DEVELOPMENT BLOG

An update on Season: a letter to the future

Hello travellers,

We have an important update on the status of SEASON: A letter to the future.

We are fortunate to have such a passionate and talented group of you following the game. Seeing your lovely fan art, reading conversations about your personal adventures in Discord, and viewing your reactions to our trailer has warmed our hearts, and we thank you for the support.

With this in mind, we have made the difficult decision to delay the release window to Q1 2023. We want to ensure that we are able to push for quality without it affecting the wellbeing of our team. SEASON has always been a labor of love for the team and this additional time will let us polish and refine the game to make it the special experience we set out for it to be.

We look forward to bringing you the world of SEASON: A letter to the future, and appreciate your patience while we continue to work hard on it.

With love,

Queer Game Highlights / June 2022

Hello fellow travellers!

As Pride Month draws to a close, we wanted to take a moment and highlight some of the titles that caught our attention from itch.io’s Queer Games Bundle 2022. It is an absolutely stellar amount of games from a variety of queer creators. A $60 bundle that holds 588 treasures to discover.

This bundle is a direct way to support queer developers, and provide you with a wonderful selection of experiences to choose from. Before even reading our list below we recommend you grab the bundle before its time runs out (just a few days left now!), then take a peek below at some of our recommendations of what you should take a look at first. They vary in genre and even medium, and there is something for everyone below!

SPACE / MECH / PILOT – THE UNIVERSE DRIVE

A stellar space idle RPG, SPACE / MECH / PILOT lets you become a powerful pilot, exploring the cosmos and earning a whole new arsenal of weaponry all while you multitask!

With some stylish charm and a whole bunch of extra bonuses in THE UNIVERSE DRIVE, there is a ton to unpack here and we think it is a special gem in this bundle that should be discovered!

A Normal Lost Phone

Scrolling through someone’s phone can be a surprisingly intimate experience… and A Normal Lost Phone challenges you to take a peek at a stranger’s phone to piece together what happened to its owner.

By poking through the apps, the messages, the photos and more you will act as voyeur to a coming-of-age story that explores themes like homophobia, depression, queer identity, and more.

It’s a unique experience that is worth more than a glance, it deserves a proper look!

A Mortician’s Tale

What happens when we die? Well, in A Mortician’s Tale you get the unique perspective of Charlie, a recent Funeral Director graduate who is taking her first steps in this important and often overlooked role that sorts out our physical bodies at the end.

It is death positive, honest, informative and even occasionally funny as you prepare the bodies of the deceased, attend funerals and talk to the loved ones, and deal with your own interpersonal relationships.

It is a short but surprisingly deep experience.

Electric Zine Maker

Zines are basically peak queer culture and with the fancy Electric Zine Maker now you can make your own! With an interface that is part MS Paint, part KidPix, part Storybook Weaver – it gives you many of the tools you’ll need to create your very own zine.

They are even working to add even more tools, more features, and even a little story that unfolds through its interface and characters.

An art toy that is very much worth your time!

What’s your gender?

Part game jam game, part art installation, and all-around dialogue about gender identity, What’s your gender? has to be experienced to be understood.

Through exploring a non-euclidean labyrinth, you will explore how gender is perceived and how we identify ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

We really recommend stepping into this void and seeing what you can learn.

2064: Read Only Memories

Inspired by old-school adventure games, 2064: Read Only Memories takes that classic approach and introduces a modern story and a futuristic setting. Set in Neo-San Francisco in the near future, it is a futuristic society with advances like genetic alteration, and (potential) artificial intelligence. When the first sapient machine crashes into the life of a struggling journalist, nothing will ever be the same.

With an all-star cast, a lo-fi synth soundtrack, and a branching storyline that explores what it means to be human, 2064 is a bundle standout.

We should talk

With one of the most unique takes on dialogue choices we’ve seen in a game, We should talk explores the meaning of words and how they affect our relationships. The game takes place over an evening as you chat with friends, and your partner via text. The direction the evening takes all depends on your choice of words.

With multiple ends and branches to take, We should talk is a unique experience on the power of words.

Later Daters

A dating sim from the fine folks at Bloom Digital Media, Later Daters has you step into the shoes of a senior who has just moved into Ye OLDE Retirement Community. There are many new neighbors to meet and date, and it is up to you to see who is the best fit for you!

Exploring intimacy through a unique perspective, Later Daters features LGBTQ and Poly inclusive romances, a senior character creator, intimate adventures that explore themes of mortality & vulnerability, and more!

Heaven Nor Hell

A tabletop game for two players, Heaven Nor Hell by Kienna S puts you and your partner in the shoes of two otherworldly immortals who are very much in love – but it is a forbidden love. 

Through prompts and scenes, you will tell the story of your relationship. These are the stolen moments on Earth over the eons where you found each other and yourselves.

tumblr feels at 2am

Scrolling endlessly through your feed, the only light in your room comes from your laptop as you struggle to keep your eyes open. Images of all sorts pass by – jokes, memes, GIFs from TV shows you don’t watch… you scroll looking to see what you might add to your queue. The content that fits your aesthetic.

This solo journaling tabletop game by Taylor Curreysmith recreates that feeling.

Frame 352

Pick up a camera, pocket a handful of coins, and print out that zine. (This is how that Broken Social Scene song goes right?) Frame 352 by Maxwell Lander is all about walking around and finding the cryptids that lurk just out of sight.

In a genius bit of streamlined game design, Frame 352 gently prompts and pushes you to get out and move and also think creatively about the world around you.

Glitter Hearts

It is time for your very own magical girl transformation scene. In Glitter Hearts by Greg Leatherman, you will create your very own magical character to do battle with the forces of evil. With 3-6 players, a pair of six-sided dice, and a few hours you will do battle and also explore what your everyday life looks like when you’re not battling evil.

A great starting place for folks who haven’t dived into the world of tabletop role-playing games, Glitter Hearts is worth getting some friends together for.


These dozen games are just a small part of of the Queer Games Bundle that is available on itch.io! We hope this helps convince you to grab the bundle and support queer creators. These games are all inspirations and come from some of the most talented folks in our industry, and they should be supported.

If you want to chat about these games, or other games from the bundle, we’d love to hear your thoughts over on our Discord!

Happy Pride 2022 from all of us at Scavengers Studios! <3

Be safe in your journeys, and never forget.

With love,

Narrative Design Interview / June 2022

Hello fellow travellers!

Welcome back to our monthly blog posts, where we’ll be looking more in-depth into Season: a letter to the future – and peek behind the curtain to see what inspires our team. We’ll use this space to tell you more about our world, our characters and the talented team of individuals working on the game.

In this month’s instalment, we will chat with Narrative Designer Megan Hutchison about the world of Season, its roots, and what we can expect from it when we explore it soon.

Caption: Season: a letter to the future

Questions with Megan!

1. Let’s start off with one that lots of folks get wrong, what exactly does a Narrative Designer do?

On Season, the narrative designers do story integration into gameplay mechanics. That is a bit of a wide net that I’ve cast there, but it is easiest to think of narrative designers as the bridge between game designers and writers. We take the words and story that the writer is trying to communicate and figure out how to build it into the world of Season. We do this by creating quests or things in the game to discover along the way. 

We are very lucky to have such a small team on Season, and we support each other with the sprints’ tasks. For example, sometimes the writer might want some help figuring out lore that builds off of the landscape, or we might help with integrating accessibility text (subtitles). One of my tasks is ensuring the grammar in the game is Canadian (all the extra u’s and l’s). The narrative designers (there are two of us!) end up doing a lot of different things to support the development of Season.

 

2. How does a video game tell a story differently to a book? Or a movie? What is it most like?

It can be a bit of both! Games are intermedial products that blend different areas of creation together to build an experience. Narrative games are a byproduct of the media that came before them. 

I find that books and movies hold control over the reader. You don’t have much agency as a reader – you can either read or not. There are no choices in where you go or what you choose to learn about; that’s where games differ. In Season, you choose where you go, so you can change the order of what you learn or explore sections to uncover more information. For this reason, a player is often referred to as a “cyborg”; they use the controller as a piece of technology that encodes their intentions for the game character to do. So through the controller, you become a cyborg and have agency. 

Dr. Alexander Galloway has a wonderful collection of essays in his book: Gaming Essays on Algorithmic Culture, where he compares video games to movies. Regarding framing the camera, we can see inspiration from filmmaking (and Oli talked about this too in his interview below!). The team looked at their favourite movies to decide how the camera would act within the game. 

Any of the narrative scenes are designed the same way as you would a movie. You have a script that turns into a storyboard, and then you animate the characters, add lighting, voice acting, and polish! 

Video games are unique, but we are still just trying to tell a story and have the viewers be entertained.

 

Caption: Season: a letter to the future

3. In these blog posts we’ve talked a lot about what inspired Season, what specifically inspired you while working on the game?

I take inspiration from my studies and past experiences. I studied filmmaking in undergrad and worked in a theatre for a while on sound design. Then I did a masters in literature. Now I’m working on Season and doing a PhD in game studies. 

The class I keep returning to is one I took for my masters, taught by Dr. Sandra Singer on trauma studies. Which I know sounds dark, but I love dark things. We learned about the collective memory of events,  which is best described as a question, like “where were you during 9/11?”. This question for people alive during that time triggers a memory of when they learned of the fall of the towers. For me, I was in school and too young to understand what had happened, but my parents could tell me exactly what they were doing on that day. It’s the idea that events tie us all together, we all have different perspectives of an event, and piecing those together will give us a better view of the moment in time they lived within. 

As Estelle meets people, I remind myself that we are writing a story that isn’t egocentric. Estelle is there to show you the world and learn; everyone has a story to tell.

4. Are there any early concepts while developing the game that didn’t make it in but still stick with you?

I had written a lot of lore that isn’t in the game. For example, I really like thinking about death and burials, so I came up with a history of how people were buried in a place that Estelle visits. But none of that made it into the game. Some may think “aww man that’s a bummer,” but I would disagree with that. The practice of writing that lore made me understand the world better, and pieces of it inspired other storylines. Even though an idea isn’t in the game in its original form, it still makes an impact on the story and the team. 

