Developer Interview: Nick Popovich, Slime Rancher

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Nick Popovich is a co-founder of Monomi Park, the studio behind the successful Steam Early Access game Slime Rancher. Nick was kind enough to take time to answer questions about the development of Slime Rancher and its success on Steam:

1. Can you give an indication of the current composition of the team, and given the success of the release of Slime Rancher do you have any plans for expanding the team?

Nick Popovich: The team is currently two people, plus a contractor for audio, Harry Mack. We may expand the team, but we still plan to be very small. I’m used to small teams.


2. In terms of community management, will you be appointing more community-mods for the forums, or will you have team members devoted to this?

NP: Likely a bit of both. A dedicated support person is on the way.

3. Do you plan on introducing a public task doc, such as a google spreadsheet or trello board, so the community can see what is being worked on?

NP: We currently have a public roadmap (click here to view) and will likely stick with using that. Given our size we need time to put our heads down and work without worrying about making every change public in real time. I’m also keen on keeping some stuff a surprise.


4. With the success of the release, are you planning on expanding the scope of the game, and if so will that impact the expected completion date of fall 2016?

NP: The scope is not being expanded in any way until we reach 1.0. Feature creep or getting caught up in the excitement of release is a trap for devs. After 1.0, we’ll see!


5. Do you employ any specific development methodologies, such as scrum? If so, what advantages / disadvantages do you feel this brings?

NP: We’re currently two devs in a room so beyond a trello board we don’t need much. Every thing is very rapid, very agile.


6. What engine was Slime Rancher built in, and what is your opinion of the engine?

NP: Slime Rancher is built in Unity. Overall, it’s saved us a bunch of time but there’s a few major issues with it like the inability to nest prefabs, that require massive work-arounds. If anyone from Unity is listening, for goodness sake, add nested prefabs.


7. What is your major funding source? For example, Steam early access, private funding, angel investment etc.

NP: Slime Rancher is entirely boot-strapped by Mike and I. We’ve received no outside funding. We’ve been spending our own savings to develop it since day 1.


8. Has the financial success, and the extremely high steam rating, of the release taken you by surprise?

NP: Yeah I don’t think either of us were expecting so much so fast. I knew it was a good game but there’s plenty of good games that nobody ever plays. I’m thrilled that it found an audience and so many people seem to think so highly of it.


9. Assuming Slime Rancher is completed fall 2016, do you have any thoughts on what project you will work on next? If yes, can you share any of them?

NP: I have plenty of ideas and naturally, none I can share at this time.


10. How do you handle testing at the moment, and do you have any plans for expanding this to include community testers or an external agency?

NP: We obviously test it ourselves and have a little inner circle of testers we trust who play certain builds as they’re ready.


11. As you add more content to Slime Rancher, this makes the game larger and more complex – therefore more difficult to test. Do you anticipate this affecting your update release schedule as you move forward?

NP: We haven’t announced any specific dates for the content updates, so no. We’ll deliver them when they’re ready and we think the community will enjoy them.


12. How is technical support handled, and do you anticipate the success of the release changing this method?

NP: We handle support internally, not with an outside agency. I don’t see any reason why this would change.


In case you missed it,  the original Developer Review of Slime Rancher is below:

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