of Demons’ mode, not unlike Superhot mode. It quickly became clear that in order to execute it properly and with multiplayer, we will have to write it almost from scratch and so it evolved into a standalone spin-off title. Hellcard will feature its own Archenemy, a slew of new cool features, game mechanics, and we really can’t wait to show it all to you!
Since most events and shows moved to digital form due to the pandemic, we took that opportunity to show you our internal tech demo during Steam Spring Festival, Tokyo Game Show, PAX/EGX, Taipei Game Show, and Gamescom (we even had an awesome virtual Booth at IndieArena!). In November we also participated in The Escapist Games Showcase – Fall Edition, where Konstanty answered a couple of questions about Hellcard.
We gathered a lot of useful insights and feedback from you but the work is far from over. As you know, what you have played was barely a prototype. Since then it was scrapped and rewritten as was always the plan. The development process is especially challenging for us due to the multiplayer mode – it is the first time ever we’re making a multiplayer game. We’re also exploring the possibility to implement modding to Hellcard (nothing 100% confirmed, though!), which further complicates the matter. But how cool would that be? Very cool, we think, which is why we are trying to squeeze it into the production plan.
Still, with so much stuff going on with Hellcard, instead of pushing for an Early Access release at all cost, we’re instead aiming for a Closed Beta launch at some point in 2021 and Early Access after that. This will allow us to do further testing and tweak the game along with your feedback, while at the same time giving our community exclusive access to the game.
Book of Aliens
The second installment in the Return 2 Games series, Book of Aliens, will pay homage to UFO: Enemy Unknown. While it will share card-based mechanics and the paper art style of the whole series, ultimately, it will represent a completely different genre – a turn-based tactical strategy. We made a lot of progress in the design department and finalized how the tactical part of the game will work.
Because our plans to grow the team were thwarted, we made progress slower than we have hoped for. This means that Book of Aliens won’t come out in 2021 as we initially planned. There is good news, too. We brought about a revolution in the visuals department. The game will look different from what you might expect from the first screenshots. Later this year, expect a solid post on the art style of Book of Aliens, similar to our post on the same topic regarding Book of Demons. But that’s not all, we are also planning a bigger surprise reveal about Book of Aliens later this year.
As an exclusive sneak peek below you can see one of the rejected art prototypes from the process and see how far it came since the first screenshots we shared. And now we are even further.
But wait, there is more! Something Wicked This Way Comes
There are some things that are inevitable. One such thing is happening later this year after brewing in secret for some time now. Sometimes you finish a book, close the cover but the thing just won’t stay closed. Let’s see if you can guess what it is before we are ready for a full reveal.
Being unable to assemble the full-strength team for Book of Aliens left part of the team, paradoxically, with more time on their hands. We were able to keep working on a secret project of sorts. We are not ready to reveal what it is just yet, but it will be ready soon. Here is a small teaser for our secret project. Can you guess what it might be?
We are super excited and can’t wait for you to check it out.
New year, new prospects
I think we can all agree that 2020 was disruptive and not the best year on the record, to state it mildly. Despite all the setbacks, challenges, and other minor issues, we stay optimistic. This year shapes to be the busiest year Thing Trunk ever had when it comes to reveals and mystery projects.
Thank you for your continued support – we are lucky to have such a great community. Remember to join our Discord channel to hang out with us and other Book of Demons’ fans, and make sure to follow us on Twitter and like our Fanpage!
And if you are intrigued by the mystery project or would like to get your hands on early builds of Book of Aliens or Hellcard, consider subscribing to our Newsletter and joining our Discord server. Discord and our newsletter are where all the super early previews and tests will happen so it’s the place to be (not to mention it’s a great community <3).
Take care and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
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2019 was a particularly chaotic time for all of us here at Thing Trunk! A whole year has passed since Book of Demons went out of Early Access, so it’s high time we share with you what we’ve been up to for the last 12 months. In the spirit... more