For me, that’s the meaning of collaboration.

 

Caption: Season: a letter to the future

5. Without spoiling too much, what will players find familiar about the world of Season?

I find the farmlands really comforting and familiar to my life. If you watch our gameplay trailer, you can see the cows, which always reminds me of my grandfather’s farm. I grew up surrounded by these lovely large dogs (the cows act like giant dogs), and caring for them was a lovely pleasure. 

With that, the locations in the game have some unique features, but they are pulled from the experiences and places that our team has visited. Some of the fears and stories of the characters are also very relatable to issues we would see in reality.

 

Caption: Season: a letter to the future

6. Is there any recent media, games or otherwise, that could have (or did!) inspire Season?

I am very new to game development, so I was given homework by my coworkers to learn more about level design and narrative design. I must say, getting homework to play games is pretty rad. 

Oli had me play Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to understand how quest items can be hidden in a space that makes them not obvious but also work in the scene. He explained it as a radius of a location. Items should be placed by importance, with the least important items placed further away from the middle. For example, when approaching an area, a narrative item far away should introduce the quest, but it needs to be placed where it is framed by a player entering the area. Then the key to the quest is in the middle, encouraging players towards the pivotal point. 

There are other games I looked to for guidance as well: Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, to understand how a mystery can be set up. Tell Me Why for emotional storytelling. Outer Wilds for world-building (I managed to permanently die in this game while streaming to the studio…). Finally, Disco Elysium for the gold standard for dialogue.

Caption: Disco Elysium

7. The world of Season is vast and rich, with a storied history. Is there any little tidbit or teaser that you love that you can share?

The Season’s history is based on the ages of our own world. We tried to base the way of life in each of these ages on what happened in our reality.

 

8. For any aspiring (or current) Narrative Designers that might read this, what is one piece of advice you might offer them?

Find mentors to support you. I am extremely lucky to work at a studio that listened to my interest in narrative design and took a risk on the community manager to teach her about things like how to use the Unreal Engine, and everything else that goes with game development. 

My other piece of advice is to keep reading. I have a background in academics of games, and you can learn a lot from reading about game development. There are a couple of writers that I love, so I’ll tell you all about them. Matthew Thomas Payne inspired a lot of my masters research from his books Joystick Soldiers, and Playing War. For a look at Queer Studies in games, Bonnie Ruberg is your person, their book Video Games Have Always Been Queer is a great place to start.  If you are more interested in learning about ethical choices in games, then check out Miguel Sicart, and start with Play Matters. Finally,  if you want to look at gaming cultures, Mia Consalvo is your researcher. Her most recent book Real Games: What’s Legitimate and What’s Not in Contemporary Videogames, looks into gamer cultures of what we consider to be a “real game” or respectable to admit to playing. 

Finally, leave your ego at the door. No matter your background, you will always have something to learn from discussing ideas with your team. Find that supportive environment and steal all the wisdom that you can.

 

Caption: Tell Me Why

9. What in Season feels most like home to you?

When I started to work on Season, I made a big move from Brampton to Montreal. I had been living in isolation with my family, surrounded by all I knew. It felt like I was breaking this safety bubble and what I knew to head into the unknown. It was the first move I made to be a real adult and live alone. As I worked on Estelle’s story, I felt comfort in this woman going off to explore the world for herself.

10. Is there any place, or person, in your life that directly inspired your writing on the game?

I mentioned my grandfather earlier. As I write, he keeps popping into my head. He grew up in Paraguay on a farm and went by horse to school. In his youth, he was an engineer aboard a ship, travelling around South America. He did many things before settling in Canada on the Ontario / Quebec border and became a farmer. As a child, I would follow him to the barn to feed the animals and then to the workshop. Every time I was in that workshop we would silently work, I would clean up the wood shavings and he would carve me a wooden bowl. I did that with him every time I visited, and he taught me the power of silence and connection. 

Sometimes it’s not what you say; instead, being together can make all the difference. 

The world of Season is complex, as are the people you meet. I like to think the place we built is one my grandfather would like to explore.

Caption: Megan at her Grandfather’s farm

Thank you for taking the time to read our update! We’d love to hear your thoughts on our Discord, where you can talk to the developers, share your own inspirations, and learn more about Season.

Don’t forget that we also have a newsletter that will share some different information you won’t get in our blog posts! In our following missive, we’ll be sharing details about our upcoming Developer Q&A!

Be safe in your journeys, and never forget.

With love,

Level Design Interview / April 2022

Hello fellow travellers!

Welcome back to our monthly blog posts, where we’ll be looking more in-depth into Season – and peek behind the curtain to see what inspires our team. We’ll be using this space to tell you more about our world, our characters and the talented team of individuals working on the game.

In this month’s instalment, we will be sharing a deep dive with Level Designer Oli Reeves about what goes into making a world fit for players to discover.

Caption: Season [WIP / Alpha]

Questions with Oli!

1. What considerations do you need to make as a level designer to keep things unique to Season’s Art style?

In regards to Season’s art style and my approach to level design, two elements came to mind regarding our aesthetic: lighting and composition. Given that the art direction is driven by a variation of toon shading, we have only two nuances of lighting: shadow and light. This also affects the number of lighting options we can use to guide the player. 

Under those circumstances, we have to reinforce other composition aspects to lead the player. We use strong focal points as attractors, leading lines to make the environment easily readable, and contrasting colours and movements to catch their attention. The stylised silhouettes of our structures work with our rich palette to create landmarks that can be seen from far away to influence our players’ path.

 

2. What inspiration do you pull from with your design recommendations?

As with any creative effort, I love pulling references from real life to understand how things fit together. Whether from architecture, urbanism, or landscaping, you can’t ever go wrong by starting with references. Google is your best friend!

I’m fond of the principle of designing with intention. In other words, I first identify what our goal is, whether it is to lead the player in between two locations, guide the player toward an eye-catching landmark or tell a story within a given space. Once we have a goal set, we can then use paths, composition, shapes, VFX, sounds, and the rest of our LD palette to sell that goal we put in for ourselves.

 

Caption: My Neighbour Totoro

On the artistic side, I lean on Ghibli-esque inspired visual style aesthetic. The pastoral environments and soothing compositions in My Neighbor Totoro and Ni No Kuni are full of inspiring ideas and anecdotal environmental moments, like a torii gate hidden among a bamboo grove or a rickety wooden bridge crossing an overgrown rivulet.

On the design side, I take inspiration from browsing concept arts, watching movie analyses and generally being a lover of the visual arts. There’s a lot to learn from the masters’ works, and looking is generally free!

3. How does one get into the field of level design?

I believe there are several ways to become a level designer because this design field requires a vast array of skills, depending on the project. A background in architecture or urbanism can be valuable assets when creating believable environments; writing skills and narrative-focused minds help add context and stories through the layouts created; an eye for detail and an artistic education will lead to compositions that are easy to read and inviting for the player; technical knowledge in node-based programmings, such as Unreal’s Blueprints, helps create a prototype quickly and share your vision more concretely. 

Lastly, but most importantly, adaptability and communication skills are key. Level designers are often the glue that binds all the other departments together since we are in charge of the playground. Being on the ground, level designers are the bridge between the art team in the world and the game design team.

 

4. How do cinematography techniques work into level design?

Much like other visual media, the field of level design borrows heavily from composition and framing rules. We are creating a living tableau that the player can explore at their leisure. Techniques such as leading lines, use of colours and textures, rule of thirds, negative space, contrast and lighting, parallax, and framing are all skills that find their use in movies and video games. As Tony Zhou put it, every frame is a painting.

 

Caption: My Neighbour Totoro

5. The “golden path” describes the main path developers want players to follow through a game. How do you determine what goes on that path and what goes to the sides?

As I was ramping up on the project, I sat down with our narrative team to determine the flow of our map. In other words, we went over each location to determine their value for the world and the story we wanted to tell. We then determined what path they should take if we never wanted them to backtrack. 

This process left us with a handful of minor locations that either told side stories or exposed complementary information to understand our world or our characters. I went over those locations to reinforce their themes and visuals to ensure that each one of them stood out. We want players to feel rewarded if they go off the golden path.

 

Caption: Season [WIP / Alpha]

6. How do you get players to follow the golden path? Are there any tricks or methods you use?

Players are often very curious and eager to explore the world. They can easily be diverted off the main path into side areas. To guide them through a more open map, they need to be able to figure their way around by using landmarks, much like in an attraction park. We can treat these landmarks as points of interest that the players will focus on, mostly out of curiosity but sometimes out of need. For instance, if a character informs them something is interesting at the lighthouse, players are likely to use it as a point of interest for their next destination. The path to these landmarks needs to be visible so players can plan their journey. On the way there, we strategically place side paths with clear forks in the road to give agency to the player. We make sure the path loops back to the main road they were on, with the landmark they were following in sight, so they can pick up where they left off!

 

7. How has technology, or new ways to develop games, changed how level design works and is implemented?

One of the greatest technological advancements in our field in the last decade is the democratisation of game development. Game development is becoming more accessible with the help of node-based programming, asset stores and engines that have free versions. This makes it easier for new developers or students to get a good looking result straight out of the toolbox. Obtaining results fast allows them to test things out and explore ideas that otherwise wouldn’t fit in tight schedules.

When I graduated from college, several projects looked amazing, and we were proud to raise the bar from the previous cohorts. Less than a year later, students from the following cohorts were simply blowing us out of the water with the arrival of UE4. Their projects looked incredible, and so did the cohort after them and the one after that.

 

Caption: The Last of Us Part Two

8. What are some of your favourite examples of good level design? What makes them good?

Very much like food or music, taste in level design depends on each person and varies wildly from one game to another. My favourite level design decisions might not be everyone else’s cup of tea, and that’s perfectly fine.

