Blending Future and Past: Read Only Memories Coming to PS4 & PS Vita

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Blending Future and Past: Read Only Memories Coming to PS4 & PS Vita

It had been a long time coming, so when the MidBoss team decided to form a game studio and asked me to be the Director and Lead Artist, things just kind of slid into place. We had just finished running the first of what became the annual GaymerX convention, so the words “make your own games” were still ringing in our ears, I think. I had experience with and a fondness for 2D art and we all loved narrative driven gameplay, so an adventure game was kind of a natural step for us. We decided to both honor the classic aesthetics of an older genre but also revitalize it with a more modern spin on characters, storytelling, and even mechanics. With all of these pieces in place, plus a sweet cyberpunk finish, Read Only Memories was born.

Blending Future and Past: Read Only Memories Coming to PS4 & PS Vita

Making a graphic adventure game for the modern era is a lot more complicated than it seems at first glance, especially with the approach that we took. Branching narrative paths give players near endless possibilities and make multiple playthroughs rewarding. Of course, that also meant we had to account for every which way that a player might go and make sure that things worked and made sense. Before we knew it, we had a much more massive project in our hands than originally expected.

Read Only Memories

Characters were super important to us from the very beginning. Even on early demos the thing that people got really excited about were the characters. One of the characters, Jess, did little more than just call you a jerk– and people loved her! We got braver about putting in more diverse and interesting characters after this. Seeing all of my characters go from goofy little doodles I made years ago to fully animated, often sassy, chatty friends on the screen is still surreal.

We thought a lot about what could or should be seen as normal and everyday in the future world of 2064 and how we could bring people into that world. Players are allowed to select their name, pronouns, and even their diet! We didn’t even have anything planned for the diet part! It was still cool to have, though, so it stayed. Although the protagonist character clearly lives their own life in Neo-San Francisco, allowing for these little things lets players fine tune themselves and feel closer to the setting.

Read Only Memories

Of course, you can make awesome characters and stories all day but if your mechanics don’t work with them, they just don’t translate. This was definitely one of our biggest challenges. Not only did we have to create this world and cast but we had to let the player interact with them in ways that mattered. A lot of old-school adventure games used things like combining items, pixel hunting, and other mechanics that we kind of did away with. These things mainly added a layer of artificial difficulty (and frustration).

We wanted players to more organically play out the role of virtual detective and kept the puzzles to using items and navigating conversations. In fact, and I don’t think we’ve been very open about this, most puzzles actually have multiple solutions, which can affect the flow of the story. Our goal was that each player would naturally gravitate towards a solution that fit their personality. We try not to say too much when people comment on things that happened that they don’t realize they could have changed or prevented.

Read Only Memories

It’s been an incredible journey and I’m not really sure how I got to this point but I’m really excited to be doing this. For being the first game in our studio, the praise we have gotten for the game has been incredible. I hope to work on more titles for the folks that love this game and I know we’re going to be sneaking more content in down the line…

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8 Author Replies

  • This looks amazing. Glad to see Vita still getting some love. I hope we get a release date soon.

    • Yea! It feels really nice being portable, and the smaller screen really makes the pixel style of the game look super sharp.

  • This looks great!!! We need more Snatcher-y games!!! Hope it’ll be at least half as good as Kojima’s masterpiece! Day one purchase for me! Do you guys have a release date? Price? Cross-buy?

    • We’re still planning things out in terms of cross-buy and pricing, but expect to hear more things in 2016!

    • Yea! A lot of the game’s aesthetics are inspired by older Japanese graphic adventures, though a lot of the writing is more heavily western influenced. It makes a really interesting blend. Keep your eyes peeled for 2016 when we’ll have some more solid info for cross-buy and prices!

  • Wow, looks and sound great! It’s so neat to see genres and styles from the past coming back, but hopefully better than ever so things like obtuse puzzle design and pixel hunting aren’t a factor anymore.

    • Pixel hunting was definitely a major issue in older point-and-clicks, and that was one of the first things we wanted to eliminate in our game. Too much of an artificial difficulty, so instead, anything that’s interactive is highlightable when you select it! Either with a D-Pad, or a virtual cursor using the analogue stick, or cycling thru objects with the shoulder buttons.

    • Past eliminating pixel hunting, another thing we worked on was taking out most of the hard game-overs some would see if they failed a puzzle in older point-and-clicks. We tried to make it to where if you failed a puzzle one way, there’s always at least one other way you can get through an area. It might seem like that would give the player no consequences for failure, but it does affect the overall outcome of the game.

