Bendy And The Ink Machine, One Year Later

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Bendy is dying to celebrate *Vincent Price laugh*
Bendy is dying to celebrate *Vincent Price laugh* Player.One

It’s been more than a year since Mike Mood and theMeatly asked the question: “What if Walt Disney loved Mickey Mouse so much, he started a satanic cult to bring his creations to life?” They released their idea, Bendy And The Ink Machine , as a free game on Gamejolt. They never expected it to take off. The adventures of Henry and Boris have nearly 7,000 reviews on Steam and have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. Since then, the indie sleeper hit has released two more chapters and the inklings’ following continues to grow. Bendy And The Ink Machine got a full console release in 2017 and a mobile game, Bendy In Nightmare Run, is set for release later this year.

“Usually this far into something, the fire has dwindled out and you let your audience down trying certain things,” theMeatly told Player.One. “Just having a following at this point is something to be proud of, it just wasn’t the summer of Bendy.”

The duo are still the driving force behind Bendy, having only a handful of other developers and artists on theMeatly Games’ payroll. Everyday, they wake up at 6 a.m. and don’t stop working until 2 a.m.: building in-game prototypes, discussing brand deals with lawyers and accountants, all while thriving on little more than passion and enthusiasm. “We are putting it on ourselves to get it all done because at the end of the day, the result is a nice legacy to leave behind,” Mood said.

Bendy And The Ink Machine managed to capture lightning in a bottle, the one-in-a-million shot that turns no-name developers into full-time creatives. They’ve had to learn nearly everything along the way and develop skills to adapt and survive the modern video game industry. theMeatly, who started out only knowing 2D animation, taught himself how to model three-dimensional objects out of sheer necessity and repetition.

“Over this year, theMeatly’s skills in creating textures and designing has changed dramatically,” Mood said. “The things he creates are a lot more complex and it brings Bendy back to life.”

The partnership between the two works so well because they make “things collectively quick,” Mood said. The two will be on a call and find an empty spot in the game, maybe a creepy corner lacking enemies or a quest objective lacking something that pops, and theMeatly will have a fully-functioning prop ready for Bendy in about an hour. A year ago, neither of them would have had the tools to realize their vision as efficiently.

Some Bendy Funko POP! Vinyls at NYC Toy Fair.
Some Bendy Funko POP! Vinyls at NYC Toy Fair. Player.One

Mood’s business skills have improved as well; without him, Bendy would never have transitioned so well into real-world merchandise. POP! Vinyls, plushies and action figures of Alice, Boris and Bendy fill store shelves and virtual shopping carts all over the world and even more are coming in the next year. A big milestone for the team behind Bendy was having its merch sold in Hot Topic stores. Bendy was the emo haven’s number one game brand, with Bendy shirts outselling classics like Mario and Zelda.

“I went into the store I’ve been going to for awhile, since I was a teenager, and seeing Bendy’s face next to Batman was the most awesome thing,” theMeatly said. “That’s when it kind of hit home for me.”

None of this would have been possible without Bendy And The Ink Machine’s fervent fan base. If the game and Bendy hadn't been immediately adopted by YouTube Let’s Players and its fans, none of this would be possible. “We know how toxic a lot of other games’ fan bases can be,” Mood said. “Ours is just completely void of that.” The one-year anniversary of Bendy flooded Mood and theMeatly’s inboxes with messages of love and support, applauding them for bringing the ink-stained dystopia into their world. Without their fans, none of this would be possible, though they would be able to go to bed at a normal time.

At this time, Bendy And The Ink Machine Chapter 4 is still in the works and Mood and theMeatly have a target release date, they just aren’t sharing it. Bendy is undeniably important to the creators and they make sure information about the story does not get leaked or ruined, no matter how much I beg and plead. For now, all we know is the next two chapters will be more “robust” with “more things to find” and have “more textures than the last three chapters combined,” Mood teased. Rooster Teeth will ready a completed version of the game that will release straight to store shelves.

“We can put all our heart and soul into this and it might end up killing us, but to have Bendy put in a box with the story we are trying to tell will force us to spend that extra time to get it done this year,” theMeatly said.

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