Hiveswap is a video game set in the Homestuck universe. The story involves a human girl, Joey Claire, switching places with a troll on Alternia after she finds and accidentally activates a mysterious device in her attic. To return home, she must work with a group of troll rebels to prevent the activation of a doomsday weapon that threatens both of their worlds.
Hiveswap is the first game created by What Pumpkin Games and is made with the Unity game engine. It is being released as a four-part episodic title, with Act 1 released on September 14, 2017 and no release dates announced for the remaining three acts at the present.
As mentioned in an interview with the head writer, Cohen Edenfield, then in the official Hiveswap Act 1 highlights, the game is to be followed by a sequel titled Hauntswitch, featuring Dammek, the troll who switched planets with Joey. The games are announced to be "playable in either order", with saves continuing "from chapter to chapter, then from game to game".
Hiveswap will be released as four distinct episodes, or "acts." At present, only the first act has been released.
Act 1: Kansas City Shuffle
- Main article: Hiveswap: Act 1
Act 1 introduces Joey Claire and Jude Harley, the children of Jake Harley and A. Claire, in 1994. When their home, Half-Harley Manor, is assailed by mysterious monsters, Joey is driven into the attic, where she accidentally activates a portal and is transported to Alternia, switching places with an alien troll, Dammek. While there she meets Xefros Tritoh, and the pair find themselves in a dangerous situation.
Pre-production and original version
The project was announced by Andrew Hussie on September 4, 2012, and a Kickstarter campaign was launched to raise $700,000 to fund its production. The funding goal was met after just 32 hours; when the Kickstarter concluded on October 4 at 2:26pm EDT (18:26 UTC), the final total was $2,485,506 from 24,346 backers. Hours later, What Pumpkin launched a PayPal option for pledging that ran for two weeks and closed on October 18. With the additional funds from the Paypal campaign, the total funds raised surpassed $2,500,000, however an exact figure was not given. However, it likely isn't that much higher, seeing as Hussie still used the value "2.5 million bucks" to refer to the entire funds.
The original project timeline, as outlined in the Kickstarter, would have seen game development begin following the planned conclusion of Homestuck in 2013, with the game releasing sometime in 2014. However, as pre-production work began and it became clear that the project would require Hussie's immediate full attention, he put Homestuck on hiatus so he could focus on writing and planning for the game. This hiatus began after the end of Act 6 Intermission 5, and lasted from April 14 to June 12, 2013. Game work was also one of the factors that led to the year-long gigapause from October 16, 2013 to October 16, 2014.
The game was originally being developed by game studio The Odd Gentlemen, which publicly announced its involvement through a press release posted on Tumblr on June 21, 2014, revealing two pieces of concept art and one character model. Months later, however, the October 31, 2014 Kickstarter update stated that the game had changed hands and would "continue production in-house" under What Pumpkin Studios' newly-formed video game division, What Pumpkin Studios NYC. The update announced that the game's title would be Hiveswap and outlined the plans for an episodic release model and a second game. At this point in its life, the game was being developed with 3D graphics.
The Hiveswap website launched on February 15, 2015, advertising an Act 1 release in spring 2015 (later revised to mid-2015). An asset reel of 3D character models was included in the the March 26, 2015 update, and a teaser trailer was posted on April 10.
On July 20, 2015, What Pumpkin announced that We Love Fine (now known as For Fans By Fans) would be taking over production of Homestuck merchandise, allowing What Pumpkin to restructure and focus on making games. In what would be the final update for the original version of Hiveswap, posted the same day, it was stated that the game was being delayed due to the restructuring and the developers' move into a larger office.
Final version and Act 1 release
The next update, posted on December 25, 2015, revealed that Hiveswap and its developer had changed enormously over the preceding months. The increasing time and financial demands required by 3D modelling, as well as some engineering issues, had prompted What Pumpkin to scrap the 3D graphics and remake the game with 2D art instead. As part of this change, What Pumpkin Studios NYC had been closed and replaced with a geographically decentralized operation that would cost less money to run.
On October 6, 2016, the first trailer for the new incarnation of Hiveswap was released, announcing a January 2017 release for Act 1. At the same time, the game was submitted to Steam Greenlight and approved for release on Steam on December 28. The January release date was not met, however, and the game's release was pushed back further to allow for additional bug testing. On April 13, 2017, another trailer was released along with a statement from Cohen Edenfield, saying that the next time a release date would be provided would be just prior to Act 1's launch. A launch trailer released on August 29, 2017 advertised a release date of September 14, and Act 1 and its soundtrack were released on that day.
