We are Brightrock Games. We’re the studio behind War for the Overworld - an indie game released last year on Steam, and spiritual successor to Dungeon Keeper. We held two well-received AMAs during our Kickstarter back in 2012/13 and thought now would be a good time to do a follow up, since we've had quite an interesting couple of years to say the least.

Our Story: We began as a fully-remote amateur team in 2012, and now we are a professional studio based out of our very own office in sunny Brighton, UK. We'll be talking about how we got started, the processes behind a successful Kickstarter campaign and Steam Early Access launch, as well as how we recovered from our rocky release last year to get where we are today - bringing out our new expansion pack, Heart of Gold, and gazing contemplatively towards our next project.

Participating in this AMA:

Shameless plug: We're also currently on sale until tomorrow!

Proof: Twitter + Verified with mods

Update 20:57 UTC: Tim and Lee have signed off, the rest of us will still be here for a little while. We will continue to check back and answer questions throughout the night and tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by and asking questions everyone!

Update 22:44 UTC: And that's a wrap - thanks everyone! If you have any further questions feel free to ask them here and we'll answer them over the next day or two.

Update 08:07 UTC June 1st: Josh, Scott and Pat are back to answer any questions from last night.

Comments: 327 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

DrKersh26 karma

Do you regret releasing the game in a beta state and getting not so good reviews vs what would you get now?

Do you have plans to re-release it as a goty edition to try to get new reviews?

How many more big DLC have you planed for the game?

Simburgur18 karma

  1. Yes and no. Yes because, well, it was pretty awful all around. There's no denying that and no excusing it. But we simply had no other choice other than not releasing the game at all - the entire team had gone several months without pay and various other things were already in motion, the boxed release being one.
  2. We attempted to do that when releasing this DLC and get very little traction with the press, both traditional and enthusiast. A 'complete' edition later after all planned content is released may be something else we try, but that's still a while away!
  3. Can't say for sure right now. We've got some free content already in the works though - more info in this answer.

Nospheratu4 karma

We attempted to do that when releasing this DLC and get very little traction with the press, both traditional and enthusiast.

Do you have any theory as to why that is? I mean, if you kinda know why there's little traction, you can do something different next time; but i understand that you can't change some peoples' minds which are already set, sadly :(

Simburgur3 karma

Not really no beyond it not being a huge game and it being an expansion as opposed to a new release.

caltheon3 karma

Making a VR versions of the game would make a pretty good splash right now. The perspective of a godlike view would really fit with the game and would be sure to get some press!

Simburgur8 karma

Maybe, but I think it would be a pretty irresponsible use of our money - 99% of our existing audience would get nothing out of it, and even if we did get press, the VR audience is so small that I doubt we would make a return on that investment.

Don't get me wrong, I love VR - We've got a few Vives in the office - and I'd like to make something for it one day, but right now I don't think it's a realistic option for us.

Shadow7x79 karma

Will you be remaking a lot of bullfrogs stuff?

Simburgur9 karma

Maybe - who knows what the future will hold! We'll definitely look at other gaming stars for influence.

Watch this space...

Legend102697 karma

War for the Theme Hospital? ;)

Simburgur4 karma

I don't think Hospitals should be at war... :)

Rannasha13 karma

I'm fairly sure hospital-simulation-games could be considerably improved by the addition of long range artillery.

Simburgur4 karma

Perhaps if it was some kind of medical artillery, delivery vitamins in wonderful explosive shells.

odraencoded2 karma

Psst... theme park.

Fatdude312 karma

We are gonna get decent amount of Roller Coaster Tycoon type games in the next year.I would hope they would make something like Populous and Black & White essentially a god game.There arent any good god games on the market

Simburgur4 karma

Yup - Parkitect especially is looking great.

ArsCortica5 karma

Also, a slightly more historical question: From what I've read, most of Brightrock/Subterranean Games originally came from the KeeperKlan forums, and War for the Overworld began its existence as little more than a mod of sorts.

How and when did you make the decision make the entire thing commercial, and drop the original DK IP in the process?

Also, the KeeperKlan community is heavily centered on the multiplayer aspect of the DK games (and the making of MP maps). Would you say that the MP-heavy background has influenced you to make WftO more based on the RTS element rather than the simulation element?

Simburgur4 karma

Commercial decision: This is kinda a long story. As you say, we started out as fans of the genre and complete amateurs when it came to game development. We had relevant skills - the programmers and artists were professionals, several with degrees, just not in game dev, and I'd acquired skills from my dad, but in reality we had no idea what we were doing.

The only thing we really knew for sure is that we wanted this game to happen, and we came to the realisation that we needed help and that it wasn't going to happen for free. The logical continuation of that is that it couldn't be a commercial project with the Dungeon Keeper name without the permission of EA (which we sought, but were unable to acquire), so the name change happened - We did, however use the subtitle that Dungeon Keeper 3 was going to have as it was never registered by EA.

