And the sun sets…

After the barrage of sad tales about depression caused by indies turning into millionaires overnight, allow us to raise your spirits with a story about the liberating and energizing effects of complete commercial failure.

sunset_sale

Having a sale is fun. Many people get to play your games who normally wouldn’t and you receive a lot of positive feedback. But of course that’s not the reason for having a sale. The reason is always a need for money. And in our current economy, money tends to be collected from large amounts of tiny sources. It was a desperate move for us. An attempt to pay the debts caused by the production of Sunset and stay afloat while we figure out what to do with the rest of our lives.

Reaching out

In its 12 year existence Tale of Tales has always teetered on the edge of sustainability, combining art grants and commercial revenue to fund our exploration of video games as an expressive medium. We considered it spreading our dependencies. And that was fine, because we assumed this situation to be stable. All we really wanted was the opportunity to create.

Our desire to reach a wider audience was not motivated by a need for money but by a feeling of moral obligation. We felt we had to at least try to reach as many people as possible. To make the world a better place through the sharing of art as videogames, you know.

The drying up of funding for artistic videogames in Belgium (an issue beyond the scope of this article) did make satisfying this desire more urgent. No problem, we thought. This is an opportune moment. Several games with similarities to our own have been greatly successful. Some of their creators openly admit to be inspired by our work. So we studied theirs and figured out how to make our next project more accessible. At least more accessible to people who actually play and buy games (the others, we decided, can just go to hell for the moment since they apparently didn’t care as much about us as we do about them).

Nevertheless, even within Sunset’s carefully constructed context of conventional controls, three-act story and well defined activities, we deeply enjoyed the exploration of themes, the creation of atmosphere, the development of characters, and so on. Abandoning some of our more extreme artistic ambitions actually made work easier and more enjoyable. And that’s when we should have realized that we were on the wrong path. Because whatever we enjoy is never, ever, what the gaming masses enjoy.

Numbers

We hate the idea of viewing our audience as numbers in statistics. Way back in the nineties we embraced the internet as the distribution channel for art precisely for the opposite reason: to get away from impersonal mass-market broadcasting and to establish a two-way relationship with the people who enjoy our work. And that still exists, and is lovely. But we knew all along that the small number of people we can reach and have that relationship with would not be sufficient to sustain our work. So if you talk with us on twitter, hello, we love you, but we needed to reach beyond you. Into the land of big numbers.

In the end, we spent more money than we had on the production of Sunset. Because we wanted to make it really good and reach a wider audience. Compared to the ambitions we had for the game, the extra $40,000 seemed like a relatively small sum. “Surely we can make that amount back in the first month of sales!”

We were wrong.

So far a little over 4,000 copies of Sunset have changed hands. That includes the copies for our backers on Kickstarter. That includes the sale. There’s barely enough income to keep our company going while we look for ways to raise the funds to pay back our debts.

It’s hard to deal with this intense feeling of disappointment in a context of glowing reviews and compliments and encouragement from players. A small group of people clearly deeply appreciates what we do and we curse the economic system that doesn’t allow us to be pleased with that.

Being wrong will set you free

  • We studied successful games and applied our findings to the design of Sunset. And while the inclusion of certain conventions seems to have helped some people enjoy the game, it didn’t affect the size of our audience much.
  • We spent a lot of money on a PR company who got us plenty of press, took some work and worries off our shoulders, and found us other marketing opportunities. But it didn’t help sales one bit.
  • We even took out an advertisement on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, where we figured the people most interested in Sunset would be gathered. They must all use AdBlock because that had no effect whatsoever.
  • We worked hard on presenting a gentler Tale of Tales to the public. Which basically meant that Michaël was forbidden to talk in public and Auriea often just smiled at the camera, parroting words whispered in her ears by communication coaches. Didn’t make a difference.

So now we are free. We don’t have to take advice from anybody anymore. We were wrong. Everybody whom we consulted with on Sunset was wrong.

We are happy and proud that we have tried to make a “game for gamers.” We really did our best with Sunset, our very best. And we failed. So that’s one thing we never need to do again. Creativity still burns wildly in our hearts but we don’t think we will be making videogames after this. And if we do, definitely not commercial ones.

