Stay awhile and listen, exile.
I posted this on Reddit initially.
A bit about me to give some context:
Walked the earth nearly 4 decades now, most of my professional life spent working in IT, some years in development. Very passionate about games, worked 2 years basically for free when i was young just to be a part of the industry (not recommended, I’ve somewhat wisened up though).
Managed to be a part of several alphas and betas, most notably Everquest Beta back in 1998 with now the late Brad McQuaid. Ended up playing EQ for 5 years and is still one of the most fun gaming era’s I’ve had. Path of exile alpha approximately mid-summer 2011 until 2019 where i finally clocked in at 12k hours. WoW beta, Vanguard SOH (RIP) beta, and many, many more.
Not a flex by any means, I just want to paint a picture of how much games mean to me, in order to give what I’m about to say some weight.
There’s tons of good to great games out there, and a handful, in my opinion, amazing ones. Last Epoch has definately what it takes to be an amazing one. Not in the current state, as it’s still mid-development and the current iteration is great all things considered, but due to the team, leadership and strategy behind it.
That’s what really impresses me, and drove me to wrote this hopefully semi-coherent piece - is my impression of the EHG team. The passion to make a game, for gamers - by gamers to use a cliche, is transparent.
The communication and community involvement from EHG is first class - From Mike’s fantastic Q&A’s, to Judd answering tons of random questions in General (ingame), in addition to everyones effort to be visible here on reddit, on forums and on discord is something i really appreciate.
It’s not easy, and you’d usually rather spend more time on development, standups/sprints, bugs and tons of other things, and that makes it even more amazing.
An another very impressive trait is the game’s direction. It started out as an idea, the idea evolved to a proof of concept (i assume), and got eventually enough built to initiate a kickstarter. The goal was to create an ARPG niche game that would hopefully get some attention and grow slowly.
I love (and chuckle) when i read Mike (Weicker) often drop the phrase “scope creep”. Every project has scope creep, the bigger the project the bigger the creep. Then in (game) development, you can multiply that by xx. A lead designers / project managers job is to mitigate that creep, and have control on what the scope really is and focus on the deliverables.
I can only imagine the journey from kickstarter to todays situation and how much the original scope has been crept, and will continue to do so. More players/interest than expected, more cashflow enabling bigger dreams, ideas maturing and expanding, and seeing a real possibility for the game not just filling a niche, but perhaps clash with the best.
Many studios, especially smaller indie ones without massive backing, have buckled under this pressure, heck even the ones WITH massive backings had issues having a clear goal and delivering on it. Making the right decisions to adjust the course is not an easy task. (Sunk cost, im looking at you).
Scope and ambitions have expanded, probably alot. EHG has, in my opinion, managed to steer expertly through this, and doubled down on their principles to make a great game.
As a semi-relevant note, PoE alpha to late beta was such a mess. It was mostly due to Chris’ stubbornness (and love for Final fantasy 7), GGG’s passion for gaming and their agile, hands-on communication that sold people on the project, and less the product itself in my opinion.
While i do love the game already, I’m sold on the Last Epoch project itself and the future of the game due to the amazing, dedicated and passionate team behind it.