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The Chinese Room came onto the scene in an unexpected way with the Source Engine hit, Dear Esther. The game was one of the first recognized walking sims that garnered strong sales for the indie team and a lot of positive critical feedback. However, things have taken a turn for the studio and its now going dark.
In a post over on the official website, Dan Pinchbeck wrote endearingly to fans about the status of the Chinese Room. The studio is coming off the release of games such as Everybody's Gone to the Rapture as well as wrapping up the development on So Let Us Melt, but Pinchbeck writes that the current pressures and weight of managing a studio have become overwhelming, and so he decided to go dark for a while.
To cut a long story short, the situation -- between financial pressures, trying to keep the lights on for the employed team, the stress of end-of-development, health issues -- just wasn't a tenable thing anymore. It was time to take a break, recharge, recover and have a good think about the future.
It's not all bad news for the staff, however. Those who have been laid off have received some help in finding work elsewhere in order to bounce back on their feet. Pinchbeck also explains that all the games that The Chinese Room have released so far to-date are still available for purchase, and nothing is being pulled or covered up.
Additionally, he mentions that the team is still planning to work on upcoming titles such as The 13th Interior, but for now, the work has been scaled back.
In the post, Pinchbeck explains that at the end of the day he and wife/co-founder Jessica Curry are still "essentially artists" and ultimately, the pair would like to enjoy being artists instead of managing directors.
This story isn't too uncommon when you think about some indie studios hitting it big and having to deal with the weight of fame and fortune and all of the other issues that come along with it. Remember, it wasn't too long ago that Hello Games skyrocketed into the mainstream with No Man's Sky, just like how Palmer Luckey went from running a Kickstarter campaign to working at Oculus Studios under Facebook.
Sometimes life and all its glorious, sad, uplifting, encouraging, disastrous and beautiful moments can all come flooding at you like a raging river. For now, The Chinese Room is taking a backseat to the media spotlight and game development.
Pinchbeck and his closest collaborators will continue to hash out ideas and work slowly on projects, but ultimately it's like the key players at The Chinese Room will be taking a sabbatical from the harsh realities of game development for the time being.