PAX East 2015 Recap

Hello everyone!

We showed the game to the public last week!  Hurray!  We went to PAX East in Boston on 6-8 March, and showed a very, very early version of We Happy Few.  For those of you who couldn’t make it, we wanted to write up a quick recap of the pre-alpha that we showed, to tell you in our own words what We Happy Few is all about.

The booth

We all had an AMAZING time at PAX East.  We love going to shows and meeting fellow gamers and devs, and it just makes it more obvious to us how awesome and enthusiastic the gaming community is.  If you came and said hello, thank you!  We hope you enjoyed the first look.

We also got a lot of media coverage, so hopefully some of you have read some previews of what it’s all about.

To fill in those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a proper rundown on the most important question: What is We Happy Few?

  • The one-liner: WHF is the story of a small group of moderately terrible people, who must survive in a doomed, happiness-obsessed, dystopian society until they are able to get the hell out.

  • How do I explain this to others? The simplest explanation we found at PAX, although it’s not perfect, is that WHF is “Don’t Starve meets Bioshock”.  First person stylized world that is reminiscent of Bioshock, with gameplay elements and replayable nature of Don’t Starve.

  • The setting: WHF takes place in the town of Wellington Wells, a fictional town in an alternative version of 1960s England, where no one is aware of their impending doom, except you.  The Wellies of Wellington Wells are obsessed with happiness; so absolutely convinced that they need to be happy that they go to extreme lengths to keep themselves that way.  

  • Like what? Among other things, everyone in Wellington Wells is high out of their minds on a drug called Joy.  Joy is the best drug you’ve ever taken - it makes you happy and content.  Life is good on Joy, and everything is just sunshine and rainbows.  Except for the side effects, which include memory loss and a slight tendency towards psychosis, but don’t worry because you can’t remember them anyway.  As a result, they’ve created a world where anybody that isn’t happy isn’t welcome… and they call those outcasts “Downers”.

  • Downers? Yes, my dear reader, you guessed it.  You are a downer, man.  You need to blend in, and you’re not going to find it easy.

  • The genre: “First Person Urban/Societal Survival Roguelike”.  

  • Are you serious, dude, how the hell is that a genre?  Yeah, genres these days are really taking the piss.  I’m hoping we’ll get a better explanation when it’s ready, but for now, let us explain what those all mean:

    • Roguelike: WHF is a highly replayable, procedurally generated world, where you must escape from the world before time runs out, and you only have one life.  First person: it’s first person. 

    • Survival: you need to not die before you escape, but the food and water are laced with Joy, so you have to manage your drug levels too.  

    • Urban: procedural city, not a wilderness.  

    • Societal: the survival rules are all about blending in with the inhabitants (we were going to say “social”, but we did not want to imply integration with facebook ;) ).

  • Can you give me an example?  You run around, collecting food and water, trying not to overdose on Joy, trying not to raise the suspicion of the people around you, all the while trying to figure out how the hell you need to escape.  Often, they will hit you with a frying pan.

  • So there’s combat? There sure is.

  • Will there be story: Yes, and we’re pretty excited about it.  We’ve been working on the story in the background since we started, and while it’s pretty ambitious, it’s coming along very nicely.  However, we’re keeping it under wraps until release - story is the one part of the game that we want to surprise the community with when it’s ready.  In the meantime, we can work with the community on the game itself. 

  • Multiplayer?  Not right now. Focusing on the core single player experience first.

  • Inspirations: Brazil (Terry Gilliam), The Prisoner, A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, 1984, Doctor Who.  Bravo to the internet for getting all of those from our trailer.

  • Platforms: PC first (Kickstarter/Early Access), consoles later.

  • Release date: Not confirmed yet.  It’ll depend very much on how Kickstarter/Early Access goes.  We’re currently in pre-alpha.

  • Kickstarter?  See below!

We are also thinking about streaming the game one night in the next couple of weeks, to run through the PAX build and explain things to people who couldn’t make it to PAX.  Let us know if you’re interested in seeing that. 

Hamlyn Village

Trying to explain that to people at PAX in one breath was a bit of a challenge, but the feedback was very positive.  

If you came by our booth to play the game and signed up for a chance to win access to the pre-alpha, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you! We will hold the draw and contact the winners soon, alongside those who won instant access, with more detailed instructions (we want to wait until we’ve got a new build ready to go, as we already have heaps of feedback on the PAX build). We also wanted to give a shout out those who completed one of our two scenarios and won access to the pre-alpha, some of you even came back every day with notes and maps! Your dedication was impressive, and just a little bit surprising.  Thank you :)

Soon: Kickstarter!

The next step for us is to hold a Kickstarter campaign, that is focused around getting more people involved in WHF’s development.  We’re still working this out, but the idea behind the Kickstarter is to help fund more community development.  The more you guys want to contribute to Kickstarter, the more time we can put into the game.  

If you guys have any ideas/suggestions about our Kickstarter campaign (what you think we’ll want to explain, what kind of rewards tiers would you be interested in, etc), then let us know on the forums!


Thanks everyone for all the love shown to WHF so far.  We’re working hard on the game behind the scenes with our Friends and Family, but we’re looking forward to opening it up soon.  

Discuss this post here.