Quentin here, founding member of Honor Code, game director on Narcosis, and – above all – gamer. Narcosis released on PC and Mac about a month ago, but now that it’s hitting the Xbox marketplace Wednesday, we can finally say “Narcosis has shipped!”
This has been a long run. Narcosis actually started in 2011, when we were only video game students. Benjamin (Narcosis’ lead artist) and I wanted to make a game set at the depths of the ocean. Our previous student project, Mycelium, was a real-time strategy game in which you control a mushroom colony. After tackling the gloomy underwood, I guess we wanted to do round two in the gloomy undersea. Unfathomable depths and pelagic creatures was the foundation. Now, the question was: what would the player do in this setting?
That summer, the game we were playing the most was Terraria. Ah, digging to the depths of hell, then digging some more to find the limits of the universe – what an existential experience! Our first pitch, then, was an exploration and building game set in a randomly generated planet covered with ocean. Think No Man’s Sky meets Subnautica, only before either had ever been announced. The idea was exciting but somehow, we felt it wasn’t enough… Then suddenly, it all made sense: lose the submarine, toss the building system, put players alone on the oceanic floor, and make them wet their already-wet pants.
Suddenly, the idea of an underwater survival horror game made so much sense. The project was exciting, and assembling a student team was easy. After six months of hard work, and on our final day of masters, the demo we showed off was met with a warm welcome. Now, with a few team members, we were thinking about how cool Narcosis would be as a real, fully fleshed-out game. We were also thinking it wouldn’t be that hard: working nights and weekends for maybe a year would suffice.
Oh boy, were we wrong. We worked nights and weekends for two years, until we eventually convinced ourselves to leave our day jobs… And then kept working for another two years. Along the way, Virtual Reality became “a thing,” SOMA was announced – and then released – and the game engine we were using, Unity went from v3, to v4… and then to v5.
But somehow, we finally made it. We burned so much time, brain cells, sweat, and maybe a few tears too on this project – and quite a few laughs as well, don’t worry – that it now feels inconceivable. Was it all just a dream? Where did the time go? I don’t know, we were just… doing it. And this isn’t just the story of Narcosis, it’s the story of most games. Maybe all.
Making video games takes time, effort and a deep love for the medium – more than you might imagine, maybe even more than I realize. So, any time you have the opportunity to tell a game creator – or any creator – you enjoyed his or her work, please don’t miss it.
Narcosis is available Wednesday for Xbox One, we hope you enjoy it!