Dreamfall Chapters news was heralded this morning by the arrival of a talking crow. As an homage to the series' most enduring sidekick , it landed on my monitor, announced that, "Dreamfall Chapters will now be an episodic adventure," and spent the next ten minutes flapping wildly, unable to find an open window. It was still less eventful than the time Ubisoft sent us Far Cry 3 press releases written on the side of a live tiger.
"The story we're telling has turned out to be bigger and more ambitious than first envisioned," writes creative director Ragnar Tørnquist in an update to Kickstarter backers . "We're not on track to meet the release date we estimated a year and a half ago, and we've had to take a long, hard look at our schedule and budget."
Tørnquist explains that, given the size and scope of what Red Thread are trying to achieve, an episodic release was the only way they could meet both their Kickstarter targets and their vision for the Dreamfall sequel.
"We could have made deep cuts, removed a lot of the characters, story-lines and locations — but we would have ended up with a different game than the one that's played inside our heads for the better part of a decade, a different game than the one we've promised our backers. We would have lost much of the magic and narrative depth. And we would've still had to delay our release into next year.
"We've also realised that while, as a small studio, we are capable of producing a massively ambitious game like Dreamfall Chapters, we're not satisfied with our ability to properly finish, polish and bug fix the whole game in one go. The amount of work that goes into every chapter of every book is enormous, and we do not want to compromise on the quality of our game and our story."
In many ways its a positive step, and, as the name suggests, a return to the original vision of Chapters. Tørnquist promises that each 'book' will last several hours, and that, as the game was initially designed in episodes, the story supports their new plan. "In-game time already passes between each book — sometimes weeks, sometimes months — and the story won't feel any more fragmented than originally intended," he writes. "Each book also has its own, self-contained arc, with a beginning, middle and end."
However, the traditional downside to episodic releases is the time in between each part. It's not yet clear what schedule Red Thread plan on working towards, with Tørnquist stating that the second episode's release date won't be revealed until the launch of the first part.
Dreamfall Chapters will start with Book 1, "Reborn", due out this Autumn.