Earlier this fall, Hopoo Games opted to release Risk of Rain 2 on the Switch and its fellow console brethren, setting another milestone moment in the long and ongoing development cycle that's been taking place since the title entered early access on PC in March. We were quite pleased with the build that was made available in September, and already Hopoo Games has released a couple patches that have addressed some of our biggest complaints.
Today, the ever-growing roguelike is available for purchase on store shelves as a physical cartridge, which also includes a copy of the first Risk of Rain on the cart as an added bonus. To commemorate the occasion, we spoke to the team to discuss the development process of the Switch version and the experience of developing a game while an active fanbase is playing it.
Nintendo Life: First off, could you take a moment to introduce yourselves?
Hopoo Games: Hi, we are Paul Morse and Duncan Drummond, founders of Hopoo games and developers of Risk of Rain, Deadbolt, and Risk of Rain 2.
It's been about eight months since RoR 2 was first made available through early access. If at all, how has your vision for the final product changed as you've continued development? Has fan feedback had any measurable effect on the direction of development?
The overall vision we have for the 1.0 version of Risk 2 hasn’t changed drastically during our time in Early Access. However, the scope of the game, the type of content, and the amount of content we want to include has expanded as we get more feedback from players.
How has the fanbase responded to the shift to 3D? Did it go over as well as you'd hoped?
...people who played said somehow we were able to nail the same feeling
from the original but in a 3D space.
This was something we were nervous about going from Risk of Rain 1 to 2 since it would be such a major change from the first game. Thankfully, when we showed the game off at PAX West for the first time, people who played said somehow we were able to nail the same feeling from the original but in a 3D space. The core gameplay loop felt the same but also enhanced was our main feedback, so we were very happy.
If any, what were some notable challenges that arose from tackling this ambitious project with such a relatively small team?
Having 3 people on the main team in the office has always been a challenge but it is something we enjoy. Having to solve problems and be extremely efficient with our time makes us focus really hard on the game. We often have to consider what is most important to put our time and effort into what will make the most impact for the players. We have also had the help of the Gearbox Publishing team which has been amazing for us as a small studio. They are able to handle so many things that would normally slip through the cracks or that we wouldn't be able to do as a small team.
In the lead up to release, we noticed a lot of detractors saying that RoR 2 "couldn't run" on the Switch's hardware. What was the development process like when you were porting it to Switch? Were there any major bottlenecks or challenges?
We have been hard at work on the core game as it's still in early access with more content coming down the pipeline. Not wanting to delay the game, but still make it accessible to anyone who wants it, we worked with Gearbox in finding an outsource partner to help us port the game to various platforms, the Nintendo Switch included. PlayEveryWare, another Seattle studio, was ultimately selected and that team has worked exceptionally hard to produce a well performing game under such an aggressive timeline.
How engaged and receptive has the Switch audience been compared to your main audience on PC?
We have been extremely happy with the reception to the Switch version of the game.
We have been extremely happy with the reception to the Switch version of the game. Console players have always been hard for us to focus on being a small team but with all the help we have on Risk of Rain 2 we are finally able to support both PC and Console players at the same time. We have lots of new content, quality of life updates, and performance patches planned so we are excited for the future of the Switch version.
What are your thoughts on releasing a 'live' game in physical format before completing it? Was there discussion around waiting until development reaches the final build?
We originally planned on releasing the game on all consoles with the 1.0 release of the game. However, when we released the game on Steam Early Access and the game had this massive influx of players we decided to pull the console versions in sooner and try to get them out before the holidays.
The most recent patch added in some welcome quality of life features like more console-friendly menus and gyro aiming. Are there any other unique features of the Switch that you'd like to take advantage of in future updates?
Some of the features we want to include are local ad-hoc multiplayer,
leaderboards support, voice chat, and of course performance gains, bug
fixes, and more quality of life improvements.
Yes, since the development timeline for Switch is following the PC version we are able to include extra features and improvements specific to the Switch version when we have time. Some of the features we want to include are local ad-hoc multiplayer, leaderboards support, voice chat, and of course performance gains, bug fixes, and more quality of life improvements. This is a huge advantage of having the game on consoles before we have technically hit 1.0 so we can add highly requested features and consistently improve on the game every patch.
What's your experience been like with managing fan expectations alongside active development? Has it been difficult judging how much or how little to announce at any given point?
This is something we have dealt with before while working on Risk 1, but it is something I think we have learned a lot about. Every time we announce something or release a content update there are players asking when the next thing will come out, when updates will hit but this is exciting for us since it shows that people are just excited for more content. We generally will only announce content or dates for patch when we are 100% they will be able to hit that day so we don’t disappoint players.
Our thanks to Paul Morse and Duncan Drummond for taking the time to answer our questions. Keep an eye out for more content coming to Risk of Rain 2, as there's still a long and exciting update roadmap of what's to come in the next several months. In the meantime, let us know in the comments below how far you've managed to get on your best run.