Jobs!

*Edit: We found our animator! Job post changed to reflect our current needs*

We are looking for a senior character artist, full time or contract, who excels at both designing and modeling intriguing characters in any style, and can also help out with environment art if the need arises.

We would prefer applicants who are very comfortable making 3D games from white box to polished product, in Maya/Max and in-engine. If you apply, you should be someone who can work in interesting, creative styles, and have the imagination and self motivation to take an abstract mockup and turn it into something stunning and meaningful, while also paying close attention to gameplay limitations.

Good communication skills and the ability to take and incorporate critique is a must, a generally pleasant and chill nature is a plus.

We would prefer someone who is based around San Francisco and can work in the office.

Please send portfolios to jobs@thekla.com

Printable Panels!

IMG_4442

Hey there! Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of requests from people who want to buy framed panels, like the ones we have hanging in our office. We talked a little bit about how we might sell these with Jon, but decided it would be best to just release the images we used to print ours for free, and that way peeps can print their own however they like.

An important suggestion would be to print these on semi-glossy or glossy paper, as the colors tend to turn out completely faded on regular paper. Back when we were printing these, Luis tweaked the colors for some so they look better printed, so they might not be completely accurate on a monitor, but should look nice on paper.

Also, we just went to a nearby art store and picked out a bunch of square frames. We got mostly 8×8 inch and a couple of 12×12 inch ones. Most of the frames were just minimal black plastic, and only cost about $6, if I remember correctly, but we got nicer ones for a couple of the 12×12 ones, like the boat panel. You could probably even make Witness monitor style frames for them if you are crazy enough, that would be fun to see!

Here are the files we used:

Panels_16 Panels_7 Panels_6 Panels_19 Panels_3 Panels_4 Panels_5 Panels_10 Panels_1 Panels_17 Panels_15 Panels_14 Panels_13 Panels_12 Panels_11 Panels_9 Panels_8 Panels_18 Panels_2 Panels_20 Panels_Map

I’ll be having a reddit AMA on Friday the 12th of February

If you don’t know what that is, it means people can ask a bunch of questions and I type furiously to answer them in the time allotted.

This will be Friday, February 12th, starting at 1pm Eastern (10am Pacific) and going for …  a while?

I have made a new reddit account with the fabulous name of “Jonathan_Blow” for these purposes. (Note the underscore! There are some other accounts with similar names!)

Maybe we can also get some other people from the team in there answering questions.

The thread is now up.

 

Fun Sales Fakts

The Witness has now been on sale for a week, so it seems like a good time to post a financial summary. Often, independent developers find these kinds of numbers useful in making their own plans, and the general public can find them interesting too.

There is a wrinkle, which is that I can’t be too precise about the sales results on specific platforms, because often when we sign a deal with a particular store, we agree not to reveal their sales numbers. I am actually not sure at this time which stores we are allowed to be specific about and which we aren’t, and I would have to dig up and sort through a number of contracts to be sure about it; but that is not a good use of time right now, since I am spending most of my day supporting the users who have technical problems (shipping games on PCs these days is really not fun). The situation can be thorny in subtle ways, too, because if I post information about all stores but one, then I am implicitly revealing the sales figures for that last store, which is not allowed.

Finally, I want to make clear that we did not make this game in order to make money. We were trying to build a beautiful / interesting / intricate thing, first and foremost. The money just helps us stay in business in order to build new things. It is very easy on the Internet to read a financial posting like this cynically, so I urge folks out there not to do that.

Okay, so here’s what I can say:

Across all platforms, The Witness has totalled over $5 million USD gross revenue in the first week, and it has sold substantially more than 100,000 units.

This is a good chunk more revenue in one week than Braid made in its entire first year, from August 2008-September 2009. (Braid initially launched on XBLA in August 2008, and it came to Steam in April 2009). Braid was considered a hit independent game at the time.

We can also compare sales by units instead of revenue; this is a little more of an apples-to-oranges comparison because The Witness has a higher price than Braid did (Braid launched at $14.99 [$16.50 when inflation-adjusted to 2015 dollars], and The Witness launched at $39.99). By number of units, the first week of each individual platform handily beats Braid’s first week of sales. (Witness on PC by itself beat Braid’s first week by a decent margin, and Witness on PSN by itself beat Braid’s first week by a decent margin, counting only by number of units). This is great because as price goes up, naturally the number of units sold goes down. So the fact that we beat Braid by units, more than doubly, is a really nice success.

