If you’ve ever heard of The Unfinished Swan before, I’d like to start by saying I’m sorry.
Back in 2008, when we posted videos of the prototype online, a lot of people got really excited. And then a few years went by without another word. So if you’ve been wondering “whatever happened to that weird black and white painting game?” thanks for waiting!
If this is all new to you, here’s the gist: The Unfinished Swan is a first-person painting game that begins in a totally white space. You throw globs of paint to explore the world around you. In the game, you’re a boy named Monroe who’s chasing after a swan. The swan stepped out of a painting and has wandered off into a surreal, unfinished world. Here’s what it looks like:
So what have we been doing for the last few years? Judging from our blog, mostly we’ve been having team lunches and then posing for photos. Which is partly true. But also we started a company called Giant Sparrow, and then signed a deal with Sony to make The Unfinished Swan for PSN.
For those of you familiar with Sony’s relationship with thatgamecompany, it’s the same kind of thing. Sony calls it an “incubation deal.” In addition to giving us funding, they also provide office space, equipment and advice (often in the form of this cheerful graphics programmer from the God of War team). The best part is that we get to focus all of our energies on just making a game.
That’s great because it turns out that making a game is hard. Like, the takes-you-four-years kind of hard. But it’s almost done and we’re super excited to start talking about it.
One of the biggest challenges we had was figuring out what the game was going to be about. The idea of painting a white world is pretty abstract. You could make all kinds of different games about that. A lot of people who saw it a few years ago assumed it was going to be a horror game. And it totally could have been. But after splatting stuff for a few months, we realized what we liked most about it was the sense of wonder it created. We liked not knowing what was out there.
So we made a game about creating a sense of wonder. Our goal is to give players strange and beautiful experiences they’ve never had before. We want to give people genuine surprises, and then keep on surprising them the whole game. The painting a white world stuff is actually just the
first 15 minutes. After that, things get really weird.