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Ethan Carter threw out a survive 'em up in favour of monster shooter Witchfire

Passion project

Witchfire, the upcoming game from Vanishing of Ethan Carter studio The Astronauts has a fairly straightforward premise: “we just want to shoot monsters with guns.”

But in a recent blog post, the developers revealed they'd previously been working on something quite different, and ultimately decided to throw out a year's worth of work on a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic survival sim because they "liked it, but not loved it."

So why were The Astronauts making a survival simulator in the first place? “Partially, it was about jumping on the bandwagon,” they say. “It seemed like the world has moved towards sandboxes like Day Z, Rust or Ark. We liked some of these games but figured we could do it differently. The plan was to make a survival sim for people who enjoy the idea of a survival sim – alone versus the universe – but hate the execution.”

But they soon came to realise that it wasn’t where their true passions lay. Presumably they wanted to fully enjoy creating the game for personal fulfilment, but they also say that players can tell when there’s “love behind every pixel,” and that this is an important quality for their games to capture. It was only once they decided that what they truly loved was shooting at monsters that Witchfire as it now exists was born.

“Nothing carried over to what we’re working on these days. Not a single idea, not a single asset (okay, maybe except for the grass).” It is, I must say, very beautiful grass, helped out by some of the tricks employed in Ethan Carter. As well as the obvious gameplay changes, the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic setting has also been replaced by "gaslamp fantasy."

The eight-person studio has now been hard at work with lots of the most important parts of “shoot monsters with guns” – namely the monsters and also the guns. It’s not surprising, then, that this “cautionary tale” still has a positive ending: “we’ve never been happier than we are now,” concludes the blog.

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