Ahoy there internet: Don't Starve Shipwrecked and feedback

Co-founder and president at Capy Nathan Vella on dealing with a whole new audience

"It's really interesting to me because Don't Starve is the most popular game you never hear anyone in games talk about. Don't Starve Together is one of the top played games on Steam every month, it's on every platform under the sun. It's been really eye-opening for us," says Capy's Nathan Vella.

Capy took on the development on a Don't Starve expansion pack, Shipwrecked, thanks to its close relationship with Don't Starve studio Klei. Vella explains the whole project has been a learning process, not least when it comes to feedback from the game's dedicated fanbase.

"We've never had a game where the feedback actually matters so much"

"We've never had a game where the feedback actually matters so much. All of our games we make them, we launch them, they're done. We try to listen to post launch feedback and we have - Super Time Force we did two different updates that were based on Steam forum comments and things that didn't work right - but it's not live. It's already a fully baked loaf of bread, you can't tweak the recipe at all. You're just like do I put butter on it or do I put jam? That's all the choice that we had," he says with a smile.

Don't Starve has, since its very conception during a game jam at Klei, been a game that has evolved right in front of the players. When I first started my long relationship with it back in 2013 the world was still a work in progress and features would come and go as Klei tested new and sometimes discarded new ideas. That's made the audience very interested in the development of the game, so interested they'll happily dig through code.

"When we launched the game we had code for volcanoes in there, somebody found it, modded it, put it out there right away. And at first we were like 'aw man' but then you could see there's a whole bunch of people talking about it and their interest and people have ideas for it," reveals Vella.

And even if it's only a small number of fans that have the time or the skills to take your road-map into their own hands, a larger number will have strong opinions on it.

"It's also the scale of it. It's a very active community but you know that you're talking to the upper one per cent. The most active communicators. Balancing out how that feedback actually reflects the other 99 per cent... There are times where their feedback is reinforcing what we think. Sometimes fans disliking certain things actually means that it's right."

"Below [is] learning the way that Don't Starve does things and saying 'oh cool that's how they do it, we're just going to do it this different way"

Vella is far too much of a gentleman to boast about numbers but does reveal that the expansion has done "very well," and the game's regular appearance on Reddit as people share tips and experiences back that up. Now Capy can focus on Below, a very different game with a very different feel.

"It's been really interesting because it's actually taught us some interesting lessons... in a way Below is almost reacting against it."

Below shares some similarities with Don't Starve; both are driven by exploration and survival, both let the player discover things for themselves, but the look and feel couldn't be more different.

"Even though there is no Don't Starve feeding into Below, what there is is Below learning the way that Don't Starve does things and saying 'oh cool that's how they do it, we're just going to do it this different way.' And it's easier to do it a different way when you understand how other people do it. "

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Latest comments (1)

James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada4 years ago
Very cool perspective! Big fan of DS :)
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