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Monday, June 22, 2015

Tale of Tales calls it quits and pulls the curtain on game development

Tale of Tales, the independent developer of some of the most truly artful games this industry has ever seen, has decided to call it quits on the industry, citing the poor financial performance of its most recent game, Sunset, as the main driving reason.

"Sunset was released one month ago today," Tale of Tales said in a tweet. "We couldn't have picked a more appropriate title for our last game." The developer is linking to a blog post, which can be accessed here, but wasn't loading at time of writing.

This is a genuinely sad day for the industry, as Tale of Tales was one of the most consistently innovative and brave game developers around. Titles such as Luxuria Superbia, The Path, and Sunset itself all pushed the boundaries of interactivity, creating spaces to explore that no other developer would have (or could have) ever dreamed of. In an industry when independent developers so often ape their AAA counterparts, or build games of slavish homage to the retro era out of a sense of nostalgia, Tale of Tales was one of the few developers that could be genuinely considered unique.

At the same time, it was always easy to see how the industry frustrated Michael Samyn and Auriea Harvey, the two owners and founders of Tale of Tales. Though they clearly loved what interactivity meant to creating stories and artistic experiences, the commercial side of the industry, and the way it was so driven by certain themes (violence being one of them) put their work at odds with the kinds of games necessary to build a sustainable development business. When I spoke to them both to interview them for my book, one of my favourite anecdotes and moments from the interview came from Samyn, who related how he challenged himself not to play a violent game for a year as a New Year's resolution... and ended up missing almost everything released this year.

In that context I'm sure the duo see this step out of the games industry as a positive move, and an opportunity to explore their creativity in other mediums. And I wish them all the best for it, because their games have absolutely inspired me, and if anyone deserves success to go with their creativity, it's the Auriea and Michael.

Related reading: An interview with Tale of Tales from 2012.

With that said, as someone who cares deeply about games, from a purely selfish point of view it is both disappointing and crushing to see one less arthouse developer in an industry that badly needs them, however.

- Matt S. 
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld
Tale of Tales calls it quits and pulls the curtain on game development
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