Margin of the Strange devs on the Kickstarter & lessons learned from OneShot

Developer Future Cat is jumping into its sophomore game following a very successful Kickstarter and we talked to them all about Margin of the Strange.

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Future Cat LLC launched puzzle platformer OneShot in December 2016 and gathered quite a bit of love for the game’s quirky style of puzzle-solving and deeply enrapturing characters and story. Now, quite a few years later, the studio is working on its next big thing with Margin of the Strange. The game is in Kickstarter now, but has already more than crushed its goal. With that in mind, we spoke with Margin of the Strange Director Nightmargin to talk about the response to the Kickstarter, how Margin of the Strange uses lessons learned from One Shot, and plenty more. Read on below!


Shacknews: Can you give us the main rundown on what Margin of the Strange is and what players can expect from it?

Nightmargin: Margin of the Strange is a story-heavy game where progression is achieved through resource management. You explore different dream realms to find new resources, multiply the resources in your garden, and use those resources to open up new pathways to find new realms to explore. In the process, you will also collect information that helps you solve the overarching mysteries of the game.

Shacknews: What did you expect when going into the Kickstarter with Margin of the Strange? With the success of OneShot, did you feel confident it would get past its goal or was it still overwhelming to see the response?

Nightmargin: We were hoping that it would meet the base goal in the first week, but having it met in just 4 hours was definitely a surprise! Wow!!

That said, the base goal was kind of our “baseline” or bare minimum, and we allocated a lot of the other things that we really wanted to do (such as a major side quest) into stretch goals instead, here’s to hoping we hit them all!

Shacknews: OneShot has been much beloved by its players with an Overwhelmingly Positive response on Steam. Does it feel daunting to take on a follow-up project to that with your name out there now?

Nightmargin: Oh absolutely! While I’m confident that my skills (in art, music, writing, and general game-making knowledge) have all improved within the past decade, and I’m excited to deliver a game with a bigger team, greater scope, and higher quality, frankly, “game where the main character is a cute cat-thing” is gonna be a tough act to follow, ha ha. Can we truly do better than cats? Hmm, I’ll get back to you on that.

Shacknews: Do you feel like there were any major lessons learned from the development and wrapping up of OneShot that you’re applying to Margin of the Strange?

Nightmargin: Too many to count, but here’s one! Keep proper documentation and have a robust source control system. (We didn’t use source control back when making OneShot, ha ha… Can you believe it? Feel free to laugh at my stupid younger self.)

Gardening in Margin of the Strange
Gardening alien vegetation will be a big part of Margin of the Strange
Source: Future Cat

Shacknews: How far away from OneShot are you going with the development of Margin of the Strange? Can players expect to see any familiar sights that they’ve enjoyed in your previous game?

Nightmargin: If you like the aesthetic, tone, and themes of OneShot, you’ll like Margin of the Strange! Quite a few concepts for OneShot I stole from Margin (Those concepts were then heavily modified, of course–these two stories are still pretty different).

As for familiar sights, Ling himself is one! He was the cafe manager in OneShot who fed Niko before their Fun Tower Adventure. In Margin, he will play a very different role.

Shacknews: What has been the biggest challenge in beginning the development of Margin of the Strange with a Kickstarter?

Nightmargin: We will have to be transparent with the backers and post frequent updates about the game, which might end up spoiling some elements of the game for people who would otherwise be going in completely blind, though this might not be a bad thing! Although we’re making a mystery game, I want to be extra careful about writing the story… Narratives defined on twists and “surprising” the audience are unsustainable for us indie devs that depend on word of mouth. If the knowledge of a game’s existence (and its story) is primarily spread organically through community discussions, but knowing about any specific story twist beforehand could make or break the narrative. That would just put us in a pickle, wouldn’t it? I think that, while having a layer of accountability with our backers might be a little challenging when it comes with the story, it will ultimately help us identify the weakest links in the story, and thus help us write a stronger story overall without relying on obfuscation.

Though, I have a feeling that would definitely be an uphill battle no matter what. Can’t have a mystery game without mysteries to solve, after all! But I hope we can make the journey feel as enjoyable as the resolution.

A board of characters in Margin of the Strange
A myriad of characters and mysteries await exploration alongside the gardening gameplay of Margin of the Strange.
Source: Future Cat

Shacknews: We’ve seen garden games in the past, but this seems altogether different and interesting. What pushed the team to pursue the themes and gameplay we’ve seen in Margin of the Strange so far?

Nightmargin: I studied biology back in college and now I like to make up weird ecosystems in my head for fun. I’m not necessarily a stickler for perfect scientific accuracy, and my general logic is “maybe it’s feasible in some cases, but probably closer to fantasy than real world science.” For example, I wouldn’t go so far as to call the flora and fauna of the Margin world as silicon-based life (because the conditions for that to evolve are just way too extreme!), they’re more similar to glass-shelled organisms that exist on earth, such as diatoms or radiolarians. In Margin, I can imagine that happening on a much bigger scale – something that would not make sense for life on earth. (OneShot is another example of this, except that ecosystem is based on light instead of glass, and mostly only alluded to.)

As for how it impacts gameplay, it’s actually been pretty challenging for us! We can’t just use pre-established Earth rules and craft shorthands like “axe + tree = wood, fire + wood = coal, coal + anvil = energy to forge metal, etc.” Why, the world of Margin doesn’t even have wood! Margin’s energy source and distribution is fundamentally different from how things work on Earth as well, but that’s just science fiction basics. Tutorializing all of this in a fun way without making the player feel like they’re sitting through a lecture has been an interesting challenge to tackle.

Shacknews: Once the Kickstarter is officially done, what comes next for Margin of the Strange? Does the team have a roadmap or is this a “when it’s done” situation for its current milestones?

Nightmargin: We are currently working on a vertical-slice type demo! The scope will be pretty small – just 1 night out of 42 days, but it’ll help us introduce the world, as well as internally establishing a solid template for the rest of the game.

Shacknews: Where can players find out more about Margin of the Strange? Is there still time to get in on the Kickstarter and enjoy the pledge rewards that would come with that?

Nightmargin: Yes! We still have 2 weeks left for the Kickstarter, and we’re working towards our goal of 150k, which adds a major sidequest to the game. Be sure to check out Margin of the Strange’s website for more info, our Kickstarter page to support the game, and our Steam page to wishlist it!


For more on Margin of the Strange, follow the links above and stay tuned here at Shacknew for more updates and coverage!

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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