Developing Bramble The Mountain King in Unreal Engine

Dimfrost Studio's Fredrik Selldén told us about the development and polishing of Bramble: The Mountain King and discussed the challenges the team faced. 

Please tell about yourself and your team. 

My name is Fredrik and I am Co-Founder and Design Director of Dimfrost Studio. We are a young and passionate team that just released Bramble: The Mountain King.

How would you describe the last steps of the development? What were your main goals?

During our last stretch of production, our aim was to make Bramble as smooth and glitch-free experience as possible. We were content locked quite a while before the release which gave us ample time to polish, polish, and polish. I feel that we did quite a good job on that front, and we achieved it without crunch. We also prepared ourselves for player feedback. We got ourselves ready to record any surprises that we haven’t picked up, but thankfully there weren’t many. And of course, from a marketing point of view, we were making sure that as many people that could be interested in our game would hear about it. It was certainly a memorable time. We were definitely anxious in seeing how people will react to the game that we worked on for so, so long.

You probably spent a lot of time polishing and optimizing the game closer to the release. What were the challenges? What tasks did you have?

We wanted to aim for a high graphical standard and, luckily, we could leverage some of the ways the game is designed to that end. In particular, because the camera is strictly directed, we could always know exactly how close individual assets would get to the camera. That allowed us to only build what we knew would be seen, and also to use extremely aggressive LOD techniques. There are some assets whose models went from thousands down to tens of triangles and whose textures went from 2k down to 32x32px. Finding and tweaking all the models based on maximum camera distance took some time and effort but shaved 50%+ off everything from texture budget to scene triangle counts to build disk size. 

Could you tell us about the release date? What did you feel? Did you have to make any last-minute changes?

Anxiousness. Nerves. Excitement. Giggles. Smiles. Butterflies. There were a lot of emotions, and all of us felt different ones depending on who you asked. Some of us were confident, or perhaps the better word would be satisfied that we honestly, truly did our best. A feeling that we could sleep in peace knowing we finished the game as best as we could. Others felt a bit more nervous - like letting your child go to school for the first time. Will people like it? Will it find friends (fans)? Those were the questions they had in their minds. I can say for certain though that on the day we all had smiles on our faces. It felt like we achieved something special. It was a moment that we shared, a moment that was ours, and we knew that we will never forget the moments and stories that we had while working on this game. It’s a nice warm memory that will stay for a lifetime.

The feedback has been very positive I believe. What comments did you get from players? Was there any negative feedback that helped you further improve the game?

We were blown away by the feedback. To see so much love for our game was heartwarming. And the best part was that our Steam rating hasn’t dipped below the 96% User Rating mark. That in itself is insane to us. 

Now, a month later, what would you say are the main lessons you learned? What would you do differently next time?

There are a lot of lessons here. Building a very ambitious game at the same time as you build the studio from scratch is not an easy task, but we learned a lot regarding structure along the way. I think the main lesson is work-life balance. When you are in the thick of it, it feels like the project will burn up in flames if you take an afternoon off or feel a bit sick, so you work anyway. But a project is a marathon and it will survive even if you need to take an afternoon off or a sick day. Pick the battles you actually need to be stressed out about and avoid stress for all the small things that don't really matter if you look at the bigger picture.

What is your current roadmap? What’s next for your team?

All we can say at this moment is that we are working on our next project. What it is, what it will be, when, etc., that will be revealed at the right time. 

Fredrik Selldén, Co-Founder & Design Director of Dimfrost Studio

Interview conducted by Arti Burton

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