After splitting with his co-developer and progress delays, Matt Beer is still hard at work on Toby’s Island. Unfortunately, much of that work still seems to be in the planning stages. Beer posted a Kickstarter update finally delving into the lore behind the creatures of Toby’s island. Information most developers would have already prepared prior to launching their crowdfunding campaign.
The island’s unique crystals use life energy to spawn The Digimonesque critters. When an evil event lead to the widespread destruction of these crystals, new life stopped emerging on the island. Now the remaining creatures need Toby’s help to rebuild their community. He’ll probably also need to do something about the evil corrupting the remaining crystals.
As far as premise goes, this seems about par for the course for a creature collection-style game. There have certainly been far more preposterous justifications for raising and battling monsters. A second update released shortly afterwards mixes things up a bit by introducing some of the game mechanics behind Toby’s Island. Somehow this reveal doesn’t do much to flesh out the game’s development.
Picking A Direction, Or Not
The update informs backers that creature element bonuses and weaknesses will play a role in combat. Each element would be stronger or weaker against one other type. A simple and typical feature in creature games. Probably one that could have been counted on from the beginning. Which makes it all the more bizarre that even this basic feature isn’t completely worked out. Beer is quick to mention that he will be “rethinking” the current system. This ambivalence over even minor mechanics is a bit troubling to me.
Fortunately, the project’s backers seem to be far more forgiving than I am. Most just seem pleased to see that the game is still being worked on. While that is certainly a good sign, I can’t help but worry that there doesn’t seem to be much progress for a game that was funded for CA$ 20,993 way back in March of 2014. The updates all seem to be competent art accompanied by little more than ideas that would be more at home in an early design document or initial campaign.
It’s disappointing that Toby’s Island doesn’t have more to show for itself after nearly 3 years of development with no release date in sight.