Since its very inception, Worlds Adrift has been at the cutting edge, innovating in quite a few areas at the same time. We released the game to players very early in development, to test and co-develop the design and technology of the game that were unique in so many ways, and therefore rather unknown to us all.
Worlds Adrift is often compared against higher budget games, and given the size of the team and resources available, we’re immensely proud and humbled by this. However, despite our best efforts in delivering a game that provides hundreds of hours of unique gameplay, a social space for all to share and a whole lot of love, Worlds Adrift hasn’t yet achieved the commercial success we wanted or hoped for. It’s clear if you look at player figures over the course of the project they’ve been relatively stable and consistent but growth is something that remains elusive. While we’re not entirely motivated by commercial success, however, we also cannot ignore the fact that Worlds is an expensive game to develop and maintain.
Worlds Adrift’s development has been hurt by some key technical issues since the beginning. We weren’t ignorant of this but believed in the project and team enough to meet these challenges head-on. Recently, this was exacerbated by a fundamental change in the underlying spatialOS architecture that has left us stuck on an older version and moving onto the new one would require rewriting more than 40% of our code base — the break in retro compatibility in SpatialOS is such that we would have to rewrite the server-side code in a different language!
We’ve tried a whole bunch of things to give Worlds Adrift an extra push and as I have written in previous posts (and Tech Tuesdays) we have too often prioritized features at the expense of stability and reliability of the core components of the game. This explains our recent shift of focus to fixing revivers and ship blueprints for example. Both of those will improve the game experience but also improve the guarantees around the persistence of your ship.
We’ve been very reactive to the community’s suggestions through dozen of constant updates (we’re now closing in on Update 30 plus non-numbered hotfixes) with features requested by the players such as PvE servers; we have a public roadmap with every feature and fix explained and prioritised; we put a huge amount of time in discussing every upcoming update with the players; and yet we don’t seem to be progressing towards the inflection point for the game if the feedback we get and the game’s reviews are anything to go by.
Thus we have decided to refocus on the development of the game in a more deliberate way while deprioritising resources dedicated to features, community and social media. This means you will not see new large scale gameplay features such as territory control and skywhales until these stability and performance issues are fully resolved. We will still be working on quality of life improvements especially if they are linked to the aforementioned core systems, but they will take the backseat to the technical clean-up we’re now embarking upon.
Going forward, the improvements we will be making will not be flashy but they are necessary. With this new approach, we will be dialling back commercial activity for Worlds Adrift and will have less overall bandwidth to engage in communication across all channels. The team members who remain on those channels (official forums, Discord, Twitter) will be focused on support and live-ops — we’re committed to providing help if our players require it — but otherwise will focus on the priorities we believe are key to take the game forward in the right way.
Stay tuned for Tech Tuesdays and keep an eye on the roadmap for further news and updates, as we’ll keep on informing everyone of our priorities for the development of Worlds Adrift.
Sylvain Cornillon – CTO