Darkest greetings Underlords,
As we previously announced in WFTO Wednesday #118 we’ve been preparing a statement on the current state of the game, the launch, and our plans moving forward.
Originally we intended to release this video on the 9th of April but since Thursday morning we’ve been suffering major internet issues that have prevented us from uploading to Youtube (you may have also noticed a slowdown in patching). During the time we’ve been offline we took the opportunity to re-record the video as the original footage we captured had become outdated and no longer relevant, mostly due to our ongoing work during the downtime.
This new video will focus primarily on the current state of the game and our plans for ongoing fixes, improvements, and features. For those interested in more context, this post will be going into more depth on the situation at launch. So without further adieu please view the video below and if you’re still looking for continue to read the post below!
Video: State of the Game
This video focusses on the current development status of the game, our plans for ongoing support and the features we’re currently working on.
Throughout the two weeks since WFTO’s Launch we’ve been through a huge array of different emotions here at Subterranean HQ, something we’re sure many of our fans have also experienced.
It’s safe to say that the state WFTO released in was not something we had intended to happen and it was with great disappointment we realised exactly what had occurred. We had been extremely rushed in the last few months leading up to release; despite working around the clock to finish the game and despite our best efforts the final result was not as polished or as bug-free as we would have liked.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind and one we’ve seen repeated again and again across the community is: “Why would you release the game in the state it was in?”.
This is a question that is hard to answer without making excuses, to which we know there is no excuse. Instead we’d like to offer some insights and clarity into where we were at the time, and hopefully bring some transparency to why we made some decisions at the expense of other things. But first we’d like to start with some history.
In January 2013 our Kickstarter was successfully funded with a grand total of £225k raised. With the success of our Kickstarter we took on an extremely big project, perhaps too big for a team of 15 people who had never before released a game, and who weren’t able to appropriately identify the true lack of resources we faced for a game of this scale. Regardless, we immediately set to it with the fervent dedication and commitment we’ve become known for.
No project is without it’s share of dysfunction however and WFTO is no different. During the early months of the project we ran into a few significant issues that cost us dearly. Early last year we posted a retrospective of the first year of WFTO’s development. It’s a pretty long post but it will provide more context for those of you that are interested.
It was after the the events described in the retrospective post that the team underwent a significant restructure and change of management. On top of that, the team came together and agreed to voluntary pay cuts across the board to ensure the continuation of WFTOs development.
In addition, a significant amount of work that was done during this period had to be completely scrapped, the net result of which was a significant loss on our part. However we were confident that with these changes we could carry on for a while and through some lucky breaks we were able to catch enough funding to continue development for another year. For a time we were secure, and this lasted until late 2014.
The last 6 months
Despite the changes we described above it was towards the end of 2014 that we again found our situation becoming dire. Early Access had been an extremely useful program for us both in terms of feedback, QA and financial support, but the funds coming in were not enough to sustain us indefinitely and our finances had become extremely tight, so we put together a plan and budget for the remainder of development to ensure we’d be able to see ourselves through to launch.
Firstly, we borrowed as much money as we could from various sources, mainly from the bank but also from a particularly dedicated member of the team who chose to put his own money into the project to make these last few months possible.
Secondly, a portion of the team voluntarily chose to go without pay for the last two months of development. This period especially was very difficult for us to stomach but it had allowed us to push the game into the best state we could manage without risking us going under.
We pushed ourselves extremely hard, often working 18, 24 or 48 hour shifts, devoting our lives to the game where we could but still that lead us to a situation we weren’t content with, yet still backed into a corner.
Some of you are no doubt wondering why we didn’t share our situation in one of our weekly news posts. The primary of which was that we didn’t wish to cause a panic that the game would never be finished, and that the panic itself would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This probably provides a good insight into how close we were to the end and helps to explain the next question.
Why not delay?
This is the huge elephant in the room, a question asked time again and though we’ve been doing our best to answer this as it’s appeared we wanted this to be in the most public space we can.
The above no doubt helps to clarify why we were unable to shift our release schedule, it’s unlikely we would have been able to survive until another opportune window for release appeared. Something that would have cost us the game in it’s entirely.
There are of course a few other less devastating reasons. Primarily that we were so focussed on the upcoming release on the game that by the time we realise we needed an extra few weeks we were already far too close to realistically delay.
Physical boxes were in production, various commitments, both internal and external had been made and the budget left over for marketing had already been spent. The wheels were well and truly in motion and it was now impossible to put the breaker on without serious financial harm.
How did so many bugs slip through?
Something that has left us truly disappointed in ourselves is how many of you have suffered from various issues in the launch version of War for the Overworld. A question that pops up time and time again is why there were so many bugs and why we didn’t have them all fixed for release.
Many bugs that have been discovered since launch were ones that we weren’t aware of, or they were introduced in the very last few days of pre-release development before we had a proper chance to catch them.
The difference between having a couple of dozen users playing on a daily basis to literally thousands was extremely profound, we were swamped with issues that we hadn’t even come across or ones that affected systems with specs we hadn’t been able to properly test. It was an extremely eye-opening experience for us.
Finally, we do have an extremely dedicated group of volunteers QAing the game, without their help the game would have been in a far worse state than it was and we can only thank them for their hard work.
As we’ve mentioned in the video above we’ve been working almost around the clock to improve the game, we’ve fixed a huge number of bugs through 21 separate patches at time of writing and are continuing to work on the most crucial issues moving forwards.
We’re also working on implementing the features that had been missing from the game, things like tooltips and lobbies which had no right being missing, we expect that those will be implemented within a week or two.
On a more long term basis, once all the major issues are out of the way we’ll be starting work on the free content updates including the Map Editor, Steam Workshop support and Survival Mode. We’ll likely be working on those alongside the story DLC which will introduce new levels to the campaign and is of course free to all our early-adopters.
With regards to future levels in the campaign we are paying close attention to the feedback we’ve been receiving and we’ll be keeping it very much in the forefront of our mind when we are designing those levels.
We’d like to reassure you all that we are 100% committed and dedicated to War for the Overworld. It’s a game that we truly believed had to be made and though we have certainly slipped up from time to time, this has been a labour of love from start to finish and we’re keen to continue dedicating ourselves to WFTO’s future.
But we have plenty more to give and we’re planning to ensure that WFTO will live up to your expectations as best we can!
Until next time Underlord,
- WFTO Team
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