April 11, 2023
ROCKFISH Games releases EVERSPACE 2
After five years of development and two years in Early Access, the single-player space shooter EVERSPACE 2 from Hamburg-based studio ROCKFISH Games will be released on April 6. In an interview with CEO Michael Schade, we talked about the long journey to the game's release and the studio's experiences.
Quite a bit of work lies behind the space shooter EVERSPACE 2 by game studio ROCKFISH Games from Hamburg. After the success of its predecessor EVERSPACE, the studio was once again able to successfully kickstart a game and then transform EVERSPACE 2 from a linear roguelike into a semi-open-world space-action RPG game. With the release on April 6, the Hamburg-based studio can now finally present the result of its long endeavors. We spoke with CEO Michael Schade about the journey and what they've learned in all that time.
EVERSPACE 2 was released in Early Access two years ago and will be fully released on April 6. After five years of development, and a successful Kickstarter, what is the biggest learning you draw from all of this experience?
As with any new project, there are many lessons to be learned, but the biggest was that even though we layed out an ambitious vision back in 2019, we managed to over deliver on many aspects. When looking back today, we sometimes wonder how we pulled off making such a massive open-world game filled with people to meet, enemies to fight, secrets to find, and puzzles to decode with a fairly small development team.
The answer is let the team decide what is important, dissect each major work block into chunks and keep chewing on smaller issues until they were solved. We threw away things that just don’t “taste” good or were just too chewy, while adding content piece by content piece and feature by feature. Focusing on publishing major updates during Early Access, treat them as miniature launches, and keep iterating. Gather feedback from your community until you end with a game that can compete with modern AAA titles in many areas and is also incredibly polished at launch. But we’re not done! Even now, days from launch, we’re still coming up with ideas that will have to be added in future expansions.
With EVERSPACE 2 you went in new directions with an open-world and a more detailed story, but of course, loot and action remain important parts of the game. What were the deciding factors for you to create EVERSPACE 2 in a new/different way than its predecessor? What was your motivation behind these decisions?
EVERSPACE 2 is the game we wish we could have made in the first place! The original EVERSPACE was made as a linear rogue-like due to time and budget constraints, but story elements and the finely tuned ship combat from the original have had a big impact on this sequel–we even added rogue-like elements to some endgame content as a nod to the first game.
With EVERSPACE as a franchise, we want to create, and keep creating, fast-paced action games with RPG elements and compelling storytelling in a colourful universe that is teeming with alien-life and packed with ancient discoveries. As sci-fi fans, there’s nothing more exciting than putting together a world to play in where just about any kind of story can be told.
You've stayed close to your fans throughout development, involving them in Early Access and constantly asking for feedback to improve your game. What tips can you give to developers and studios who also want to build such a strong community?
Get into a cadence of communicating with your community and, wherever possible, be transparent about what you’re working on as well as your plans for the future! The old adage “underpromise and overdeliver” is our mantra. Have a dedicated community team member who is active on Steam’s community hub, Discord, social media, and Twitch is very important here. They’ll set the tone for your community and help direct conversations to useful places while making sure toxic elements don’t take root.
Don’t be afraid to push back on community suggestions in a public manner! By politely stating that an idea is good, but not something that is within your scope or vision, you’re telling the community that you are listening, even if you aren’t implementing their desired feature.
Lastly, celebrate community successes. One of the greatest features our team added to EVERSPACE 2 is the photo tool. We have an amazing community of space photographers now who take pictures in-game that rival and often surpass anything we can create in the studio.
Is there something you want to achieve in the future with ROCKFISH Games; do you already have plans for post-release of EVERSPACE 2?
This summer we have a console release on Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 plan as well as a major free update that will include new loot and customization options. More voiced languages may be released at that time too.
In the longer term, we have many stories and ideas for areas to explore in Cluster 34 in-game and in other ways. Our creative team has already begun concepting the first major expansion for EVERSPACE 2 which will include new locations and more story. We’ll have more to share about that, later this year.
You can find EVERSPACE 2 from April 6 on Steam, GOG and Microsoft Store for PC, and later there will be releases for PS4, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam Deck.