- "Build the team, not just for the next game, but for the next series of games."
- — Guillaume - The Cost of Joy
Compulsion Games are the developers behind We Happy Few, established in 2009 by creative director, Guillaume Provost.
- 1 History
- 2 Contrast
- 3 We Happy Few
- 4 Trivia
- 5 Gallery
Guillaume Provost, who had previously worked for Arkane Studios, founded Compulsion Games in Montreal, Canada, setting up their studio in an old gramophone factory. Guillaume began the studio with the idea of building a place where the team could create creative, interesting games.
At first, the team worked on external projects to raise funds for their first game, Contrast.
At E3 2018, Microsoft announced that they entered an agreement to acquire Compulsion Games, meaning they'd be part of Microsoft Studios.
In 2013, during the production of Contrast, the team was made up of 5 employees. In 2015, during the production of We Happy Few, the team was made up of 10 employees, which grew up to 40 in 2018 once the game released.
As of 2020, the team is made up of 60 employees.
- Guillaume Provost – Creative Director
- Alex Epstein – Narrative Director
- David Sears – Design Director
- Whitney Clayton – Art Director
- Matt Robinson – Tech Director
- Naila Hadjas – PR & Community Developer
- Sam Abbott – Chief Operating Officer, Businessman™
- Joshua Mills – Game Designer
- Marc Audouy – Programmer
- Camille Martel – Programmer
- Jean-Richard Beaudry – Animator
- Nicolas Marquis – Composer
- Jon Licht – Composer
- Antoine Ladouceur – Level Designer
- Emmanuel Lauzon – Environment Artist
- Marc-André Voyer – 3D Environment Artist
- Taber Noble – Environment Artist
- Clara Pougeard – Filmmaker/Multimedia Specialist
- Stephanie Gregory – Senior Quality Assurance Tester
- "We would like to give special thanks to all our Kickstarter backers! All 7,433 of you who wanted to be Downers right from the beginning. Thank you."
- — The Team, Credits
A 1920's adventure puzzle game, Contrast was developed and released in 2013. The game focused on a little girl, Didi, and her friend, Dawn.
The player was in control of Dawn, who lived in a world of light and shadow, able to shift between the two at will. Everything Dawn does is in spirit of aiding Didi's dysfunctional family, but something darker was at play.
Generally, the game got mixed reception. The game had a couple of technical bugs, repetitive gameplay, and some agreed that the execution fell a bit flat. However, the game was praised for it's atmosphere, story beats, strong dialogue, and a few great puzzles that it offered.
After the game was released, the team was tired of the puzzle genre and instead wanted to create something more elevating, while still capable for a small team to create.
The project had been in development since early 2014, but they announced the project on the 30th of January, 2015. Although the name of the project wasn't known at the time.
The name 'We Happy Few' wouldn't be revealed until the 26th of January, the same year. They'd also be going to PAX East 2015 to showcase it early in order to get feedback, a factor that they recognized was important based on the amount of feedback they got after Contrast's release.
On the 4th of June, 2015, the kickstarter was launched (see Gallery). Within 24 hours, the kickstarter had reached nearly 2,000 backers, and a 15 minute video of pre-alpha gameplay was released.
The initial goal for the project was $250,000. However, backers raised well above the starting goal, causing the team to set up a list of things they'll do when they reach that amount.
- 265,000. Drug Paradise (Funded)
- 280,000. Sandbox Mode (Funded)
- 315,000. Extra Uncle Jack Shows (Funded)
- 320,000. Authentic English Weather
- 350,000. Wellie Mode!
