Below, a screenshot of the demo of BOOK OF HOURS, ‘Early Draft Edition’:
Much as you’d expect: very pretty but clearly an early alpha. Lots of placeholder UI work, no animations, the driftwood log on the beach has slid sideways over the rock, etc. etc.
At the bottom left hand corner, however, is something you might not expect.
“Enhance 224 to 176. Move in, stop.”
“Pull out, track left, stop. Enhance 34 to 36.”
“Enhance 15 to 23… give me a hard copy right there.”
Yes that is a badly part-alpha’d row of three adorable pugs floating at sea. (The sea’s still there, but when you zoom in too far the background darkens, to spare you the sight of a low-res background zoomed in too close – another good-enough placeholder effect.)
But wait, there’s more! The pugs are interactive! Here’s the most detailed and helpful of the emails on the topic that we received last night:
“4. The “Combing the Sea” action is very finnicky to actually find. For some reason, only when I click on the tiny image of three pugs in the center of the sea the interface appears. When I first unlocked it I thought nothing was there, and only when I accidentally clicked on the pugs did it open up. It also doesn’t have a timing bar that I could see, so I was never sure when it was done.”
The pugs are indeed your gateway to a Beachcombing activity. You might, however, find the results less than fulfilling; you might for instance wonder why the ‘Eva’s Locks’ seaweed is a pewter-coloured blank card full of question marks and gibberish.
That’s right; it’s placeholder content. The actual WIP game is full of this sort of thing, but I made it unavailable in the demo. So how did this one get in, and why did it get in via three surreally tiny pugs adrift in the Atlantic Ocean?
There are three important clues in this screenshot. Note the poster of 80s Irish-British game show icon Henry Kelly advertising Japanese beer; the bust of Ianus Bifrons from the Vatican Museum; and the spectacularly horrible chair. What do these things have in common?
That’s right: they’re all placeholder images intentionally chosen to look jarringly different, so that there’s no possible way they could escape notice and end up in the actual game. Like the pugs.
The pugs were a placeholder image for the Beach “workstation”, the interaction point for beachcombing. I thought I’d taken them out, but I hadn’t, I’d just somehow dropped them in the sea and made them tiny, and then got distracted before I could fix it, because e.g. a cat jumped on me at an inopportune moment or my daughter reminded me we were supposed to be watching Lockwood & Co.
Then about four hundred players noticed them, interacted with them on the perfectly reasonable presumption they were supposed to be there, and sent me… pug reports. Thanks erryone.
THAT ASIDE the response to the demo’s been great. People are saying ‘lovely’, ‘haunting’, and ‘can’t stop playing’, which is particularly gratifying given what a tiny part of the game it actually is. Thanks to everyone who’s sent feedback and… pug reports… I’m buried under emails so if you don’t see a response please don’t think you’ve been ignored. “The eye sees more than the heart knows.”
Lottie and I haven’t decided yet if we should patch the pugs out of the demo, which will only be up for another week or two anyway. It would mean fewer emails, but on the other hand, it would also mean fewer pugs.