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No Rest for the Wicked director defends early access release - 'It's one way to allow developers to truly perfect a product over time'

No Rest for the Wicked's creative director has defended the idea of launching a game in early access following criticism of the game's current state.

Moon Studios, the studio behind Ori and the Blind Forest, just released its latest action RPG No Rest for the Wicked in early access on Steam, and despite positive reception, there is some negativity surrounding the game's performance and current build.

Of course, the game is in early access, meaning the version fans are currently playing isn't the final product. Moon Studios has already released a blog post explaining that it will be making improvements during the early access period and wants to "optimize and improve the game with your feedback".

Moon Studios CEO and No Rest for the Wicked creative director Thomas Mahler also took to X (formerly Twitter) to explain his stance on early access, saying that it's "one of the best decisions we could've made" (via PC Gamer).

"I see some people are still irked about why games like [No Rest for the] Wicked, Hades 2, Larian's new game [Baldur's Gate 3], etc. launch into Early Access even if the studio 'should have the funds to finish the game and release it then'," Mahler said. "But that's looking at a complex problem through a way too simple lens."

"I think as games become more and more complex and sophisticated, we'll see some form of early access happening more and more often. Speaking from our own experience, there is just no way we could have ever shipped Wicked 1.0 without being able to see all the data we're seeing now and getting all the feedback from users. And I mean actual users, not a Focus Testing Group. Even if we'd have 2-3 times the staff, it would have been quite simply impossible, the product is just way too complex of a beast to reasonably expect that. 9 women can't make a baby in a month and all that."

Mahler continues, saying that he thinks some games in the past would've benefited from an early access period, such as FromSoftware's Dark Souls, explaining that if the studio "didn't rush to ship the game in a somewhat unfinished state, they probably would've been able to look at the second half of that game and still fully form and polish the less polished areas like Lost Izalith, etc."

Baldur's Gate 3, for instance, was in early access for three years - going through various updates and changes - before it eventually launched on PC and PS5 in August 2023 and became the first game to win every major Game of the Year award.

"Shipping games is always incredibly difficult and stressful and most of the time it means making quite drastic compromises, especially if your product is trying to accomplish something new," the director continues. "And if you don't know that it's okay to bring in certain features and scope after the fact, you'll just end up cutting before you hit the market.

"So, even if you dislike the idea of Early Access: It's one way to allow developers to truly perfect a product over time, so please try to understand that there's value in that. I'm confident that we will see games being created through Early Access programs that would've never been made without EA."

No Rest for the Wicked is also planned for a PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

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