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"For the future, I will probably say less about what we intend to deliver and when."
- Hinterland Studio founder Raphael van Lierop, speaking about lessons learned from The Long Dark's bumpy launch out of Early Access.
Making games is all about management. Managing money, managing your time and the time of others, managing your ambitions and your risks.
Hinterland founder Raphael van Lierop reminds devs that there's something else you have to be managing, especially if you've built up a community around your game: expectations.
While chatting with Gamasutra about the long-awaited launch (off Steam's Early Access platform) of Hinterland's flagship game The Long Dark, acknowledged that the process would have been a bit less bumpy if the team had had a bit more time to "polish" up the game, specifically its console versions.
He went on to admit that the team had perhaps taken on more than it should have by deciding to launch with two episodes of The Long Dark's 5-part campaign rather than one, and said that even though the team could have used more time it felt compelled to hit its promised August 1st launch date because it wanted to meet fan expectations.
Going forward, van Lierop mused that he and his team would try to do a better job of managing those expectations to ensure Hinterland had more room to deal with sticky bits of game dev without disappointing fans.
"In hindsight, or maybe in foresight, for the future, I will probably say less about what we intend to deliver and when," said van Lierop. "Not lose that connection with the community, and still be open and communicative with them, but try to avoid setting milestones until we're very, very confident that we can hit them to the quality level that we want."
It's a common refrain, to be sure, but with good reason: launching games is tricky business. Check out the full interview with van Lierop for survival game design insight, the pros and cons of different game studio setups, and more lessons learned from launching a high-profile Early Access game into the wider world.
And hey, while you're there, why not subscribe to Gamasutra's Twitch channel for more developer interviews, editor roundtables, and gameplay videos? You can choose to get notifications when we're warming up the channel, so you'll never miss another livestream (and with it, an opportunity to ask your own questions) again.