Adrift by fist time developer Seth Howell is described as a “curiosity driven first person adventure game.” What’s that mean? It means that while Adrift may have the open world mechanics of something like Skyrim, it doesn’t push you towards an end goal of markers and waypoints. Players in Adrift are expected to find their own way around the games’ tropical island at their own pace, uncovering the mystery at their own pace. Not to be confused with the likes of Rust, Adrift is very much a single player experience; something that may turn some off, but means relief from wandering bands of pantsless masochists for others. Other than that there isn’t a whole lot else known about the game, and Seth would like to keep it that way in order to save the surprise. Thankfully he still agreed to answer some of our questions about Adrift, his Kickstarter campaign, and the future.
Cliqist: So, this is your first game huh? Who are you?
Seth Howell: Yes this is my first full retail game. I am just a gamer who has a deep seated need to create, and what better outlet than games? They combine all the art forms; music, painting, story-telling, 3d creation, and (arguably most importantly) they foster feelings and experiences in those who view/partake. That’s what I want to do with what I see in my mind, create real Art.
Seth Howell: Well, the biggest reason I would say, is also the biggest risk I am taking with my Kickstarter campaign; the mystery. I am not making a predictable game, a lot of these games on Kickstarter are, although amazing and beautiful, quite predictable. I am trying to tell a complex story 100% through gameplay realization and curiosity, hopefully avoiding those ‘I saw it coming’ moments that seem to be happening a lot more in games lately.
Cliqist: Can you tell us a little more about Adrift?
Seth Howell: I can try. This game is set on a completely open island, which most of you already know. There will be a ton of hidden things to find ranging from items, to things that simply don’t quite fit in the setting. There will also be no physical clues as to whether or not what the player finds is important, so you really have to use your brain. It’s a lot like trying to figure out a game of Clue, where you have to piece everything together yourself from what you find and know. I really want the player to constantly be questioning what he/she thinks is going on, and why. The main reason to follow your curiosity is that feeling you get, again in Clue, when the killer is finally revealed and each player is left with either contempt, triumph, or shock and awe. That same feeling is resonated in the game, where you are sort of following a hunch and it either pays off, doesn’t, or hits you with something you never saw coming.
Cliqist: You’re taking a risk asking for backing without showing much of the game, or giving up much of the story elements. Not to mention that you’re openly advertising that the game is pretty short.
Seth Howell: Well, yes, I have an already ambitious idea and story to tell, without complicating it with hours worth of gameplay and missions. I had a feeling I wanted to convey, and this game is the bare minimum needed to get that feeling to the player. That being said, I’m currently trying to strengthen my PC in order to get some more gameplay footage into the campaign, I just gave away a ton of story elements, and both should be in the Kickstarter even by the time of this publishing.
Cliqist: Along those lines, why not make a huge open world survival simulator like everyone wants?
Seth Howell: Well Greg, that’s a simple answer; I honestly don’t have the experience or know-how yet. I am still learning the tricks of the trade so I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. Perhaps not surprisingly, Adrift started out as a full survival simulator alongside this story.
I originally intended to have a much longer play through complete with all sorts of mechanics for surviving the night, and eating or healing yourself, even the difference between making shelters and not. Perhaps in a later game. 🙂
Seth Howell: Honestly, I attribute it to two factors; the fantastic marketing push my girlfriend Nicole helped me with, she has a much bigger social media presence than I do, and I like to believe, that people genuinely want to see something along these lines, a little smaller play through time, and a good old fashioned mystery. There’s no spoilers or trailers or hints to give it away. In order to know how the story is going to play out, you really need to play it, and I think people are curious enough to spend a couple hours doing so.
Cliqist: Your funding video shows a decent amount of game footage, but that frame rate. Is that what it’ll be in the final product?
Seth Howell: Absolutely not. There’s no way I would play a game like that, why should I expect anyone else to? The frame rate in the video is so bad simply because my computer struggles to run the screen capture program and the game decently. There was no visible lag during recording either, it was only after the video had encoded that I say how terrible it was. I am working on getting better video up.
Seth Howell: Well, I started a studio entitled Dying Breed Games, and I intend to continue to bring games to market that are harder to find these days.
There also seems to be a trademark on the title ‘Adrift’ for use in games by Little Guy Games, so look for a name change to accompany the Kickstarter campaign finishing. It will not be drastic, but just enough to keep it legal.
Cliqist: What’s the dream? Where would you like to see yourself in 5, or even 10, years?
Seth Howell: I am well on my way to seeing my goals and dreams realized. Hopefully, in 5 or 10 years, my name and gamer tag will be as well known and respected as so many others like Jonathan Blow, Cliffy B, or FourZeroTwo. Known for pushing boundaries, and producing some of the finest games around. I can do it, and so I have a responsibility to do it.
Cliqist: Can you close things out with an Adrift inspired haiku?
Seth Howell: Sure;
I Awoke Alone,
But Something Wasn’t Quite Right.
Me, Or The Island?
Thanks to Seth for taking the time to answer our questions! If you’d like to learn more about Adrift be sure to check out it’s Kickstarter page. The Adrift Kickstarter campaign runs until March 8th and has a funding goal of $6,000.