LudoNarraCon, indie label Fellow Traveller’s first digital convention celebrating narrative video games, will have several games exhibiting this weekend on May 10-13. Among them is Failbetter Games’ Sunless Skies, a gothic horror RPG and the sequel to their 2015 release Sunless Sea. The 2018 Develop Awards nominated Sunless Skies for an award in “Writing or Narrative Design” while the game was still in development.
Communications Director for Failbetter Games, Hannah Flynn, was able to chat with Cliqist about Sunless Skies and its presence at LudoNarraCon over email in the days leading up to the digital convention.
Cliqist: How did Sunless Skies get involved with LudoNarraCon? Did you approach them, or did they reach out to you?
Hannah Flynn: I look out for fun opportunities to share our games all the time. Or maybe that’s just what I call mainlining Twitter 15 hours a day? Either way, I saw a call for applications and I knew immediately that we’d be a great fit!
What are your plans and goals for Sunless Skies at LudoNarraCon?
The best part of LudoNarraCon for us is the international reach. We’re somewhat limited in the events we’re able to attend physically. Partly by budget and distance, partly by taking time from development to exhibit, and partly because people typically get ill after big events, which can really knock a small team on its backside. Most of our players are in the U.S., and we don’t get to do events for them often as we’re based in London, England. LudoNarraCon has a lot of the benefits of helping people discover new games with few of the downsides of a physical event, so it made wonderful sense to us!
How does Sunless Skies approach narrative and gameplay?
Sunless Skies invites players to explore a vast, untamed, Victorian vision of space. You captain a steam-powered locomotive from port to port, and at each port there are stories. You spend about half of the time flying around looking for trouble, and the other half at port, reading stories that will probably get you into that trouble.
There are about 800,000 words in the game, so there are a huge number of choices and combinations that play out to create your captain’s adventures. There are discoveries, spectacles, and surprises between ports, officers to recruit, and your captain’s past to decipher. It makes for this rich, deep world which is only uncovered through exploration, and piecing together fragments of information over time.
Since launching in January, what are your thoughts on Sunless Skies?
It’s always nerve-wracking to launch a new game, even if you’ve worked hard on it and you’re pretty sure it’s good. We were blessed with critical praise and modest commercial success, which will enable us to add free updates and hopefully some DLC. Since launch, we’ve actually reworked the whole Albion region to make traversing it more interesting, and we have another update coming soon which will add a new officer storyline among a lot of other fun additions.
Thanks for your time, and good luck at LudoNarraCon.