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Deadly Premonition director's cat and dog-themed murder mystery returns to crowdfunding

Swery tells us what's changed in The Good Life.

Deadly Premonition director Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro and Panzer Dragoon's Yukio Futatsugi have launched their second attempt at securing backer funding for The Good Life, an intriguing open-world murder mystery game set in an idyllic English village.

The original pitch failed to secure funding, but the team hopes its new campaign, which includes a more detailed design proposal, a new art style and a smaller funding goal, will capture the imagination of Kickstarter backers this time around.

The amount of money required to fund the campaign - which is now live - drops from $1.5 million to $650,000. It's also shifted from the investment-oriented service Fig to Kickstarter as its crowdfunding platform of choice.

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Despite fewer funds required to make the game, Swery said the scope of the game hasn't changed, thanks to working with new investors to make up the difference.

This includes Sony Music's Unties label - which, by the way, isn't associated with PlayStation, allowing it to release on multiple formats - as well as new PR and special edition partners to help make the game "more successful".

What's different for the game itself? Visually, the art style has been improved and tweaked, all while maintaining its unique paper-craft look.

Elsewhere, one of the core activities of the game - taking photographs - has a larger role to play outside of the central murder mystery storyline.

The game's lead, photojournalist Noami, can now take photos of anything the player finds interesting, with snaps featured on an in-world social network that in-world inhabitants can judge.

You can also use these in-game social networks to see what is popular to earn more money from your snaps. So if #swan is trending, you can make a trip to the local park to make some extra cash.

Doing so can help you pay for better camera equipment, and in turn, take even better pictures. It's even possible to complete one of the game's other goals - clearing Naomi's debt - through photography alone.

The way the game's inhabitants behave has changed since the last pitch, too.

Previously their schedules were crafted by hand - which was an "additional tax" on the developer's time - and so now an AI (artificial intelligence) will decide what they get up to, based on their motivations and things they want to do at specific times.

Swery hopes it will lead to some surprising behaviours that players will be eager to share with others.

"As the game progresses, depending on the player's behaviour and how they're interacting with NPCs (non-player characters), the actual murder of Elizabeth may be different to your game versus my game," he explained to Eurogamer.

"Our hope is, even as developers of the game, is we're going to be surprised from time-to-time in terms of what the NPC characters in the world are doing.

"Even after the main campaign is over, we hope the NPCs and the way the systems work continue to surprise the players, and surprise us as developers of the game."

Elsewhere, the campaign clarifies how its animal transformation mechanic works. It was previously outlined that, once a month, townsfolk would turn into cats. This was expanded to dogs partway through the campaign, though only as part of separate versions of the game, much to the confusion of backers.

Now, players have the choice of both in the same package, allowing them to see all the content.

"The new approach that we're taking - which is not going to please everybody, especially those who just want to make a version that only has cats or dogs - is we're creating a game where the players can choose as they start the game whether they want to become a cat or dog at night," Swery explained.

"Because the community's reaction was so passionate about this decision to add both cats and dogs, we're feeling pretty good about the idea we can combine those two camps into one package.

"One of the biggest things that has motivated me, is once we announced cats and dogs, my Twitter timeline completely filled with people sending pictures of their cats and dogs. I understand this is a big aspect of the game!"

Behind the scenes, development has changed a little too. Though République developer Camouflaj is still involved, Futatsugi's G-rounding and Swery's White Owls are now taking on main development duties, with Camouflaj "there to support in as many capacities as we can", according to its founder Ryan Payton.

"Before when it was the Gig campaign, for the lack of a better term, we had an open production line at the time, and there was a lot of discussion about how White Owl, G-rounding, and Camouflaj can split the development," Payton told us.

"But since then, we've filled that line within Camouflaj to nail the focus - which I believe is going to be better for the game - so the core development is going to happen exclusively within Japan being with [Swery's] White Owls and Futatsugi's team within G-rounding."

The Kickstarter campaign features a variety of tiers for backers, including digital OSTs, wallpapers, and bonus in-game outfits. The campaign doesn't list stretch goals just yet, as Swery has been advised by those familiar with crowdfunding to focus on the "initial goal" before outlining how the scope can be increased.

But even if it doesn't get that far, and fails to hit the target, Swery is keen for the development of The Good Life to go on.

Swery of White Owls, holding a white owl.

"We desperately want to make this game, and so it would be unfair of me to say if we weren't successful with this campaign, we would give up," he said. "It's a safer bet to say if we fail at this, we could continue to fight and figure out a way to make this game."

It's that passion that has drawn Ryan Payton to help: "For me, and it's not just Swery, I love to support creators that I not only respect, but bring a lot of positive energy to the game's industry," he said.

"I figure out ways to help out wherever, whether it's helping out with the consulting with the Kickstarter, or translating interviews, but also talking about the initial game concept and ways to make it stronger. We've always got a great rapport and always talked about working together, and I think that's a partnership that will remain for many many years."

Payton continued: "I'm the most biased person in this room for saying this, but I think Swery and Futatsugi's desire to come back to the table after a failure speaks volumes to their character and their passion and dedication to the game.

"As someone also who has been in the industry for a number of years, things - and it's not just in the game industry - in life don't always work out the way you want it to.

"I think it speaks to your character in how you deal with that character and set back, so I'm so proud of what Swery and Futatsugi and the rest of the team is doing to come back to the table and try again and try again.

"I'd like to think if I was a fan of his, or was interested in this game, I'd would look at the way he's approaching the Kickstarter and the think, 'Wow, if he's putting that much passion and interest and dedication into even just this crowdfunding campaign, it's a pretty safe bet that to assume this whole game's development him and the team would have that same level of commitment and passion'."

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