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Mask of the Rose Release Date Update, and a surprise!

First, the surprise. We have a demo of Mask of the Rose, available right now on Steam!

And look at the shiny new user interface!

Offering a condensed version of Act I of Mask of the Rose, you’ll be able to explore select locations across the city, introduce yourself to some key characters and encounter Mr Pages in its office at the Bazaar.

At the opening of Mask of the Rose, Mr Pages has employed your housemate, Griz, who has in turn found a few pennies’ work for you as census taker. The census goes some way beyond the expected (Surface census forms never did ask if anyone in the residence was in love), so you’ll need to approach conversations with care to find out all you need to know.

Demo Feedback

We are absolutely champing at the bit to see your reactions to the demo! There are a few things it’ll be useful to know before you send feedback:

  • In the final game there will be a text log, so you can scroll back through conversations

  • There will also be audio sliders under Settings

  • And of course, there will be saving in the finished game (the final version of Act I will be fleshed out from this version, so carrying choices over wouldn’t be possible).

Spotted a bug?

The demo has been through our internal testing, but if you see any bugs or typos we missed, please let us know by emailing mask@failbettergames.com, attaching your player log. Here are some instructions to help you find your player log.

We will probably only update the demo if something pretty bad has slipped through, but this will let us fix everything before we release the full game. Thank you!

Release Date

Our other major piece of news is that Mask of the Rose now has a clear release window. We now plan to release it in late October or November this year. Unfortunately, this is four or five months later than we estimated for the Kickstarter.

The main reason is that as we moved through pre-production, we realised the game would benefit from adding or extending some features we hadn’t expected to when we ran the Kickstarter.

The most important of these is a flexible mechanic that allows the player to create stories about the other characters. These might be love stories (always a valuable commodity in Fallen London), or, hypothetically, stories about a certain murder and why it happened…

When we were putting together the Kickstarter, we knew there would be some way of crafting stories to hand in to Mr Pages, and we had some general ideas for the mechanic. Our prototype showed us that there was more potential in this concept than we'd initially allowed for, and therefore we wanted to make it richer. We decided against a couple of other minigame concepts we were less excited about, and instead committed to doing this one well and deeply. There’ll be a future blog post talking about this in more detail!

We've also expanded the expressive capacity of some of the game's other systems. For example, we always knew that characters would have poses and expressions to communicate their moods, but have moved from having a relatively small set of options for each character to one where head and body poses are separate, and there's now procedural work going on to place the characters in the scenes. These things let us communicate NPC emotional state with more fidelity, show more of the state of your relationship with that character outside of the immediate conversation, and add some visual liveliness to the longer conversations.

Character facial expressions and body poses can be hand-scripted to respond to particular moments in the story, but if the author hasn't specified, there's a whole set of default rules at play. Characters have emotions depending on what social interactions you've just had with them, or (failing that) will fall back to looking happy if you have a history being especially kind to them, or grumpy if you have a history of being especially unkind.

Body poses similarly can respond to the moment in various ways, but default back to having arms crossed if you have a history of being especially bossy and dominant towards them, or having a more spread/open pose if they themselves overall feel like they're in command of a situation.

In two-person scenes, there are a lot of rules controlling where characters stand, and again sometimes that's hand-authored, but the fall-backs there can express whether the characters get along or not -- positioning them closer together if they're in love, for example, which is something that can change from playthrough to playthrough…

Lastly, we initially imagined the effects of protagonist customisation being a bit lighter or more cosmetic, but we found some interesting potential there, and that's resulted in the ability to make player characters who have significantly different styles of social behaviour, whether joky or moody or something else.

These are all choices that have brought us to a sweet spot for the game’s design that will maximise a) how much you can express your character through storycrafting and roleplay and b) how clearly the other characters' feelings and states "read" to you, so that you can see the ways you're affecting someone and have a real sense of their responses to you.

We hope you’ll feel we made the right choice to pursue these enhancements – our sense is that our players usually care more about how good the game is than exactly when it’s done, so we’ve tried to honour that. As ever, thank you for your support and patience!