— Michaël Samyn & Auriea Harvey.

You can support and encourage us by simply buying our games (for yourself or a friend). Or by supporting Auriea’s Patreon or Michaël’s. Thank you.

61 thoughts on “And the sun sets…

  1. Thanks for this beautiful and sad story!
    But I don’t think it’s time to call ‘Sunset’ a ‘commercial failure’. Not just becase it is not ‘a game for everyone’, but because adventures in difference from shooters etc. are long-sellers. You can’t have quick income from it, but it will surely sell just as well in 2 or 4 years, I think.

    1. Unfortunately game sales are highest (for the most part) right after launch. After the initial spike many small devs might only get 10 or less sales a week. And that’s not a lot of mony. I love game Dev, but like Tales I don’t know if I am going to be doing it (or able to) forever.

  2. Sorry to hear this. Sunset touched me in a way not many games have, in a way I more often associate with good books than computer games. Be proud of what you’ve crafted here, even if it might be a ‘failure’. I won’t forget Angela and Gabriel.

  3. Well, that’ s sad. I was introduced to Tale of Tales over a year ago. The first game I played from you two was “The Path”. It was brilliant. The atmosphere and climax were excellent, they really combined with the odd atmosphere that the game had. I have only beaten Ruby’ s way of the story so far. After that first contact, I fell in love with your works, and, almost one year later, it’ s all gone…

  4. “We studied successful games and applied our findings to the design of Sunset.”

    I’m really curious about this because, as fascinating as Sunset is, nothing about it seems mainstream or commercial at all.

    Full disclosure: I plan to buy Sunset in the future, but haven’t yet because I already have such a backlog of indie games to play. So you’ve at least got my ten bucks coming sometime

    By the way, where did you get the idea to hire a PR company, and what did they even do? Aren’t PR firms totally useless when selling digital goods online?

  5. Just bought all your stuff. I remember ‘The Graveyard’ from a few years ago, and loved it, but oddly, your more recent work hadn’t crossed my radar until now. I’m sorry I didn’t keep tabs on what you were doing, as I wish there were more games like this – not fewer.

  6. Hey Michaël & Auriea –

    I am only one person, but perhaps my personal experience will provide some insight. I’m genuinely shocked that it so few copies sold, and I certanly can’t answer why that is; but as an RPS regular I hope I can at least address that.

    Some RPS users use adblock, but I know that many don’t, including myself, because we want to support the site. I don’t think the ads were unseen – people WERE exposed to Sunset. They just didn’t buy it.

    I am one such person. I am interested in Sunset and fully intent to play it, but have not yet purchased it, for the simple reason that there are many titles that I already own that I have yet to play; I am suffering from a massive backlog, and from what I can tell, this is the case for an overwhelming majority of RPS readers. In the digital age, a game is never out of print, and another Steam sale is just around the corner; acting as a consumer (rather than as a patron of the arts – a discussion outside of this post) there’s really no good reason to buy a game that you aren’t going to play immediately. The exception is for limited-time sales, like Humble Bundle – but these, of course, just make the backlog problem that much worse.

    I genuinely believe that there are more amazing, wonderful games releasing now than in the history of the medium. This is great for the medium, this is great for gamers, but in a sense it is very bad for artists like yourselves; because even making a great game, and getting exposure, does not guarantee sales when people are stuffed from feast after feast; people are still figuring out why games explode, but we know that word of mouth, communities like Reddit, and Youtube are increasingly the drivers; it’s not clear that the traditional press, or glowing reviews, has much of an effect on sales at all (it didn’t for Double Fine).

    Best luck on your future endeavors!

    1. I think your comment really hits upon something that is going to become a bigger issue in the future. Gamers on PC have spent years picking up titles for very little and never playing them. Eventually, at least for indie developers, the unsustainability of penny game culture will start to really hit home once everyone realizes that they’re not going to be the next get rich quick indie game. And as developers try to raise their prices outside of the Humble Bundle three for a dollar realm and into a range that would be able to keep them afloat as a business, a lot of gamers – rather than buying games their interested at a higher price – will just stop buying games and play the hundreds in their backlog that they’re sitting on. I hate to say it, but I feel like this is a microcosm of much bigger problems in the (indie) industry and maybe a first stop in the beginning of the end of this indie game renaissance.