That being said, I would say the series that has stuck with me the most in the last years in terms of level design is the reboot of the Hitman franchise. The amount of agency they give to the player and the richness of options and scenarios to reach and assassinate targets are astounding. IO Interactive delivered several playgrounds that fully exploit their game loop: explore, investigate, locate, assassinate and extract. 

There are several other games I could name as honourable mentions, such as Red Dead Redemption 2 for its open-world design, The Last of Us Part Two for its impeccable use of lighting, framing and atmosphere, but the Hitman reboots are the games I feel have pushed the boundaries of level design as we know it.

 

Caption: Hitman [2016] – Hokkaido, Japan

9. How does level design differ in games in different genres? Compared to other games, what considerations do you have to make for a game like Season?

I find genres are an interesting question in video game culture. Unlike movies, where genres are usually determined by the feeling they aim to evoke, whether horror, romance, thrill, video games genre is often established by using their camera, like a first-person shooter, side-scrollers, third-person adventure. Some games even allow you to use vastly different cameras to play with. This and non-linear exploration or non-linear storytelling can create design challenges when guiding or pacing the player. 

In the case of Season, our third-person camera and non-linear approach to world-building allow me to create picturesque environments ripe for exploration with the help of our art team, where I can hide interesting things in nooks and crannies based on the story intentions of our narrative team. I love the “organising the treasure hunt” part of level design.

 

Caption: Season [WIP / Alpha]


Thank you for taking the time to read our update! We’d love to hear your thoughts on our Discord, where you can talk to the developers, share your own inspirations, and learn more about Season. You’ll even get to see one extra level design mockup/WIP that we left out of this post!

Don’t forget that we also have a newsletter that will share some different information you won’t get in our blog posts! In our following missive, we’ll be talking about how our protagonist interacts with the world and how she records her travels.

Be safe in your journeys, and never forget.

With love,

February 2022 / The Protagonist

Hello fellow travellers!

Welcome back to our monthly blog posts, where we’ll be looking more in-depth into Season – and peek behind the curtain to see what inspires our team. We’ll be using this space to tell you more about our world, our characters and the talented team of individuals working on the game.

In this month’s instalment, we’ll be taking a first look at the protagonist of Season. You’ve seen her in our trailer, on our posts, and in our concept art. Let’s talk about how she looks and moves and how her appearance has grown over the development of Season.

She is your view into the world of Season. Here is where she started.

The Protagonist of Season

Season is a unique game that eschews action to explore the subtle power of lived experience.

 

The beauty of the art and the landscapes calls for a minimalist approach to the characters. In Season, we discover a few people still going on about their lives with quiet dignity, as if in denial that their way of life is about to be washed away. In these last moments of stillness, we witness their world untouched, as it has been for generations.

 

The tarot card of Death does not represent mortality, but rather it represents change. Each character we meet in our travels faces this card in their own way.

 

Our protagonist is a witness. She’s not there to save their world, but rather to record it, to preserve the memory of it. She is our avatar, through which we meet and learn about the people of the valley. However, she must also have a  personality, emotions, and have her own agency. Will her curiosity and compassion for people help them face change with optimism?

 

 

Ideally, each character we meet will express a range of emotions. In addition to loss and grim acceptance, they might also have a sense of humour, opinions, passions, happy memories and hopes for the future.

For themselves, and for what little of their world they might be able to carry out with them.

 

 

Even in graveyards, flowers still bloom.

Senior Animator Alumni

Caption: Season Concept Art

In the beginning…

In the early days of Season’s pre-production, when we were still trying to establish the overall world look and feel of the game, we did a lot of experimental concept art of both environment and characters. These were very wide, ranging from very fantastical to very grounded; it was mainly to see what would stick. You can see a variety of inspirations found in the clothing and silhouettes of these early designs.

Back in those days, characters had weapons. We were maybe toying with the idea that we could reuse some combat mechanics from our previous title, The Darwin Project. We eventually got rid of most of the ideas from this period. Still, the blue hat character stayed with us because we liked her vibe.

Caption: Concept art & intial Season tests
We ended up exploring the world and playing with a variety of ideas. At this point in time, we thought about having a co-op mechanic in the game or seeing how the world could be experienced by two players simultaneously. The blue hat character has evolved a bit, but you can still see the origins of the design as we move forward.

You can even see that there still is a weapon present (though not for much longer!), and the bike has made its first appearance.

Caption: Season concept art
At this point, we decided that a significant pillar of the game would focus on bike travel. We experimented with various concepts in how a bike traveller could be conveyed. You can see elements of past ideas being carried forward. Some of these ideas would stick with our protagonist, and some you’ll come to find in our other characters.

Refining “Blue Hat”

During this process, we came across this piece from Njideka Akunyili Crosby. We thought this was the perfect reference/inspiration when we saw this painting. The look, the style, and the whole concept were iconic to us. She was cool and confident, both unique and timeless. We knew our protagonist would be older, and this work inspired us with the emotions that it conveys.
Caption: Season concept art
From there, we polished and refined our main character’s look. Ideas and concepts were carried forward, and you can start to see the final appearance take shape. The bike, the sound recorder, the bag, and the general style now better reflect the game and its world.

Sadly, we eventually got rid of the big hat because it covered too much of the character when seen from the back. The game is played from a third-person camera point of view, and the large hat ended up hiding too much of our character. 

At this point of the pre-production, the story was also evolving, where we felt her jean jacket felt a bit too modern. We wanted to give her a slight redesign of her clothes to have a sense of fashion/elegance, but you couldn’t pinpoint precisely what period it would be from. It would be something that people in a reclusive community, who maybe create their own clothes, could be wearing. It would have style but also function.

We would give them a hoodie scarf, a sweater tied around her shoulders. This broke up the outfit in a fun visual way, hinted at practicality, and could be matched to various times and places so that it would feel classic but modern. It also had the added bonus of livening up her animations.

All of this would lead up to the character we have now.

Giving breath to our protagonist

This also lets us talk about how we bring our protagonist to life beyond her appearance. We also use her movement to tell her story.

There are three main pillars to her animations:

MINIMALISTIC 

Season is a game about subtle but meaningful actions. The gestures performed by a character will be shown sentimentally rather than physically, they are subdued and combine voice acting with smaller animations to convey emotion.

EMOTIONAL 

The goal is to make the audience understand what the character is feeling. Instead of accomplishing complex actions, the characters conduct their behaviour through empathy. Each action has purpose and weight to it.

CONTRAST 

In animation, contrast is exhibited in posing or timing. Contrast is key in creating believable characters. Season expresses its contrast with feelings. We add a dash of humour to a dramatic or emotional scene to achieve this contrast.

Our protagonist shows her emotions with composure. She has delicate and very agile gestures. She values true friendship and always acts respectfully towards tradition. She adopts a lower shoulders posture rather than a confident stance. She is cautious, polite, and inquisitive.

From her initial concepts to her now refined look and animation, we look forward to you meeting her properly and seeing the world of Season through her eyes.

Thank you for taking the time to read our update! We’d love to hear your thoughts over on our Discord where you can talk to the developers, share your own inspirations, and learn more about Season.

As always, you can add Season to your Steam wishlist now!

Don’t forget that we also have a newsletter that will share some different information you won’t get in our blog posts! In our following missive, we’ll be talking about how our protagonist interacts with the world and how she records her travels.

Be safe in your journeys, and never forget.

With love,

January 2022 / The Art Direction of Season

Hello fellow travellers!

Welcome back to our monthly blog posts, where we’ll be looking more in-depth into Season – and peek behind the curtain to see what inspires our team. We’ll be using this space to tell you more about our world, our characters, and to tell you more about the talented team of individuals working on the game.

In this month’s installment – we’re taking a look at the art direction of Season. We’ll be deconstructing the “how” and “why” we’ve made Season look the way it looks, and talk about the art and visuals that influenced us. We hope this gives you some inspiration of your own!

It has been our hope to make Season look like the concept art we originally conceived for it. Using custom shaders and other tools within the Unreal Engine, we’ve worked to make every frame of Season look like it belongs in a frame on a wall. We wanted it to feel grounded in its detail, but larger than life when looking at the bigger picture. Let’s explain what we did…

Caption: Season concept art

The Art Direction of Season

Season’s art direction is inspired by great illustrators, painters, and natural light cinematographers. It has been specially developed to suit the unique world we are building. The light rendering is somewhat flat, but the mood, tone and environments we depict still feels real. It is a minimalist approach to realism, inspired by the early Japanese woodblock print artists, as well as the poster artists, like Norman Wilkinson, from the early and mid-20th century. This simplification mindset, getting rid of rather than adding details, set the guidelines we kept in mind while developing the overall look for the game.

Caption: Norman Wilkinson (1878-1971)

In Season, we are building and iterating on our own custom shaders. We don’t want our game to rely on the usual cel-shaded or “cartoon-esque” methods, despite them having their own beauty and purpose. From the beginning we wanted Season to feel familiar, but unique. The main problem we had with the traditional toon-shading methods is that it gets rid of many details, but you don’t have control over which details you get rid of. Everything gets simplified uniformingly, giving a “toy-like” feel to every asset.

We call the style we are developing for Season, ”Stylized Realism.” This style is a balance between an illustrative approach, and a more grounded approach. It is a realistic method to modeling (making sure the asset, its level of details and scale relationship with other assets feel real) and lighting, while also making sure the texture work is highly stylized, illustrative and graphic. In addition, having a smaller scope for the overall game also allows us to push the quality everywhere while keeping the handcrafted feeling intact. These are the strengths we have as an indie studio: quality over quantity.

Caption: Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950)

AAA games are highly skilled at creating assets and lighting faithful to reality, while a lot of indie games have become masters at handcrafted painted texture and unique visuals. We try to combine both of these strengths, with an illustrative and painterly approach to texture paired with details and realistic assets. These strengths and weaknesses can be separated into two categories: the scale relationship between the assets and the overall lighting.

