This week is awesome - because as of this week, Abyssal Arts has been in business for an entire year.
In that time, we became part of The Brighton Game Collective; we joined forces with Titutitech to help Stealth Studios get their game, Zombie Playground, into Early Access; I gave an hour-long presentation at GDC Europe (in the same time slot as Naughty Dog and Ninja Theory!); and we’ve nearly finished all of the ground work to get the City of the Shroud prototype out and into the hands of players.
We’ve met and worked with amazingly talented people, received brilliant feedback on our designs, and learned a tremendous amount about being an independent developer. Our team has added a couple of new members, and City of the Shroud is improving every day.
This year has been a study in patience for us all, which has occasionally been enormously frustrating (none of us are particularly patient people). We’ve waded through technical issues, limited budgets, long searches for team members, and more. We made the difficult decision not to release CotS back in June - a good choice, as it was pretty ugly and had major readability errors, but still frustrating. We found all of the usual bugs and some exciting new ones through playtesting sessions at a local pub, and then sometime between that and work on Zombie Playground, it was August.
But the bonus of being impatient people meant that the extra time we’ve taken has been filled to the brim with exciting new projects. We’ve been able to improve the game, get our own assets into the world, and tweak the UI. We’ve watched and taken notes from friends launching on Early Access. Artists have sketched, our writer is working with the programmers on some of the cooler story mechanics, and we found a new backend system that will handle a huge bundle of things we thought we would have to build ourselves. All in all, we’re pretty proud of what we’ve achieved.
The team has been fantastic at tackling any issues that crop up while keeping enthusiasm high, and on a personal note, despite a few hiccups, our team is the most dedicated and focused I have had the pleasure of working with. I’m also incredibly proud to say that, not only have two of us been full-time independent developers, but we are now joined by Moira, our narrative lead, who has made the leap to independence with us. It’s a hard road, and it takes a tremendous amount of courage to walk it.
I’ll admit, feeling responsible for delivering a product or finding projects to support several people for their time and effort in the face of bills, mortgages, and not being miserable is daunting, but I constantly am reminded that this a team effort - we’re all in this together, working hard to make our idea a reality. It’s easy to lose sight of that when working from different places around the world, but we’ve all embraced our goals together, and it’s together that we’ll achieve them.
I can’t wait to see what challenges we face this year - and how we overcome them. We’ve taken our first major step into independent development, and now is when the real journey begins - with City of the Shroud (and actually getting that prototype out the door!).