Metempsychosis Meets its End

By Bruno Dias, August 12, 2021 · Fallen London

Since we announced Metempsychosis (or Meeting Your End/MYE) nearly a year ago, we’ve received a lot of feedback from all of you about what you’d like to see, and we’ve done further exploratory design and tech work on the feature.

Unfortunately, the conclusions we reached from this process have led us to cancel Metempsychosis. This may come as a surprise. We’d like to explain why, exactly, in some more detail.

First, it became clear that the amount of work required would be greater than anticipated. A lot of existing content would need to be retrofitted to work with MYE, a lot of new content would need to be written, and a lot of individual judgement calls would have to be made on which items and qualities would transfer over to a new character, and which wouldn’t. We’ve concluded that the outcomes wouldn’t justify the time investment, especially at the cost of creating other things in London.

Second, we don’t think there is a path forward for the feature that would be a net positive for the playerbase. MYE was intended to fulfill the desires of some players – find a definitive end for their characters, replay their Ambition or a different Ambition, and experience the early and midgame of Fallen London anew. But those different player wants turned out to have much less overlap than we thought. And announcing the feature caused a lot of anxiety for those of you who didn’t want to put a permanent end to your characters.

Currently, we don’t think there would be a way to balance Metempsychosis, as originally announced, that would feel good to a majority of players. Being able to stack rewards from multiple Ambitions, for example, seemed intractable for game balance and led to players feeling like they would be pressured to play through MYE and restart. But a lot of players wouldn’t want to undergo MYE if it meant giving up on Ambition rewards, either.

Third, Metempsychosis was conceived of before 2020, and our plans for Fallen London looked substantially different then than they do now. We expected that we would slow down our content schedule substantially after the anniversary year, and that MYE would be a way to keep existing areas, activities, and stories evergreen for long-term players. Of course, that did not happen.

Instead the response to all the new endgame stories was much stronger and more positive than we expected. Fallen London looks much more sustainable and healthy now than it did at the end of 2019. Though part of keeping that sustainability is slowing down the volume of new content a bit, we also made behind-the-scenes adjustments to our tools and our team that let us keep rolling forward. We’ve also started thinking of Fallen London as much more of a living world that will grow and change over time – the Grand Clearing-Out and Great Sink of 1899 are expressions of that, and you can expect us to do more in this direction in the future.

All of that, too, made MYE less appealing. If the game will keep seeing an expanding endgame and a continuing role for endgame characters for years to come, it makes less sense to reset and replay the early game.

Ultimately, the amount of work required to make MYE work kept increasing, and our own (and your) enthusiasm for it kept decreasing. At one point we realised that nobody on the team really felt excited for it any more. So, we cancelled it.

However, we know that those original desires – being able to put an ending to your character, definitive or not; playing through different Ambitions or replaying an Ambition – are still there. And we’re still looking for ways to address them, including using the story elements that were teased for Metempsychosis (though we’ll be retiring the in-game teasers).

We are also very much planning to give the early and midgame some much-needed love. We want to revise those experiences in light of ten years of story developments and design refinement. And we want to make the new player experience better and faster, so that Fallen London can continue to grow, and so that the ‘meat’ of the game – midgame and endgame stories – is faster for a new player to access.

But, another lesson we took from this is that announcing something ambitious and experimental so early on hasn’t really paid off. We’re not ready to talk in detail about our future plans for replayability, early game changes, or character endings.

And though some of you were looking forward to MYE with dread, I know others were excited for it. It’s never our goal when we announce something to have to cancel it before it comes to fruition. But in this case, it was the only way forward. And those of you who were looking forward to an ending or more development of your Destiny, well – we hope that one day you will forgive.


Leave a reply

Oracular Aug 19, 9:45am

I was looking forward to metempsychosis but mostly because I thought the stories seemed really interesting. If we can get metempsychosis-y stories and continue the game, this is good with me! And better yet if we also can try different ambitions with the main at some point. (It just doesn't feel the same to me playing them with an alt since I'm basically just creating them to fill one role.)

