Associate editor Lauren Morton chose Book of Travels (opens in new tab) as her personal pick (opens in new tab) for game of the year in 2021, but she also acknowledged that its unusual ways—it's "distinctly inconvenient," as she put it—might put some players off. That appeared to be the case in December 2021, when developer Might and Delight laid off (opens in new tab) a large portion of its staff, although it vowed to continue development of the game.
To its credit, Might and Delight has stuck with it. Earlier this week it posted a new early access development roadmap, and today it dove deeper into what it all means (opens in new tab), and what players can expect in the future.
"It is important to understand what we are trying to address," the studio wrote. "We always said we would not hand hold in this game. The downside of this is that sales suffered because people say there is no content. We have dozens of negative reviews where people played for a few hours, found nothing to do, and then reacted negatively."
Might and Delight said the challenge is to get people into the content without abandoning its no-handholding commitment: "To nudge players along without drawing a big arrow saying 'It’s over here'," as the studio put it. Some of the changes to help make that happen will be small and subtle, like tweaks to item descriptions and gossip, and others, like the addition of a Prologue that will help "pave the way to Kasa," the main city in Book of Travels, will be more overt.
Vehicles are also being rewritten to make them "more reliable" and predictable, a new movement system that may include controller support (that's apparently still up in the air) is in the works, a new time system is being worked on, perma-death "will kind of return," and the in-game economy will undergo a "major change."
The lack of a quest log is also being looked at, although this is a particularly tricky complaint to address because of Might and Delight's overall goals for the game.
"We hear the frustration about not being able to write down things in the game and having no direct quest tracking system," the studio wrote. "We can add a quest tracking system, but that breaks our goal of not hand holding. We have an idea that fits between these two ends but essentially tracks where you have been and if you have seen or heard anything of use but will not say, 'There is something behind that tree'."
It has to be a tough position to be in: Wanting to maintain the distinctiveness of a purposefully unusual game, while simultaneously needing to attract an audience large enough to keep the lights on. Might and Delight clearly has some big ideas about making Book of Travels more accessible without giving up its essential character, and I very much hope it has the opportunity to pull them off.