Last year, Natural Selection 2 [official site] creators Unknown Worlds handed development duties on their aliens vs. space marines FPS-RTS over to a team of community volunteers, then themselves dived down into alien oceans to build Subnautica. Ah, but landlubbers will always pine for the shore (or for space?). A year-and-a-half later, Unknown Worlds are getting back into NS2, hiring some of those community folks on as an in-house team to resume development for a few months.
Unknown Worlds explain in a Q&A that they’re hoping that NS2 will one day have thousands of concurrent players and tens of thousands weekly, and this is a step towards that. They’re giving the team three months to shake things up, run a few experiments, and show that they’re worth keeping. They’re not expected to massively boost players or make huge changes, just “to develop systems that allow us to make better decisions” and show that a professional team on NS2 could work well. If it looks good after three months, funding will continue.
They plan for the new team to be on a quicker dev cycle, trying and testing things more frequently and not getting bogged down in months of analysis.
Unknown Worlds, I realise I should say because people rarely realise these things, are not a massive studio. They were about two dozen folks before this, and the new NS2 team is only eight people. They’re hoping to still tap community members for work, only this time paying for it.
We’ll see what the next three months bring.