With 10 days to go and only half of the Kickstarter total raised, Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro's second attempt at crowdfunding murder mystery game The Good Life may fail. But the charismatic Deadly Premonition developer, and Yukio Futatsugi, co-creator of the game, are determined to get The Good Life made regardless.
"At this point they're almost at 6000 backers [6257 at the time of writing] - that's great," the pair told me via translator at Reboot Develop 2018. "The problem is the goal itself is so large."
The Good Life needs around Ł200,000 more to reach its Ł448,224/$650,000 goal on Kickstarter. It's a considerable amount but far less than the $1.5m The Good Life sought on Fig in autumn 2017. Most successful Kickstarter games, however, are well on their way to being funded at this stage in their campaign, so it'll take a hell of a late sprint for Swery and Futatsugi to get there.
"Of course there is the possibility it will not reach the goal," they accepted. "But even then, they have no intention to stop the project."
They will take The Good Life to Japan's blossoming indie convention, Bitsummit, after the Kickstarter campaign ends, for example (Bitsummit runs 12th-13th May). And they won't stop there. "They'll figure out a way to fund it - some way or another to deliver the product to the users in the end."
They showed me a pre-production demo of The Good Life while we talked - a demo Swery is toying with the idea of releasing. I watched as New York photographer Naomi explored an idyllic British countryside village and insulted just about everyone she came across - she's got a potty mouth and doesn't hide it, which amused me.
I saw how typical photography assignments worked, and how they required canny thinking on your behalf. Subjects respond to you, you see, so the vicar you're trying to catch drinking in the pub will hide his pint whenever you walk in there. You'll have to find another way. Likewise the stolen truck you're trying to photograph is moving and will blur on your starter camera - you can buy new equipment - so you'll have to find a way to stop it. And getting too close to a couple snogging in the bushes will stop them, which is when a zoom lens comes into play.
I also saw a more work-in-progress chunk of cat gameplay. For one week each month, people in this, the proclaimed happiest town in the world, turn into cats and dogs, and once Naomi discovers this power she can climb and slink to places previously inaccessible. This enables her to become closer to subjects who would otherwise shy away from her in human form, and then, with her special animal GoPro, she can take pictures.
In motion, The Good Life is clean, bright and - courtesy of the papercraft look - cute. It's slightly misleading; underneath there's a Twin Peaks murder mystery going on, and Naomi's language is adult.
In other words, The Good Life might not be the grungy cult experience Swery has built a name for - by the way he's very careful about which projects his name is attached to and has worked on, but not been credited for, a handful of surprisingly high profile Japanese games for this reason - but the hallmarks of his unusual brand are visible here. But bear in mind Swery and his White Owls studio are only handling the interactions in the game and the exposure of it - it's Futatsugi's Grounding studio building The Good Life.
Swery and White Owls, meanwhile, are building The Missing, a mysterious console game teased in February and apparently launching this year.