After a long period of silence, developer Experiment 101 recently announced a May release date for Biomutant, its long-awaited open-world action. game. This silence was for good reason – studio head Stefan Ljungqvist tells us that parts of the game got bigger and more complex, but with only 20 people to do all that extra work. Rather than shipping a buggy game, Ljungqvist says Experiment 101 took its time quietly building a truly finished product. game, a big bite for 20 people, ”says Ljungqvist. Although Biomutant’s map is just eight square kilometers in size, it’s packed with warring tribes, conquering outposts, strange creatures to fight, and a protagonist who can mutate into new forms to overcome obstacles. As we’ve said before, Biomutant looks like bananas, and its many moving parts are a challenge for the studio behind them.
This 20-person team, created by former Avalanche Studios employees, is determined to keep it small. But while that helps keep the studio agile, it also imposes some restrictions. “At the end of the project, there are only a certain number of bugs that you can physically fix during the day,” Ljungqvist explains. And that’s what a lot of the last year of Biomutant development has been: fixing bugs. “It’s been a huge job for QA, because it’s not easy in an open world game to find them, ”Ljungqvist explains. “And once they’re found, we have to fix them, and that poses an additional challenge for us, being a small team.
Ljungqvist is realistic about the possibility of shipping Biomutant without any bugs – a game with so many systems in his sandbox world, it’s hard to deliver without the weird issue – but he wants it to get into the hands of players as solid as possible. “All game will ship with [smaller] bugs, but I’m talking about bugs that really disturb the game experience, ”he says. “We don’t want to ship with this. I think that’s what made us wait until we were ready to do it.
However, quality assurance is not the only thing that has happened to Experiment 101 over the past year. Biomutant also mutated during this period. “If you look at the script, at the end of 2019 I think it was around 80 to 85,000 words long. Pretty much a novel, ”Ljungqvist recalls. “But in the final game, that’s closer to 250,000 words. It was a great thing, to wrap up this script. “
These new words are scattered across many different areas of the game, which in turn required additional development work on these features. Ljungqvist notes that due to the extended script, players can expect a responsive karma system called Aura, which will change the dialogue of NPCs based on your light or dark allegiance. There’s also a better tutorial system, which communicates Biomutant’s overflowing toy box with ideas more effectively. In addition to the additional script forming the basis of these features, the game will be available in 13 different languages, 10 of which are fully voiced, so localization is required for all of these added words. It’s safe to say this has been a busy year for Experiment 101.
Ljungqvist however took care to give rhythm to the studio. “I’ve been doing this for a while,” he says, referring to his nearly ten-year tenure at Avalanche Studios. “I was exhausted myself. I learned a lot about these themes, about these subjects. I learned to recognize it. This partly explains the studio’s “ ready when it’s done ” approach and the lack of constant public updates. It’s an approach that has been supported by publisher THQ Nordic, says Ljungqvist, to a level he “never had before.” both the individual staff and the studio as a whole, explains Ljungqvist. “I mean, the studio, we’re 20 people and we can’t afford to have [staff] leave the workshop or be destroyed during development. It would be devastating.
“For some flare-ups, you could do it in a limited form,” he admits. “But the most important thing is that you get paid, which is not common in our industry, it’s pretty crazy. And you also have a “wrap-up time” because you need to rest. If you do this consistently for 12-14 hours a day, eventually you will need to pay for it. “
“I think it’s part of the studio’s DNA not to do it,” he concludes. “That’s why I think for us, if we do it, it’s controlled, and it’s rare. I guess now that we are going into the release we’re ready to do it for a few days, but that’s not the constant. It will kill you.
With the announcement of the May 25 release date, some fans may have been surprised to see that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are not listed as the platforms on which Biomutant will launch. It is, after all, easy to assume the silence of Experiment 101, and continued development was due to the team preparing Biomutant for the next generation systems. Ljungqvist confirms this is not the case – Biomutant is a ‘last generation’ game – but there is a good reason for it.
“When we developed the game, we are leading the latest generation, ”says Ljungqvist. “And if you look at it from a development perspective, that’s really important because it’s easier to scale up than to scale down.”
“I think for us as a team we would like as many people as possible to be able to play the gameHe adds, noting the currently small setup bases for the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. “So if we just released it for the ‘next generation’, I think that wouldn’t have been a good way forward.”
Despite this, Biomutant still benefits from high-end hardware. “There is a high-end version of Biomutant already designed for high-end PC versions,” says Ljungqvist. “I mean, the game it already exists in one form or another what you would expect on current generation platforms. “
“Are you going to be able to play it on these consoles?” he questions the PS5 and Xbox Series X, teasing the future of Biomutant. “Absolutely. We’ll see what happens, but you can definitely play it on these consoles.
Matt Purslow is IGN UK News and entertainment writer.
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