Earlier today we heard the news of Rend servers consolidating, and that definitely raised a few eyebrows. In fact, we noted, “It’s not exactly a good sign that the game is already downsizing before it’s even left early access.” So about that… Rend isn’t an early access game anymore! I just sat down this afternoon with Frostkeep Studios’ Jeremy Wood and Michele Cagle to talk about the survival game, and the first thing they told me is that it launches today, which is obviously going to come as a big surprise since it’s not really that common for games to surprise-launch on a Friday afternoon.
But when the servers come back online after today’s big update, Rend will be a live, launched game. To celebrate launch, the game will be on sale for $9.99 on Steam until April 26th, 2019. That’s 20 bucks off. If either price or early access has kept you out of the game, there is no better time than now to dive in and give the three-faction survival contest a whirl.
Still, what’s with the consolidated servers? That still sounds ominous. What plans are there going forward? I asked Wood and Cagle these questions, and here’s the scoop.
It’s done, not done for
After the surprise of the launch-day launch announcement wore off, I had to ask what was up about the consolidated servers. That did not sound like a healthy thing. Folks would even consider that a sign of dying. Wood, however, told me that while the player population has declined, there is still a steady base of players. In fact, Frostkeep expected to lose some along the way, especially as early access is shunned by so many gamers; even those who popped in to test in the beginning could have left to wait for things to be finished and launched. Well, that time is now. In fact, as Wood put it,
“We feel like we’ve finally gotten the game to the point that it’s a fully featured, developed game, and we feel like all of the promises we made about the product are there and ready to go.” – Jeremy Wood
Consolidating servers was important to do before launch so that players weren’t spread too thin and so that new players who join in do not jump into empty ones where they cannot experience the three-faction flavor of the game. The devs want all players to have the best experience possible, and that is done with fuller, more populated worlds. Wood emphasized that those official servers are still there just waiting to be switched back on as the need arises. (And yes, the studio does hope the need arises!)
Besides new players, Wood expects some players who’ve already bought the game to come back now that the EA tag is off. But more than that, he invites folks to return because many of those things that players have complained about in the past have been fixed.
That phrase made it sound to me as if the game were being set aside with no more development. In a way that is partially true, but not in a negative sense. Wood emphasized that it was always his team’s intention to launch the game in a completed state. As he argues, Rend has also reached the point in content that players do not want more vertical content because it ruins the specific focus and flavor of this game. For instance, if you add more endgame stuff, you stretch it out too long and it becomes a slog instead of a race to win, and people lose interest in the contest. But then if you speed it up to get to the end, people miss the whole point of the race. It does make some sense due to the nature of this temporary world war with win conditions. Basically, the game has hit its sweet spot. And now, it’s ready to open its doors to everyone!
Both Wood and Cagle emphasized how this path to the launched state involved player feedback from the beginning. Cagle said, “Everything that you will see today is the result of working directly with the players.” And that is the way the studio wanted it from the start: to make a product the players wanted.
Wood made it very clear that there will still be devs working on the game. Even if no new content comes forward, bugs will continue to be squashed. And if an influx of players creates a need and desire for more content, that can very well happen. As noted earlier, however, that content wouldn’t necessarily make the game longer; perhaps new zones and areas replace older ones for some spice and variety. How much and what can happen will, of course, depend on how many players continue to join the game, Wood stated. Since it is buy-to-play, there is no real continued revenue stream beyond new players. But just as the studio focused on making a game the players want, if there are more players and a desire for more content, Frostkeep can make that happen.
In the meantime, the studio is not going to just sit back and wither away. Nope…
Frostkeep is growing
With the talk of consolidation and stuff, a first reaction might be that the studio is folding. However, that is definitely not the case. In fact, Frostkeep Studios is expanding. New staff are coming on board (one new programmer was just hired yesterday!). Wood and Cagle told me that the company is healthy and moving forward, even looking for a larger office space. They want to keep making games.
And on that note, a new project is just getting started. Although neither would divulge anything particular about it yet other than it was something new and unique, never seen before. Wood noted that that is what Frostkeep is about — making unique new things. As for this new idea, it is “completely unlike Rend.” Make of that what you will!
I will definitely try to get more information out of them as soon as I can, and we will share it as it becomes available. Until then, feel free to try and speculate what setting or even genre it could be. Who knows, you might be close to the mark or even spark an idea for another project. (Wood might have even told me to go ahead and throw ideas at him, so who knows where your idea could end up!)