      1. That is a very interesting analysis, and I tend to concur due to my personal experience: I have far more games on Steam than I’ll ever manage to play, and most are bundle/sale games. Some of them of extraordinary value. The result is that my “backlog” is huge (300+ games).

        Anyway, I also buy some games without much actual intention to play them at all, just because I fancy the idea underlying the game. While very minors “patron of the arts” can help indie devs to make a living, there is another purpose in developing the games, which is to have them played.

        Quo vadis indie games? Steam was absolutely game changing – in a positive way – for indie game developers, as it allowed for innovative ideas to have a relatively low cost open distribution network. Kickstarter (crowdfunding) also redefined the financing – allowing quite significant amounts to be funneled into ideas, not finished projects.

        In result, the PD game market is now flooded with very interesting and innovative games but plagued by early access (that destroy the game) and low production values, with games being sold at rock bottom prices (as the marginal cost of a Steam licensed game is near zero…). So life, in a way, become quite difficult to indie devs that don’t have the fortune of creating a hit.

  7. This is nothing short of tragic. Sunset was incredible and I’ve made every effort to spread the word about it and the rest of your titles. I only hope that Sunset can move more units through this sale and that you are able to find success as you move forward. Know that Angela has had an incredibly positive impact and my life and your presence in games will be deeply missed.

  8. I can’t understand how disheartening this must be. I understand ya gotta put food on yer respective tables. But, please, don’t abandon videogames. Please, Sunset has been the most amazing thing I’ve played for years. I love Angela, I love this important story you’ve presented in a way only videogames can. Please, I beg you, and I know I’m not alone, please continue down this fascinating road you’re travelling. You will be remembered in time as pioneers (unsung in their time, perhaps, but no matter) who helped making this medium more than just a guy with a gun and a dick. Sunset is a mini-masterpiece, and the words ‘failure’ should never be uttered anywhere near it.

  9. For me, it was the abandoning of the more extreme artistic themes that made me less interested in Sunset, though I did intend to buy it eventually. A mystery set during a 1970s political revolution just didn’t hold the same poetic, dreamlike appeal as experiments like The Path, The Graveyard and The Endless Forest. But that said, I think Tale of Tales is a brilliantly artistic studio, and I hate to see the two of you moving away from making video games. I’ll at least round out my Tale of Tales collection this week to offer some financial support, even if it’s too little too late. Thank you both for a decade of unforgettable experiences.

  10. I’m intensely proud of you for admitting that you were wrong. It is an incredibly difficult thing to do, to go full Poe, I know an old man who served in German army during WW2, and he defends what he did to this very day. It takes great strength to admit when you were wrong, and perhaps greater still to admit that it is time to do something very different because of it.

    I haven’t bought your game. I may someday, it’s on my wishlist, but frankly it will be a long time before I get around to doing that. However, I think highly of you as developers and artists because for strength and realistic assessment of your failures.

    Where else can any of us hope to learn except for where we can fail? If there is no risk of failing, then clearly we have nothing to learn. You may have failed, but clearly you have also learned in equal measure.

    I can’t wait to see what you do in the future.

  11. So, you spent more money than you had, and advertised in ONE place, and gave a cinematic trailer that didn’t show what the game was and you want to blame everybody else?

    You made a small, niche game that sold just as well as small, niche games could ever be expected to sell.

    Perhaps the gaming business just isn’t where you guys belong…

  12. I hadn’t heard about Tale of Tales before today, but I immediately bought all of your games upon reading the news about you moving away from games (especially since they seem like the type of games I’d enjoy). It’s sad to hear that you’re moving away from games, but I’m really glad to hear that you aren’t going out of business completely.

  13. You should consider getting your games on Xbox One.

    Or if you needed funds, you can use Steam Early Access for your games.

  14. I’m a RPS reader who usually uses adblock who bought your game because of RPS. I bought it, not because of your ad, but because of their positive writeups about your game.

