Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891


Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

Failbetter’s Sunless Sea

Penned upon the 9th of September, 2013

Hello, FrillyShirteans! (I feel as though my readers ought to have some sort of club name, like the Nerdfighters – something like the Gilded Pangolins or the Farcical Researchers. Though, admittedly, my readership is small enough that you could all basically just learn each other’s names without too much trouble.) I have an excellent little story planned for you, all about islands, but I thought I’d first take a moment to include this informative post about… islands, as a matter of fact. Failbetter Games – creators of the browser-based RPG Fallen London, of which I have waxed more than enthusiastic many times before – are Kickstarting a new project; a top-down exploration and trading game with a strong story focus and roguelike elements, titled Sunless Sea.

Personally, they had me at the Coleridge quote – which is doubly appropriate; the game is set on the colossal underground ocean, or “Unterzee”, which surrounds Fallen London, and features at least one faction which may or may not be descended from the Khanate of either Möngke or Kublai Khan, depending on what interpretation one places on the shifting endings of The Silver Tree. Nonetheless, I thought I’d share some of what they’re working on here, if for no other reason than that it’s really exciting and deserves as much attention as it can get. Unlike Fallen London, Sunless Sea will be a commercially-released standalone game for Mac and PC, based on a combination of the Unity and StoryNexus engines, with a 2D art style that extends their established hand-painted look into a real-time world. Players will captain a steam-ship heading out from London to a variety of bizarre ports – from Mount Palmerston, where devil-princes live in exile, to the Chelonate, a floating city built in the mortal remains of the gargantuan Elder Turtle. Some stories promise to expand on mysteries already established in the canon – such as the aforementioned New Khanate, as well as Port Carnelian – the gateway to the Elder Continent, where no-one ever dies – and Whither, the first port of call and last desperate hope of those starveling wretches we call Northbound.

In addition to the official site, there’s a great deal of information, screenshots, concept art and an extensive preview video at the Kickstarter page and the Steam Greenlight concept page. Pledge rewards include one or more DRM-free copies of the game; closed beta access; digital and physical art and gameplay materials; unique items and stories for both Sunless Sea and Fallen London; and, at the higher levels, the opportunity to work with the development team to design in-game content of your own. The stretch goals are also very tempting: two expansion packs, one allowing underwater exploration by diving-suit or zubmarine; the other leaving the zee below to explore the Neath’s roof in a dirigible. As it stands, the project has earned more than £40,000 of its £60,000 goal within its first week, and there’s still room in the higher pledge tiers, so if it sounds at all like your cup of curiously dark, slightly squid-y tea, now’s the time to take a look!

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