Colorful combat cat game Bimutant has looked quite lovely since we first heard about it, making it all the more disappointing when information from its developers was sparse for so long after blowing past its original 2018 release window. Experiment 101 finally announced a May release date earlier this week and have now said what they've been doing all this time: quietly squashing bugs and trying not to overwork their small team.
Experiment 101 studio head Stefan Ljungqvist talked with IGN, explaining that the team is a mere 20 people and the ambitious open world game they've envisioned was a lot for that small team to bite off. You get a sense of how much Biomutant is trying to do in RPS's interview with Ljungqvist last summer. Check it out just below.
It's an open world with a customisable cat protagonist, tribes of other cats, RPG systems, tons of customisable weapons, huge enemies, gliding through the air, and more. Over the past year, Ljungqvist says Biomutant's script has also more than doubled as part of the game's karma system in which NPCs will react to your character's alignment. Oh, and it looks beautiful too.
With any open world game come unavaoidable open world bugs that need to be fixed before launch. "At the end of the project, there's only a certain amount of bugs that you can physically fix during the course of the day," Ljungqvist explains. That's even more true with such a small team. He says that E101 waited to announce a release date until they were definitely ready, hoping to avoid shipping with any serious issues and, even more importantly, not burning out the team fixing them to hit that launch day.
"If we do it, it's controlled, and it has been rare. I guess now moving into the release, we're prepared to do it for some days, but it's not the constant thing. It will kill you," Ljungqvist says on the subject of crunch. "We are 20 people and we can't afford to have [staff] leave the studio, or be destroyed during development. That would be devastating."
The concept of crunch at game studios has been back in the spotlight thanks to open world 'em up Cyberpunk 2077 whose management claimed they wouldn't require the team to crunch to complete the game, ended up requiring overtime anyway, and then had a notably buggy launch. CD Projekt Red are far from the only example, but they're the biggest recent one.
It's encouraging to see Experiment 101 exit a long stretch of quiet work to say that they've been trying to create a beautiful and ambitious game the team can be proud of without offering up their health and happiness in exchange. I'm genuinely excitied to play their colorful martial arts cats game when it launches in May and hope they can be a success story for healthy development when it does.
Biomutant launches on May 25th over on Steam. It will also be available on PS4 and Xbox One.