  15. In the profession of writing, thousands of novels will hit the shelves; decades of an artist pouring over page and prose will be dismissed and summarily forgotten with very few successful ventures. This does not demean their work or talent, only that their message or style wasn’t what people desired at that time.

    Game development is in many ways a similar venture and can be even more taxing on the creators. Sunset was a good game…at times. It just wasn’t the one that will resonate with a large enough audience. I hope in time that you have opportunity to try again, at whatever scale and purpose you see fit. You are a talented team, this venture just simply didn’t resonate with a broad enough audience.

    I do wish you all the best and hope to have not seen the last of your work. You are a truly talented team (repeated here for emphasis) and I hope you find a way to express yourselves through the medium in the future.

    Much love.

  16. Ouch, that was painful to read. But I think the most important thing right now is to realize that the entertainment business is rarely fair; often games like Flappy Bird or shallow AAA trive while true gems go unnoticed, and as much as we as creators tend to put everything on our shoulders we also need to let some of the fault go; There are tons of variables that determine a product’s success, a lot of which we have no control over at all.

    I know that it gets much worse when our financial stability depends on this, but don’t let this bad experience hurt your will to make meaningful experiences for gamers. Put this aside for a while or lower its priority until needed, but don’t let it go. The joy of seeing your project finally running and people – no matter how many – getting wonderful experiences out of it is incomparable. My best regards.

  17. Thank you for all the positive reactions! We are moved by your affection and encouragement.

    And also thanks to those who went out of their way to insult us or lecture us. We trashed your comments because we don’t want to host them on our website. But they confirmed that our decision to walk away from games is the right one.

    1. Was the lecturing that rude? Because if not and if there were some truths in there, they could’ve been valuable to other indie developers.

      One word of advice by me:
      “Everybody whom we consulted with on Sunset was wrong.”
      Don’t do this. You can be right and still fail. Every game is a gamble. You can work at the odds, but ultimately it’s a gamble and sometimes you just lose.

  18. It’s so tragic to me that you guys are being forced to think of your game as a “failure”. If anything, the world has failed YOU. Sunset is a work of art, superb and masterfully done, and the amount of love, attention, and labour that was put into it shines through. This should be the time when you feel nothing but pride in your wonderful accomplishment.

    If only commercial sustainability weren’t important.. :(

    There is clearly something wrong with the world, but people like you help make it better. I’m glad you’re continuing to make art in whatever form, and I look forward to supporting it.

    You have never failed me.

  19. NO. You were not wrong, only thing wrong is this decision.
    You’d better believe it, you’re not done with video game. Your steps are a necessity in the world of gaming, no more

    “ — If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    — And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    — And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    …”

    We all know how it ends!

  20. Really sorry to hear this. For me, personally, the sadest aspect is Sunset would’ve been a day one purchase for me, but I don’t have a PC well fit for games. Had it been on PS4, no questions asked, immediate money transfer. I think it would’ve found quite an audience on consoles, but am also aware that that would’ve raised the production and publishing costs, too.

  21. The game looked really interesting based on previews and I thought I would buy it, but when the reviews came in, I decided not to. Many people said the plot wasn’t very interesting and the interactive elements were really basic (don’t know if that’s true, haven’t played it obviously). So marketing wasn’t necessarily done poorly, I think a lot of people knew about your game. It’s just that games like this can easily be killed by bad reviews.
    The games I did buy from you were The Path and Bientôt l’été because for those games the core ideas alone were original enought to sell them.

    1. Just wanted to post to agree with Anatoly. I too thought it looked interesting enough to buy… except that the reviews put me off. A £10 or less pricetag is an instant buy for me, even with a game I suspect may have bits that are of questionable quality (so long as overall it’s a unique, interesting idea), but Sunset was £15 on Steam when I clicked through from the newsletter I received from you.

      I also haven’t seen a lot about it online. The very best thing you can do is create a story around your game that’s interesting for news outlets to cover (controversy actually gets a lot of free publicity, so don’t be so quick to censor yourselves), or maybe chuck some free copies around very popular youtubers. Get the Let’s Play folks to spread the word (it’s how I discovered The Path). For the price point, there will still be a potential user base out there who like quirky titles with interesting themes, you just won’t reach them through one review site and newsletters to your existing user base.

