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Metempsychosis Meets its End

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.