An Open Letter

I grew up on games like Secret of Mana, Illusion of Gaia, Secret of Evermore, Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, and Wario Ware. I was amazed by them. I couldn't believe that a piece of software could make you -feel- something. I couldn't program at the time but I could draw so I set about creating a comic book. That story is what you know today as Heartbound.

I went on to join the gaming industry and worked for Blizzard Entertainment. I started in QA and spent the majority of my time there ripping games apart. It really helped me refine what I like and what I didn't like in storytelling and mechanics. I spent time researching tools and eventually worked on Champions of Breakfast as an approved side project. When I finally left Blizzard it had been seven years and I was then a Senior Red Team Specialist.

Champions of Breakfast was launched onto Steam on April 1st, 2016. I love that game. It's such a silly thing and we made it to learn how to make larger games in the future. Making CoB taught me how to launch a game on steam, how to make steam trading cards, how to get messaging out to people, how to patch a game, and how to manage analytics. Things you don't think about when you first make a game. We wanted to work on Heartbound the whole time but we weren't ready. We still managed to hide Baron in the background of one of the levels though.

On November 26, 2016 we launched a demo of Heartbound and Steam Greenlight loved it. We hit rank one and Heartbound was greenlit in just 10 days. A number of people also attacked us saying we were ripping off Undertale but the majority was really positive. Even so, I reached out to Toby Fox over email to see if he had any advice. He responded stating that Heartbound reminded him of Secret of Evermore with the graphical style of Mother 3 which is exactly why we have our art style and Baron. He went on to state that people will hate on us because they never played what inspired us in the first place and that there is always more room for SNESy adventures in his book.

From there we worked on the game until I felt comfortable going to Kickstarter. I had a day job at the time so it took months of sleepless nights and numerous missed connections with friends and family to pull off. We launched our Kickstarter on February 24th, 2017. Kickstarter flagged us as a "Project We Love" and we got a huge amount of traction for it. We ended up hitting our funding goal in under 24 hours. I was terrified the whole time hoping people would like the game. We ended out 385% funded with a larger community behind us than when we began.

With the weight of that success I wanted to prove we weren't just another cut and run studio that would run off with the money. We started streaming our development process on Twitch. Slowly at first and now ten hours a day seven days a week. Every day. Twitch accepted our partner application on January 18th, 2018 and we've been streaming development ever since. It helped us fund the game without having to get side jobs again and it meant we wouldn't need to sell out to publishers or investors to keep going.

We worked for another year straight like this. Missing events, working insane hours, managing finances, eating ramen and making memes about it with our community. I met a ton of amazing people along the way and got to share my experiences with other aspiring game devs. After all that work we finally launched into Early Access on December 24th, 2018. So far Heartbound has been a hit and we hover around a 95% positive rating with an awesome community that's been here for us the whole time.

Now we're at today. With an email and twitter inbox filled with questions asking if I'm Toby Fox, how long Toby has worked on Heartbound, or why I stopped working on Delta Rune to make Heartbound. Except, I'm not Toby Fox. My name is Jason Thor Hall and I make video games about breakfast foods, sad kids, and dogs with the rest of my team. I do all of the programming, writing, and game design. Stijn van Wakeren does all of our sound effects and music. Bradie Shaye Rehmel does all of our art and animation.

We're just developers from the same time period, making games that echo the ones we loved as kids. I hope that one day you'll play the games that inspired us to be here or find ones that inspire you to make games of your own.

Thanks for reading.