Eric Peterson calls himself “Wingman,” as he proudly points out how he’s not in the industry to make a personal name for himself. He’s not putting on when he says it, as you can tell after just a few minutes of talking with him. Eric’s the first to point out each person on his team and talk about the great things they’ve accomplished in the last incredibly short six months of development.
However, you can’t help but notice that the excited and jovial Peterson is the room when he’s around. Whether he’s excited about the game, the community around it, or the fantastic new ideas his team has for where to go next, his grin advances on the room like a tsunami of jocularity. I don’t think I’ve known a developer that laughs as often or as easily as Eric, and Descent: Underground easily captures the same infectious spirit of its Cheshire-like boss.
It’s an early access game, and it’s only had six months of development, so there are certainly rough edges, but beneath the construction is a game that really promotes joy. I’ve played before with a few friends in Teamspeak and again today in the Descendent Studios offices. Both times, the hoots and laughter as friends proceed to engage in fraternal mayhem is a testament to how much fun this game is becoming.
The game hits Steam Early Access with two initial modes and three maps (plus the option to fly solo, or against bots) to begin with, but the team will be adding more as they go along. There are already other ideas in the pipeline, such as a capture the flag mode and others. Additional maps will be incoming, as well. It seems early, but the team felt they had enough together to start getting the game out to the fans.
Big announcements are starting to define what the release version of the game will look like, also. Eric tells me they’re swearing off any micro-transactions, which had me a little out of my seat in shock. I’ve said before that I really feel free, or super cheap, to play and a small cash shop is the way to go for games like this, but Peterson and team felt like the model was a little unfair to their players considering how they’ve gone about funding the game, so they won’t be using it.
I think they’re craziest people I know, but I also think they constantly put their backers first. I can’t help but have an enormous amount of respect for that. Eric says they will have a cash shop of sorts, though. Descent: Underground will support the Steam Workshop, so players will have the opportunity to create their own content and shop it out to other players. That’ll likely generate at least a little extra revenue for the project. More importantly, it’ll promote an even healthier community that actively contributes to the game in a meaningful way.
That sort of community enablement is something the Descendent Studios team take seriously as they continue to demonstrate. It also explains why they push hard to do other things like getting the option of hosting servers into the hands of the players. That’s right, player-hosted servers will be a real thing, which Eric confirmed as we were talking this afternoon.
So I am a fan of this project, and even more so of the people behind it. I’d caution any potential backers to just be aware that it is in a very early stage of development, but I think it is in a very playable state when that’s considered. If what they’ve done this far is any indication, the game is moving along very quickly. If you’re into cool semi-indie projects, I’d definitely recommend Descent: Underground, and if you’re a fan of the original game you should definitely pick it up.
The guys have been kind enough to give us some Steam keys to hand out as well. Stay tuned TOMORROW when we give them out! Keep your eyes peeled to the site.