Tuesday saw Towns' developers call a halt to development. The game wasn’t making them enough money to fund further work so they decided to cut their losses and move onto other projects. It’s a move that the game’s fans have been far from happy with.
But when I contacted Florian Frankenberger, the game’s lead developer, he told me that what players own is “more or less finished as it is now”. Further development would enhance what’s there but he doesn’t think “the game still feels like an alpha or beta version.”
“There are a lot of different opinions in the forum of what the final game should look like,” Frankenberger said. “In my point of view the game is more or less finished as it is now. Granted there could be a lot of enhancements in, for example, the NPC's behaviour or how the whole hero system is implemented but I also can't really say the game still feels like an alpha or beta version.”
Frankenberger would be happy to open the game up to the community to bring those enhancements through mods but that decision isn’t up to him. It lies with Xavi Canal and Ben Palgi, Town’s original creators “as they own most of the game.”
It’s worth noting that Frankenberger has only been involved with the project for the past two months. In February Canal and Palgi announced they were done with working on Towns and began looking for a developer to take over.
“As for the parts that I wrote,” said Frankenberger, “I would gladly release it as open source in a few months, so people can start to implement the features they want.”
Frankenberger has mentioned plans to start work on a sequel, starting development with everything that’s been learned from Towns. He’d change a great deal. “As much as I like the current 2.5D view of the game I think I would go for real 3D in a possible Towns 2. That makes a lot of things easier and allows to implement more features with less code.”
He also wants to focus on features which fans have been asking for in the current release of Towns. Better AI, for instance. “NPCs that would not just randomly walk around but rather plan their attacks, and counter your attacks in a more realistic way. And also the Townies should be more intelligent to not attack an enemy if they have no weapon, for example.”
Has the backlash against the team’s decision to close the lid on Towns put Frankenberger off alpha releases? “I can't really say a lot about the early days of Towns,” he says. Towns was originally released on Steam before Early Access was released. At that time a game in alpha was a rare thing in Steam’s library and a lot of players were unhappy with its unfinished state. “But in general I think that Early Access is a good way for indie games to start. It allows a broad community to see what you are working on.
“I will definitely use Early Access for my upcoming game Xcylin.”