From there, we tried to figure out who we'd need and what kind of resources would be required to get this thing done, all of which was happening during the rise of Kickstarter, so taking that route seemed natural - and the rest, as they say, is history :)

RTS focus: Partly, yes. There were two other major influences behind that though.

The first was my desire to fix some issues which stuck out as major for me like being able to pick up units anywhere and defending being generally way to strong.

The second was that we wanted to try and build upon the DK formula by adding some new systems like the research tree, rituals, potions, etc, which inherently required the game to be a tad more structured.

ahoymehearties4 karma

Hi Brightrock! I love what you've done to help bring back this genre. Have you collaborated at all with your competitors? Obviously this is a labor of love, so I'm curious as to whether you have been able to share with them.

Also, need any voice work for your next expansion? :)

Simburgur6 karma

A little bit, yes!

We did a small collaboration with the Prison Architect team - owning their game gives you a Prison Architect-themed imp skin, we've also shared booth space with them at several events.

If we announce another expansion then shoot us an email ;)

Hobo_mel4 karma

What has inspired you? (Games, art, etc)

Have you guys ever played Evil Genius?

Simburgur6 karma

A lot - My dad mainly, he's been making games for 30+ years now. If you owned a Sega Megadrive or Saturn, NES or SNES you've probably played something he worked on. Sadly, he's now lost his soul and works on freemium mobile games, but as he housed and fed me for 20 years I will let that slide.

As for what games - Evil Genius definitely, and obviously Dungeon Keeper and Bullfrog management games in general. Populous: The Beginning, Startopia and Red Alert 2 stick also out as big influences for me.

Draganos4 karma

We began as a fully-remote amateur team in 2012

How did you find each other? If over the internet can you give advice on how to keep a team together?
I got the impression that people joining an amateur project always lose interest after some time and abandon the project.

Simburgur4 karma

We were all members of the Keeper Klan fansite, which I think is probably the only remaining active Dungeon Keeper fansite.

Dr_Heron3 karma

As you have discussed elsewhere in this AMA, War For the Overworld released in a comparatively unpolished state, before being significantly improved upon in later patches. This is a common story, The Witcher 3 for example has also received many major patches since release, dramatically improving aspects of the game. Between this common patching mentality, Early Access and so on, it's becoming increasing hard to tell when a game is "Finished" as "Official Release" seems to mean very little these days.

Steam has recently acknowledged this new practice with it's new system of reviews of a game being separated into the current reviews, and those at "Release". Do you think this practice of increasinly blurred completion and release of games is here to stay, and if so what do you think needs to change to help us (consumers and developers) deal with this world of continual development of games? It's difficult to know When to buy a game these days, let alone If to buy it.

Simburgur5 karma

I agree this is a growing problem and am upset that we contributed towards it with our launch; it's certainly not an action that we are going to repeat in the future and we've definitely learned our lesson. I feel the launch of Heart of Gold is a testament to that - almost entirely bug free beyond some hardware compatibility issues we couldn't foresee.

With that said though - there's a difference between 'fixing' and 'improving'. Improvements will still definitely be made after release based on feedback, so the game will always be getting better, which makes the answer to the 'When should I buy/play?' still difficult to answer.

This goes for games that are released in a very good state too - like Stellaris for example. That game is awesome, but it's a Paradox game - it's going to be far better in 2-3 years. Should you play it now or wait? It's really hard to say.

Morphologism3 karma

What are your opinions of Dungeon Keeper Mobile and the more obscure Dungeon Keeper MMO?

Simburgur4 karma

I can say that Dungeon Keeper Mobile caused quite a sales spike for us... ;)

SwayMyHeart3 karma

Your kickstarter page shows you raised over 200K, going significantly over your goal! I'm impressed. Your page is also very detailed. Did that level of detail help you seem more serious about your project?

Can you talk about that process? What strategies did you use to raise such a large amount? I noticed you have quotes from various entities/people. I didn't think of that.

Simburgur6 karma

I think it definitely helped! Another big thing was that we had a small playable proof-of-concept, which had a knock-on effect of people like TotalBiscuit covering the the Kickstarter.

OpenWaterSwim3 karma

In the interest of the types of games that may have inspired you, have there been any games that you lost yourself so completely that you played until the sun came up and if so, what were they?

Simburgur3 karma

Civ 5, Stellaris and Ratchet and Clank are recent examples. Civ 6 will probably be the next :)

m00gg3 karma

Hey! fellow gamedev here, just wanted to thank you for giving life to such an incredible concept again, I love WftO!.


1) Can you give more depth on how to get from amateur team to professional studio?. I'm actually on the amateur part of the road lol.

