Once a game is funded and development begins in full, one wouldn't expect for it to go through significant changes. However, Black Forest Games, developers of the upcoming four-player action title Dieselstormers, did just that.
While it's certainly not unusual for games to change some part of the way through their development, what makes this particular case stand out is that these changes came after it was successfully funded via Kickstarter; meaning the original game that was pitched is not the same. We spoke with the developers about these changes and why they decided to do so.
Co-Optimus: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Tell us a little about your development studio; what are your backgrounds in the industry and what previous titles have you worked on.
Black Forest Games: Thanks for having us! Black Forest Games was founded in 2012. Currently we employ a team of 30 people from all over the world. Most of them game designers, coders and artists. Before BFG, the core team already developed games like Desperados, Airline Tycoon, and Giana Sisters DS. We specialize in creating premium games for PC and consoles, including Xbox One, PS4 and WiiU. Our goal is to create and distribute our games independently. So far we successfully released Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams to all major game platforms. Our second game, Dieselstörmers, was released to Steam Early Access last year.
Co-Optimus: So you recently announced that some of the elements for Dieselstormers, your upcoming co-op action title, are changing. Specifically, the “RPG gameplay” is being dropped for a more “roguelike experience.” What exactly is being changed?
BFG: We have shifted from a long, open-ended end-game with small, incremental progress to short, streamlined sessions with much quicker character growth. You’ll now be able to unlock new content, which will have a random chance to drop when you start a new session. Most upgrades you gain only apply to the current playthrough, but that allows them to be much more impactful. Dieselstörmers now features a mix of session upgrades and permanent character upgrades that carry through to future sessions.
Co-Optimus: Why the changes? The game is out on Early Access in Steam, were you receiving a lot of feedback from that community that certain elements weren’t working out?
BFG: Feedback in general was that the gameplay became stale very quickly. There wasn’t much to explore or to discover. Sessions were short, but a sense of repetition and grinding quickly reared its ugly head. We introduced different mission types, but they too couldn’t fix the underlying problem. That’s when we put our heads together, analyzed the game, the community feedback and our own playing experience, and decided to test some alternatives. Roguelike was a part of the game from the beginning, just not a big one. We strengthened that part and weakened the ones that didn’t contribute to it. It was fun, the bigger levels opened up the possibility for exploration and the hunt for upgrades and power-ups lost its grindy feel. That’s when we made the decision to change the game.
Co-Optimus: So was this shift something that had to happen now? Could any of these have happened post-release as updates/patches to the game?
BFG: There was no point in continuing the old gameplay once we committed ourselves to focus on a roguelike approach. Design changes happen in game development, even in mid-development. We don’t even think that our case is an extreme example. The difference here is that usually players don’t notice. Early Access makes it visible.
It’s also nothing that ended with the last update. We’re constantly working on the gameplay and are evolving it further. In fact, if all goes well, we will have a new update coming at the end of this week. [Ed. Note: this update is now live as the interview was conducted prior to E3]