Earlier this week, globular suck 'em up Slime Rancher 2 received the Song Of The Sabers update. It adds a new, snow-covered zone called Powderfall Bluffs filled with prehistoric slimes. There's a trailer for the update below - but its also a "secret" designed such that some players might never find it, says its game director.
Here's the trailer:
That looks cute, but more interesting is what Monomi Park co-founder and Slime Rancher 2 director Nick Popovich had to say about the update on Twitter.
"A note about our new zone, Powderfall Bluffs: the entire zone is hidden, it's a secret. Not an impossible one, but something that a player *might* never find if casually playing Slime Rancher 2 and not checking wikis and such," writes Popovich. "In gamedev you often always always make sure the player sees and experiences the thing you spent your money on, or else why did you spend the money? This of course makes a bunch of sense, but I think over time this has lead to people having the same experience in a given game."
With this Slime Rancher 2 update, they wanted to create a situation where, "at some point years from now someone who missed this update news will be dozens of hours into SR2 and stumble into Powderfall Bluffs and it will blow their mind." Popovich says that "a moment like that is a very particular kind of magic that I have only ever found in games."
I'm all in favour of this. There's a great thrill not only in stumbling across surprises like a hidden area, but in knowing that those surprises might still be waiting in a game you've played for hundreds of hours. I like not knowing where the edges of an experience are, whether that's being unsure exactly what genre Candy Box is operating within, not knowing on which objects an immersive sim developer decided to blow their budget, or outright secrets like Powderfal Bluffs.
Slime Rancher 2 seems pretty great in general, although perhaps finding these secrets will counter the feeling that it's otherwise too familiar.