So the time has finally come to talk about our new game, Blackwood Crossing. And we’re so excited about doing so (even if, honestly, we’re a little scared!). It’s a bit like a parent letting their kid out on their own for the first time.
Blackwood Crossing is a story-driven first-person adventure game, launching on Xbox One later this year.
It’s an intriguing, mysterious tale that explores the fragile relationship between orphaned siblings, Scarlett and Finn. When they cross paths with a mysterious figure, an ordinary train ride evolves into a magical story of life, love and loss.
You play as 14-year-old Scarlett, guided – and goaded – by your 10-year-old brother, Finn.
Navigating this powerful drama, where the world and your abilities develop in extraordinary ways, you are forced to examine your relationship with Finn. Orphaned when your parents died in a car accident, your relationship with him has always been strong. However, adolescence has opened the door to other interests away from home, and you’ve been growing apart.
As you gradually uncover the true depths of Finn’s anguish the consequences of your remoteness become shockingly clear.
The mood of the game rises and falls with the narrative. Light and loving tones turn into darker, angrier moments; playful and fun games turn into colder and more sorrowful explorations.
It’s an emotional ride for sure!
PaperSeven have been developing Blackwood Crossing for just over a year. It’s the first console / PC game from our independent Brighton-based studio, and is what we consider to be our first ‘grown up’ game.
The world of console and PC is not new to us though. The management team in the studio have over 40 years of games experience, and were all senior players at Disney-owned developer Black Rock Studio. So we bring a lot of prior knowledge. But the first four years of PaperSeven were spent on mobile games, and mostly work-for-hire properties.
So this transition is a huge deal for us.
We set up PaperSeven for a number of reasons; because we wanted to work in a smaller team environment; be completely responsible for the development of our games (not just managing them); and, perhaps most importantly, we wanted to be the masters of our own creative direction, and create games with a clear sense of style. It took four years but we’re proud to say we’ve achieved that goal in Blackwood Crossing. And our aim is to continue to develop our own games in this way.
Blackwood Crossing is evidence of our desire to explore experiences with depth and meaning, and create characters that challenge the often clichéd gaming landscape. The idea of having a female lead was one we felt strongly about from the beginning. We also wanted to create a relationship that was believable, and which people could relate to.
It’s interesting that the three of us who run the studio all now have kids, and our writer and lead designer, Oliver Reid-Smith is of a similar age. In developing Blackwood Crossing, we’ve explored issues around life, loss and relationships. Would we have come up with this concept in our twenties? I’m not so sure we would.
As an independent studio, there’s nowhere to hide, and there’s certainly no big brother to rely on if things don’t go to plan. It can be daunting, and we’ve made mistakes that we’ve had to learn from, and fast. But it’s hugely exciting, and empowering too!
There are 14 of us now in the studio – a great mix of senior, experienced talent, and those who are just beginning their careers within this wonderful industry. We were really pleased to bring in our writer and lead designer for Blackwood Crossing, Oliver Reid-Smith, a designer who we worked with at Black Rock and who has transitioned into writing, with credits including The Room series. We also have a number of grads that started their careers with us – and we’ve helped develop and nurture their talent. In turn, they’ve brought their own passion and ideas to the table.
We can’t wait to share more about the game over the coming months, ahead of its release later in the year.
We’ll shortly be running an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on the Xbox One subreddit, and would love to chat to you more about the ins-and-outs of the development and life at PaperSeven.
Bye for now, and thanks for reading!