The PC Gamer staff may have caught the Valheim bug at the start of 2021, but millions of people are still enjoying last year's craze, Among Us. Fans have been waiting patiently for the new map since it was shown at The Game Awards in December, and developer Innersloth is finally ready to start talking release dates. The Airship is officially dropping on March 31.
The Airship is Among Us' fourth map and also happens to be its biggest. That's a bit surprising, considering Polus can already feel a little too big sometimes. Along with the Airship itself is more tasks (it's unclear if they'll be exclusive to the new map), free hats, ladders, and the ability to choose which room you spawn in. This is the most substantial update since Among Us got big, basically.
In less flashy but equally important news, the update includes Innersloth's first crack at an account system that it hopes will reduce toxicity in the game. Currently, Among Us doesn't track player behavior or records in any clear way. With accounts, the developer will presumably have new tools to moderate in-game chats and usernames.
Innersloth acknowledges that the update took longer than expected and decided to explain why in today's dev blog. The answer? Innersloth has been reeling from the game's sudden explosion of popularity since last year. "When a game becomes unexpectedly popular it’s great, but it brings a whole slew of other problems we were extremely new to," the post reads. "That being said, we're extremely grateful for all of the success we’ve found."
That popularity led to more external partners teaming up with Innersloth to handle ports, server loads, merchandise, business development, etc. More cooks in the kitchen, the dev admits, slowed down the quicker ideation process it used to enjoy. "The thing about being a studio and a ~corporate entity~ is that we actually aren’t able to slap together things and release them without thinking of several other affecting factors now. (Even small updates!) It was easier when we were just a group of 3 and there weren’t really many demands of us, but now things have changed and we need to follow a more rigid process since sooo many other people are involved."
I had just assumed that Innersloth itself also expanded throughout 2020, but it turns out the core development team is still five people—an incredibly small crew to wrangle millions of active players.
The dev explained that hiring can be a "distracting" process with so few people to dedicate time to it. "For example—if Forest, our one programmer at the time, has to be taken away from work on the map to sort through hundreds of resumes, interview a ton of programmers, and set up their employee onboarding, it takes up weeks and weeks of work AND 100 percent of our programming power." Innersloth said it wants to keep its time small and "cozy," but more hires are on the way.
📢 MARCH 31 📢#TheAirship is coming. this NEW map is our biggest one yet, including: • all new tasks • different starting rooms • preliminary account system • more!!!wake up ur crew it's almost time to eject impostors🗞️ Dev log: https://t.co/bWP008pKmr pic.twitter.com/ZcTZFjsu3nMarch 18, 2021
The increased workload on the tiny team was enough that Innersloth found itself crunching at the end of 2020 while others were taking holiday breaks.
"Since Among Us blew up so late in 2020, it meant we weren't able to take a proper winter holiday, and sometimes we can end up working quite late handling things. This isn’t something to be proud of at all, especially since the games industry often has a problem with crunch that we want to avoid. But we’re trying to be transparent with you, and we want to be better about this."
Among Us might not be one of the biggest games on PC anymore, but it'll probably keep Innersloth busy for years to come. Here's hoping the dev can find its footing in 2021 and establish a healthier workflow.