The Witness launched on two platforms, PSN and Windows PC. Neither of these platforms dominates our sales; PC is very strong for us, and PSN is very strong for us.

There are some publicly-available guesstimates for specific platforms on sites such as SteamSpy, but the numbers that SteamSpy is reporting for The Witness are a bit too low (though this is kind of to be expected, I guess, from the way that site works).

So, the game is doing great. That doesn’t mean we have broken even on our development cost yet! Because our development budget was so high, $5 million in revenue is not enough to recover it yet (because we split that revenue with the storefronts, we have to subtract VAT in Europe, etc). However, it is looking like, as time goes on, we should break even and make a comfortable safety margin on top of that, which will allow us to make more nice games in the future — unless some kind of world economic disaster happens.

As I mentioned, right now we are dealing mostly with PC graphics driver problems, and we are also working on adding some features to the game about configurable controls and rendering options, for PC and PS4.

After this, in the near future, we will start investigating the bringing the game to other platforms. Under serious consideration are: iOS, Android, Xbox One, OS X. We will provide more-concrete information about these as it becomes available!

 

Price and Pre-Orders

A lot of people have been asking about the price, so: The price of the game on both Steam and PSN will be $39.99 / €36.99 / £29.99.

A lot of people have been asking about preorders too. Preorders will go live on Steam and the Humble Store (and on this web site) today at noon PST. Unfortunately we won’t have preorders on PSN, because apparently developers have to set those up months in advance and we didn’t know that!

The preorders are regular price! They contain an amazing bonus pack-in: the warm fuzzy feeling that you have pre-ordered the game. (And that’s all). So it’s exactly the same as buying the game at launch, except earlier.

shot_2015.09.16__time_13_00_n37

If you buy from the Humble Store, 10% of the price goes to the Against Malaria Foundation. For a lot of us in developed nations, malaria seems like a far-away thing that you only think about when you go on a really adventurous trip, but in many parts of the world it’s a serious problem. The good news is that we are making great progress in reducing incidence of malaria, see this report:



The Against Malaria Foundation is rated one of the most cost-effective charities in the world by both Giving What We Can and Givewell, two organizations focused on ensuring that charitable donations do maximum good in the world. Giving What We Can has a good high-level description of the philosophy behind this movement.

Whose voices are in The Witness?

We’re a couple of weeks away from our release date, and we’ve just finished recording the last of the voice acting, which means it’s a good time to tell you about the actors!

The Witness deliberately riffs on several traditional elements of game design, and one of those elements is the classic audio log, where you are wandering along and you find a recording that was placed there by someone before. The Witness has recordings like this, but let’s just say they are done in a highly non-traditional way. When you first encounter them you won’t find much in the way of answers, but, if you keep looking, you will eventually be able to piece together what’s going on.

These are the folks whose fine voicework you will hear in these recordings:

Ashley Johnson, who you may know as Ellie from The Last of Us, or from her roles in Tales from the Borderlands and Infamous First Light. She also plays the smartest person on the hit TV show Blindspot. You can find Ashley on Twitter.

 


image1

Phil LaMarr, who I best know as Marvin from Pulp Fiction, but who you may know as Vamp in Metal Gear Solid 2 and 4, or as Ratbag from Shadow of Mordor. He also played Hermes in Futurama and Ollie Williams in Family Guy! You can follow his random musings here.


 

Matthew301 8x10Matthew Waterson, who played very English person Sir Lucan in The Order: 1886, an has recently acted in Fallout 4 and Halo 5. Check out Matthew’s amazing Sean-Connery-themed profile picture.


 

IMG_3356 Terra Deva, an oft-performing musician, including recent hit single “At Night” with the swiss group Shakedown (though she doesn’t play music in The Witness because we don’t have music in The Witness! She is acting!) and veteran of… The Mickey Mouse Club!!!! (Among many other places!) Terra’s Twitter page is here.

 


We recorded these sessions at Warner Bros. Studios. Our voice director was Liam O’Brien, who has also done quite a bit of acting in games himself. Pierce O’Toole acted as the great force of organization throughout the process and many things would have gone worse were it not for him!

Having said all this, I will warn you that the story in The Witness, such as it is, is fairly subtle and happens mostly implicitly. You really have to explore and read between the lines to know what’s going on. So do not expect a traditional game story like The Last of Us or The Order! All that said, we are very happy to have these actors lending their talents to our game, and I look forward to release when you’ll see what we’ve been up to.