Inside the Team: t – 12 days

Posted by unknownworlds 10 years ago

The clock is ticking, the days are running down. It is difficult to believe that in 12 days Natural Selection 2 will be released. But then again, maybe it isn’t. After all, there have been over 370,000 games of NS2 played so far. If you search YouTube for ‘Natural Selection 2’ there are loads of gameplay videos, previews, and general shenanigans.

On the weekend, there is a big beta tournament happening. Last weekend there was another one. And in a few weeks time, there will be a really big one. This game is being played in a lot of places by a lot of people, and that is very heartening.

But it cannot stop the nerves. It will be ten years since the original Natural Selection, the culmination of six years of development. You cannot approach a launch date with that much gravity with perfect confidence.

What does the office look like right now? Unknown Worlds is a tight ship, but the sails aren’t drawn to breaking point. There is no storm rolling the decks. There is an eerie calm, combined with white-knuckle speed. We still go to lunch together, we still fire off the occasional nerf dart, we still play NS2 for fun at the end of each day. Coffee consumption has increased but is not yet at heart attack levels.

That calm cannot disguise the excitement and the challenge. The hours are long, but the target is in sight. Everyone is in early morning and out late at night. Often Max will greet everyone in the morning with the announcement that he has solved another technical hurdle, but not explain when he found the hours to both sleep and code. Or even go home. Dushan just does not sleep, full-stop. Steve has settled into the office with a singular determination to make this game sing. He tells war stories of console development deadlines, and gets cracking on fixing, polishing, and speeding things up.

Charlie has the collected air of a developer who knows that this game will not be judged on the strength of our work in this final week. Instead, it will be judged on the strength of years of work past and years of post-launch support to come. Even so, there are solid odds on him breaking out in uncontrolled woops, cheers, and happy tears at launch time.

As if the Exosuit Trailer was not enough stress for a life time, Cory has dived headfirst into the launch trailer. His screens are covered in epic kills and explosions. Simon is prepping his usual amazing soundtrack repetoire.

At first glance, one might assume that watching Brian all day would be boring. He sits intensely monitoring his screem, fingers dancing across the keyboard, marshalling playtesters with his microphone. Bugs are squashed at a rate that would alarm environmentalists everywhere. It is… intense to watch.

Brian, on the other hand, is fascinating to watch. His screen is covered in animation graphs, joints, models, bones, textures and generally awesome stuff. Hugh, when he is not being teased by the rest of the team, is spending lots of time on the phone, in front of boring spreadsheets, and behind the camera (in game and out).

Before he arrived in San Francisco, Andi was a gameplay programming, bug murdering weapon. Now that he is here in the office, his bug murder rate has increased ten fold and he is wanted in 37 of 50 US states.

So that is where we are. That is what we are doing. We’re going to keep working at this game, we’re going to release this game, and then we’re going to support this game. And there was no point to this post other than to tell you that.

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