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.

Yikes! Yeah…

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.”

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