  22. Just bought a copy.. seems like a cool game..like if Jazzpunk took itself seriously! I also Posted in ‘For The Republic’ gaming FB group letting members know and saying they should check Sunset out. peace guys!

  23. I’m very sorry to hear this. I have a weird perspective on this game, I have followed it with interest because it is exactly the sort of game I most enjoy. I have read most of the reviews for it and every time thought about picking it up.

    But there was one problem. The setting and subject matter. Not only is it not interesting to me, it almost actively repels me. Like someone was consulting a list of things I don’t want to see in a game. City environment? No. 70s revolutionaries, “paradise turned into a war zone”? No. The private lives of rich people? No. But if you had taken the exact concepts of this game and set it in the country with no war going on (or at least not that kind of war) and a character with something more interesting about them than “wealthy person with swanky bachelor pad”, I would have already played it and probably added it to my pantheon of beloved games along with Gone Home, etc. I play games to experience settings and situations that I cannot in real life, but the game’s did not seem to me to be a situation I would want to experience at all.

    I don’t know if this is any way helpful, and I am certainly not trying to criticize the creative processes involved, I just thought it might be interesting to you to hear the thought processes of a potential customer in choosing to not buy the game. I hope this turns out to be a positive thing for you in the end, as I love your creative work, The Endless Forest is wonderful and exactly the sort of game / virtual place / thing that I wish there were many more of in the world :)

  24. What a shock! Alongside ThatGameCompany, you are my favorite (not) video game studio. I had the chance to meet both of you in Coimbra in October 2013. I’m a friend of Bruno de Figueiredo (the “sorry” guy). Maybe you don’t remember me, it’s normal. I want to say I really feel sorry but I when I watch the video game industry and the gamers, I’m not sure if I feel really sorry for you. At the same time, to be honest, I feel a little bit guilty because I didn’t buy your last two games, Luxuria Suberbia and Sunset, but I buy all the others. I don’t want to justify myself but in the past two years, I didn’t play video games. Maybe I’m getting old or maybe games are not evolving enough, maybe both. Anyway, you were the only erudite developers of (not) video games, so it’s an immeasurable loss. I wish you the best in your new Path!

  25. I don’t know if this can be of any help now but I can say my little experience about it.
    I’ve recently “come back” to video games and starting to enjoing them again, I remember the graveyard from a few years ago. I’ve come across the Sunset trailer (without knowing anything about the developers) and decided not to buy it, of course I don’t want to put up the idea that it is anyone fault, I know there’re serious problems within all of the system. It’s quite the same with film and books, just that film since they’re established as “art” received others kind of funding.

    Anyway the trailer was good but like a short film trailer, I already watch *a lot* of movies and probably in videogames I search for something different, the connection between my little actions (like pushing a button) and the loop between the screen and me as a subject . Beside that like someone else already wrote there’s clearly a problem of numbers of title available, I’ve so much to play and the number will only grow with time, of course I try to support the new stuff as well since it’s the things that keep people eating and living. But imho there’s also the need to expand the base of player in others directions to sustain all the great developers.

    I hope that your economic situation will improve soon, I’ll try to spread the word about your videogames :)

  26. You did everything that I would like to be doing. Unfortunately, I have been so busy in the fruitless grind of work that the first time I hear of you is when you are shutting down. A software development company is the dream. 4 years out of college and I am still lost. I can’t be the only one. I wish I had known about you sooner.

  27. Damn, I was waiting for The Path on Gog..
    I didn’t know about Sunset, instead.

    Sorry for what has happened to you :(
    Maybe you should have tried to alternate more mainstream releases with artistic games to stay afloat, but.. it’s just hindsight at this point.

    Good luck for the future.

  28. It’s very sad to read a story like this. I really like how the current times seem, more than ever, like a chance for indie games to be successful. I only heard about your game now, and having watched the trailer, it seems very interesting. It’s a shame it has already failed.