Scale Relationship

Most illustrative and artsy games have a stylistic approach to scale; a blade of grass is as big as a character’s leg, a single leaf is bigger than a head, mountains are blocky and larger than life, etc. The scale rendered in this style gives an overall fun and floaty feeling of ”big toys.” Everything has exaggerated proportions to provide unique and colorful visuals.

In the AAA style of video-game realism, the games usually portray a more accurate feeling of scale: the grass and leaves have proper height and size, and they want to convey a world that feels “real.” The scenes are made up of numerous high quality textures that go for a “wow factor,” but usually leave out any strong stylistic elements or fantastical elements.

Caption: Season concept art

In Season, we wanted to strike a balance between both approaches. We concentrate on having a properly scaled relationship between every asset while keeping a cohesive hierarchy and balance of details.  When looking at our initial reference of Norman Wilkinson, there is a voluntary approach to simplicity; the pictures aren’t overly busy, the vegetation is merged together, focusing on its silhouette rather than trying to depict every individual leaf or blade of grass. The images are easily readable, elegant in their simplicity, and harmonized.

We do this to ground our world but also not lose the sense of whimsy. It is a world that is familiar but strange, and also maintains a strong feeling of believability. A place you could, and would want to, visit or even live in.

Lighting

The second pillar of Season art direction is the lighting.

While our game is influenced heavily by illustration and concept art, we wanted the lighting in Season to depict a certain realism in its mood. Some other artsy and illustrative games have become masters at creating fantasy worlds, playing with unusual, whimsical color combinations, depicting universes that can only live in our imagination.

In Season, we wanted to stay within the range of reality in our depiction of lighting. We were heavily influenced by contemporary plein air painters and modern cinematographers who are experts at balancing real life lighting scenarios with artistic intent. While we knew Season would be set in an imaginary world, we wanted it to feel grounded by bringing believability to its different moods and time of day.

In Season, the artists focus on how local colors are used in traditional paintings. To achieve this look, a custom shader was made for Season that focuses on using the albedo (or local colours) and shadow tint in the way that they are done in illustrations. Focusing on these two aspects results in an illusion of color and shadow that recreate the depth and texture of illustrative works.

Because everything is individually editable though, using global lighting to unify areas proved difficult. Since each object has its own shadow tint, it is hard to maintain consistency over different lighting conditions. A golden early morning, or a cool mid-day would mean each object would have to be edited to properly reflect the scenario. We wound up using PBR (physics based rendering) with our own tweaks to alleviate these issues. The happy medium between the realistic and the illustrative.

We also turned to sky lighting and sub-surface scattering to make the world of Season feel even more familiar for our players. By shifting the tone of the sky to plunge the world into the warm tones of a sunset, or by using sub-surface scattering (which allows for objects to absorb or bounce light) to allow for the greenery of a scene to absorb a summer’s sun, we can better immerse the player into the world we have created.

The style we are creating for Season is completely unique:  having a game that has the lighting of plein-air paintings, a believable and relatable mood, all while maintaining bold, artistic and illustrative qualities. It is a balance of two beautiful approaches, the artistic and the realistic. The game doesn’t feel traditional; it feels like a distant, fading memory.

Caption: Season concept art


Thank you for taking the time to read our update! We’d love to hear your thoughts over on our Discord where you can talk to the developers, share your own inspirations, and learn more about Season.

As always, you can add Season to your Steam wishlist now!

Don’t forget that we also have a newsletter that will share some different information you won’t get in our blog posts! In our next missive, we’ll be breaking down our latest Alpha test and some of our takeaways from it.

Be safe in your journeys, and never forget.

With love,

December 2021 / A Mixture of Media

Hello fellow travellers!

Welcome back to our monthly blog posts, where we’ll be looking more in-depth into Season – and peek behind the curtain to see what inspires our team. We’ll be using this space to tell you more about our world, our characters, and to tell you more about the talented team of individuals working on the game.

In this month’s installment – we’ll be exploring a mixture of media that inspired Season from its halcyon days of youth. A book, a film, an essay, a poem, a game, and a song.

As 2021 draws to a close, we reflect on where we’ve been and we are going.  So we thought we’d start with the inspirations that started us on this path, and share them with you in the hopes that you might learn more about yourself, and more about what we’re hoping to accomplish  with Season.

A Mixture of Media – Season Influences

“The greatest hope for originality is to take the smallest unit of influence from as many places as possible.” 

Mark Hollis, of the band Talk Talk, said something like this.

Imagine someone in wool pants and a wool shirt walking through a dense forest. When they emerge into a clearing, picture how they would be covered in burs and sticks and leaves – a collection of what stuck to them. That image is how I see absorbing influences to become a collection. Here’s a swath of influences on our project Season, each from a different medium of art.

Some of these pieces inspired us with a strong, unique tone or mood. Others gave us ideas with their original fantasy world building. And there are also pieces here that reflect on the themes of collecting and existence, a theme that leans itself to the foundation of our game. 

Octavia Butler – “The Parable of the Sower”

Butler builds a world that is so recognizable and so strange at the same time. It feels rooted in a different set of assumptions about the world than any other sci-fi fantasy  world I’d encountered. The way a dream is built out of our experiences, projections, encounters…  a fantasy world is the same. It’s an extension of what we think, what we know, what we believe; but it’s also a floating speculation. These concepts influenced the way we tried to build the world of Season and led to us using a wide range of sources (historical, personal, political) that we tried to incorporate within the worldbuilding.

Bi-Gan- “Kaili Blues”

The sense of place in this film is so strong. It’s like a poem, a moment in time, a magic trick. The center piece is an inspiring 40+ minute continuous shot around a village by motorbike/boat/foot. We took influence from the mundane yet surreal feeling of life in “Kaili Blues,” and the way moving through space feels. Bi-Gan is a genius. I would love to collaborate with him.

Ursula K. Le Guin – “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction”

A short essay by another great science fiction writer.

We think of influence as being cause and effect but sometimes it feels nonlinear. I read this essay very late in the process of writing Season, our composer sent it to me, but it resonated super strongly and feels like an influence anyway. 

Walt Whitman – “The Sleepers” POEM

I wander all night in my vision,

Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noiselessly stepping and stopping,

Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers,

Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted, contradictory,

Pausing, gazing, bending, and stopping.”

Whitman’ poetic character was a collector as well, creating a sprawling inventory of life, trying to embrace a fractured and violent country into a bear hug, into the expanse of his person. There’s a lot of “Song of Myself” and “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” in Season as well, but the surreal-yet-real very tender feeling of the opening passages of this poem also reverberate throughout Season.

Shigesato Itoi – Mother 2/Earthbound

The psychedelic barely-controlled tone of this series is awe inspiring. There is an existential horror that creeps in. This scene in particular was an influence, the way it violently calls attention to the senses. It’s quite a jarring shift in tone. Season has some shifts in tone, although none as extreme as this. 

Shigesato Itoi’s letter to fans of the series for the 20th anniversary is a beautiful piece of writing that was also very inspiring. I used to quote part of it in the pitch for Season. Nintendo took it down sadly but here’s a link to it on a message board.

Oh Yoko – Seashore (DJ Sprinkles’ Ambient Ballroom)

A remix of this, from Terre Thaemlitz (aka DJ Sprinkles)

It sounds like the past, like the texture of a warm memory, but it also feels like the future. It feels heavy, it feels light. It’s a tone of admirable complexity.  Another influence on Season appears as a sample inside of this track. We hear a voice speaking a monologue written by David Milch, from the TV show NYPD Blue. (He’s best known as the writer of Deadwood.)  

A lot of Season’s better pieces of writing come in monologue form, and it’s a challenge to try to write as directly as possible, which Milch does wonderfully. 


    This is just an assortment of media that has helped inspire Season. There is much more still for us to share – both about what helped us create Season, and about what Season is itself. We want you to know that these bits of memory, our collections of items that hold significance, are an essential part of the game’s experience, and we invite you to imagine what things are caught up in yourself, like nostalgic flotsam, that inspire you.

     

    • The Writer

    Thank you for taking the time to read our update! We’d love to hear your thoughts over on our Discord where you can talk to the developers, share your own inspirations, and learn more about Season.

    We also have a newsletter which will share some different information you won’t get in our blog posts! (Sign-up is in the site footer, right below this!) We’ll have a year end missive in your inboxes very soon.

    Be safe in your journeys, and never forget.

    With love,

    Behind the scenes : COVID-19 Playtest

    Today, we wanted to talk to you more about what goes on behind the scenes of running playtests for our indie studio. As Scavengers studio is focused on creating new IP, it is part of our culture to get feedback about our games as soon as we can in the development process for two main reasons.

    1. As devs, we usually get very attached to the game we build. We put so much time and energy into it, that we tend to develop a “tunnel vision” of the product we are building. Sometimes, we even have this unique feeling like we are slowly becoming the game ourselves; we dream of it, we think of it in the shower and we work on it. It becomes 100% of our life. Getting fresh and external eyes helps us to see what we cannot see anymore being so involved in it. 
    2. We love validating key features or content that we are unsure about to eventually make informed decisions that will then improve the player experience. Our main goal is to create a game that will resonate with the player’s values and wishes.  

    Step 1: choosing our playtesters target audience

    Megan, our dear community manager, coordinated everything. To find our playtesters, we decided to turn to our wonderful community. A newsletter sent, a post on Steam and Discord, and an article in the Alpha Beta Gamer (thanks!) allowed us to collect more than 3600 applications. Wow! We were so happy and surprised by your enthusiasm. Of these, we had to choose only 30 people for our first playtest. It was some tough choices.

    Step 2: schedules and moderators

    Then, Megan coordinated schedules with the availability of moderators and managed to find playtesters from all around the world. Almost half of the Season dev team moderate the playtests. As a team, it was something incredible to see someone in front of us playing a game that we have been working on for almost 5 years. We were very happy to meet you and finally be able to present our project to the world… well a few people.

