“Given the fact that this is a show basically made from start to finish in Unreal, you can see why Epic perked their ears up,” Mirabello said. “They were pretty intrigued, also because there’s no video content. You know that 90-second trailer that you saw? This entire episode is actually a smaller download footprint than a 4K version of the trailer we played.”
Mirabello didn’t divulge details about the deal between Epic and Terrible Posture, but said it was a new way of handling indie publishing.
“The way that this is being delivered is definitely a different approach to how games are built, how they’re funded and what their goals are,” he said. “With that said, the mission statement of this game isn’t necessarily to make money. It would be lovely and we have the soundtrack up there if people want to buy the soundtrack and support us more, that’s fantastic, but we want to make sure that as many people can play this as possible.”
In episode one of 3 out of 10, “Welcome to Shovelworks,” it’s Midge Potter’s first day on the job. In fact, she thinks she’s at Shovelworks for an interview, but she’s funneled directly into the exploded animator’s vacated role. At the office, Midge meets Pylon (a logical but happy-go-lucky programmer), Ben (who would just like to do his work, please), Francine (the ambivalent assistant with blue hair), Viper (the macho dude with an artist’s heart), Joan (the mom of the group) and Kevin (who thinks it’s a “twist” to build an endless runner… with an end). This is the main ensemble cast, and players will take control of different characters with each episode.
Their new project is Surfing with Sharks, and the internet is in an uproar because the virtual shark is a Great White, but Shovelworks insists on calling it a Tiger Shark. Well, at least Kevin does. On top of handling public perception and building a functional game in a rigid system, Midge is dealing with a mysterious handler who insists that Shovelworks can’t be allowed to build a good game. In the ensuing episodes, a larger narrative arc unfurls around the studio.
“I’ve got stories,” Mirabello said. “There’s no end of inspiration that we can think of to spoof and mock. This thing could go a long time. There is a progressing meta story, and so eventually that will go somewhere.”
Mirabello and Zukowski definitely have stories to spare. They worked together at 38 Studios between 2011 and 2012, building an ambitious MMO codenamed Project Copernicus — before the company publicly crumbled, taking the state of Rhode Island with it. 38 Studios, founded by former baseball pro Curt Schilling, obtained a $75 million loan from the state of Rhode Island to fund the development of Project Copernicus and another huge game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, meaning taxpayers would be on the hook if either of these titles failed. It was a gamble for the state, and it didn’t pay off. Three months after Kingdoms of Amalur came out, 38 Studios couldn’t make payroll. The company folded and Rhode Island citizens are still dealing with the fallout.
With 38 Studios in the rearview mirror, Mirabello went indie and developed Tower of Guns, which landed him his first solo hit in 2014. He followed it with MOTHERGUNSHIP, and now he’s back with Zukowski and building 3 out of 10.