    Despite honestly not knowing whether your game is any good, I wish you the best getting out of this difficult situation. I’ll pick up a copy and try it out, and tell my friends about it if I like it. Hopefully you can make your money back in the long term.

  29. I’m so sorry to read this. My days of gaming on PC are currently over after my Mac packed up and my PC really is a hunk of sh*t that would never be able to play Sunset. I’ve got a PS4 and had been believing that there was probably a huge chance Sunset would make it’s way there eventually, a narrative first person adventure-esque-game with an intriguing story and nice design. Why wouldn’t it?!

    I don’t know why. I wish I had something clever to say but I don’t, and I don’t know what this says about the gaming population. It’s just so sad to hear you’re walking away from the industry, I can’t think of any other developers who do the things that you do and are in the place you are in the consciousness. Whatever you go on to do, I hope it brings you more happiness and satisfaction than gaming has. I cannot wish you more luck in squaring off your debts.

  30. I’m sad to see you go. I’ve been a big fan of yours, ever since I discovered The Endless Forest in 2006 (by word of mouth).

    I know you’ll probably never make another videogame again, ever. But I can dream, can’t I?

    I wish you all the best.

  31. I have never heard of you before, but given that I only had to read “The politics of beauty” today to buy Sunset I really wish I had.

  32. Re: Artistic Evolution in/as a Dynamic Social Space

    Dear TOT. Hello! Sorry to hear this saddening news. But this is no time to wallow in the mire. “Fail Better”, etc.

    I’m a UK based Researcher interested in game development. I really dig your style. I’m writing in Call and Response – thinking out loud, bouncing ideas around, share some fresh perspective / alternative metaphors:

    1. A holistic Systems approach: perhaps in the exact same way Valve uses Steam (expresses its internal values through Steam as a platform for User Generated Content), consider reconsidering “Tale Of Tales” itself as a social Service (game-space / open narrative / ongoing adventure)

    That is to say: the most interesting dimensions of TOT are not just any specific art it produces, but the people who make up its world(s) – that is, you, Auriea and Michaël – and, all the people who follow / play alongside you

    2. Perhaps the richest narratives you can offer, is that of an evolving artistic perspective – an open, creative space, expressed multiple simultaneous ways by many voices (including your own)

    It’s not that one can’t Make X (eg. specific games), but that you more generally consider yourselves ‘playable players’; treat skillful Playfulness itself as a community networking platform

    Specifically: “Tales Of Tales” would make an excellent open universe – an artistic ecology anyone can inhabit and add to – a distributed ‘multiplayer’ narrative, completely Open Source; to truly open up your Worldviews and invite others in

    3. Rather than ‘a game’, “Sunset” could be even more interesting as a whole Setting – a place which fans can then add to, explore and play with/in from multiple angles – expressed many ways at once, a rich multimedia mulch for new artistic forms to organically emerge

    Imagine the equivalent of Unity Asset Store / Steam Workshop for Sunset (this however does not necessarily mean Everything is fated to be a FTPMMORPG 😉

    4. Indie Devs are already a highly developed collective intelligence (a ‘Soviet’ in old Marxist terms – and a Rhizome in terms of new Biology) but still seem to woefully under-utilize themselves as a living networked resource / energy-potential

    A pervasive rockstar / lonestar-wolf mentality still exists. Merely being online and having a website isn’t nearly enough: one now has to explore and expose the deeper meanings and implications of truly Social (artistic) networking as a modern concept-space

    I’ve written a little about this here – http://alienfiction.com/2013/06/21/being-online-isnt-enough-more-indie-games-should-be-freeware/

    = = =

    The short version: allow yourselves to be ‘susceptible to evolution’..

    If this was interesting andor remotely relevant, feel free to contact me for a chat

    Sincerely, Robert H. Dylan, amateur postmodern theorist

  33. I’m very sorry to hear this. I’ve enjoyed following Tale of Tales since I was introduced to The Path by a close friend. I was intrigued to see mention of hell.com, a website that I enjoyed exploring back in the 90’s I still intend to purchase Sunset. I’ve simply been to busy with college studies, and being a student on a shoestring budget doesn’t allow for many games.

