Path Of Exile Restructures Expansion Development Process To Give Them More Breathing Room
Grinding Gear Games has been working overtime over the past few months to ensure that they stick to their regularly scheduled Path of Exile update cadence amid the development challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the studio, the pandemic exposed just how vulnerable their development process was to “black swan events” and that they will be making changes to the update cycle accordingly.
“Due to the way we've been developing expansions, we had almost no wiggle room to manage the additional overheads of lockdown,” admitted Producer Chris Wilson in his latest dev blog. “Even under normal circumstances, some expansions were coming in quite close to the wire. There is a reasonable chance that we may experience another lockdown, or some other unforeseen event that adds extra pressure and we need to create a development plan that has enough breathing room to allow that to happen.”
Wilson also cited feature creep, or adding new features on the fly, as another cause for production delays. “While Feature Creep can wreak havoc on a schedule (and hence the overall quality of an expansion at launch), it's also important to make sure that developers have a way to still add those special touches that make the game feel like it has endless stuff to discover. We feel that this is best done in the planning phase rather than late in development when such changes can affect the quality of release.” he explained.
In light of these, the team will be restructuring their development process and will be testing it throughout the next three-month development cycle. The plan is to roll out the December expansion with everything a large expansion needs but no more. If all goes well, the team will not only be able to release the December expansion on time but also in a very stable and polished state.
The downside is that the expansion will be smaller than players are used to and will only include changes that the team thinks will be the most important and those that will have the largest impact on the game. The studio will also be handling update announcements differently and will be revealing more of the expansion’s features at once rather than the small teasers that usually precede its launch.