For those who don’t know, Unsung Story is the tale of an infamous Kickstarter project. Successfully funded in early 2014, the game was designed by Yasumi Matsuno of Final Fantasy Tactics fame and was to be developed by Playdek. Over three years later the project has yet to materialize and backers have also not been given refunds. Earlier this week it was announced that Unsung Story was sold to developers Little Orbit for an undisclosed sum, and so TechRaptor reached out to CEO Matt Scott with some questions about the company and how they’ll handle the development of Unsung Story going forward, as well as shedding more light on the history of the acquisition of the game.
When asked about Matsuno’s continued involvement in the game, Scott confirmed that Little Orbit is in possession of all of Matsuno’s original material that was given to Playdek for game development and design. All of this material is also being retranslated from Japanese to ensure that they are staying as close to his original ideas as possible and they are reaching out to Matsuno but cannot guarantee his future involvement.
“So far, we’ve found some significant things that either the translators got wrong or that Playdek decided to change, but I can’t share those yet. And we’ve also found some less significant things including a lot of variation in the names for places and characters from the story. I’m hoping that we can start to tease those changes over the coming weeks for fans.” Scott said.
One draw for the project that Playdek initially promised was that the game would feature music by Hitoshi Sakimoto, who previously worked with Matsuno on Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII when he composed the music for both games. Scott confirmed that there was a problem with the contract and thus Sakimoto has not created any music for Unsung Story but that Little Orbit has now reached out to him to see if that would still be a possibility.
While taking on Unsung Story would be a daunting challenge even for a company with experience creating strategy RPGs, Scott is optimistic and see it as a project that has potential, rather than a potential downfall. “Little Orbit is in a period of reinventing itself,” he says. “We’ve had a somewhat successful history doing licensed-based retail video games … But inevitably those timelines are always short with excessive rounds of approvals. Many of our licensors have no working knowledge of the video game industry or development, yet they get 100% authority over what we can and can’t do.” A frustrating situation for any developer, Little Orbit sees Unsung Story as a potential way to make the leap as a company.
“In mid 2016, we committed to transitioning into a more indie digital developer/publisher. But that’s a very difficult thing to do, when you’re already an established publisher with an existing catalog of mostly kids games. For me, that meant we needed to prove ourselves.”
While at an unrelated meeting with Playdek, Scott first heard of Unsung Story and began looking into it and then gradually falling in love with the game that it strives to be.
“So ultimately we decided to take it over. But there is no universe where Little Orbit would get involved but not fulfill the rewards. Since there wasn’t any significant money exchanged, that meant we needed to do that at our own expense.” Scott explained.
Fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series may, rightfully, be skeptical of Little Orbit’s ability to fulfill their promise and make Unsung Story. For those unfamiliar, Little Orbit was contracted to co-develop a video game of Sanderson’s Mistborn series called Mistborn: Birthright, only to have the project stall for several years before Little Orbit lost two of its development partners and with them the ability to fund Mistborn. The company publicly announced that they were canceling the project and returning the rights to Sanderson so he could seek further avenues for development.
But if Birthright was canceled after such a long period of development, what’s to say that Unsung Story wouldn’t suffer the same fate? Scott explains “The scope for that project was much larger than Unsung Story, so Little Orbit required a funding partner to make the game. Ultimately Birthright suffered from bad timing in the retail industry … But I still believe it was the correct decision to take the loss and give the rights back to Brandon, so he can get another partner to deliver an amazing game.”
Do you feel Unsung Story is in good hands? Looking forward to seeing what the future holds or are you disappointed by the future lack of involvement from Playdek? Let us know in the comments below!