Many modern games are designed to seemingly last forever, be they live-service titles such as Destiny 2 or more standalone games that are constantly updated such as Minecraft. There are still experiences with finite scopes coming out every year, but a lot of developers are working on perpetual content for a single game. That's what indie developer Calin Ardelean hopes to achieve with his trippy fractal-based arena shooter: Spaceflux.
Ardelean began work on Spaceflux in January 2018 after getting "hooked" on Unreal Engine in 2017, and it has been in development ever since — alongside some game jam projects, such as a point-and-click title called Big Boy Simulator he worked on for the 2020 Mix and Game Jam. The retro-inspired first-person shooter hosted a Kickstarter in August 2020 before releasing in Early Access that September. That offered him the freedom to work on his game full-time, and he said now it's all he wants to do. Game Rant spoke to Ardelean about the challenges and benefits of working on the same game with a growing fanbase.
How Spaceflux Has Continuously Grown Since its Inception
While he feels the Kickstarter was a great experience that wound up "surprisingly" successful, Ardelean said he learned lessons for any project he might try to crowdfund in the future. Spaceflux raised $5,117 Canadian on its $2,000 goal, and Ardelean was "thrilled to see people supporting the game," but he feels better marketing would have gone a long way.
"Back then our social media presence wasn't nearly as big. If the Kickstarter had happened today, it probably would have been a lot more successful. But at that point it was leading up to the Early Access launch, so I thought it was a good opportunity to build hype."
Although the Kickstarter success helped give Spaceflux an initial push for its Early Access launch on Steam, that launch "wasn't quite as good" as expected. Still, Ardelean and his partner — artist Raymondd Parisien — have continued releasing a steady stream of content that let the game grow. Over the year after its Early Access launch, Spaceflux has "been gaining traction little by little," and now it's much bigger.
Spaceflux's growing fandom has been beneficial for its development, with Ardelean and Parisien taking feedback on improvements or mechanics. The game's Discord is also a space for bug reports, and they aim to hold tournaments every month — the next one happening on November 28 as part of a joint weekend event alongside a Slap City tournament. All of the flashy footage that comes with a game built around "impossible geometries" like fractals and endless horizontal loops also makes it "really well-suited" to social media sites like Twitter and Reddit. That includes direct interactions, with Ardelean saying, "I did offer a million dollars to whoever can get to the center of the fractal."
However, Spaceflux's ongoing development has been to the detriment of other things. Ardelean said he's interested in keeping up with current trends, but the nature of his continual work on a "niche" product means he hasn't had time to pour into different games like the recently released Halo Infinite. Halo is one of Spaceflux's main influences, so Ardelean has followed the new game. He feels it's a great example of emergent gameplay thanks to mechanics like hooking onto Warthog pieces with grappling hooks, and that's a principle he hopes to capture in Spaceflux.
It has been a while since Spaceflux's last big update, but Ardelean said they are still working on one. After that he and Parisien will keep trucking along. Ardelean has nothing more he'd rather be creating, and he could see it running for years to come.
"I have seen an increase in enthusiasm for retro shooters over the past few years. Spaceflux has a kind of simple structure, which I really like. It's very arcade-y and replayable."
Spaceflux is available now in Early Access on Steam.
Source: Slapflux Tournament
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