As the crypto market as a whole falls to its lowest levels in a while, Illuvium’s founders have released an update on future releases, making it clear that quality is paramount and will not be compromised by trying to meet unrealistic deadlines. Aaron Warwick writes:
“Currently, there are an increasing number of people asking “Wen”. In the past, we made the mistake of not making it explicitly clear that our deadlines are aggressive, aspirational, and based on our best knowledge of the project. They are the ‘best case scenario’ dates. As we’ve seen, the best-case scenario rarely happens.
We want to be clear that while we do not pick these dates randomly, we also don’t give them as immutable contracts bound by blood.
The Illuvium Process
Illuvium is a very creative team that empowers all core contributors to add ideas to the mix. We’ve had people from every team on the project pitch game ideas, and we love that. This level of discovery and iteration allows us to find the best game possible. It would have been much worse had we gone with the project’s initial vision.
We try to add more structure by providing guidelines, but sometimes an idea is too good to leave out, and we don’t want the team to feel like they don’t get a say. We’ve also taken inspiration from the community, which will help improve the game. (No, not ideas like “Make the mini-game a huge space MMO”)
We look to the real world for inspiration in best practices. It’s no secret that Aaron is a fan of Space X. They are willing to try something, fail, learn, and finally make something great. Others in the industry stick to a very safe and slow path which inevitably leads to longer delays and worse end products. But rapid iteration does have the issue that exact dates are very hard to lock in because you don’t know what you don’t know until you build.
Most projects are blatant copies of each other with no points of difference, and even they will inevitably delay or release garbage.
Coordinating a large team is a challenge because we are a remote studio. We decided only to hire those that would be able to work unguided, and the few less experienced team members we brought on were people that we felt had the skills to become great very quickly. While we haven’t always been correct in our hires, we have found many ridiculously talented people and plan on continuing in our quest to hone in on a team of experts.
The vast majority of the team work exceptionally hard and produce excellent work constantly, and those that don’t haven’t lasted long. It isn’t easy to keep up, but those that do are amazing. We needed to create this environment because confidence in your teammates is paramount. The universal comment we get from contributors hired from other AAA studios is how lean and driven our teams are. We have no useless teams doing six months long “fact-finding missions”.
There’s a typical phase in development: 10% of the people do 90% of the work. We cannot afford to have a team like that. And we don’t.
The reason we tell you this is because it is important for context. Our team pushes hard because the team itself and the community drive us with the desire to be the best. However, we are still only human. Some of us haven’t taken any time off since we began nearly 18 months ago. Many work weekends and long hours. We push through exhaustion, and at least three have crippling wrist pains. We have always told people to take time off when tired because we know the people we hire never take advantage of work policies. We often have to tell people to take a holiday, because they have gone too hard.
We’ve done this for a long time, and while the team continues to push hard, we can see the impact that comments from the community have on the team morale. The market is way down, and that puts people on edge. We understand that. Remember, the team are token holders too. But we need to move to a more sustainable system where deadline expectations from the community aren’t hung around their necks, weighing them down.
Not only do we expect quality from the people we hire, but we expect them to believe in the promise of NFT gaming. That is infinitely harder when everything they read is that the NFT space sucks. It vastly reduces the pool of talent from which we can draw. Some are very sceptical but sold by our vision. We appreciate those willing to change their mind because they are some of the best contributors. Even still, hiring has been a challenge. Every headline about how some other game was terrible or required 30% gas fees for a blank NFT with no utility makes it harder still. We’ve rapidly hired to meet deadlines, which sometimes costs us because we hire the wrong person and have to try again.
Every decision we have made has been for the community. We have made mistakes, but when we do, we personally fix them, so there is as little impact on the community as possible. We’ve even pushed the Council and seed investors hard for thinking selfishly instead of exclusively considering the effect on the DAO because we need to be laser-focused on who we are building this for. Traditional gamers see social media posts about NFT scams or terrible projects daily. We don’t solve this and deliver on the promise of NFT gaming by rushing.
We’re ahead of the pack, and with the downturn in the market, we don’t see anyone rushing to catch up. Even though things are tight, we feel the best course of action is to deliver as we have done, piece by piece, and give deadlines when we are confident we can hit them.
Many unforeseen issues delayed the land sale, but we set a date once we were confident we could hit it. We all busted our asses to hit that date, and you saw the result. A huge success and proof that we can deliver. We delayed the Gameplay Reveal Trailer, but once we had a date we knew we could hit, we stuck to it (minus 30 minutes). The only major criticism of that trailer was people who refused to believe there were gameplay elements. Only after we released Private Beta 1 did people start to believe it was real.
We will release a road map that shows the order in which we want to deliver, and we will update that regularly. Still, for the health of the team and the project’s success, we feel it is vital that we move away from showing our most optimistic deadlines and instead commit to a date when we are confident.
We want to be clear; these issues are our fault, not the communities. We hope that the community will support us in this change.”