Graywalkers Purgatory Interview: On Returning To Kickstarter, Wasteland 2, and more

Last week, we reported on the relaunch of Graywalkers: Purgatory on Kickstarter. As of this writing, they have raised $ 17,512 from that $ 40,000 goal, and have a good 28 days to go. No stretch goals have been named for now, but they have indicated interest in releasing the game to a variety of platforms, such as high-spec iOS and Android tablets, Ouya, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

Graywalkers: Purgatory is the brainchild of Russell Tomas, CEO and creative director of Dreamlords Digital. Russel has had extensive experience, not only in gaming, but in several e-commerce and creative fields. He agreed to take some time out working on the game and the crowdfund to talk to us about returning to Kickstarter, game development in the Philippines, Wasteland 2, and more.

In your own words, explain Graywalkers: Purgatory.

Graywalkers is basically a combination of emergent strategy and tactical turn-based RPG. Think of it as a combination of XCom, Fallout, Jagged Alliance and Civilization. The game is set in a supernatural post-apocalyptic world where heaven and hell has been merged with earth by an event called the Rupture. You are the prophesied hero that will find and lead the 36 Hidden Ones, heroes that are destined to protect humanity. As a group, they are called Graywalkers. The specific setting is an island continent composed of displaced lands from all over the world located in the center of the Bermuda Triangle.

What was your experience the last time you ran a Kickstarter campaign? Do you feel you learned any lessons from that experience?

When we ran our Kickstarter last year, we didn’t know exactly what we were doing and what to expect. We were basically unprepared for the requirements of running a successful Kickstarter campaign. We didn’t do enough pre-campaign marketing. We only started when the campaign was already on-going and even then, it was hard to convince the press to cover us. By midway, we started to get the hang of it but by then, we have lost too much time and our target was a bit high.

 We learned a lot of lessons and now we are more prepared to address the needs and requirements for a successful campaign. We’ve lowered our target to a more manageable amount. Also, we’ve done a lot more pre-marketing and we now have a demo to show that we are indeed capable of building the game.

Why did you decide to go back to Kickstarter? Why not Indiegogo, or run your own crowdfunding campaign, like many devs have successfully done?

We went back to Kickstarter to build the community. We started a community there and it only felt right to go back and hopefully succeed this time. Also, Kickstarter is a very high profile site wherein it provides an opportunity to be seen the most. Lastly, it felt like we had unfinished business to settle.

Wasteland 2 recently released to critical acclaim, after a successful Kickstarter of their own and 2 and a half years of development. I think that this game has a lot in common with Graywalkers. Do you feel its success affects your prospects? Would you adapt your game to be more like Wasteland?

I’ve always been a big fan of the original Wasteland and being compared to them is an honor in itself. With regards to our prospects, I think it affects it positively. It proves that there are people out there who love turn-based games. By the time we come out in 1.5 years, those who have played Wasteland 2 will be done with the game and will be looking for more of the same.   

We always have had a vision for the game even before Wasteland 2 came about and in a way I’m glad that the direction we took was the same one as their’s. With them using Unity for their development as well, it’s almost unavoidable that the game will look slightly the same, with them being set in a post-apocalyptic world. We probably won’t be adapting our game to be like wasteland 2 on purpose, though we do want to learn from the things they do right. In the end, the audience will tell us what they want, and there is a possibility that what they want from us, is what they wanted from Wasteland 2.

So, you advertise in your campaign that you are partly based in Manila. What do you think about the state of game development in the Philippines today? What is missing for local developers to be successful?

Yes, the development team members are mostly based in Manila. In Manila, there are 2 types of game development studios. Those who do outsourcing for the bigger international companies and those who do their own IP. For the past few years, the game outsourcing industry has been very good, and continues to grow till now. Many of the studios here have worked on many popular triple A games, so talent is definitely there. For the self-published titles, this industry is just beginning and we were one of the pioneers. This area still has a lot that needs to improve but we believe it’s on the way there slowly but surely.

You’ve indicated what platforms you are interested in bringing the game to. Would you also consider bringing it to the Wii U? A few crowdfunded games have found success adding the platform, as part of the base goal or a stretch goal.

We actually have it also for the Wii U. I just forgot to add it in before but it has now been added to our Kickstarter page. We really want to do console so this is definitely something we hope we can raise enough resources to make happen. At the very least, even if we don’t hit the stretch goal for it, we still might bring it to these consoles but at a much later date, utilizing the revenues we make from the release of the game. So rest assured that the chance to be ported to the Wii U and other consoles looks pretty good.

Finally, time to pitch Graywalkers one last time. Why should we help fund your game? What are we getting out of this?

I would like this chance to invite everybody out there who loves games like XCom, Fallout, Jagged Alliance and other old school RPGs to please support our campaign. More than anything, we are dedicated to creating a game that not only will you enjoy, it will be one that will be influenced by you, the players, during its development. If you help us, not only will you be helping us create an awesome game, you also will be getting some nice rewards. We have some of the coolest rewards, so be sure to check those out. Lastly, you get to help us create a game made with you in mind. Thank you!

If fully funded, Graywalkers: Purgatory will come to PC DRM-free and via Steam on January 2016. Check out their Kickstarter page here.

Update: Since this interview, we continued correspondence with Dreamlords Digital, and they shared this statement to us regarding Steam, releasing the game DRM free, as well as pushing for DRM free platforms such as GOGcom:

We are not just coming to Steam, as you note at the end of the article, but also DRM-free release at the same time. Some people don't like or use Steam, so we are glad to provide a DRM-free version for them!
For the DRM free version, at the minimum, it will be directly available from us as a standalone. At the same time, we will also try and get it distributed by GoG and other potential digital markets that support DRM free games. We have a voting page at where people can vote to help us make Graywalkers available on GOG.

This interview with Dreamlords Digital was conducted by Ryan Parreno on October 5 via email. It may not be reposted in its entirety without permission.