Graveyard Keeper is a game about choices, dark humor, and making profit from bodies of fallen RPG heroes, and is available beginning later today on Xbox One and Xbox Game Pass.
Over two years ago we were coming off the launch of Punch Club and brainstorming random ideas for what a next game could be. We wanted to expand on a systems-focused game like that game, but go into dark humor territory.
The original idea was literally two words: Graveyard. Tycoon. It quickly became the working title for a prototype. In it, you’d have a Punch Club-style point-and-click interface, and would build & manage a medieval graveyard.
The problem with doing a Tycoon-style game became very apparent: you never really… get rid of dead bodies. You bury them, and they take up permanent space. We had systems in place for embalming bodies, selling off organs & and meat for profit, and approached it like a factory. And we’d get design-blocked once a player had a few bodies in – they wouldn’t disappear. They weren’t a resource you’d constantly use and run out of. Yes, new bodies would keep coming in, and we had no clue what to do with the older bodies. One idea was to have an alcoholic graveyard keeper hang around your premises and dig up bodies for profit. Didn’t really solve the design issue.
Everything fell into place once we gave players control of the actual character. We shifted the design towards the idea of what the daily life of a medieval, RPG-world Graveyard Keeper is like. What is his daily routine? The world became much bigger than just the graveyard – you get to explore dungeons, mingle with the locals at the nearby villages, and create a story told through quests. All of this while also allowing players to play in the way they want to.
My favorite thing has been growing crops, because you know — the soil is very rich with… nutrients. There’s also a communist donkey and witch-burning festivals where you can sell delicious, all natural snacks.
I hope you enjoy Graveyard Keeper as much as we did working on it. Play it beginning later today on Xbox One and via Xbox Game Pass.