Tachibana A. Aug 17, 8:43pm

Not so long ago a high-level friend was lamenting over in-game dinner that they had no idea what to attempt next except Paramount Presence. Nowadays it is almost the same, (minus dinner), except now they truly don't know what to attempt next because we are all so spoilt for choice, recently. Thank you. The thought that comes to a lot of high-level players is, "I could always make a new character and go back and see how it has changed but that would be a lot of work." We can't change the past but at least with the new content we can move on and move forward. Thanks.(.....................................................................................................................) As for "We are also very much planning to give the early and midgame some much-needed love. " (.....................................................................................................................) Please Do. Also, consider giving some of the "love" warnings. I was thrilled to see there were new platonic options added for the Persuasive story track; I can only hope that the text for getting sent to the tomb colonies might change too. Not to mention Term Passing at the university with the Dean. Also, it has been so nice to see new spouse options available; I hope you add more. Perhaps a widow/ers club - there are already multiple famous widows in London - or the opportunity to be involved with non-human partners. I would also love to see some more surface-contemporary East-Asian characters other than that stereotypical sword-fighter and the man who buys skulls. I sincerely hope "Graduate Advice" gets retired. The misogynistic tones of that one card nearly stopped me playing and I _know_ it has stopped friends. Also 'Exacting the Urchins' Vengeance'needs a warning at least.

Meredith Aug 16, 10:46pm

Excellent news. I am really happy the game has taken off again and is getting so much new content! I was still a little overwhelmed by all the new end game systems but the Grand Clearing out incentivized me to engage with them and now I've just gotten my first bone market exhaustion and built Evenlode and gone to war in Parabola! (Yes, I'm really behind.) The individual I correspond with for ingame activities also became super active again because of the event. And I'm catching up on my exceptional stories, which I gotta add I'm still really happy archive themselves now rather than making me remember to start them! (Although that change was awhile ago.)

Catherine Raymond Aug 14, 3:54pm

As one of the people who was not thrilled by the idea of metampsychosis, I am pleased by this news. But then I am one of the people who started playing Fallen London when it was still in beta, and part of what attracted me was the idea that the game would always continue to grow, and evolve, and surprise me! I feel for the folk who liked the idea of metampsychosis, because they may feel misled and shortchanged, but FBG's changes, and even their occasional mistakes make FL feel so real, and worth playing.

Zeculo Aug 13, 11:05pm

While it's good to know that there's still more early game content planned, that makes me really wish I had an option to retroactively change some past options. There are a lot of things available now in the early and mid game (Polyamorous spouse options, for example) that weren't when I played the early and mid game, so from a roleplaying perspective I'm left with two options: either to have done something I wouldn't have, or to do something I wouldn't do. It would be nice if every year or so there was an option to retroactively redo/undo things. As is, most options like that are of very limited scope and had a fate cost.

Juliet Hammersmyth Aug 13, 4:56pm

I'm relieved to hear this. I would have been interested in reading the related text for curiosity's sake, but was dreading the idea of giving up my character and already thinking up internal justifications to explain how my new character was secretly the same person starting over lol. Excited to see what else is to come instead!

Florence Aug 13, 9:30am

To be honest, the thing I was most looking forward to was the Exceptional Story reset. Is this still planned? I'd love to replay some of them, but the price attached to repeating the content which I paid for already seems too high, cumulatively, especially when I could just put that money towards new stories. Or maybe there's a rework of the current ES model planned? Buying stories and being able to replay them, as opposed to renting them out every time would be a good feature.

corvidcall Aug 12, 7:51pm

This is a little disappointing to hear, as anyone telling me that I'm not getting the shiny new thing I was promised would be. But the thing I was hoping for most was that, when MYE was implemented and more of the player base was back at the early game, maybe the early game content would get some refurbishing. It's... pretty rough, especially compared to how good so much of of the new content has been, and it makes me not want to make a new alt account to play through the other ambitions. Even more than that, it makes it hard to recommend the game to new people, when the first parts of the game they're gonna see are some of the worst and oldest. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten someone to make a Fallen London account, and had to explain how to play it because FL doesn't really tell you how the mechanics work, and also constantly reassure them that the game gets better later, and it won't always be deeply cynical and cruel and weird about women. So if the early game is still going to be getting some love, then I'm still pretty happy! Maybe I'll finally be able to play through the other ambitions after all.