    Step 3: playtests sessions

    It has been a busy week for the whole team. Our playtests sessions were booked for four hours at a time. Even if most of our playtests sessions did not take that long, some of them looked at every little detail. It’s funny, because when all the moderators got together at the end of the day, we spoke together and realized that some behaviours are very similar through the gamers and some are totally different! We thought it was fascinating to have the chance of seeing that in action. It helped us a lot to understand the player behaviours better than we ever did before with Season. We also have learned that the most subtle reactions are usually giving us the most important feedback; someone who is closing their eyes, a smile or some frowning eyebrows gives us a huge hint about the course of action.

    PS: Our longest playtest was five hours long! As you can imagine, bathroom breaks were needed.

    Step 4: result analysis – looking for general trends

    After the playstest sessions, we analyzed the results. For this time, our playtests were more focused on the mood and tone of the game. As we said, our goal was to provide new information to the developers so they could make informed decisions to improve the quality of the game. As we can see here, our development team even created a map where we could track people’s movements and actions through the game. Player moments are so precise that to understand what they are doing on a micro scale, we divide the map into smaller areas. To find general trends, the team analyzes playtest through: data tracking, recordings, moderators notes and playtest questionnaire. Analyzing all the results took three members of the team a whole week!

    Step 5: learn from the results to build next steps

    After the results were presented to the whole team, we couldn’t wait to improve the game to make it even better for you and obviously closer to your expectation. The one thing that was reinforced for us, test after test, was the focus on the game’s affective impact on the player. After the tests, we saw that this “moment of a tear falling down your cheek”, the strong emotional response we are looking for, was missing at the moment. Also, people felt a little bit lost, in a world that felt a little bit too empty. We are improving it as you are reading these lines. Overall, the results from this first playtest are very positive, not only because people have enjoyed it, but also because a lot of topics mentioned by the playtesters, to make the game better, were already planned as our next steps. 

    PS: If you have not been selected for these playtests or if you are interested in contributing, more playtest sessions are planned over the next few months. You can still register here.

    – Season Team

    A glimpse of sunshine

    Summer is slowly coming to us in Quebec, letting a glimmer of happiness and light shine through the entire Season team. The winter has been particularly difficult here, not only with the sanitary measures in place, but also because of everything we’ve been through as a team.

    Our vision for Season is stronger than ever; beautiful, soft and luminous, as reflected in these magnificent images taken by a member of our creative team, Mathieu Leroux. In our hearts, inspiration is always present. Sometimes it even seems like we have too many great ideas to show you.

    Recently, we had a few playtesters try the game out and it was so motivating to see them playing this game that we worked so hard on. We were happy to meet you and share with you a small part of our creation. We are currently taking your feedback to improve the gaming experience and make this moment enjoyable, as we promised you.

    The beautiful season is slowly coming to us.

    – Season Team

    We finally announce Season at the Game Awards 2020

    On December 10 we announced our new project, Season. You might have watched it at the Game awards. As a team we are thrilled to start telling you more about the world we are creating for you. 

    At this point, you are probably wondering what sort of gameplay you can expect from Season… We can’t share everything yet but here’s what you should know.

    Season is an escape from the world you know into a place familiar and strange. Equipped with a bicycle and your bag of documentation tools, you will set off into this world, choosing which roads you will turn down and pausing for anything that sparks your interest. This is your world to discover. Choose what is important to you to record through sound clips or photography.

    The mission is similar to making a time capsule, deciding what would capture the spirit of the time period and carry it onwards. It’s a strong action to perform in the face of an uncertain future. In Season, the mood is warm and melancholic. It’s a world at the end of a golden age, where you take a bittersweet last look before it becomes a distant, faded memory. 

    No release date yet, we are keeping that secret for now. 

    We still have a lot to do before Season makes it into the hands of players, so expect lots of updates on the development process. 

    We wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your support during this announcement and after. Your words of encouragement echo through our digital office space, from all of us, thank you. 

    – Season Team

    Outside the Studio – the Shaping of Season

    We have already told you that Season is a project of passion for the team. Season is a unique experience that captures fun, innovation, beauty, emotion, and culture, with the goal of welcoming a wide range of people to our world. The shaping of the experiences in the game is born out of the passions of our team members, so it’s about time you meet more of the team. 

    Our team is made up of unique, open-minded and extraordinary humans. We wanted to get personal with you, and introduce some of the women who capture the essence of Season through their values and passions. We are all so different on the team, and that makes for a beautiful blending of experiences to share within the world of Season (and you’ll just have to wait to see how). 

    Meet four members of our team who contribute in their own way, day after day, to the success of Season.

    GENEVIÈVE B. – THE STORYTELLER

    My name is Geneviève and I am a 3D Artist working on the environments of Season. 

    One of my core passions has always been storytelling through visual arts and crafts. I’ve also been obsessed with games, both tabletop and digital, as a means of interacting with stories ever since my childhood. What this means, aside from playing a lot of games, is that I’ve been experimenting with tons of different mediums over the years. Traditional 2D and 3D art, digital painting, 3D printing, game jams, woodworking, gardening, nature photography, and even a very short (and confused) foray into LARPing. The latest hobby I’ve taken up this year is pottery on the wheel. What does that have to do with storytelling? I don’t know yet. Whatever story a piece of pottery holds can be very short, but there’s a long and engaging process behind it. Making things that are unique is something that I’ve always enjoyed.

    So, my ‘’passion’’ is still something that is hard to define for me, but it’s not from the lack of options.

    How do you feel it is related to Season? 

    This kind of unending struggle to figure out which tools to use to carry out a story is a theme that I feel is part of the dilemma of Season, both in its global theme and during its development as a whole. How do you choose to record and encapsulate a moment? Are you allowed to reinterpret it or is the aim pure documentation? Do you make its meaning explicit, or let the viewer piece things together on their own? Can the viewer be more than just a witness? Will they experience the piece, and its story, in a unique way?

    In my opinion, these are all important game development questions. Wide, overarching ones, but they are interesting nonetheless, and I’m happy that Season will have its own personal way of answering them whatever the game will turn out to be. 

    – Ge B.

    QINHUA – THE TRAVELER

    I am Qinhua and I’m currently working as the payroll and accounting technician at Scavengers Studio.

    I am passionate about traveling. Since I was young, I started to travel around with family or friends. I still remember my first trip to Luoyang, one of the most ancient capitals for many dynasties. It was during my school holiday which was the peak season for tourists. All the trains were overly booked, and that left me with only one option, a standing ticket. It took a lot of effort to squeeze into the train. The train looked much like a can fully filled with sardines. I was standing on the train for fourteen hours without even a teenie weenie space to move my legs until my destination. However, the trip was amazing! I met a Buddist who shared with me many stories; I met a little girl, who kept calling me Auntie. I also participated in a feast with twenty dishes, all of which are soup dishes.

    After that first trip, I just can’t stop travelling. Each year, I visit different places in different countries. In Thailand and Japan, I was enjoying the breathtaking natural beauty as well as experiencing the extraordinary internal peace. In Italy, there was the perfect harmony of history and modernity. In Australia, I got to experience  “Christmas on a scorching summer’s day.” Here in Canada, I am getting to know what  real winter is like and expecting more adventures to come my way.

    Travelling to me is adventure, replenishment, and a part of my life.

    How do you feel it is related to Season? 

    When I first read the development blog on the Scavengers website, the cycling and travel stories from its creators hit my heart. A lot of beautiful memories came rushing back. At first sight, I believe the natural bond has been established between Season and me. I am determined to continue my travelling journey with Season.

    – Qinhua

    MEGAN – THE FOLKLORIST

    Hiya, I’m Meg, your friendly Community Manager! A fun fact about me, I have a Diploma from Elf School in Iceland (yes, you read that right). Some might call me a folklorist, which means that I love stories passed down within cultures. 

    When I was a child, my grandmother would tell me stories about the fairies that lived in the gardens and the tricks they would play tilting the sunflowers to the light.

    My interests have always been twisted towards the darker parts of folklore, the tricksters and villains of this world. I would read any ghost story I could get my hands on and learn about the ghosts that visited my family over the years. I exhausted my limited network and started looking into dark tourism, a tourist attraction surrounded by dark history. It turned out, my home of southern Ontario has a dark past, especially London, Ontario, with its history of serial killers. 

    Oddly enough, my interest in dark tourism pushed me down the path to games! I travelled to England to learn about magic and myths. From that experience, I started to devour anything I could get my hands on about Jack the Ripper, including a DLC of Assassins’ Creed. I later found myself living in Guelph, studying simulation dark tourism and war games as a digital game scholar. 

    The funny thing about this all: If I play a horror game, I’ll never sleep again.

    How do you feel it is related to Season? 

    There is an interconnection between stories, people who tell them and their culture. In Iceland, the roads twist and turn to avoid certain rocks, believed to be elves’ homes. I think there’s something beautiful about learning how culture shaped its land and how stories share the meaning of places with strangers. 

    The aspect of storytelling and learning from one another is what is beautiful in Season. As a player, you get to experience Season’s collective memory through stories, architecture, art, and so much more. Although you won’t collect Jack the Ripper’s history, you will be experiencing something extraordinary to connect you to the world we created for you in Season.

    – With love, Meg

    GENEVIÈVE P. – THE COOK

    Hello. My name is Geneviève (yes, a second one!) and I am Scavengers Studio’s Communications Coordinator.

    My passion lies in everything that has a direct or distant connection with the phenomenon of zero waste in the kitchen.

    Since I was little, I have loved to cook! I first discovered cooking with my mother. She’s the one who taught me almost everything about it. Well, she didn’t actually teach me how to cook; she taught me how to have fun with different vegetables, flavours and colours. She taught me that food doesn’t just meet our needs; it fills our lives. Is there anything better than a good family meal or a romantic dinner for two? 

    On a more practical side, when I think of cooking, I mainly think of:

    – Recovery: did you know that carrot stems can be used in pesto and that radish stems make the best summer green soups?

    – Reuse: with a little bit of imagination, you can turn the leftover Thanksgiving turkey into a soup, paté or sandwich instead of eating it every day for two weeks.