The tiers list included the following;
- $8 The Beer Tier: All pledges goes towards "developer sanity" beers, backers receive updates and thanks. (130 backers)
- $30 The Downer Tier: Backers get the finished game on PC, DRM-free or on Steam. (3,299 backers)
- $40 Digital Collector Tier: Everything from the previous tier + the soundtrack (FLAC) and Art Book (PDF). (880 backers)
- $60 The Pre-Alpha Tier: Everything from the previous two tiers + Pre-Alpha access to We Happy Few. (1,285 backers)
- $70 The Shadow Tier: Everything from the previous three tiers + Collector's Edition of Contrast (the game, soundtrack, and artbook). (392 backers)
- $80 The Goods Tier: Everything from the previous four tiers + a backer T-shirt and a poster. (157 backers)
- $150 The Best Mate: A 2nd copy of We Happy Few for a friend, including the digital soundtrack, artbook, AND pre-alpha access. (45 backers)
- $225 The Librarian: A coffee table artbook (hardbook), + everything from the Goods tier. (46 backers)
- $350 The Boxer: Signed We Happy Few Collector's box + a copy of the game, coffee table artbook, soundtrack on CD, and a blue-ray of Uncle Jack's shows + everything from the Goods tier. (54 backers)
- $400 The Vandal: Create your own drawing, message, or graffiti incorporated into the world + everything from the Goods tier. (6 backers)
- $500 The Decorator: A signed high quality concept art print by Whitney Clayton (The Lady or the Bobby) + everything from the Goods tier. (3 backers)
- $1,500 The Collector: Choose from one of the original paintings used to create the visual direction and it'll be carefully transferred to oil on canvas, signed by Whitney Clayton + everything from the Goods tier. (1 backer)
- $2,500 Part of the Scenery: Your face on a propaganda poster in-game, and a high quality canvas print signed by Uncle Jack + everything from the Goods tier.
- $5,000 A Delightful Voice: Voice a Wellie (British accents only) and get a VIP invitation to the launch party + everything from the Goods tier.
- $5,000 The Ignominious End: Become immortalized in the history of Wellington Wells by having a scenario crafted about your own demise, and a VIP invitation to the launch party.
- $5,000 Uncle Jack's Best Mate: Send Uncle Jack a letter or drawing and he will showcase it on his show in the game, and a VIP invitation to the launch party.
- $25 The Early Bird Catches Jack Tier: Backers get the finished game on PC, DRM-free or on Steam. Cheaper for a limited time. (1,000 backers)
In the end, the project recieved 7,344 backers, who raised CA$334,754.
As a thank-you, a special note which lists 2,451 of the backers' names can be found in a secret room at the Hamlyn "O" Courant.
This reward only accounted for those who pledged for "The Pre-Alpha Tier" or above.
We Happy Few is LIVE!
26th of July, 2016, Early Access was available on Xbox One and Steam. A new gameplay trailer was also released.
8th of December, 2016, the Clockwork Update was done.
- A new shelter was added that was supposed to show how Arthur got to where he is after the prologue.
- Every quest and encounter now tracked exactly where the player was at any given time.
- Small cutscenes were implemented that stopped the player to focus on what the person told them, so they couldn't walk away while the person was talking to them.
- Saving and loading was improved.
- NPCs were given scripted behaviour alongside their regular systemic behaviour, allowing them to perform specific actions.
- Map markers were more reliable and consistent.
The following quests were also improved on as a result of the new quest tracking system, some were also given new animations:
- If You Give a Pig a Pancake
- Mushroom Log
- Looks Like Rain
- Biological Hazard
- Fine Cuisine
- It's A Terrible Life
- Crazy Legs
- Blood in the Streets
- House of Faraday
- Moon Juice Leech
- Lilies of the Field
- OD Wellie
- Record Location 1
- Record Location 3
- Altar of the Yam
- The Dollhouse
- Cult of Jack
- Hallucinogenic Salad
- Wounded Wastrel
- Mine! Mine! All Mine!
- Bring Out Your Dead
- Where's the Power
- Public Works
- The Vandals Took the Handle
- Mysterious Chest
- Mystery House
- Popped Popper
- Green Thumb
23rd of March, 2017.
- Playstyles were introduced,
Birdwatcher: Story oriented, no intention for scavenging or combat engagion.
Downer: Blends story and survival aspects into one
Vigilante: Increased importance of scavenging for food, and combat is challenging.
- A whole new island, Maidenholm, was introduced.
