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Is Witchfire Still Coming Out?

In 2017, indie studio The Astronauts teased its next game, Witchfire. The video promised a stylish and gritty world where you shoot armies of undead abominations and skeletal conquistadors with a variety of firearms. Moreover, the teaser promised the crack team behind The Vanishing of Ethan Carter would channel their experience producing Painkiller and Bulletstorm. (The Astronauts primarily consists of ex-People Can Fly developers).


However, after the game's initial explosive announcement, The Astronauts seemingly fell silent. It is now 2021, and while most of the shooters unveiled around the same time have launched or at least released into early access, Witchfire has been left out in the cold. One cannot help but wonder if The Astronauts is still diligently working on the game.

It's difficult for an indie game to find success if audiences forget it is in development, so the question remains: Is Witchfire still coming out? Keep reading to see.

It'll be ready when it's ready

Video game companies have different business models. AAA studios such as CD Projekt RED have come under fire for simultaneously rushing and delaying games like Cyberpunk 2077. Meanwhile, indie companies like Supergiant Games have been praised for producing stellar titles such as Hades with zero forced crunch and a strict forced vacation policy. The Astronauts has more in common with Supergiant, which explains Witchfire's lengthy development.


During the summer of 2020, The Astronauts co-founder Adrian Chmielarz posted a development update stating that they're still developing Witchfire. However, the studio is taking its time because it's an indie company. According to Chmielarz, before a company can work on a game in earnest, it has to first support its previous game through bugfixes and ports, as well as offer its workers a decompression period.

And, even when indie devs have a good idea of what they want to make, they can't start until they are 100% sure of their vision since they don't have the financial safety net of AAA studios. In other words, Witchfire is still in the works, but it's taking so long because The Astronauts literally can't afford to make mistakes.


The Astronauts hasn't been twiddling its thumbs

Game development is an iterative process. A studio creates a beta product, improves it, displays their work, and then improves even further. Witchfire's original teaser impressed audiences, but impressing gamers isn't enough for indie studios, which are notorious "perfectionists" (Adrian Chmielarz's words, not ours). So as an indie team, The Astronauts has bided its time making an already impressive project even better.


Throughout the years, The Astronauts has spent more time developing Witchfire than it has providing updates, but development is progressing. By January 2020, the company had revamped weapon designs to "be more gaslamp fantasy and less World War 2," produced environment assets such as buildings and ox skulls, and animated a new enemy type. Come summer, The Astronauts had added interior environments, new enemies and animations, and new weapon models, and by the winter, the company had developed an AI director to dictate enemies.

The lesson here is don't assume a game is down for the count just because you don't hear news about its development. Sometimes, a studio is just too busy working on a game to tell you it's busy working on a game.