    – Creativity: I NEVER cook the same recipe twice. And obviously, to recover and reuse food, you have to be creative!

    My love to cook whatever I have on hand goes right with my love for recycling, reusing and composting. As I live in a small place, I compost in two ways: Bokashi and Vermicomposting (Google that. I swear it’s worth it!).

    How do you feel it is related to Season? 

    I believe that my passion directly relates to my love for nature and the environment. I sincerely believe that we all need to do our part for the planet. Its protection is fundamental to me. Thanks to my passion, I am making a (very small, but significant!) difference for our beautiful and fragile planet.

    As you will play Season, you will undoubtedly understand my love story for the planet… This game will make you appreciate the beauty of nature, the fragility of the elements that surround us and the importance of preserving this fragile natural balance. With Season’s end of the world both so near and mysterious, this game will make you realize how much the present moment defines the future.

    Gen x

    A creative journey through Season

    My name is Mathieu S. Leroux. I work as an environment artist on Season. Ever since my childhood I have always been passionate about cycling – As early as 15 years of age, I rode from my then hometown – Valleyfield – all the way to Montreal, alone, without the aid of maps or any cell phone for guidance. I simply craved adventure and the unknown. As I got there, I almost instantly lost my bicycle to thieves while I was out to get food. That ride turned out to be a disaster, but it had been worth it, as it set me up to the passion of bicycling. Although next time, I would be better prepared!

    And so, ever since I can remember, I have been going on increasingly daring rides across Canada and the US. There is nothing like coming across a village or place you’ve never heard of, stopping for a warm beverage and meeting some of the locals. I feel very thankful to have the chance to help bring some of that passion to the world of Season.

    My last ride was Mont-Laurier – Montreal. It was about 250 kilometers. The autumn scenery was beautiful. I went off the beaten path several times, as over the years I’ve become some sort of an exploration kamikaze, often risking personal injury to find new places. For example, last year I did a similar ride on the eastern coast of the US. I stopped at a little cottage in Marblehead, near Salem. There was an island on the horizon that intrigued me greatly, but I found no way to get there and had no intention to rent a boat. So I simply jumped into the ocean and swam all the way there. At one point, in the waves, I started to doubt my decision and panicked, but I didn’t turn back. It was stirring. Once I landed on the beach, however, the feeling of achievement was immense. The excitement made everything seem sweeter than nature. The leaves seemed greener than green, the air was lighter than air. It was all just sand, trees and rocks, but those felt infinitely more intriguing when you’ve carved your way there yourself. I had become addicted to adventure.

    This too happened on my ride between Mt Laurier and Montreal. I would jump in rivers, climb impossible rocks and go places where careful people would never dare go, but it was always worth it. I once strapped a life jacket and threw myself down the rapids, letting the current take me to where currents go. When you understand your strengths and limits, there is no reason to hold back on going where you want.

    The true goal of my last ride was to take some time to be by myself and meditate on the book I am currently writing. It is called The Phenomenon of Beauty. It is sort of a self-help book, mixed with a heavy dose of philosophy. In it, I talk about ways to find meaning and what I describe as beauty in places where we culturally expect not to find any. For example, living in a city, a noisy neighbourhood, or when you live trying moments or a crushing schedule.

    Beauty in this application is not what you observe when, say, you see a pretty flower – It transcends the aesthetics of this world and goes deeper than that. Beauty is the feeling you get when you observe things for what they really are; it is a feeling of awe, of inspiration and a momentary reminder of where you are in the grand scheme of life and all its complexity.

    It is true that what takes part in our environment has a direct impact on the way you arrange your thoughts in your mind. For example, and this is one of the founding principles of the modern currents of minimalism: you can reduce clutter to a strict minimum, so as to give breathing space for your eyes and for your mind. It goes in the same precedent as meditation, to “streamline your thoughts” and flush out unnecessary noise.

    And so colours and space have meanings, but those meanings are also heavily tainted by our own perceptions – what we assume things are and how we let them affect our thoughts. This is the very core of my book; to learn to observe how your mind treats what it perceives as ugly and bothersome and allow it not to give any room to unreasonable ideas to take root. Sometimes, in the spur of difficult situations, we allow all sorts of unsound thoughts to pass through unfiltered and those unrealistic ideas can unfortunately affect our judgment, ultimately to the detriment of our happiness.

    THE CREATIVITY IN MY LIFE AND FOR THE GAME

    Raw talent is necessary for all artistic jobs in the video game industry, but what sets Season apart is a bit more abstract. Creativity is a complicated term to describe and even more so to quantify. In my view, I’d go as far as to say that knowledge is just as important as drawing skills are for an artist. The meaning of creativity is the ability to assemble concepts into new ideas; ideas do not exist in a vacuum. All inventions are assemblages of many different concepts that already exist in the world. Creative talent can be measured by how complicated, and how cleverly those fragments of information are assembled together to form “new” interesting ideas.

    For Season, the depth of feelings that come to life as you explore the world comes from a creative use of imagery that is elusive but also relatable, springing forth a sense of familiarity for places you’ve never been to, while still being impossible to frame in time and space. The world of Season feels like a daydream; you’ve seen something like it, but also never have. It is like nostalgia for memories you’ve never experienced.

    In the game, you may ride through an old road and come across ruins that belong to another era – an era that seems distant and strange, but also more advanced than our own. This is how it may have felt like to roam the fields of England during the times of the Saxons, or the Franks during the days of the Carolingian Empire; to witness strange temples and bath houses lost to time, far beyond the technological knowledge of the era, its true function buried along with the remains of the Roman Empire.

    And this brings me back to the meaning of creativity. The richness of the world of Season stems from the inspiration our writer, designers and artists have found in their travels, their books and their overall personal lives. We’ve maintained a very open atmosphere in our studio that encourages exchange of ideas between all trades. The end result is a product that is shaped by our collective energy, a product that feels like our own.

    So, if you want to create your own worlds that are both believable and highly intriguing, you must stay curious. Hone in the talents necessary for your trade, but do not forget to put aside some time to learn about our world, to expand the richness of your creative power. So hop on that bike now and go exploring!

    – Mathieu

    The first believer of Season – A short story of passion

    Hello! I am Amélie, co-founder of Scavengers Studio. As CEO and Executive Producer of the company, I finance video game projects and participate in the creative effort. I hire the key leaders/talents and I supervise them. I can do a lot of different things; funding, attracting investors into the videogame project, legal, design, marketing and advisory, etc. As our mission is to brand/create new IP, I spend most of my time building strategy and work plans with the directors. Also, I think it’s important to improve processes to build a studio culture and human resource strategy that fits the studio’s mission. I do not get involved with the day-to-day of a production like a director/producer does (unless I have to ;)).

    Who am I?

    I am a curious, enthusiastic, resourceful woman who loves team projects. As a kid, I truly pushed every boundary I could. At 10 years old, I got suspended from elementary school and kicked out of high school at 14. From my teenage years, I searched for eclectic work experiences. The more outside of my comfort zone I was, the more fun I had.

    These experiences have brought me to many different places…

    1. In the woods, where I learned the true value of a good and hot meal.

    2. Into the craziness of the entertainment industry, where I learned what it REALLY means to “work hard”

    3. All the way to Northern Quebec, taking part in a program that helped create more Inuit jobs and career opportunities at Glencore Raglan Mine -Tamatumani, where I learned to enjoy (for real) the present moment.

    Finally, at the age of 24, I decided to invest myself (and all my savings!) in my first video game project: Darwin Project. Looking back at my journey, becoming an entrepreneur and managing my own business was a natural progression as I was constantly looking to discover new horizons and challenge myself.

    Having my own company allowed me to live my greatest personal and professional adventure to date. The youth of the video game industry allows me to create from scratch the entrepreneurial environment that I want because there is room for creativity, going beyond my limits and above all, room for failures and learning. 

    Being an outsider of the video game industry, the first 4 years were a kind of a MBA crash course into the business, production and support of video games. Building a studio/business from the ground up is the most difficult thing you can try to do. There is no class, no books that can prepare you for what’s to come. Everything that you do is always a first timer, so it’s inevitable that you make mistakes. I made a decision that I would never do the same now this demonstrates how I learned so much. I keep learning every day. Thanks to the indie community in Montreal. Each studio is really close to one another. We share and learn a lot from the experience of others as well. 

    Those years were crucial to Season. As I was starting to play a whole bunch of games, I was also building a unique vision of what video games should be as a powerful medium of art and storytelling.

    About my vision

    You can have all the inclusion policies and space-free politics in the world inside your company, you need a diverse workforce in a position of leadership to have a real impact.

    It took me a lot of courage to invest all my savings in Simon Darveau ideas. 

    Now, he is investing in my direction and there’s nothing more that I wish for other women and people from diverse backgrounds. Simon is far from being perfect (neither am I), but when people asked me how women can be more included into positions of leadership, I say take a risk and just hire a woman. That’s it. I don’t want to hear about the fact that she doesn’t have the same background or as much experience as a more suitable candidate. If your mission is really to bring more women into the video game industry, you need to put your foot down and take a look at all the female candidates you have and just hire one of them. 

    And naturally, I turned around and took a risk in hiring artists from outside the industry, our art director and our creative director. Being junior in the video game industry, it does involve a bumpy road of production, but thanks to the experience of our core team on Darwin Project, we are able to work all together into building something new. I do believe that there are no greater gains without taking big risks. I am not here for the status quo. I have been pushing boundaries my whole life and this is what I will keep doing.

    More about Season

    What I like the most about our protagonist is her courage. She demonstrates that it is worth the trouble to “participate”. To demonstrate courage, you have to “go and participate” not to “win” something but to “live an experience”. Being deeply involved in a project, being ready to learn, to evolve. It’s hard and it creates friction and discomfort. But I believe that being out of my comfort zone is the place where I learn the most. 

