Once upon a time, Andrew "Redigit" Spinks quit Terraria. He'd decided to move on to bigger and better things, mystery projects that beckoned to him from worlds far beyond Terraria's treacherous loam. Fans were not happy. They scratched angry words into many an Internet, but their cries fell on deaf ears. For a little while. And then, kind of like Gandalf in that one movie (X-Men?), Redigit returned - with gifts, even! Update 1.2 is positively massive, and it's finally out. But now Spinks is back where he started. Should he stay or should he go? He's not entirely sure yet, but he was able to offer RPS one piece of enticing news. That mystery project? It's Terraria 2.
Terraria 2's actually been in various phases of planning for quite some time, but Spinks decided that his fans were right: he still had unfinished business with Terraria 1. It's the double-edged sword of having a community whose passion borders on fanatical. Sometimes, you have to let them steer the ship.
"I actually planned, when I first quit Terraria, to have been halfway through my next project by now," Spinks told RPS during a recent interview. "But it just didn't happen. Instead, I decided to work on another update for Terraria to please the fans a little bit."
Now, don't take that the wrong way. Spinks was happy to give fans a penguin (and roughly a billion other things) for their thoughts, and he still is. But Terraria 1 has limits. Spinks laid the groundwork ages ago, after all - long before he'd amassed the massively malleable mountains of experience that come with releasing such a successful game. He thinks he can do better, and he can't help but pine for the chance to dig deep and see what he finds.
"I'm super excited about starting Terraria 2," he said, voice suddenly ringing with a pointed intensity. "It's a ways out, but it's gonna have a lot in common with the original. It's gonna be quite different as well. I really want to expand on the whole Terraria universe.”
“There's a lot of stuff I'm locked into with Terraria. The way loot works, the way character progression works. In Terraria 2, I really want to have infinite worlds so you're not just stuck to one world. You can travel anywhere. I want more biome diversity in that, too. There's a lot of stuff [I want to add and change].”
Knock it down, build it back up again. Terraria 1's foundations are set in stone, but Terraria 2 is - at this point - a land of possibility. Where, though, does that leave the original Terraria? Is a finish line in sight? For real this time? Spinks is still deliberating, but ultimately, he's keeping things in perspective. Either way, he's got it pretty good, all things considered.
“I'd say this is probably gonna be the last seven-month update [to the original]," he chuckled. "But there's a lot of stuff that I didn't have the time to put into this one. For instance, there's no final endgame boss. So I plan on, within the next month or two, finishing the endgame progression. I also have some ideas for a Halloween update I'd like to do too. I think people will get a kick out of that. So there might be a few more updates, maybe three or four months out.”
“It's a tricky question, though. When do you stop working on one game and start working on something new? I honestly have no idea. Right now, I'm having a lot of fun with it. Everyone on my team is really enjoying working on Terraria 1. But I have looked into maybe hiring another small team to continue updates while I move onto Terraria 2. So that's also an option.”
And that's really what it comes down to: options. Among indie developers, Spinks is quite fortunate, and he's well aware of that. He can pick his battles, he can hire teams, he can stuff a thousand items into an old game or begin work on something entirely new. It's a privileged position born of prior success, and - regardless of what he does next - Spinks doesn't plan on losing sight of that. What does that mean in the near-term? Well, probably no crowdfunding, for one.
“When I made Terraria, I did it in four months, and I think I only paid, like, not very much - and that was just for the sound," he admitted. "So I'd like to be able to do something similar with Terraria 2. My personal preference is that I never be in a position where I need to get money to fund my projects.”
Madness! Lunacy! Both very underrated qualities, as it turns out.
Look for an interview with both Spinks and Edge of Space lead Jake Crane about crossovers, the state of the build/craft/fight/everything else genre, whether or not it's becoming played out, potential design pitfalls, the state of their games, and more in the coming days.