  34. This is really sad news. I have always enjoyed your games (and your opinions about (not-)games) tremendously. Unfortunately I share many of the problems others have mentioned: a massive collection of largely unplayed games and a reliance on sales due to my financial situation. I think Dylan described the problem quite well. I just never thought it was this bad.

    Your works have been an inspiration and, I am sure, a very important contribution to the medium overall. They will influence other game developers for years to come, no doubt about that. I wish both of you all the best with your future projects and hope that this is not the last we’ve heard of you.

  35. Give gamers time to discover your product, real gamers will diffuse the word between themselves. Artistic games are a long investment business, and we, or atleast I, can enjoy it. We just need time to discover the games actually worth playing. Don’t lose hope yet!

  36. I’m deeply saddened by this news and I agree with the above comments that it’s the industry that failed you, and it’s our loss because of it. The Path is one of my favorite games and it impacted me in a unique, personal and profound way that no other game ever had before and ever will. Thank you for sharing that with us. I learned about Sunset too late and regret that I wasn’t in time to purchase it at release, but I will definitely get a copy and I greatly look forward to the experience. All the best in your future ventures and I sincerely hope you’ll return to games one day.

  37. I’ve never been a fan of you guys, ever since playing the graveyard and the demo for the path realized your stuff wasnt for me. However I enjoyed seeing companies like yours try something different. You guys should have warned us sooner about your financial woes, as a poor college student after a steam sale I have no money at the moment to do much, just bought fatale for what is worth and will be buying sunset in the future to support you guys. Hopefully you guys will sort your financial issues and will come back to make games after you do, wish you the best of luck.
    ps. sorry about structure had to type this in my address bar due the text box crashing in chrome.

  38. It is very sad to read that.

    I’m eager to play Sunset, but I couldn’t buy it because here it is too expensive for me even on sale, and my old notebook wouldn’t run, so I was looking foward to buy the game after I buy a new computer (something like the end of the year), but now I’m feeling a bit guilty.

    Recently I was invited to write a script for an indie game, and as I was writing I kept one single tought in my mind: it has to be something like “The Graveyard”. Your games are really inspiration for me.

    Besides Sunset (and Bientôt l’été, that I bought but my notebook couldn’t run) I think I played all of your games. The Kiss incorporator, The Graeyard, The Path, Fatale, Luxuria Superbia… Recently I could bought Vanitas – and bought LuiaSuia again (this time for Android). I love them all.

    But I know what is financial troubles.

    I wish you luck.

  39. I cannot help you. I am a washed up former old soldier who makes 5$ a day that lasts 17 work hours.
    I wish I could, however. I saw the “Sunset” intro above, and fell in love. If I could I would have annuled your debts – but I can’t. I will promise to do one thing, however. I will not torrent your game. I will wait to (eventually) raise enough and buy it.
    It will not help you, but its the best I can do.
    I salute you.

  40. I’ve played all of your previous games. And I respect you as artists. So, allow me to tell you, as politely as I can, why I consciously decided not to buy Sunset.

    The reason is simple: I’m South American. And I can’t stand it when outsiders alter, fictionalize, and (worst of all) sanitize the recent history of my country and others where similar events took place, simply for the sake of telling YOUR story.

    The 70s in Latin America are not a backdrop. It’s a tough, bloody, confusing, politically charged period of time where revolutions, coup d’etats and counter-revolutions succeeded each other in a flash. Their repercussions are still felt today. Millions of people who lived through them are still alive, and still remember. There are hundreds of new books released each year across the continent focusing on this specific period of time. I’d go so far as to say the market for people who care about this is saturated. There is no room for outsiders’ perspective when the actors and bystanders in these conflicts have yet to stop talking about it. Much less room for fiction written by outsiders.

    Taking events from many different countries and making an amalgam out of them that suits your particular story-telling needs and politcal opinions was nothing short of appropriation.

    I am sorry you’ve decided to abandon this medium (though I remain unconvinced this will be a permanent decision). You’re a fascinating artist duo, but I can’t help but feel like you betrayed yourselves with Sunset. I look forward to your future projects.