Continued development and further Acts
On November 11, 2017, What Pumpkin announced a Spring 2018 release date for Act 2, as well as the weekly Troll Call event in which new Hiveswap characters would be revealed every Wednesday in the run-up to the release.
In late March and early April 2018, several high-profile members of the What Pumpkin Games team working on Hiveswap announced that they were no longer working at the company. These included the project director, Cohen Edenfield, composers Toby Fox and James Roach, and artists Shelby Cragg and Phil "Poinko" Gibson. However, some continued to do official Homestuck work for Hiveswap Friendsim in a part-time capacity (James Roach most frequently). These changes occurred concurrently with the shifting of Homestuck content from the original hosting site at mspaintadventures.com to homestuck.com, and the takeover of the management of said content by Viz Media. On April 3rd, 2018, a post on the What Pumpkin tumblr revealed that the company was going through a period of transition, and would in the short term be focusing on creating "smaller, fun, lightweight games that can be produced more quickly," but that the production of the main acts of Hiveswap would continue as the top priority to the company as "the approach to (their) development evolved". This was followed by the announcement of Hiveswap Friendship Simulator , as the first of these "smaller" games set within the Hiveswap world to bridge the gap between acts.
Changes between development versions
Despite Kickstarter's stretch goal that all backers could beta test Hiveswap, only the episodes' final builds were released along with occasional bug fixes. Some early concepts and screenshots were released, however:
- All 3D models and animation were scrapped by December 2015 to use 2D art instead
- At least two UIs have been scrapped from the final work; The first used similar icons on the top of the screen for the characters, Abilitechs, the communicator slot and setting buttons while the sylladex was on the screen's bottom; Then on August 2015 another UI similar to the final product was shown, but with the sylladex and the character's icon on the screen's left corner
- Most if not all inventory/portrait icons had their sprites changed twice
- Various troll concepts have been scrapped or changed; These characters do not canonically exist in the game and the changes were brought by the mindset of what would be visually dynamic in 2D animation
- The sylladex was originally black (at least on Earth) as opposed to green/yellow
- Jude's shirt symbol used to be green and gray instead of (mostly) blue and gray, and Joey's symbol was the dog drawn on her diary
- Most references to copyrighted material were remained in the shift to 2D development but got changed to parodies months before the game's release
Hiveswap Friendship Simulator
- Main article: Hiveswap Friendship Simulator
On April 3rd, 2018, What Pumpkin announced the first official Hiveswap spinoff game series, Hiveswap Friendship Simulator, as part of a new strategy to produce smaller, lightweight games inbetween Hiveswap acts. The game is written by various authors and is a platonic riff on the visual novel dating sim format, with the player interacting with the characters in order to befriend them. The first Friendsim volume, Hiveswap Friendship Simulator: Volume One, released on April 13th, 2018, and features Diemen and Ardata, characters who debuted during the Troll Call. The Volume One trailer can be found here. Subsequent volumes were released at a rate of one every two weeks, each featuring (at least) two new Troll Call characters and six (or occasionally more) endings. In all, 18 total volumes and an epilogue were released, featuring all 38 Troll Call trolls.
- The game exists for the sole purpose of keeping wiki editors busy.
- The concept art for the circus area resembles the art style of some of Andrew Hussie's earlier work, such as And It Don't Stop and Whistles.
- A full new Alternian Alphabet has been introduced in the game and its albums. This change was probably made to avoid copyright claims from Bethesda, as the Alternian "Daedric Alphabet" of the comic is simply a vertically flipped edit of its namesake from the Elder Scrolls series of video games.
- List of Hiveswap characters
- List of Hiveswap locations
- Hiveswap achievements
- Hiveswap: Act 1
- Hiveswap: Act 2
- Hiveswap Friendship Simulator
- Troll Call
- Official website
- Hiveswap purchase links
|Works by Andrew Hussie|
|MS Paint Adventures||Jailbreak • Bard Quest • Problem Sleuth (Midnight Crew) • Homestuck • Ryanquest|
|Team Special Olympics||Blurb • Scriblettes • Whistles • And It Don't Stop • Neon Ice Cream Headache|
|Videogames||Namco High • Hiveswap • Hiveswap Friendship Simulator • Pesterquest|
|Other||Barty Anderson • Jandrew Edits • Wizardology • Paradox Space • The Homestuck Epilogues • Homestuck^2: Beyond Canon|