Ten years is a long time in any business, but it’s an eternity in video games. Technology and design is always evolving, and always at the fastest pace imaginable. So it’s both incredible and absolutely wonderful today that we get to slow things down a little and revisit a game that I first wrote about in 2012, but which still isn’t out yet.
That game is Routine, which a decade ago looked like a neat little horror experience that was taking some cues from survival games and Dead Space. It was first-person, it was set on a moon base, and I was very into it.
It returned a year later with a proper gameplay trailer showing that, while we didn’t know it at the time, it was pioneering some very strong Alien Isolation vibes, a game that also had a retro-future aesthetic and an emphasis on exploration horror, but which wouldn’t be released until 2014.
And then...nothing. The game disappeared. Truth be told I forgot all about it. That was until today, when the game’s “re-reveal trailer” dropped, showing that nine years in the wilderness had left us with a game that looked...well, entirely new:
So why the break? Games disappearing for a year or two is nothing new, but nine years in pipeline is almost unheard of for a game that’s not called Duke Nukem Forever or Star Citizen. It turns out the main reason is simply the fact the team decided, after five years of development and with Routine nearing completion, they weren’t happy with what they’d made. So they binned it and started over, found a publisher and are now back.
Here’s the full statement from the team explaining their decision, absence and ultimate return (and why there’s no release date attached to this news):
We’re Aaron, Jemma, and Pete – also known as Lunar Software.
It’s been a while since we talked about Routine, and we’d like to discuss that a bit today.
In short, we’ve essentially restarted production of the game. What we’re sharing here today is in-game footage of Routine. So why did we make the tough decision to start over?
As we were approaching what we believed to be the end of development, we were finding more and more things that we weren’t happy with that negatively impacted the experience. We had worked on the project for 5 years at that point and simply couldn’t release it as it was.
We were surviving on an extremely tight budget. The financial stress began taking a toll on us, especially as we realised we needed to work on things for longer. Routine at this point became a part-time project as we had to work on other jobs/projects to stay afloat. We went from having a release date, to not even knowing when we might be able to release. It was a massive strain on us as we had let ourselves, our friends & family, as well as all of our supporters & fans down.
We struggled and didn’t know how to deal with that or how to fix it. At the time we just wanted to say sorry. But didn’t know how we could even begin to do that without giving some sort of development time window. We weren’t expecting it to take as long as it did – and for those of you who have been waiting patiently, we’re truly sorry.
It took us a while to figure out how to finish the project and deliver it as the experience we intended, but when a line of communication opened with Raw Fury, we knew we had found a partner who would be able to support us in all the areas we previously struggled with.
To everybody who has waited both long and short, we want to say thank you for all of the love, support & patience. We’re excited to be back and working with Raw Fury, so we can finally bring Routine to you.
While we won’t be repeating the mistake of sharing a release date until we’re entirely confident we can hit it, we didn’t want to keep you waiting any longer and felt that it was time to share what we’ve been working on.
We can’t wait to hear what you think.