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The Future of Drehmal

Hey everybody, this is gonna be a fun one. Skip to the bottom for a summary if you don’t want to read all this, I understand. Otherwise, strap in! Last month, we released Drehmal v2.2: APOTHEOSIS. As most of you know, this update took a very long time to come out. Over five years ago, Keeko and I started working on Drehmal v2 in the tail end of our high school years, iterating on a silly little worldbuilding project we started conceptualizing together on a Minecraft SMP towards the end of middle school. We put out Drehmal v2: PRIMORDIAL on March 31st, 2020. After a little bit of luck, it exploded in popularity. Our timing was just right as it gave people something to do at the onset of a worldwide pandemic, and our little community began to blossom.

When we discovered that people were actually interested in our world and its lore, we quickly got to work on v2.1: TIMEBREAK. Timebreak wrapped up some loose ends, and gave the map a more satisfying conclusion. With this, HotElbows offered to create special abilities for our custom weapons, and became the first to join our team and the only other person besides Keeko and I to work on Drehmal v2. DomeMaster and Yllusive then introduced themselves in our Discord server and showed us their “Emperor’s Estate'' build on the Isle of Sahd, and Keeko and I were so blown away by it that we asked their permission to include it in v2.1. We released Timebreak in November 2020, and began putting together plans for a “v2.2”. In December 2020, DomeMaster and Yllusive showcased yet another build they did on Drehmal, the Monastery of Teiruun. Their passion for the map was apparent, so Keeko and I asked them if they’d be interested in working on Drehmal in an official capacity. DomeMaster admitted to us that was something he was hoping we’d ask them as they continued making these incredibly impressive builds. We put them onto their first build project for v2.2, a revamped Kiln of Virtuo.

From there, our ambitions grew. So did our team. We brought on many incredibly talented coders, builders, writers, artists, people from all walks of life that really liked this thing we made and wanted to dedicate hundreds of hours of their precious time to making it something truly incredible. We seriously lucked out on getting an incredibly talented and passionate group of people together, and we made something unlike anything else. You all should know the rest of the story.

The only problem was, this was our first foray into game development. I’m very confident that is what we can call it. Drehmal v2.2 is an entire game. It’s just been built in Minecraft. We learned a lot of really hard lessons in this cycle of game development, our biggest one being about “scope creep”. We had way too many really cool things we wanted to do in this update, and those ideas tended to rely on other ideas, and then those ideas would generate new ideas... and the scope just kept getting bigger and bigger and quite frankly out of hand. Thus ensued a tormentous 3.5 year development cycle rife with delays and hundreds of bugs. We’re lucky to have had such a patient and understanding community, and we truly hope that v2.2: APOTHEOSIS has both met and surpassed your expectations. So once again, thank you for waiting.

Anyways, that’s our past. Let’s talk about the future.

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to make video games. Making Drehmal helped to fulfill that dream. When I was a little kid, I had a sketchbook where I drew up enemies and weapons and stories for games I wanted to one day make. During high school I tinkered around with different game engines and made some little prototypes, attended a Summer workshop where I made a silly 2D platformer, and even had ambitions to attend DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond Washington, a renowned game development college that birthed the likes of Portal. Keeko has held similar sentiments, and we managed to instill this same passion into our very own law-slinging Ace Attorney DomeMaster, who now wants to leave law behind and make games with us. So, that’s what we’re going to do.

Drehmal has been the driving force of our lives for years. We’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into this project. Hundreds of hours and every ounce of our creative drive has gone into Drehmal. To be blunt, I’m afraid we’ve run dry. The fatigue didn’t truly hit until we got 2.2 into full release and could finally catch our breath, and in taking these last few weeks to relax from working on Drehmal we’ve come to a realization. We’re ready to move on. A few weeks ago Keeko informed Dome and I that he’s been running on fumes for a long while, longer than anyone should. He told us that for 2.3, he’d be taking a step back from his role as Project Lead/Director and take a more advisory position so that he could focus on some new personal projects. Drehmal fatigue hit him hard, and after so many years of working on the same project and having to deal with Minecraft's many frustrating development quirks, who can blame him?

Dome and I felt the same way. We hadn’t quite realized it yet until Keeko came out and said it, but none of us truly want to do 2.3 right now. We don’t want to spend another 2 to 3 years developing another update for Drehmal, we’re ready to do something new. We’re very happy with the final product 2.2 ended up being, and while there are certainly many things we could do to improve the map further, we’re simply ready to call it and move on. Drehmal will always be our baby, our passion project that has unexpectedly resonated with the hearts and souls of so many of you. For that, we are truly honored to have been able to share our passion with you. Now, we want to direct our passion elsewhere. We want to make games.

So, what does all of this mean?

Development of Drehmal v2.3 is indefinitely postponed. We need to take a break, we want to pursue other projects. We may return to Drehmal in the future, depending on the amount of work required to update everything to 1.20.x (or beyond) and our desire to continue on the project. If 2.3 does come to fruition, be aware it will be a notably much smaller update compared to the absolute monster that 2.2 was.

We will continue to maintain the Drehmal Discord community for the foreseeable future, and we will continue to provide support and rich discussion of the map. There’s still lore to talk about after all! Keeko, Dome and I, as well as the other developers, will continue to interact and be present on the Discord. We wouldn’t give this community up for the world. That being said, expect some changes to the server in the future to accommodate discussion of our new projects.

Going forward, we will be diving into game development. We have an insanely talented and passionate team, and we’re all incredibly excited about this step forward. Some of our games will be set in the Primordial Multiverse (maybe even a couple set in Drehmal :O), and many entirely independent from Primordial. We hope to build up a portfolio of unique and diverse short-form experiences released for reasonable prices on and/or Steam, with exclusive demos and playtests being released on our Patreon. We aim to keep the development cycles for our first games short, build up a reputation, and hopefully one day form into a fully-fledged indie studio where we can actually afford to pay people.

This does not mean we’re going to be working on a full, independent Drehmal game - not just yet. That’s something that we’d ideally have plenty of experience under our belt for in order to do it justice, and that could be decades down the line.

This is a big, scary move that we’re making but it’s an incredibly exciting one. We hope that you continue to enjoy Drehmal v2.2: APOTHEOSIS, and we hope that you stick with us for the future. We’re going to make some cool stuff, and we’re happy to have you along for the ride. I know the postponing of 2.3 is probably disappointing to many of you, but I hope what we have planned will make up for it. Once again, thank you. And remember,

There’s nothing to lose.

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