2) Was Unity worth the shot at the end of the development? If not, would you rather have used another engine?.

Simburgur3 karma

1 - Partially answered that here. From where that comment lifts off, we then essentially all quit our day jobs (I was a professional milkshake blender!) and just started working on the game. Looking back, we really should have stopped for a month, really taken stock of what we had, what we needed, who we needed (this was an important one!), and a rough plan to get from there to release.

We didn't really do any of that, and if wasn't for some outside advice keeping us somewhat on track (shout out to John, Gail, David and David) we probably would have crashed and burned.

From there, we just kept going and going, playing catch-up on resolving our mistakes and punching out as much of the game as possible, until we realised our income wasn't going to cover our expenses for ever, so we put a plan together to get the game as finished as possible - we were going to rent a large house, move in together, and work non-stop for a month. And it kinda worked, and honestly we did as much as we could have in the situation, but it still wasn't enough.

After release we applied for a government grant to help us set up our office & new company, restructured ourselves into something a bit more grown-up and professional (Subterranean Games, the previous company, was set up as a single-purpose vehicle to just create WFTO). And now we're here! Working on our next game, integrating into the local industry - we're actually providing desk space for local indies and will be hosting events too.

2 - The answer to this question changed many times throughout development as different engines came out, added new features, and changed their pricing. Certainly at the time we started, Unity was the best bet. Now it really depends on your experience and your goals - UE4 and Unity 5 are both very good at different things.

OpenWaterSwim2 karma

Would it ever be possible to release WFTO for console or would this require too much of a rewrite to make feasible?

Simburgur2 karma

Probably never going to happen - even if it weren't a huge technical hurdle, I don't think we'd be happy with any controller based control-scheme.

Kryogenetics2 karma

Looks like a game I could do for my Youtube Channel.

I read somewhere you can make Bullfrog games? How about an updated Hospital Tycoon? That game was off the wall.

Simburgur2 karma

We've definitely thought about it! Their games will certainly influence us for quite a while :)

Shadow7x71 karma

this maybe a weired question but if you dont ask you dont get' in your home realm in the campaign have you thought about making it more of a map editior file? i for one would like it if we could completely remake the campaign home realm.

Simburgur1 karma

Adding terrain tools to the home realm is something I'd really like to do - hopefully in a future update!

Dungeon-Keeper1 karma

Im not sure if this has been asked yet or not. but are you guys still thinking of letting the few of us who didn't get in on the kickstarter have a chance on buying the exclusive themes by donating to a charity via humble bundle? some of us are dying to get the themes we will never be able to get any other way.."Edit" i just saw this question was semi answered already, so my new question is: Can you please notify us via Facebook and Email when this is going to happen so nobody will miss the charity event?

Simburgur2 karma

Exactly this will be happening, they will be available as part of a charity promo along with something new :)

Be aware that their prices will be close to the original Kickstarter prices though.

Edit: We'll post it everywhere we can when it goes live!

Dungeon-Keeper1 karma

Will i still be able to add it to my Steam account though? cause i already own the WftO Game, and it won't let you add two of the same game if i will need to buy the game over again with this Charity bundle thing? the price doesn't bother me at all however :D

Simburgur2 karma

It will just be Steam codes for the themes as DLC, they just won't be available on the Steam store. We may include the game as well, but either way it will still be redeemable if you already own the game :)

HemoxNason1 karma

When are you adding the option to pay real money for in-game benefits?


Simburgur3 karma

HemoxNason1 karma

Ok, serious question now.

When considering the pacing of the game, are you going for more of a base defense RTS or a straight up management game? I understand those are both the pillars for the sub-genre and must exist together, but what is the vision you have for the game?

I already have the game on Steam, just curious.

Simburgur1 karma

We were trying to do both, although I feel the management side suffered a bit because of it.

In the Heart of Gold levels we tried to focus on the management more as a response to player feedback we got, and I think we achieved that goal pretty well.

2th1 karma

Hey /u/Simburgur, know how I know you're gay? Because you said you are currently on sale, ya ho! (Note I'm an old friend if his and just fucking with him.)

In seriousness though, congrats man. I'm super proud of you and all those years ago when I met you I would never have imagined you doing all this and making a sweet game. Keep up the great work buddy!

Simburgur2 karma

Go away :p

MercDawg1 karma

I played a ton of DK2 and a little of DK. I was excited for WFTO when it released, but never really got into it due to the bugs. With the latest DLC, I finally finished the campaign and Heart of Gold.

I have a few questions:

Will there be more customizations for the rooms, outside of 5x5, in the future to gain specific benefits (such as DK2 elite minions)?

When playing the campaign, my strategy was to simply capture and convert as many minions as possible. It never felt like a risky play, as they took so long to be unhappy and actually turn, if ever. However, neutral vampires on the other hand, are quick to turn and felt like a huge risk/reward strategy. Will the strategy of converting the "good" guys become more riskier later on, to balance it out (imo)?

