Developer Different Tales is ready to release their new mobile adventure game Wanderlust: Travel Stories, after delays. Wanderlust: Travel Stories is by CD Projekt RED alumni Artur Ganszyniec and Jacek Brzeziński, who are working together for the first time since collaborating as lead story designer and head of production respectively on The Witcher.
iPhone/iPad: https://t.co/8PWnLdd0TW Steam: https://t.co/IdisiIQSjE Shape powerful, emotional stories as you travel around the world.#games #appstore #steam #travel pic.twitter.com/ghp8ggQ9ol — Wanderlust Travel Stories (@differenttales) September 26, 2019
Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, Different Tales’s Ganszyniec talked about the motivations and goals for their new narrative experience Wanderlust. Since working together on The Witcher, which released in 2007, Brzeziński had taken on roles working on Hitman and Dying Light while Ganszyniec has primarily focused on the growing mobile market. Both also found that their gaming tastes were changing, which inspired them to try and create something new together as Different Tales.
It’s very risky, because you never know how many people are interested in games that are slower, but I think it will be okay.
“We started talking about games that are slower and more grounded in reality and common human experiences,” Ganszyniec tells us. “We are sure the big entertainment games will be okay, but from time to time we need something more connected to the deep experiences we have.”
Ganszyniec describes Wanderlust: Travel Stories as a title that’s “halfway between literature and gaming.” Wanderlust: Travel Stories is a story told through text and and visually striking photographs about different people’s experiences traveling around the world. The premise is that five wanderers meet up in a bar on Easter Island, and the player travels through each of their stories, making choose-your-own-adventure decisions along the way.
According to Ganszyniec, Wanderlust: Travel Stories contains approximately 300,000 words, and “depending on how fast you read” should take around twelve hours to complete. Ganszyniec told GamesIndustry.biz that the word count is “like the first and second Witcher combined,” for a sense of scale. Ganszyniec adds that the majority of the photos used to tell the stories in Wanderlust came from his own collection, as well as from Brzeziński and a score of their friends. Some come from stock photo collections, including a story that centers around a voyage to Antarctica.
This is the way we want to go because it’s the earliest narrative in the world: someone goes out there, comes back, and tells people what they saw, what happened to them, this is how the world looks.
Ganszyniec and Brzeziński dont want to put potential players off the idea of Wanderlust: Travel Stories, promising that the game will spare the player from “the boring stuff you have to do when you travel.” Different Tales had originally set out to develop “something like a simulator” but didn’t want to make the experience boring or non-engaging. The aim is really to convey a sense of powerful emotion in these travel experiences, through well-crafted text and striking photos. “It soon became apparent that we were making a book,” Ganszyniec joked during the interview.
For comparison, a 300,000 word count puts Wanderlust: Travel Stories neatly between James Joyce’s Ulysses (265,222 words) and Charles Dickens’s Bleak House (360,947 words). Ganszyniec assures that the splitting of the narrative into five separate story lines will keep Wanderlust from getting stale. The longest arc is set in Thailand and is estimated to take around five hours to complete, with Ganszyniec explaining that this segment is “sort of open world” with lots of choices on how to proceed through the story. A shorter story about a man traveling by train from Poland to Spain takes an hour or so to play through.
Different Tales is aiming at an audience that goes further than games like The Witcher have reached, and they expect that the relatable themes of aging, the experience of time, and the joys of discovery will appeal to a large swath of people. The reach of Wanderlust is also part of why the game is structured in an easy-to-understand book format and is being made available on mobile as well as PC.
The biggest business risk we are taking is that we are trying to reach outside the gaming market,” he says. “[But] we’ve had a very good response from people who do not identify themselves as gamers.
When Ganszyniec spoke to GamesIndustry.biz at this year’s Gamescom, Different Tales was planning to price Wanderlust at $20. They’ve since moved the cost down for the iOS version to $9.99. “This market is so crowded that if we played it by the rules and said, ‘Okay, it’s a text-based game so let’s sell it for $6,’ it would be treated as just another visual novel. But the content, the language, the themes, the journalistic approach — it’s something different. So we are trying to use every tool we have to communicate that this is something different,” Ganszyniec explained in the interview.
To tell a story about longing, or sadness… you have to slow down.
Different Tales is looking to live up to its name, literally. “Most titles are based on frustration over common obstacles, triumph and maybe fear,” Ganszyniec told GamesIndustry.biz. “They are stories about someone physically overcoming obstacles and mastering skills. Those are the stories that most games tell. They are important stories, but I think that games can tell other stories about other feelings.”