It’s been a long time coming, but Routine — a sci-fi horror game with shades of the original Alien — finally has a release window. The game will be coming to Steam in March, and to celebrate the team released a slick new trailer.
Routine is a first-person horror game about exploring an abandoned moon base, and it’s an experience that’s been in the works for several years. The three-person development team at Lunar Software originally planned to launch in 2013 — though even then they knew it was likely to slip. "Making a good game for me is more important than a hard-set deadline," Lunar’s Aaron Foster told me back in 2012. "So we will keep it loose for now."
"It's a slow process."
According to Foster, there are multiple reasons for the prolonged development. "Our general inexperience with a project of this magnitude is a good place to start," he says. "But honestly the game design has been iterated on many times over the years, it's a slow process that has some benefits, but Routine could have really benefited a lot with more time in pre-production."
The premise of the game remains the same as before, with players exploring a creepy abandoned base with a chunky, ‘80s, retro futuristic vibe. But some changes have been made to the design. Originally the plan was for the base to mostly open, for instance — you could go just about anywhere even in the beginning — but the team ended up having to scrap that idea because it meant players had to do a lot of backtracking. "On the plus side this gave us two very different endings that take you to completely different areas of the moon base," says Foster. "And the reward for progression feels much stronger now."
A lot has changed since Routine was first announced. Virtual reality is now a reality, and sci-fi horror has become more prominent thanks to games like Alien: Isolation. (Foster says that Isolation was "an emotional roller coaster for us, from excitement to depression to just awe.") But over that time the team at Lunar has largely stayed quiet in its own bubble, working to refine its vision and finally get it out.
"The game is in a good place now and this feels like the home stretch," says Foster.