  41. Hi Michaël & Auriea ,

    Sunset is an unique and beautiful game and his sad beginning is not a failure but something that for sure will enrich the legend of this game that I’m sure will become a long seller. Also Loom by Lucas Film Games was a flop, but today,17 years after, it is still on sale.
    Unfortunately we live in a world where a sadly epic birth does not pay pack the debts, anyway you have to be proud about what you did and keep trying do something different.

    Maurizio

  42. Hey folks, I feel like I owe you an apology. I’ve enjoyed for years reading about your games, and listening to smart people talk about your games. And I had never bought one. I enjoyed your games vicariously through the experiences of others, but should have been supporting them directly as well.

    So I bought four of your games, including Sunset, after your announcement. I know that it is too little too late, but I hope the extra sales from me and others do help you pay off the debt and give you more stability to pursue what is next.

    Best to you all.

  43. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate
    to this excellent blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed
    to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will share this website with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  44. Well you guys simply made a mistake in making such mainstream concessions. The PR company in particular ruined my impression of sunset both to me and my non-gaming other half (who still appreciates creativity and art in all of its forms).

    When reading about Sunset many months before release it sounded amazing, a game where you do nothing but clean against a war-torn backdrop of social realism. The game was pretty much a summation, in playable form for my thesis (or rather design doctrine) I wrote for my masters in digital theory. I couldn’t wait to purchase the game day 1, whatever the price.

    However, i then watched the trailer and I couldn’t shake the feeling of something trying a bit too hard to interest me. It felt overly grandiose, cliche. The narration itself sapped the artistic merit and reduced it to that of an e3 “promo”. It was trying to be something it wasn’t.

    Oh i will still purchase Sunset. Its value is now historicised within the canon of games and I am sure many scholars will cite it for a future of more realist games but I sincerely feel that lessons could also be learned in trying to chase mianstream success when rather artistic integrity and respect of your fans could have delivered much more (and saved you $/£40,000).

    Your company and vision will be a great loss.

  45. Failure is an integral part of success. As others suggested, reach out to Sony to try to get on PS4 and recoup some of the development costs. Once you feel like you squeezed everything you can out of this title, move onto something that has more mass appeal but still preserves the creative charm that Tale of Tales is known for. That’s a creative and design challenge that I think you guys should tackle. Never give up, never surrender, people like that narrative.

  46. Good luck guys, I only read and bought the game after reading your sunset blog. I love the sound track. Wishing you all the best.

  47. I only just discovered your studio from the post on Electron Dance, about your departure from game development. I read your “Politics of Beauty”, and judging from that, I think I would’ve been interested in Sunset and your other games. I wish you success in your future ventures.

    I don’t agree with everything that was written in “Politics of Beauty”—blaming the majority of humanity for the depreciation of art while said libraries, museums, schools, and other social infrastructure (not just cultural—look at pensions, public health care, even water) are being dismantled for the enrichment of a tiny social stratum—but the sincerity and seriousness with which you treat your craft is something that I respect.

    By the way, I read Rock Paper Shotgun semi-regularly (I missed their Hands On piece about Sunset) with my adblocker turned off. I don’t remember seeing advertisements for Sunset. I tend to ignore all advertisements and the locations where they are placed when I’m not actively searching for things to buy (banner blindness). I suspect that RPS’s readership of adept PC users is quicker to filter out content irrelevant to their goals than other audiences. In the case of RPS, the goal of most readers is “read informative and witty articles about PC games”, not “scan the top banners and sidebars to see ads that are probably about stuff that you don’t visit RPS for, like car insurance and office supplies”.

  48. It looks like a perfect game for VR. I think you would have had much more relevance on that market. You should give it a try.

  49. Sad to hear that, I followed the ‘Sunset’ development and it seems to me a great game, and in my opinion it is.

    I know numbers is one thing, but I’m pretty sure that ‘Sunset’ will get it recognition that deserves, the same recognition that ‘The Graveyard’ and ‘The Path’ (which I own a copy) has now.

    Whatever decision that you guys will take, you have my respect and admiration for making games that are non conventional, wonderfully artistic, and make you think out of the box.

    Best of wishes in your future endeavors…Thanks for everything TOT!

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