    She goes on a quest. Life does not come to us, we have to go towards it. To participate, to get involved, it takes a dose of courage and commitment. After that, it will probably bring out aspects of our personality that we do not know. That’s the spirit of the game; go elsewhere to see what’s going on and take back the best with us.

    I also believe that it is “this participation” that connects me to the protagonist in Season. I go there, I face it, I explore, I learn, I expose myself and I am alive.

    Those two different games make a unique piece of who I am; Darwin Project touched my brain, Season touched my heart. Season is an invitation to open up, it gets me vulnerable. It puts me in a position where I want to meet others. It turns you into something better. 

    I shed tears without sound but with a slight smile. It’s the feeling I hope I will have when I die. 

    I would tell people who want to get involved in the wonderful world of video games that it takes a good deal of courage and character. Yes. But above all, it takes passion. If that’s what you want, I’m sure you’ve got it. Thank you and I’m really excited to present you Season soon to make you feel that way too. 

    – Amélie. x

    Interview with Kevin

    Kevin has been writing Season for over two years now. In other words, he can’t wait to present it to you (and the whole team too!).

    Until we can show you a little more about the project itself, we wanted to talk to you a little more about the profession of a video game writer; meeting with our creative director Kevin Sullivan.

     

    1. Did you dream of becoming a writer when you were young?

    It’s what I wanted to do from the moment I realized that a human being made up Star Wars.

     

    1. What is your favorite game?

    Writing wise it’d be Kentucky Route Zero. It feels like it was beamed here from the future like they jumped a few spaces ahead. It’s encouraging it was well received considering it basically jettisons all the reliable tricks of storytelling and is more akin to the work of someone like Samuel Beckett or Gabriel García Márquez. It’s already influenced a lot of games but still feels ahead of its time.

     

    1. Do you think it’s easy to write a video game?

    All writing is hard in different ways. Writing a game is hard in that you’re not only dealing with the multifaceted nature of the form but with the realities of production too. It depends on the nature of the game too; some games live and die on their text and some are less reliant on it.

     

    1. What are the good and bad sides of writing?

    The good side is when you’re surprised by what’s happening in the story as it unrolls or by connections made by other people that you weren’t consciously aware of when writing. The bad side is that, for me, pretty quickly my feelings about my own writing become very neutral. There’s more enjoyment in listening back to a piece of music you’ve written than in reading your own text, I find.

     

    1. Do you have any habits when it comes to writing?

    My routine for when I’m writing on paper is to read in the morning and write when I take my second coffee from around 2p.m. until the evening.

     

    1. Do you know how much time you have spent writing Season? 

    Hoo boy, no idea. But hours were more spent in the conceptualization phase of trying to imagine a particular world and particular tone. That took awhile.

     

    1. Do you improvise as the story goes, or did you know the ending before you started writing Season?

    It’s usually good to leave breathing room in the story for characters to make choices on their own or to let you make more intuitive associations. But with the resources involved in making a game, outlining quite a bit is smart, just to be safe.

     

    1. Is the story of the game drawn from real events and from personal anecdotes?

    It’s a mixture of things I read about, saw, or that happened to me or people I know. I find when I’m writing a detail, some little bit of text, I tend to draw on my own life to try to make it feel specific and real.

     

    1. What made you want to write this game?

    It had a long gestation period, so there wasn’t a single moment of inspiration. I feel like explaining why you wrote something is always a retrospective explanation and not what you were thinking at the time. So, looking back I think on my side it came out of becoming more extroverted in a way, from traveling and reading more history, being both more worried and more attached to other places and time periods.

     

    We hope you appreciated this little insight into Kevin’s journey, and learn some things about what it is like to be both a creative director, and a writer in games! 

     

    – Season team

    Between real and imaginary travel

    “Season” draws inspiration from a lot of sources. I’d like to talk about a twin axis of influence; some experiences traveling in Taiwan, and the cinema of that same country. The question I want to pose, and also avoid answering, is this: to what extent can we learn about other places and people through their art? If we read War and Peace, do we have a modicum of feeling for early 19th century Russia? Think of the qualifiers we’d have to add to this; well, Tolstoy was writing about Counts and Princes, not so much the peasants and serfs that made up the majority of the population. Tolstoy was writing about the generation of his parents and grandparents; he wasn’t alive at the time the novel takes place. The magic of narrative art may be in empathizing and becoming entangled in fictional lives set 215 years ago. It feels as though that time and distance have collapsed. Without going so far as to imagine these grant us any certainty or authority, I feel sure a parcel we can take with us is an affinity for the time and place, that when we imagine a scene set in a particular time, we project into it, into particular lives and details that make it real to us. Imagine you see a newspaper headline that says tensions are flaring up between your country and another. If that other country is a place you’ve been, you might picture the faces of people you met and knew. What if you’ve read their books or seen their films? For myself, the appearance of Iran in American news media feels different having seen movies by Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf.¹

    Another place that I knew from films is Taiwan. I first saw Yi-Yi by Edward Yang and became interested in Taiwanese New Wave² cinema. The style and content of these films are very beautiful and original. They’ve been on my mind while working on “Season” because of the way they locate an individual life, and the life of a family, within their environment and the larger historical context³. The style oftentimes eschewed traditional coverage and covered entire scenes in a master wide shot. This gives you a feeling of spending time in the place itself with the characters. Intimate but historical, emotional but distant.

    A moment in A Brighter Summer Day – two highschool students talk in a field while a military exercise is conducted in the distance. This combination of nostalgia and tenderness, with an ominous feeling tied to a historical moment, is something we’re trying to create in “Season.” 

    When I had the opportunity to travel to Asia four years ago, I wanted to go to Taiwan, a place I’d only seen in these films.

    Here: A photo taken by someone just before they gave us a ride. The only POV shot of “I’m about to pick up these hitchhikers” that I have.

    Hitchhiking in Taiwan is tied with Albania for being the easiest of anywhere I’ve done it. When hitchhiking, you may gently try to get the person giving you a ride to drop you off somewhere slightly out of their way, usually when you’re trying to avoid getting stuck in a bad spot. You’re already in their debt for the ride, so it can be a delicate ask. On the contrary, in Taiwan we realized that if the driver knew our final destination, they might drive us straight there regardless of how far out of the way it was. This made us feel guilty so we started to shield this information. We had multiple drivers who insisted on taking us to certain landmarks or to eat at a certain place.

    Finding a couchsurfing host in a big city is always difficult. You may need to send up to 20 or 30 personalized requests before succeeding. Taipei was no different. The host we finally found was a young dentist/aspiring filmmaker. He said he accepted my request because I had the aforementioned Edward Yang as one of my favorite directors in my couchsurfing profile. We talked about movies and culture and he taught me a lot. We even went to see a Q&A with the excellent director Tsai Ming-liang. He took questions while sitting in front of a piano and would occasionally start playing and singing.

    From the art of another culture, we can get a partially understood glimpse into something profound. And in traveling, we accumulate impressions and bits of information that we’re getting directly from the place. The feeling of incompleteness is part of what’s so enticing about going away from what we know. What I’ve learned from the two different ways of experiencing Taiwan is that interest, or an affinity, can be sparked by art and can open the door a little. There still remains the moment of passing through it. These kinds of encounters are at the heart of “Season.”

    – Kevin

    ¹ Politicians are aware of this, in fact. A great artist may be like a prophet, not without honor – save in their own country. But after you die, they’ll start building statues of you.

    ² A “New Wave” of filmmaking often coincides with political and social reform, such as the brief Czech New Wave that was linked to the Prague Spring. It’s no coincidence that the Taiwanese New Wave emerged at the same time as the democratic reforms of the 1980s and 90s.

    ³ The first batch of films were groundbreaking in how they depicted modern life in Taiwan. After these autobiographical films like “Growing Up” and “A Summer At Grandpa’s”, they made films about their recent history which were even more acclaimed and controversial. “A City of Sadness” touched on taboo subjects like the February 28 incident, when thousands of protesters were killed by the government.

    This is the historical background that the audience is given towards the beginning of A Brighter Summer Day
    “Millions of mainland Chinese flew to Taiwan in 1949 with the Nationalist government after its defeat in the civil war by the Chinese Communists.
    Their children were brought up in an uneasy atmosphere created by their parents uncertainty about the future.
    Many formed street gangs to search for an identity and to strengthen their sense of security.”
    The text is establishing the character’s emotional lives and environment within the historical moment, why things feel the way they feel.

    ⁵ Although the world and ‘history’ of Season is made up – what they called ‘lore.’

    Hitchhiking From Paris to Istanbul

    Our game “Season” draws inspiration from our experiences traveling. The role of the player is the role of the traveller, the witness, the visitor, unattached but absorbing everything. It is the fantasy of going beyond tourism, of being embedded somewhere. 

    I want to share a few stories from a hitchhiking trip that I did with a friend. To hitchhike is to step briefly into the life of a stranger. People who pick up hitchhikers are usually very friendly, since they’re someone who stopped to help. Hitchhiking was common in North America up until the 1970s when it developed, or was given, the reputation of being dangerous. This was at the same time that public trust of strangers went down. In other parts of the world it remained popular. Hitchhiking reveals a lot about a place, both its good and bad sides. Despite being a free activity, it also exposes boundaries of privilege in terms of how different looking people will be received and where. I’ve met all sorts of fellow hitchhikers, people I either gave a ride or came across while traveling. As we’re increasingly atomized, especially with the pandemic, this kind of social institution would be good to recover in the future.  

    You enter into a stranger’s life at a random moment. The most dramatic moment I found myself in while hitchhiking was when I got a lift from an old French couple. When they were young, they had been in love but were separated by circumstances beyond their control. Each married and had a family but then, in their old age, were unexpectedly reunited. They said the moment they saw each other they knew they had to be together again. When they picked me up, they were on their way to tell their respective spouses that they wanted to get a divorce. I was sitting in the back of the car as this happened. I’ll never know why they stopped to pick someone up while this was going on. 

