Studio growth and project progress: an update from Noxy and John
Today we're popping out from behind the curtain of secrecy to share a little bit about our growth as a studio and our progress with Hytale. You'll also get a glimpse at the evolution of Orbis from two new pieces of key art! Read on for updates from Hypixel Studios CEO Noxy and Hytale Game Director John Hendricks.
Hard to believe that it’s almost been a year since our last update! Even though things have been quiet on the outside, we’ve rarely been as busy or as productive as we’ve been in the last twelve months. We’re really pleased with the progress that we’ve been making. As ever, the community remains a huge source of inspiration and motivation for the whole team.
Before I continue, I wanted to say thank you to the fan artists, the content creators, the lore-speculators, the question-askers, and everybody reading this. It really does mean a huge amount to us that you’re still here.
This is true year-round, but a few weeks ago we received an incredible gift – a beautifully-carved board signed by creators from all parts of the Hytale community. I wanted to take a moment to say thank you on behalf of the entire team to everyone involved in making this happen.
The postcard that accompanied this gift was very touching, too. The last line was ‘please take care of our Pebble’ – a reference to RighteousPebble, who went from Hytale community member to Hytale developer last year when he joined our art team! I’m very happy to say that Pebble’s been taking good care of us – he’s already made some fantastic contributions to Hytale, and you’ll get to see a piece of his official (!) art below.
It's hard to understate just how much Hypixel Studios has grown. This project started life with a handful of people breaking away from the Hypixel Minecraft server team to start building something new. When we announced Hytale and established Hypixel Studios back in 2018, that team had grown a lot, but there were still fewer than 40 of us. Now there are more than 110 people working hard on Hytale every day.
We've also had support from contractors, external partners, and of course Riot themselves. Hytale has always been an ambitious game, and slowly but surely we've gathered the people, knowledge, skills and resources to deliver on that vision. It's been hard work, and there have been many challenges, but I'm happy to say that we're getting to where we need to be – slowly but surely. (Yes, it's been slow for us too!)
Lots of us just got home from a studio gathering held at Riot's headquarters in Los Angeles. This was our first opportunity to meet many of our new teammates in person. Take a look at that team photo compared to last year! That isn't even everyone.
On that note – I'm still just as excited by our relationship with Riot as I was when we announced the acquisition. We've been very fortunate to find a partner who understands what we're trying to achieve with Hytale, and supports our approach to building it. Riot's support has been vital as we've grown, not just in terms of resources and knowledge but guidance, too. Riot’s mentorship has made us better developers, opened up new possibilities, and given us confidence that we’re moving in the right direction.
This is the part where I say: we're hiring! We're very much still hiring. We're hiring all the time. We're hiring as you read this. At the time of writing we have roles open in art, design, audio, production, engineering, and our studio operations team, and new roles are being posted all of the time. Please check out our Jobs page for the latest information. We've hired some amazing people, and we'd love it if you joined them. Speaking of amazing hires, here's that new RighteousPebble art!
John Hendricks is another person we've been lucky to welcome into the team. John joined us in 2020 as Design Director, but soon took on the responsibilities of a Creative Director. Since then, his expertise managing game development at scale has been absolutely invaluable when it comes to keeping Hytale on track. There’s been a whole lot more to building Hytale than we anticipated when we set out on this journey, and operating a production environment at that scale just isn't part of my skillset. I’ve been immensely grateful for John’s support in this regard.
John became Game Director for Hytale earlier this year, and I'll hand off to him now so that he can update you on the game itself.
You know, that thing you came here to hear about.
Sometimes the summoning circle (should that be a square?) is just too hard to resist.
Hi! I'm John. As the Game Director I'm responsible for overseeing the creative, tech and production initiatives that are bringing Hytale to life. My job is to make sure that we deliver a game that matches our vision – and that we do so in a healthy, forward-thinking way that ensures that we're ready to respond to player and creator needs for a long time to come.
Ok, what can I share? I don't want to give too much away about the world of Orbis, as there are many things we want you to experience for the first time in-game!
...but I can share a project status update, and some of our creative efforts, like this Outlander concept art! The team has been hard at work bringing the inhabitants of Orbis to life through lore, design, art, and code. As much as we've shared, we've held back even more. When we first introduced the inhabitants of Orbis they already had a deep backstory, but were missing that depth in the game world. Not anymore. Every single aspect of Hytale has been re-explored, and the next time you see Orbis, you can expect it to feel familiar in many ways, but different in many others. There's some evidence of these differences scattered throughout this post...
Right now, two major work streams are coming together. The engine update we announced last year has been proceeding as planned, while our creative teams have been making great progress prototyping experiences and advancing our design thinking. It is rare to have the opportunity to upgrade your tech before you launch a game, and we are not wasting it!
More performance, adaptability, and platform support? Yes please, but there is more to the story than that. We made several exciting discoveries while prototyping Hytale that we needed time to work through. We felt good about our core gameplay, but there was work to be done to bring it all together into a cohesive whole, as they say.
I am excited to say that we have recently hit a major milestone – our first external playtest! Someone left the playtest labs unlocked and we managed to get our combat prototype loaded onto a room full of machines (ok, the user research team helped a lot.) We ran participants through a series of exercises that ended with duels and team deathmatches. We tested an extensive number of systems for balance and flexibility, including player movement, abilities, weapons, armor, items, buffs, and magic!
I'm happy to report that we learned a lot and that the brave playtesters had a great time. At one point, two of the testers silently conspired to escape the arena. We didn't think it was possible. We were glued to our screens as they worked together, communicating through a series of nods, squats, and gestures, to get one of them over the walls... if they're reading this, they should know that we cheered. A very Hytale moment ;)
We've also been internally testing our tools, from worldgen to VFX. Creating a highly configurable game is a 'go slow to be fast' process. We're spending extra time now to build flexible systems and processes so that creators (including us) can move fast once those systems are ready.
The next big step is to get another wave of features ready for internal playtesting as more systems come online. We've expanded the team significantly since our last update, which also takes time. Everyone we add to the team is a vital part of the mission. It's an investment that goes both ways – they invest their time, energy and experience, and we do our best to be worth it!
Ok, I'd better stop before I cross over into another recruiting pitch (I can't help it, we always have cool jobs posted!) Thank you again for all of the support and encouragement, we are striving to be worth that as well ;)
As I've said, there are so many things that we're holding back because we want you to experience them in-game. But here's another Feran, just because.
Interesting costume, for a desert-dwelling character. Unless... the factions of Orbis aren't restricted to specific biomes or zones? Now there's an idea...
To download a .zip file containing 4K versions of the new pieces of key art featured in this post, click here!