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Learning how to develop games again: why Below was created for six years

Difficulties on the way to release.

For the first time, Capybara Games showed Below five years ago, during a Microsoft press conference at E3. The trailer lasted less than a minute, but it was enough for the players to have high expectations: many were fascinated by the interesting design of the game and the mysterious atmosphere in the video.

However, over time, the community has cooled – Below was transferred several times. It got to the point that two years ago the studio decided to stop speaking about the project altogether – until it became clear that the development had come to an end.

December 14 on the Xbox One and PC release of the game finally took place. Verge journalist talked with Capybara Games chief Nathan Vella about what Below was holding up.

For Capybara, the release of the game did not become a moment of celebration. Work on it is still ongoing.

In fact, in our time after release, you still continue to make the game. Especially if we talk about small studios.Nathan Vellapresident of the studio Capybara Games

The past works of Capybara were not so complex. In Below there are elements of rogue-like – for example, procedural generation or crafting. If a player dies, then you have to start from the very beginning, and each time the world changes slightly. The development of a project of this scale turned to Capybara with many tests – because the creation was so delayed.

But the long production time is not new to the studio. The last project of the studio – Sword & Sworcery – was postponed so many times that instead of the declared iPhone, it first came out for the iPad – and this despite the fact that the project was announced even before the tablet was presented to the public at all.

However, the creation of these two games is unlikely to be compared.

Below was much more and challenged us – on the technical side, on the production side, on the artistic side. Each of its elements was much more complicated than in any of our other projects.

It was difficult for us, and it took much more strength and determination to complete the development.Nathan Vellapresident of the studio Capybara Games

Halfway through, Below switched from 2D styling, for which the studio was previously known, to a full three-dimensional look. The developers believed that this project corresponds much better, since a great emphasis in its design is based on a combination of light and shadows. As a result, almost the entire studio had to relearn how to make games.

We had great artists, but they had to learn how to draw 3D graphics on the go.Nathan Vellapresident of the studio Capybara Games

Because Capybara was virtually unable to predict when the development will end. In 2016, Below was postponed after the studio missed the planned summer window for release. The authors had to take drastic measures – to stop altogether telling anything about the project until it becomes clear that it is almost ready.

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We are leaving in a lull – we need time to surely complete Below. If in the future you see a big development update, it will mean that we have already prepared a release date.from studio appeal to the players

A small period of silence gave the studio the opportunity to focus on creating the game without a hitch – not to be distracted by such things as creating trailers or demo builds. In addition, thanks to this, Below has retained some mystery around herself.

Calm allowed us to keep some things secret.Nathan Vellapresident of the studio Capybara Games

The studio was supported by all – as players who could not wait for the release, and Microsoft. According to Vella, the publisher has never customized Capybara Games for the team to release the project in unprepared condition.

They could stop working with us at any time. Perhaps they should have done so, but this did not happen. Every time I talked to [Microsoft], they said, “Yes, we understand you, take your time.”Nathan Vellapresident of the studio Capybara Games

Now that Below is out, you can definitely say that the delay has been a good game. It was rated much higher than the developers expected: for many players, the project could be too specific.

We understood that some [Below] might not like it, and we were aware of this from the very beginning. […] But we also knew that she would definitely like someone.Nathan Vellapresident of the studio Capybara Games

The studio has already released several patches for Below, and also planned to release a small update before the Christmas holidays. According to Vella, Capybara wants fans to continue the game if the fans want it, but developers have other plans for the future.

Starting in 2019, the studio will spend on working out new ideas and creating prototypes to understand what to do next. This moment the team has been waiting for many years.

We have not been in such a state for years – because we always knew what we would release further.Nathan Vellapresident of the studio Capybara Games

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