The developer of upcoming survival title The Day Before relies on unpaid workers to finish the game.
The Day Before came out of nowhere and went viral due to a short gameplay demonstration. The footage shown so far looks like a blend of Ubisoft’s The Division and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us – a zombie survival game where other players are as dangerous as the flesh-eating hordes. It’s the most wishlisted game on Steam, with over 100,000 adding it to their must-play pile.
Open-world. Survival. Triple-A production values. The Day Before is an ambitious project for a developer most people haven’t heard of. All of the ‘gameplay’ videos released so far have been highly scripted.
It’s the video game equivalent of one of those viral videos where someone throws a basketball backward from right across the court and it lands through the hoop. You know it’s staged. You know it’s smoke and mirrors and probably took 1000 attempts to get the footage. But people still share it as if it’s real.
It comes from Fntastic, an unproven developer who has made games such as the Dead by Daylight clone Propnight.
According to the developer’s own website, the game is built by an army of unpaid volunteers.
“Fntastic’s culture is based on the idea of volunteering,” the website says, proudly. “This means that every Fntastic member is a volunteer.”
But some animals are more equal than others.
“There are two types of volunteers at Fntastic: full-time and part-time,” the site says. “Full-time volunteers work for salaries, and their number is limited. “
If you click on the link to apply for a paid job, there are no roles currently available. You can, however, sign up to be a part-time volunteer to get “cool rewards, participation certificates, and free codes”.
These unpaid workers do everything from translating to community moderation. You’re also able to offer your “unique skills to improve our projects or create new special features.”
In a video on the website, the company gives a sales pitch on why you should work for free.
“Whatever you do in life, you do it willingly or unwillingly,” the video states. “If you do it willingly, it becomes a heaven. If you do it unwillingly, it becomes a hell. Fntastic culture is based on the idea of volunteering. Being a volunteer means that you willingly take part in working for a common cause.”
The other person in the video – who has, until this point, been smiling into the camera – speaks up: “The idea of volunteering comes from our own experiences and aspirations. Or, in other words, to become a person who says ‘yes’ to life. Volunteering means that in every action you take, you bring a certain pleasantness.”
The Day Before is due out in 2023. It was recently delayed so the game could be migrated into Unreal Engine 5.
Written by Kirk McKeand on behalf of GLHF.