Back in February, we reported that the Kickstarter-funded Last Life, by Rocket Science Amusements was no longer in active development. Project lead Sam Farmer wrote an update detailing how Double Fine backed out of publishing the game, and how he tried and failed to find a publisher. He tried to self-publish the game for about a year, but ran out of funds, thus put development of Last Life on the back-burner.
We tried contacting Farmer and Rocket Science Amusements for further comment, but did not receive a reply.
Now, it looks like Last Life might come back in some capacity, though it’s far from certain. On September 28, Farmer returned to Kickstarter for the game’s first update since August 6, 2017. This new update doesn’t offer much good news, despite the potential of a return.
There are two notable takeaways from this new update. The first explains what’s been going on with development until now, and what the future holds. Farmer says the scope of the game as pitched originally was too much for his budget. He implies most of the cost was eaten by the motion capture and voice acting he would have employed to make the game feel like a movie.
From an outside perspective, it seems silly to invest in motion capture (an expensive and time consuming process) for characters designs that are so basic and blocky.
Farmer now says he’ll scrap the mo-cap, and instead use traditional animation and a more static dialog system. He tried to release the game as an interactive film for the website Eko, but they too failed to provide funding. Farmer believes he needs a published game under his belt to attract investment, which leads to the second big piece of news in this update.
In what might be the most bizarre move from a Kickstarter-funded project, Farmer is attempting to release a game based on Sudoku, called Slamdoku, to attract publishers. The game is a local multiplayer version of the classic game in which you try and clear (or, whatever the reverse of clearing a board is) before your opponent.
Farmer states “I see Slamdoku’s release as a step towards Last Life’s eventual completion and I hope you will too.”
As you can imagine, most backers don’t.
“Just get a job,” says backer Greg Ellis. “You are clearly terrible at this. Handling money doesn’t seem to be your strong point.” Another, “BigD” has something similar to say: “I looked at the comment section a few days ago and thought “this one is dead”. Have to say, this update didn’t do a lot to change my mind.” And as always in these situations, most backers are just asking for a refund.
Welcome to The Twilight Zone
There’s strange, and then there’s what’s happening with Sam Farmer and Last Life. A developer abandoning their Kickstarter is nothing new, but a publisher dropping a Kickstarter-funded game is. If after the Kickstarter funds and the initial investment from Double Fine wasn’t enough, it should have been clear that Last Life looks dead. But it seems to be a passion project for Farmer, and it’s hard to let those goes.
But at some point, you have to realize the writing is on the wall. Farmer attempted to find publishers and couldn’t, tried to turn it into an interactive movie and couldn’t, and is now gutting the game and recreating it again in a desperate attempt to salvage it. Turning to Sudoku to save the game is equal parts strange and sad.
There is always a chance this works out, however small. Last Life may still be made yet, though whatever form it takes is anyone’s guess right now. The fact of the matter is though, it might not be a game worth playing after so many publishers have turned it down. Only time will tell how this story ends – if it ends at all. Farmer could go back to hiding, and we’ll never hear from Rocket Science Amusements or Last Life again.
Such is risk with Kickstarter. Look on the bright side, you can still pre-order the game on the game’s website!