Capybara Games’ creative director and Below’s lead designer Kris PIOTROWSKI gives us some insight into why Below has spent so long in development
Below was announced Back at e3 2013.
It’s now 2018.
I know, I know!
so, okay… where to even Begin. what happened?
Well, we made a classic mistake, which I guess everybody has to do once before they really learn it. Back in 2013 we had parts of the game in place – core elements of its design and the art style – and we were super excited about what we had. Microsoft asked us if we wanted to show it at this giant event. We were just like, ‘Fuck yeah! There’s no way this could go wrong!’
Funny how these things work out, eh?
Yeah. So, we did it; We got our demo together, we put together our trailer, showed it at this big event, and then went home and it was like, ‘Right, time to make the game. This will be a piece of cake’. It turns out that the game was very difficult to make.
with hindsight, do you think there’s anything you could have done to smooth out that process?
It’s a classic case of announcing your game too early. I think we could have easily just kept Below to ourselves for at least a couple of years and then announced it. And, in hindsight, that’s what we would’ve done. But you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube once it’s out. [laughs]
after missing a Few milestones and release windows, capy put Below on Indefinite hiatus. what was the thinking there?
We basically kind of came to this decision that trying to sustain any sort of external hype for an amount of time that was indefinite or unknown to us… to me that felt like a bad move. Basically, the first thing I did was a horrible mistake, and then as it kept going I made the decision to just pump the brakes, pull it out of the spotlight, and just tell people, ‘Listen, you’re not gonna hear about this at all until we feel a lot more confident with where it’s at.’ That’s sort of how it went.
how BIG Is the team working on Below?
It’s 11. 11 or 12? Yeah, so Capy as a whole is 25 right now. And we tend to work on two projects at once. So while we’re making this game, we made Super Time Force, we made Don’t Starve: Shipwrecked, and we just recently released OK, K.O.! Let’s Play Heroes, and now that team is working on a couple of new prototypes, and my team is still working on Below. But that’s the size of it. It’s not a huge team, it’s not a small team… it’s probably the biggest team that we’ve had, but it’s still not massive. It’s like, five artists, five programmers, and auxiliary people around that.
was cancelling Below ever a consideration?
No, throughout this whole thing we’ve never talked about that being a possibility. We’ve always, from the beginning, treated it as a project that we wanted to release when it was done. We’ve never really had an opportunity, as a studio, to do that before. But this time around we were actually in that position, and I felt like we had something kind of unique and interesting on our hands. The whole studio got behind the idea of holding it back until it was done.
do you still Believe It was the right decision?
Obviously it could be seen as a negative decision… but from my perspective, a lot of my favourite studios swear by releasing when it’s done. So, I don’t know. I kind of look at it that way; It’s like, ‘Well, everything I love kind of went that way at some point.’ Somebody had to, at some point, say ‘No. This is not coming out until it’s done.’ It happens. Hopefully Below is one of those games that comes out and makes a splash after a long development.”