The below is an official update on Hyper Light Drifter from the Heart Machine team, they’re excited about the progress they’re making and so am I.
Hyper Light Drifter is a 2D action RPG in the vein of the best 8-bit and 16-bit classics, with modernized mechanics and designs on a much grander scale. We’ll explore a beautiful, vast and ruined world riddled with unknown dangers and lost technologies. Inspired by nightmares and dreams alike.
Hyper Light Drifter will be released in spring of 2016.
We wanted to address this ongoing point with confidence before providing any more details. Release dates are a sensitive subject, and our attitude has been to take the time we need to do this right. Though we have hinted at estimated dates before, we are thrilled to finally come to you in certainty with our official release window!
We have set a high standard for ourselves throughout the entire process, and will not compromise those to release a title before it’s ready. We’ve seen how that choice turns out time and time again. The final game will be far better for it.
The first release will come to Windows and Mac, followed as quickly as possible by consoles. A very significant labor of optimization and platform requirements go into bringing a game to consoles. We have already begun juggling that process in tandem with the completion of the core game, but have decided to not withold the PC version while we wait for the console versions to pass certification.
Why has it taken this long?
Game development is often an imprecise process of discovering how everything works together; the core concepts, the visuals, the audio and the interactive. Hyper Light Drifter is a big game, with a small handful of extremely dedicated people creating it. It has required a massive amount of careful design considerations, extensive conversations about the story and world, engine and tools building, plenty of discovery, trial and error, working through a variety of game-breaking and time-draining bugs, reworking and cutting of systems, reshaping, and streamlining to feel like we can deliver on the original intention and vision of the project.
With crowdfunding, we (and other developers in our position) have been able to share a small portion of this complex process with a larger audience, shedding a bit of light on the incredible amount of work and iteration that goes into just a single experience.
Why next year and not 2015?
The game is rapidly nearing content completion. There’s balancing to be done with the economy/collectables, vital playtesting remains for specific regions and bosses, further cleanup for levels and remaining temp assets, some music to be composed, and bugs to be fixed. Each of these components are being worked on in-tandem, and each requires a healthy amount of time to bring to a satisfying, polished conclusion.
Games take a lot out of us. We’ve been working full-blast for almost two years, and the team as a whole needs to continue to steadily pace ourselves, instead of crunching; pushing any harder would burn us out, leading to a negative outcome. My own physical condition has been growing worse (as is expected), leaving me unable to do as much until I have the necessary heart procedure performed. This means pacing, resting, recovering, and getting treatment even when I have much to do.
We see how close we are, and how exciting it is to finally peek at the end of the tunnel. We are on budget, well paced, within our means, and more excited than ever.
Developing games is difficult, complicated, kind of insane and extremely gratifying. I love it more each day.
Heart Machine has been fortunate enough to have a successfully crowdfunded project, which is no small feat. We have wonderful backers and fans to share our process with and help keep our energy and focus up. I’m looking forward to more in-depth looks at our engine + editor, some write-ups on design decisions, and more concept art posting down the line. It’s taken us a fair amount of time to get to this level; we won’t compromise on our standards now.
We hope you’ll enjoy the immense amount of wonderful thought and effort the entire team has poured into the experience when the time comes.