Not pictured: 64-bit Lords of Waterdeep

Unsung Story is no longer Playdek’s problem

When someone sits down to write the history of digital boardgaming, Unsung Story is going to have at least one whole chapter all to itself, and not to sing its praises. Unsung Story is the Yoko Ono of digital board games, taking the most prolific and best board game app designer, Playdek, and basically driving a stake through their heart. Sure we got the awesome Twilight Struggle since then, but otherwise the Playdek output has slowed considerably since the Unsung Story Kickstarter kickstarted. Yesterday Playdek announced that Unsung Story is no longer their problem.

Playdek posted the following announcement on the Unsung Story Kickstarter page yesterday:

To All Unsung Story Backers,

Thank you for the support you have shown to make this project happen. Through the trials we have had as a company over the last few years, Playdek has strived to keep the project alive, as we believe in the game and the story that Yasumi Matsuno designed to set it in. To that, we want to let you know that the project is going to continue forward, but our involvement is coming to an end.

Effective immediately publisher/developer Little Orbit has taken over all the rights and assets to Unsung Story from Playdek, and is now the project creator. They believe strongly the game can be an amazing Tactics RPG, and they are excited to carry on and bring Matsuno’s story to life. They will be bringing you project news from this point on to update everyone on their plans for the game.

Again, we want to thank you for your support of this project, and though we are sorry that we were unable to complete it for you, we believe the project is in good hands, with people who have the same passion for the game. Please send all questions concerning the project, backer inquiries and development discussions to kickstarter@littleorbit.com. Thank you.

Playdek

Little Orbit is known for making games like Barbie and Her Sisters: Puppy Rescue and Monster High: New Ghoul in School, so they probably aren’t a household name for Stately Play readers. They also chimed in on their acquisition yesterday in a lengthy Kickstarter post:

Dear backers,

At this point, I’m sure you have a bunch of questions, and I can already see a flood of comments coming in. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer all of your questions today.

Please know that we are sincere in our effort to help, and we working as quickly as possible to get you as much information as possible. I realize that this has been a frustrating journey, and I’m asking for just a little more patience as we get going.

I would like to start by taking a moment to introduce myself. My name is Matthew Scott, and I am the CEO of Little Orbit. We started as a small game developer in 2003, and have grown into a small publisher in the last 7 years. To date we have primarily focused on retail with 20 titles on many different platforms working alongside Cartoon Network, Dreamworks, Warner Bros, and Mattel.

Inevitably many of you will google us, and you may have your doubts – which is okay. This project has struggled. But give us a little time, and hopefully we’ll surprise you.

I am a gamer at heart, and my first love has always been turn-based tactics games. I met the Playdek team a couple months ago and got a firsthand look at the amazing work from Yasumi Matsuno. Simply put, this game needs to exist, so I am excited to be taking this project over and helping deliver it to the community.

I am also a huge fan of Kickstarter, and its ability to directly connect people with the creators they want to support. Since 2009, I have followed and personally backed many video game projects. I know each of these teams worked long and hard to live up to their campaign promises. Many of them managed to create amazing games that likely wouldn’t have been possible in the traditional system.

As we have seen this is a difficult business. There are so many things that can go wrong to sabotage even the most seasoned teams. But despite all the challenges, making games is what I love to do.

I recognize that this project is now more than 2 years late from when it was originally supposed to ship, but rather than jump into lofty promises, I want to level set expectations with a bit of both bad and good news.

First the bad news.. Little Orbit is starting from scratch. We have spent hours going through the Kickstarter comments and researching all of the project materials, and I feel the backers have made one thing clear – we need to focus on the original single player game and Matsuno’s design that was promoted during the campaign. And that is exactly what we are going to do. At this point, our primary goal is to separate the years of modifications and changes that were made while Playdek attempted to deliver something to their backers.

Second the good news.. And I want to make this absolutely clear – Little Orbit will honor the Kickstarter backer rewards at no extra cost. I can’t know how frustrating this has been for the many fans of this game. But over the coming weeks we will be reaching out to make sure we have all the current information for each of you, so that rewards can be delivered properly as we make progress.

That’s all I can share for now, but we will be following up as soon as possible with more details on the game and our progress.

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely, Matthew Scott

As you can imagine, backers aren’t too happy to hear that Little Orbit needs to start over from scratch considering that the Kickstarter for Unsung Story ran way back in January of 2014. On the bright side, Little Orbit seems to have their hearts in the right place, and is eager to make the backers happy.

To be completely honest, I really don’t care about Unsung Story as a game. I’m not a big fan of JRPGs and have never even dabbled in the Final Fantasy titles, so I always viewed the project as something that was pulling Playdek’s resources away from what I wanted them to make: the best board game ports that anyone has ever brought to touchscreens. My hope, now that the Unsung Sword of Damocles is no longer hanging over their heads, is that they can get back to what made them great in the first place. Of course, this is all completely selfish and the fact that I’m trying to twist this announcement as a positive is probably a dick move on my part, but I’m basically a dick so this shouldn’t shock any of you.

What happens with Playdek as we go forward? Time will tell, but I also hope to chat with them at Gen Con this year and, hopefully, can get the skinny on their future plans.

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Notable Replies

  1. There are so many Playdek titles I would like to see an expansion come out for over this Unsung Story game. If they never see the light of day because of this specific dream it will be quite sad indeed.

  2. Possibly two chapters ...

    The comments on the project have gotten pretty spicy over the last few months. They are definitely not safe for work.

  3. I'm sure I speak for most of us when I say I'm sorry for Playdek's misfortunes, but that they are so good at what they do best, board games, that I hope this re-focuses their efforts in more quality tabletop ports.

  4. That is, if they still have any of their devs.

    Playdek are still the gold standard for multiplayer.

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