My name is Clint Tasker, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Thorium, and I am delighted to introduce Undermine to all PlayStation fans. We heard you. We all have “PS4 when?” tweets. And you know what? PlayStation now! When is it! (Well… if it’s March 30 now, if not March 30).
Adding Undermine to the PlayStation library is a cathartic moment for me and my partner at Thorium, Derek Johnson. This game allowed us to live our dream and express ourselves creatively, but it also comes at a very high personal cost. The independent development road is twisty and full of potholes, so buckle up, I’m about to take you for a ride.
Derek started Thorium in 2015. He didn’t know he was making Undermine back then, just wanted to do his own thing. Something he and I talked about a lot during our coffee breaks together at Relic Entertainment. Shortly after starting Thorium, he lost his original partner. The first of many bumps. Soon after, he started working with an artist on a roguelike. Why a rogue-like? “Because I won’t have to write a save / load system,” he says.
A few years later, in 2018, I was increasingly frustrated with my job and more and more jealous of Derek and his independent dream. Undermine was just a basic nugget of an idea, but it was a great nugget. So I asked him if he wanted a helping hand, which he gladly accepted. I joined Thorium as a partner and then added all kinds of systems and features to the game that would really need a save / load system. Sorry buddy, but the nugget needed more.
We weren’t well known developers. We never ran big AAA projects or hit the headlines, so we really had to start from scratch. We built our community from scratch. At the end of 2018, we started showing Undermine to the public. First at PAX West, then at DreamHack Atlanta. It was really encouraging and a little relieving. The game was simple, but got a very good response. Shortly after, we were hit by another heavy blow. Creative differences with our artist led him to leave the team. We were just a few months away from Early Access and really behind in content.
After some scrambling, we managed to find some great new artists to work with, but we still went into Early Access with the absolute minimum of content that we were comfortable with. You never want to get into such a vulnerable position, but sometimes the variables stack up against you and there is no choice. The launch of Early Access was a bit difficult, but luckily for us, the welcome from players was fantastic. We’ve fixed technical issues and expanded a large player base by releasing consistent, high-quality updates.
Fast forward a year and a half and there we are. Undermine is complete (with the exception of some additional content updates that we want to add), and we’ve now self-released the game to PlayStation. It was a glove, no doubt, and in retrospect it all sounds very dreamlike. The difficulties fade into the background and the moments of celebration become more important. It’s easy to say now that it was all worth it, but it was definitely a tough road, and Derek and I gained a lot of experience.
It’s opportunities like this for which we want to thank our players, including all new PlayStation players. It is thanks to your support and your enthusiasm that we can continue on this walk. Despite the twists and turns and bumps, it’s incredibly rewarding and we’re really living the dream. Thank you.