Mask of the Rose will release on the 8th of June.
Being a perspicacious kind of person, you’ll notice that the 8th of June is very much not in April. We hope you’ll forgive us one last delay; let’s talk about why we’ve made the decision to do so.
We always knew Mask of the Rose would be more responsive to player choice than is usual for visual novels, and that we wanted to make more space for interconnections and small surprises, but we expected it would still work well with visual novel interface conventions. So for example, players would be able to indicate who they’d like to spend time with through map movement, but we wouldn’t need a quest log.
As we worked on it, though, we kept finding fun, exciting, or emotionally powerful opportunities to connect parts of the story together, and the narrative is now far more responsive and dynamic than we initially anticipated. Now the game is nearing completion, we’ve been able to do more playtesting, and we’ve found that we need to do more to help the player navigate this vast web of choices.
- When the player uses the map, they now no longer just select where and who they’d like to spend time with; we also ask what objective they’d like to work towards, because there are often several reasons a player might have for seeking out a particular character. We often need to know this in advance, because it might influence, for example, whether you want to speak to Horatia when she’s alone or with company.
- The wardrobe is one of the game’s key mechanics, but we found it wasn’t always easy to figure out how exactly it was affecting conversations, and so put together the ideal outfit for an occasion. So we now give much clearer feedback when your current outfit enables dialogue options.
- It could be hard to keep track of how much time you had remaining during a conversation, so we’ve made it easier to tell which choices will advance time, too.
- As it turns out, there’s so much to do that it’s easy to lose track of your available objectives, so we’ve added a new interface to track this for you.
These changes are already in the game, and in fact we’re still entering content lock as planned. The trouble is that in a game where the narrative is this flexible and procedural, these features open up a tremendous space for bugs.
You can meet characters in different orders, important information can be conveyed in multiple different conversations, and the story can vary a lot in how the parts are connected together. Our testing therefore has to account for a huge number of variables and ensure the combinations are functional and satisfying.
Our submission date for Switch is staying the same as when we were aiming for an April release (27th April was the proposed date), but we plan on taking six more weeks to ensure a) the game is in excellent shape when you come to play it, and b) the team are able to get there while maintaining a healthy work schedule.
We look forward to giving you Mask of the Rose in all its fully tested glory on the 8th of June, and to bringing you some fun surprises along the way. Here’s the release date trailer to whet your appetite, which is mostly the same as the previous trailer with a couple of juicy new bits.
If you’re in the UK, and you can get to London, you have the opportunity to play an almost-finished version of Mask of the Rose at WASD (getcher WASD tickets here). We’ll have competitions and giveaways too, and it’d be lovely to see any of you who can make it along. It’s been yonks since we’ve done a live event and this one is in a particularly good location for some Fallen London cosplay photography (it’s right by Spitalfields market, which is the real-world basis for Spite).