TL/DR – the news I have to share this month is that Juha has decided to take a less active part in development for a while. I will let him elaborate on that on his own, but development on Backworlds continues and he will remain involved in all non-trivial decisions regarding the game.
To elaborate on the state of things on my end, I’m going to go into some history after the break…
… We started working on Backworlds in late 2009 – Juha and I were working together at Starbreeze Studios and had been kicking around the idea of making a smaller gamejam-style project for some time when the TIGSource Assemblee competition hit. We felt good about the concepts and decided to take it further – for a couple of years we experimented with different mechanics, art styles, technology and whatnot. We did not make a lot of progress, in part because of the experimental nature of what we did, but also because we were both in the process of leaving Starbreeze and moving to different places in the world. In late 2011 we had finally managed to establish a good direction and our lives had settled somewhat so we (actually, mostly Juha) built the first demo that we released in early 2012. We then picked up the pace and iterated on design for a couple of years – this involved some heavy reworking of mechanics, but the direction of the game is pretty much the same now as it was back then.
For the last year or so, I have personally had a lot of things happening at work and – to be quite honest – I have probably played a bit more Destiny than I should have. Juha has had similar changes in his life that made his time more precious – we still got some work done almost every week but suffice to say progress has been slow. My personal situation is gradually clearing up though.
Still – compared to when we started this in 2009 the scene for games such as Backworlds is very different. At the time, big independently-developed hits on Steam or XBLA were still few and far between – today, they are everywhere. Now, there’s this whole concept of the indie bubble – Jeff Vogel has written well about it. I have been around the games industry and related education efforts for a while, so this was not really surprising – there are a lot of people who want to make games. Trying to make Backworlds for the money – even if it’s just to sustain ourselves enough to “go indie” – would be a very risky proposition.
I am, however, doing this because I believe it is a good game and working on good games helps one grow. Even though I sometimes have trouble getting started or loose energy working on things that detract from the game rather than adding to it, whenever I go back to the things we have built I feel good about it.
So again, development continues, even if I can’t make any promises about how quickly it will progress.
This also means the blog updates will continue on a bimonthly schedule – we have taken turns writing updates and I would rather work on the game than allocate more time on that myself. Of course, if any other development changes make for relevant news we will post here and on twitter about it as soon as possible.