    The longest hitchhiking trip I did was with a friend in Europe. On March 26th, 2012 we boarded a metro train leaving Paris and rode it to the outskirts of the city. There, we walked to the highway and caught our first ride. It was a young man who would be heading to graduate school in Mississippi soon. He took us just a few miles down the road to a rest stop where we found a stop sign decorated with various destinations and dates. Paris to Moscow, Paris to Warsaw. We didn’t write ours but if we had it would have said Paris to Istanbul. 

    Our second ride was a tour bus driver. They aren’t supposed to give rides, but he saw our sign for Deutschland and offered anyway. He had just dropped a band off in Paris and was heading back somewhere so the bus was empty except us three. He told us stories of having to pay off border guards in Russia with Evanescence merchandise.

    Entering Germany it became harder to get a ride. That area in particular of Germany would end up being the hardest place in the whole trip. Finally, a guy driving a custom van came by and picked us up. When you see someone driving a crazy van, you have certain expectations as a hitchhiker. The drivers seem to be aware of these expectations, because when a van like that doesn’t stop for you they really put a lot of effort into miming an apology as they pass by. His sound system was incredible.

    The sun went down with us still loitering outside a gas station. Hitchhiking at night is not a good idea. Luckily one of the dudes who worked there gave us a ride when his shift ended. He was from Kazakhstan and dropped us off in town.

    At this point we figured out how to hitchhike in Germany. Sticking out your thumb is no good, but if you ask people personally for rides at gas stations it’s usually an instant ja. We would approach with our map out, do a little “sprechen sie englisch?” indicate where we were headed on our map, ask if they were going that way too and then ask for a ride. We had an exhilarating run of this working with the first person we asked over and over again, including the couple pictured above.

    Our next ride were with two Swiss Kung-Fu masters who were heading to a big tournament. Along the way, a car full of the Italians from the same dojo passed by, leaned out the windows, slapped our car and yelled insults. We fought back, I remember someone throwing a water bottle but I can’t remember if it was us or them.

    We got dropped off in Tübingen, a small old college town. Because it has no industry they say only one bomb fell on it in WW2, and it was by accident. My friend had been hosting people on his couch in Paris and one of them had family in Tübingen. So we messaged him before the trip. He asked his family and they were down to have us. They were incredibly welcoming; gave us a room, lent us bikes, cooked us meals, even though our connection to the family wasn’t even there. It was hard to leave and I think even then we resolved that Tübingen would be the one place we would make sure to return to on the way back. We sent out couchsurfing requests to Lintz, Austria and got back on the road.

    Jovan, a Serbian truck driver. We approached him at a rest stop as he was cooking his lunch. He didn’t speak English, but agreed to give us a ride after his meal. While he was eating, we were approached by undercover German drug police. They checked our passports and searched our bags, making us take out our tent and everything. On the road, he had us call his daughter who spoke English.

    season_devblog3_image_polive_hitchhiking

    A Hungarian police officer and his daughter. There was no room up front so I chilled in the back.

    After that, a tour bus with just one Romanian family on board. They said they’d been skiing in Italy. They also said “You think you are free in America but in Romania, if you have money, you can do anything!” They dropped us off outside of Cluj Napoca, which turned out to be a University town. On the bus we couldn’t figure out how to punch our tickets properly until a Portuguese girl helped us out. We ended up hanging out with her and her friends during our time there. The outskirts of Bucharest were populated with numerous packs of stray dogs. I remember being cold coming into the city in the morning, trying to find a bus or anything to move on. We were pretty scared but ended up laughing uncontrollably at the thought of the stray dogs constituting a political force in the city and having to negotiate with them.

    In Istanbul we stayed with an actor named Umit. His English wasn’t great but he was one of the funniest people I’ve met. He was on a weekly soap opera, and we got to watch it with him in the room. We asked him what was going on in the show but he didn’t seem interested. “Woman loves man…” waving his hand “very complicated!”

    We went from Istanbul to Bursa and then to a small lake town called Iznik. Iznik appeared to be devoid of anyone close to our age. There were only two bars, and since drinking is frowned upon they were hard to find and no one drank visibly. We were a real novelty there. We were sitting on a dock and a group of young girls behind us started shouting out English words at us. “Ice cream! I love you!” That night we met the people from the bar and drank and made a fire on the beach. We sang our national anthems to each other.

    The first thing we noticed getting in this guy’s truck was that the seat belts didn’t have anything at the end. They were more of a sash. He showed us how to wear them and said “For Police!” 

    When hitchhiking, if you leave an hour later, your entire trip might be different. Once into Macedonia, we hit our worst run ever of not getting a ride. When there are only a few cars going by, you can’t help but put mental pressure on the ones that do pass to please please just pick us up. So when they inevitably don’t, you get mad. We were at our most frustrated when the guy above picked us up. The sight of his car stopping brought intense feelings of relief. He was Albanian, which made sense later because Albania is the greatest place to hitchhike.

    The guy who made this sculpture changed his mind halfway through about whether or not he should be wearing glasses so it came out looking like someone you’d find in the cantina bar in Star Wars. Our host himself is an artist and was bummed at how nepotistic the public art scene was there. In Macedonia you can’t sell alcohol after 7 PM or so. He took us to a speakeasy in a mall after the rest of the stores had shut down. He also recommended that we stop by a lake town called Ohrid on our way to Albania so we did.

    Ohrid. That night we tried to camp out along the lake but couldn’t find a spot so we found a hostel. The Hostel had a real freewheeling vibe that we locked into immediately. We met a guy who was half Russian half American and had tried to hitchhike to North Korea. He wound up being held in a border prison. He said another guy there was from England and claimed to be an economist. He had 80 euros in his pocket and said he was going to use it to restart the North Korean economy.

    Looking back on this trip in 2012, the atmosphere and political situations in many of these countries has changed a lot since then. In some cases they’ve improved but overall it was a more optimistic time. This feeling is also an important part of Season, of passing through the world but also passing through a particular moment in time. While the pandemic makes this kind of travel impossible for the moment, possibly for a long time, I’ve linked to a few useful free travel resources below.

    Some free travel resources

    Hitchwiki is very useful, it has maps that show good spots to hitch and a lot of solid advice about how to do it.
    https://hitchwiki.org/en/Main_Page

    Couchsurfing is also good and free!
    https://www.couchsurfing.com/dashboard

    Above: My friend and I on the right, some folks who gave us a ride on the left. 

    Next time: Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan! 

    – Kevin

    Season highlights

    Hello!

    We did a nostalgic dive into our Season behind the scenes photo archive and put together a little visual timeline here

    2017. “Season” begins.
    Above: Hitchhiking from Nagano to Kurobe, thinking about “Season” which only had the title and a few ideas at that point.
    (The bicycle was briefly a motorcycle, yikes! Maybe this deserves its own blog post one day…)
    2019

    2019: “Season” started as just a few people in the back of the studio. Back in the olden days, when we worked in the same space instead of at home.

    Fall 2019. The Season team grows!

    We received a CMF production grant that helped get the project off the ground! 

    JANUARY 2020. We finished our first playable demo!
    FEBRUARY 2020. Hitting PAX East and proud to test out our Season demo. It felt great to have people finally try the game
    MARCH 2020. Season was among Ubisoft’s Indie Series Finalists. We won National Bank’s Special Prize (Prix Coup de Coeur)
    JUNE 2020. Dev blog launch

    We feel super lucky that this project germinated and is now a reality. We’re looking forward to sharing more about the project itself soon! 

    Season team

     

     

    Welcome to the “Season” dev blog!

    Hello! My name is Kevin Sullivan, I’m the writer and creative director of a video game called “Season” – the next project from Scavengers Studio. Amusing fact: I also made some humble contributions to Darwin Project, the most enjoyable of which was writing and performing the voice of the show director in the trailers.

    “Season” has been in development in some form or another for four years now, so while it may feel like it came out of nowhere, it’s been a very gradual process of realization, most of which was not done at any expense apart from pen and paper and paintbrush/stylus. It is quite a different game from Darwin Project, which is a testament to the studio founders’ ability to use what is available in the team, to nurture and develop writers, artists, and designers.

    The studio founders, Simon and Amélie, contacted me way back when on the recommendation of our art director. He and I had worked together on some comics and it seemed that my writing and his art fit well together. “Season” began around a single image from him. I was asked to use it as the basis for some ideas. At the time, I was traveling through Indonesia and started taking down fragments of ideas in my notebook. Writing about travel is difficult because in the recounting it becomes about the speaker, in this case myself. But the experience, especially when traveling for a long time, is really the loss of ego. You’re kind of a person without a context when you travel, you have no role in society and are both a novelty and an observer. It’s also possible, however, to form connections with people. This trip was back in 2016, the year when the sentiment we have about the world now, the widespread feeling of precarity, was growing more tangible. As much as I was becoming acquainted with cultural differences, I was also encountering a similitude, particularly in the shared sense that we live in a very Particular Moment of History. We have a tendency to define people by their appearance, to create the category of the ‘other’, but through empathy and experience this can be disposed of. It’s a realization you must have over and over again, it isn’t a lesson you learn just once. Art can do it. Listening closely can do it. These notions of exploration, empathy, and impending catastrophe came together to form our game “Season.” 

    As we began articulating this feeling in the project, it became important to us as both game developers and human beings. This went on for four years, as I had the chance to embed with a team of experienced creators and programmers. I’d been studying and working on movies and comics before. I’d seen my friends get eaten up by Hollywood. I’d have done the same if I hadn’t fallen in love and moved to Montreal and found my way to Scavengers. I’d always played games but I hadn’t thought of trying to write for them until around 2007 when I played Bioshock, Portal, and Shadow of the Colossus. Like with movies, part of the allure was in the multi-media aspect, that you have to draw on a wide range of disciplines and try to unify them all. When all the elements of the form come together, they can create something beyond the sum of their parts. At the moment, we’re working to organize the strengths of the medium into an experience that captures the feeling of traveling, the feeling of being somewhere deeply unfamiliar but beautiful. 

    We can’t wait to share more with you. 

    Kevin