Fex Aug 12, 7:15pm

My only question now is what happens to those Zee and River cards? They were very good cards, too! It would be nice if those could remain but with altered text (or as signposts for ES's).

Greg M. Aug 12, 6:56pm

I have to applaud FailBetter for how open they're being about this: A+ job on communication with fan base, especially since it's to announce that something *isn't* happening. I was looking forward to playing through a different ambition without having to create an alt and slog through the early game, but it sounds like mechanically it would've been too difficult to strike a good balance, and I'm really pleased to hear how well the new content has landed.

Televangelist Aug 12, 3:31pm

For me, the big appeal of MYE was the possible story beats they might involve -- I was one of those who was very mechanically concerned about not wanting to give up my character while still wanting access to the "new game plus" content and to experience the other three ambitions. I'm glad to hear the story beats will still be used in some other fashion!

Televangelist Aug 12, 3:29pm

Re: ""Will there be a post/comment about Alexis Kennedy claiming Failbetter Games doesn't own Fallen London IP?"" He can claim what he likes, but if he hasn't dragged Failbetter into a court of law after all these years then he almost certainly he doesn't have a leg to stand on; just a bitter old #MeToo case mad that people have moved on and thrived without him.

Concerned Citizen Aug 12, 2:11pm

Will there be a post/comment about Alexis Kennedy claiming Failbetter Games doesn't own Fallen London IP?

Robles Aug 12, 2:06pm

Fine then, keep your secrets.

emily Aug 12, 1:48pm

I have to admit i was looking forward to metempsychosis (she said, Platonically), having sent my first character North at the earliest opportunity. I started a new character a few months ago after seeing how excited some of my friends were about the railway content, and i liked the idea of being able to give her a definite arc as well, while still continuing to play the game. But i will continue regardless! Having just hit POSI and become mired in crafting books of hidden bodies and personal recommendations, i am definitely looking forward to some early-midgame revitalization, even if i probably won't benefit from it much. My first character hit POSI a bit before Making Your Name was introduced, so i guess this is just the pattern i am in now lolsob!

ark Aug 12, 1:31pm

Thanks for the frank and detailed update. The MYE ideas sounded like interesting stories, but I *think* I'm glad to hear this, as it did seem as though the choices involved were going to put designers and players in some very difficult positions. If stacking Ambition rewards is impossible for balance reasons, there's a (fairly) simple design option for letting characters play multiple Ambitions without players having to juggle alts or lose the fruits of their labor via Tea Leaves. Once a player finishes their first ambition, let them (possibly for some resource cost) start a second Ambition. Maybe there are occasional new bits in Ambition 2 for players who completed Ambition 1 . And when they complete the second Ambition, they have to give up the rewards of their first Ambition to claim the new rewards. Now, give them a quality that refreshes either weekly or daily (as many now do) and that lets them go to a special storylet in Lodgings where they can swap whatever reward set they currently have for the reward set of any other Ambition they've completed. Voila! No stacking, but no loss to the player either. Each week (or day) they can choose to play as a completer of Ambition 1, Ambition 2, etc. Tea Leaves would still let players bail on their current Ambition or (in a very Fate-like way) let them replay a previously completed Ambition to a different conclusion. (For players with multiple Ambitions completed, they would be able to choose which they were forgetting about). Maybe there are occasional new bits in Ambition 2 for players who completed Ambition 1 . Or maybe the players have to temporarily put the first Ambition rewards aside to start the second Ambition; in this case, they would get both the second Ambition rewards *and* the option to switch back to the first rewards upon completing the second Ambition.

VeryPeeved Aug 12, 1:28pm

Metempsychosis... is dead? ...