Back in March I wrote a response to an award received from the lovely Luna over at GamersUnitedGG Blog. I know a lot of people out there won’t agree with me given the developer’s recent history, but in it I explained why the person I’d most like to meet is Peter Molyneux and the reasons behind his 2004 creation Fable being somewhat responsible for making me the gamer I am today.
While browsing through Kickstarter last week and being particularly underwhelmed, I came across the campaign for ‘a whimsical sandbox RPG adventure’ called Kynseed. At first glace it didn’t seem to be anything special – just a sweet little title in the pixelated style that a lot of indie RPGs use nowadays – but what caught my eye was that it’s being created by ‘a couple of ex-Lionhead Fable devs’. With Microsoft closing the studio down in April last year, this might be my opportunity to experience some of that old magic once again.
Described as ‘quirky’, the project page explains that players step into the shoes of either a male or female character who has grown up on their parents idyllic farm based in The Vale. This peaceful valley in the faery-tale land of Quill is where you’ll forge friendships, romance and marriages – and put your family to work on the cheap. In time, you’ll get to meet the mysterious Mr Fairweather who offers you a mystical acorn called the Kynseed; and once planted, it will grow into a magical family tree. But such a gift doesn’t come without a price…
Molyneux made a lot of promises in connection with the Fable series and it’s well-known that many of them didn’t materialise. For example, he claimed that if your character knocked an acorn off a tree in the original game, another would eventually grow from the fallen seed; but this feature wasn’t included in the title. Perhaps the Kynseed is a direct reference to this from Neal Whitehead, Charlton Edwards and Matt Allen at PixelCount Studios. There seems to be a number of other references scattered throughout the information in their Kickstarter campaign too.
The most curious for me is that the seasons pass and living things grow old and die: faces from the past are replaced by the fresh young faces of new life. And when you die of old age yourself, you’ll pass your family tree’s Kynseed on to your children so that they may continue your bloodline and shape their own legacy. This was something Molyneux was never able to achieve with Fable so I’m curious to see how successfully the developers will be able to implement such a mechanic.
I say ‘curious’ rather than ‘interesting’ because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. A video game without defined objectives isn’t one that tends to hold my attention for long, so I have a concern that Kynseed may be a title I pick up for a couple of weeks and then get bored of. Here’s PixelCount Studios response to a question in connection with game-over states posed on the Kickstarter page:
The mysterious Mr Fairweather sells you the Kynseed that, when planted, grows a magical family tree. When you reach the age of 60, Mr Fairweather will come to collect your soul as part of the Kynseed contract. If you have children, you can pass the Kynseed acorn to any one of them and resume playing as that child who will then inherit your skills, traits, and worldly possessions. If you have no children, you will be offered one to adopt and pass the seed to. Refuse this offer and your bloodline dies! It’s truly game over. So to keep playing, keep creating kids!
It may be though that the Fable-feeling will keep me coming back, which is why I haven’t ruled the game out completely. The developer has advised that Kynseed is a chance for them to reconnect with both the Fable and Lionhead community, and a way for them to carry on the soul on the game ‘in their own humble way’.
Unfortunately I missed the deadline for this one so haven’t been able to become a backer myself but the good news is that the campaign was successful and received over £50,000 (if the developer is reading this, please add a way for us to become slacker-backers!). There’s a whole load of information about the game over on Kickstarter, and there’s even a protptype if you’d like to give it a go yourself.