    • Great ideas. Thanks for the responses and good luck with the PS launch :-)

  • Looks good, will pick up for Vita.

  • You guys had my curiosity but now you have my attention… and when the game comes out you will have my money.

  • What great timing! I started watching VoidBurger’s streams of this last night on a whim and really enjoyed what I saw. This will be a perfect fit for my Vita :D!

  • Intrigued.
    I love the thematic, i hope you nailed the game designed.
    Im looking foward to it, and i hope you guys release it at the right price.
    A demo would be welcome.

  • It looks to have a flippin’ ton of personality and style. I’m definitely feeling it. Thanks for bringing it to Vita.

    • Aww thanks! The Vita definitely holds a special place in our hearts, so it’s pretty awesome that Read Only Memories will end up on it sometime next year. It definitely feels /right/ on a portable.

  • Saw bits of this as GX2 last year and am ecstatic it’s coming to Vita and PS4! Will it be available to play on Vita or PS4 at GX3 or PSX?

    I’m surprised no one is mentioning the Sierra game Manhunter 2: San Francisco — there are definite similarities, which is awesome.

    The color palette reminds me of the 4-color CGA pseudo-CMYK palette from those old days — is that intentional?

    Music reminds me of Axel F in a good way, as well.

    The whole game seems like a love letter to the 1980s gaming concept of the future!

    • It’s a little intentional. I’ve heard a handful of people bring up 4-color CGA when we were just starting and showing early shots. Limited color palettes were definitely intentional, but I’ll admit that I wasn’t too strict on them– not really aiming for any particular platform’s palettes, but rather, trying to keep the color count to around the levels they would be at on a particular console from the late 80’s/early 90’s. It was an era I grew up in and remember fondly, and this is definitely a love letter to games of that time, down to pixel perfect movement and animation!

  • My Vita longs for this. Looking forward to it, it looks great!

  • This looks awesome. Just what my Vita needs. Can’t wait to get it in my hands!

  • I’ve always want it to play snatcher and policenauts one more time. I lose hope of a re-release or re-vamp or re-make. But then I make click in this post and I read and watched the video and say DAMN! Thank you some much for making this kind of games. Its a new game with a lot of new info about the cyberpunk universe. Really thank you so much, day 0 for me.

    • Thank you! We definitely wanted to bring a more Japanese-inspired graphic adventure game into the mix of what appears to be a point-and-click revival. At least aesthetically. Other than the games you mentioned, and a few modern examples like Dangan Ronpa or Zero Escape, there haven’t really been a lot of Japanese point-and-click/graphic adventure style games from the 80’s/90’s that came out here, much less any modern takes that use that same old school aesthetic. I can think of one other, though, that does a /really good job/ at it, and one of their characters makes a cameo appearance in ROM, too!

  • Can’t wait! Was actually about to buy this game elsewhere, but I’d rather wait for the Vita version! Any idea if you could possibly collaborate with the guys at Limited Run Games?

    • A physical release sure sounds dreamy, but we’ll see where the wind takes us. We’ve got a lot of things happening right now! Warms the heart knowing how many people are excited for the Vita version, tho.

  • YES! Hey John, our chat at IndieCade makes so much sense now. (;

  • I just finished playing through the PC version a few days ago and I enjoyed most of the game. I’m glad you guys are branching out and hitting onto the Playstation systems.

    Can’t say I agree with the love you said people felt for Jess, though. I hated every single second she was on screen because she was so unapologetically mean.

  • You mentioned being at Gaymerxcon, I didn’t attend but helped kickstart that! :-)
    You mentioned being able to choose diet, would I bet right in presuming there’s choices catered to different sexualities/romance interests, or is sex/romance not really apart of the plot?

    • Romance isn’t really part of the gameplay, mostly friendship and making sure people don’t resent you in the end. With the diet, it went without any purpose for a while until one of our recent updates! Now if you choose something like vegan or kosher, the drink selection at the local bar will be affected.

  • Even though one of the devs is the only person who’s ever blocked me, I’ll pick this game up because it looks so Snatcher-licious, and I like what it represents.

    A physical Vita release would be uh-mazing. Talk to @LimitedRunGames if you have to. They can do production and distribution for you, easy. Cosmic Star Heroine’s using them.

  • I love the fact that this looks like Snatcher

  • My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do…

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