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Biomutant Creative Director Reveals Studio Went Dark To Avoid Crunch, Confirms No Nu-Gen Version In The Works

Silent bug assassins

Biomutant is a game that we’ve covered extensively here at WellPlayed, whether in written form or on the WellPlayed DLC Podcast. We’ve lamented and speculated about its long-running radio silence, yet still remained hopeful that it would come out the other side for the better, and thankfully last week, the game’s publisher THQ Nordic and developer Experiment 101 announced the game’s new release date – May 25, 2021.

Biomutant’s creative director and founder of Experiment 1010, Stefan Ljungqvist, spoke to IGN recently and divulged the reasons behind the studio’s lack of updates and confirmed that Biomutant is in fact a ‘last-gen’ game. The primary reason for the radio silence was that it allowed the team of just 20 people to focus on QA and fixing bugs without the need to crunch.

“It’s been a huge amount of work for QA, because it’s not easy in an open-world game to find them,” Ljungqvist tells IGN. “And then once they’ve been found, we have to fix them, and that’s put some additional challenge on us, being a small team.” Ljungqvist credits publisher THQ Nordic for not pushing a release date onto them, instead letting the team slowly chip away at the game’s polishing without needing to crunch.

Ljungqvist, who spent nearly 10 years at Avalanche Studios, reveals that his past experiences with crunch have shaped Experiment 101’s ethos towards the practice, and while he admits that the studio isn’t totally crunch-free, it is rare.

“I mean, the studio, we are 20 people and we can’t afford to have [staff] leave the studio, or be destroyed during development. That would be devastating.”

“But the most important thing is you get paid, which is not common in our industry, crazily enough,” the creative director says. “And also you get ‘recap time’, because you have to have rest. If you’re just doing this constantly for 12-14 hours a day, you will eventually have to pay for it.

One reason that I personally believed was the reason the team had gone dark was that the team was enhancing Biomutant for nu-gen consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X/S). Ljungqvist confirms that that is not the case, stating that “When we developed the game, we lead on the last-gen, and if you look at it from a development perspective, that’s really important because it’s easier to scale up than to scale down.” Ljungqvist goes on to state that team want as many people to play the game as possible, and the small install base for nu-gen consoles means that it doesn’t make sense to make Biomutant a nu-gen exclusive. However, Ljungqvist adds that the game’s PC version has performance boons for high-end PCs.

However, Ljungqvist reveals that Biomutant’s scope has expanded, with the game’s script going from 80-85,000 words to nearly 250,000 words, which has resulted in a reactive karma system called Aura. Aura will alter NPC dialogue based on whether you’re more aligned to the light or dark allegiance.

Biomutant is set to launch on May 25, 2021, on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Written By

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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