- Procedural music was implemented, with more variations and combinations between the states of the game (suspicion, combat, Joy, non Joy)
- Regions in the Garden District (hamlets, forests, meadows, etc.)
- Bridges got refactored into requiring the player to open the gates in order to go through to the next island.
- Peepers were introduced.
- Headboys patrol the Garden District at night, and will also guard the pumps at all times.
- Second Wind got repurposed. Instead of waking up in a dying state, the player will instead go into the dying state as their health and needs gets low. Applied to whether the player was on Permadeath or not.
- Dig spots got refactored.
- Male Compliment Machines got added.
- Certain bushes, carts, and flower pots can be hidden in.
- Wastrels will now make the player bleed instead of infecting them.
- Toxic Fog got slight improvements.
- 5 save slots became available.
- Subtitle support got improved.
- The Chemist and Pub has opened for business.
- New shelters got added to St. George's Holm and Lud's Holm.
- Loot got added to the Mystery House.
- The House of Curious Behaviours got refactored to allow for more varied gameplay scenarios.
- Plague got updated, with a better explanation of how dangerous it is.
More quests were added to both islands:
- Mother’s Little Helper
- The Church of Simon Says
- Super Meat Boy
- Sympathy for the Devil
- What Have We Buried
- The Odds and Ends quest line
- The Butcher quest line
- Speaker's Corner
- Madame's Magic Wand
Life in Technicolour
16th of August, 2017.
- Joy got overhauled with new mechanics and five stages: regular, high, overdose, crash, and withdrawal. Each stage has its own lightning, visual effects, and audio.
- Sunshine has its own UI status effect, separate from Joy
- Stealth and conformity got reworked., NPCs got better at explaining what is making them upset.
- New manual saving ability.
- Jubilators and Headmistresses got introduced.
- Item prices got rebalanced.
- Looting from plants and bushes is instantaneous.
- Plague no longer kills the player.
- Workbenches and Chemistry Sets are tiered, and need to be upgraded if the player wants higher quality items.
- The game will pause when the player menu is open.
- Player menu got overhauled with a much more lively inventory, journal, map, status, and crafting screens.
- New bartering, quick loot, and container screens.
- New weight-based inventory, no more Tetris menu. Inventory expansions will increase the weight the player can carry.
- Fast travel is available
- A bleeding icon will appear when an NPC is bleeding
- Sleep widget tells the player how many hours they're going to sleep. It will not let the player sleep if it'll kill them.
- Dying UI icon shows how close the player is to death.
- Ruined churches, cellars, and bee hives got introduced.
- The Shady Dealer opens for business.
- Arthur's arms now change based on the clothes he wears.
- Joy Doctors are introduced, but not complete.
- Facial animations got added for NPC grunts
- Female Compliment Machines are now available.
- Improved dig spot variation.
- New animated loading screens.
- The Slaughterer’s Apprentice
- Start Spreading the News
- Cub Reporter
- Sing Body Electric
- The Great Stink
- My First Jubilator
- Old Soldiers
- Speaker’s Corner (reworked)
19th January, 2018. A release schedule was announced, delaying the release of We Happy Few to the summer of 2018. Sally got teased as a thank you for everyone remaining patient.
The Last Journal
11th May, 2018. The tutorial island, Barrow Holm was made due to the unanimous feedback of people struggling to understand how the world worked.
The Big Reveal
We Happy Few is finally released on August 10, 2018.
22nd of March, 2019. Arcade mode is announced, having been promised in the kickstarter campaign (loosely titled as Sandbox and Wellie Mode). Three game modes will be released: Survival, The Night Watch, and Sandbox.
Survival is a return to the Early Access survival experience, The Night Watch allows the player to live the nightly life of one of the most notorious bobby; Constable Constable. And Sandbox is the non-narrative/non-goal experience, meant to be a more calmer experience.
Arcade mode got launched on the 25th of March, 2019.
They Came From Below becomes available on the 4th of April, 2019.
Lightbearer becomes available on the 30th of July, 2019.
We All Fall Down becomes available on the 19th November, 2019.
- The name of the studio, Compulsion, was picked due to their desire to make games.