Simburgur1 karma

  1. No plans for that specifically, but we've tried to introduce several more subtle things when it comes to dungeon layouts - Prisons and Vaults need to be defended to prevent theft, Taverns and Slaughterpens need to be together to keep, Arenas and Beast Dens, etc.
  2. This is now actually far more costly due to the increased pay that units require - you can't simply convert a ton of units and forget about them any more. They do also fill up your 'pop' so normal units stop spawning, but we don't want to punish it too much because converting the heroes to the dark side is cool as hell.

ArsCortica1 karma

Let's start with some questions from the forums

1 Will we see winter terrain and other terrain tiles (if only as cosmetic aspects) in the game before the next major DLC?

  1. Since you guys are changing company name and mentioned working on a new game, does that mean you are doing well in sales on Wfto?

  2. How much future content for wtfo do you expect to put out? Will there be more expansions? I'd happily pay for more. I got Heart of Gold for free ('cause founder/kickstarter), and I've bought wfto for 3 people so far.

Simburgur3 karma


  1. Terrain theming is something we have definitely looked at - we actually worked on the tech for it before release but never had time to fully realise the feature. I would be quite surprised if another DLC came out without this included :)
  2. We are doing relatively well - enough for us to feel safe enough to start looking at a new project and still have resources to work on updates for WFTO.
  3. There's definitely more content in the works. At the very least we will be adding a full version of the Survival Mode, very advanced Skirmish AI, and Mutators to both Skirmish and Multiplayer. Those will all be free updates, I can't talk about future paid DLC at the moment but... keep an eye out!

ADudeLikeAnyOther1 karma

What methods and tactics did you use to increase sales after your rocky release?

noontide131 karma

Mostly just making the game better and trying to publicize it as much as possible. If you take a look at our steam store page you'll see that we do our best to keep the information relevant to new and returning users.

We treat every major patch as something of it's own launch, and Steam sales help plus word of mouth from happy customers helps with discover-ability.

For Heart of Gold and Patch 1.4 we made a big marketing push with new press releases as well as pushing to be on the Steam Front page.

Most of all I think that our open attitude towards customers, transparency and engagement with the community proves to be a valuable asset. We value our customers and in return many of them value us, it's symbiotic.

ADudeLikeAnyOther1 karma

When you say "pushing to be on the Steam front page", how did you make that happen?

Simburgur1 karma

Just keeping communication up - whenever we've asked for help promoting the game alongside a major update they've been very supportive. I think the fact we are very open and transparent with our fanbase makes them more willing to do that too.

VGtheory1 karma

Odd question, but do you think your project would have worked better if you had an external project manager keeping tabs on your progress or if your funding was given out over time instead of a big chunk at the beginning?

Simburgur1 karma

Yes, mainly because that person probably would have helped us avoid making the mistakes and promises we did in the early stage of the project.

Morphologism1 karma

What's your favourite part of WftO (creature, room, level, mechanic, etc.)?

Simburgur2 karma

The many, many ways you can murder and recycle unwanted units and prisoners.

Shadow7x71 karma

will you release other themes like soverign?

Simburgur1 karma

The Sovereign theme is still available in the Underlord Edition! If you have the standard version of the game you can get an upgrade on Steam here.

The Kickstarter-exclusive themes are going to be available later this year as part of a charity promotion - can't say any more than that right now though :)

Edit: I misread the question. Actual answer:

We probably won't be releasing any themes on their own (apart from what we listed above, and the Arcane Fortress theme that we gave to our beta testers as a thank you after launch), but any paid DLC that we do release will come with new themes - the Heart of Gold expansion comes with an entirely new theme (with 2 texture sets) and a long-awaited playable Empire theme, complete with dwarves for workers.

Shadow7x71 karma

thank you for your time and i have bought the soverign theme when i purchased your game from steam

Simburgur1 karma

Ah! I misread your question, I thought you meant when where we releasing the Sovereign theme again. I'll update my answer with an actual answer!

Shadow7x71 karma

you can play as empire? how?

Simburgur1 karma

It's an unlockable theme in the new expansion - you must complete a secret hidden achievement in each level to acquire it!

Sacr1fyce1 karma

I am a fan of the original Dungeon Keeper, but I've held off playing War for the Overworld because of the early mixed reviews. I mainly enjoy playing through a campaign.

So my question is this: Are you guys now satisfied with the original campaign, or is there still more that you guys would like to add or change in a future patch?

Simburgur1 karma

Yup, with the recent tutorial system and slew of improvements we made to the main campaign (details in the 1.4 patch notes) we're now happy with it.

I am very, very proud of the campaign in the Heart of Gold expansion too - we've had overwhelmingly positive feedback on that so far!