Sky 2nd Anniversary Livestream Recap
As part of our ongoing 2nd Anniversary festivities, we recently held a livestream to answer questions from players, and share stories from the first two years of Sky. We understand that not everyone has time to watch the VOD and have created this recap blog in order to share what was discussed.
The livestream featured:
Kyle Holdwick, Gameplay Engineer
Elena Nikora, Senior Producer
Cecil Kim, Art Director
Robert Wing, Senior Manager, Live Community
Please note that some questions and answers have been paraphrased to make the lives of our localization teams easier!
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of maintaining a game with a player base as engaged as Sky’s?
Kyle: From my perspective, we’ve been continuing to grow and advance the game every time we do a new build, add big new features like Shared Spaces. I think as you continue to pile rocks up onto a mountain, you’ll find that certain rocks want to fall down and it can be a little bit harder to maintain this mountain that you’re building. The hardest part is containing the bugs, containing the issues - keeping everyone focused, keeping the motivation high, and keeping the fun there.
I will say that there’s a magic to shipping a build, and what happens is that the whole team comes together - the artists, the designers, the programmers - everybody’s coming together to get the magic into the game, and get it out, have it be bug free as best we can, and yeah, just have that build go out so that you all, the community, have a chance to play it and hopefully see something magical. That’s a really fun part of the job. It’s very rewarding to read comments on Discord and see what everyone thinks of new builds.
Elena: I think Kyle covered a lot of the aspects of the difficulties, wanting to catch bugs, wanting to improve the game. We definitely want to get our quality to the level that makes players happy.
It’s very exciting - sometimes it also feels like having a family, and this family really cares about you and what you do. It pushes you to do your best over time. At the same time, it’s challenging because sometimes you make something, and maybe misunderstood, or maybe it’s not up to expectations. There are other times where you feel so high up because players love what you made, or you do something that they asked for, and that’s the greatest reward.
Thank you all for being here and supporting us for the last two years, and I hope for many more years to come.
Robert: Piggybacking on Elena’s answer a little bit - when we release new stuff and we see the fan art popping up on Discord, or Twitter, on Reddit, wherever, that’s always really satisfying. I’m sure Cecil also appreciates that in particular.
What are your sources of inspiration when working on a season?
Cecil: We start by discussing what excites us as a team. What do we want to do for the next season? We always want to try something new. We don’t want to have repeat seasons. We pretty quickly realize what sounds cool and what we want to use for the next season.
When the pandemic started and we began working from home, Season of Sanctuary was a breaking point because that’s when we understood what we wanted to do. It was a strange time. That season came out really well, and after that, when we were doing Season of Prophecy, that’s when we really asked ourselves as a studio, can we push for something a little more gamecentric? I don’t want to say darker, but maybe a little more serious in tone. I think that’s when we really understood that the best work comes out of things we’re passionate about. We also pay attention to what the community wants.
For me as an artist, I always look at real life seasons. Like summer, how does that feel? Hot sun, monsoons, all that stuff. So all these things are not just one thing. You have to feel it in your face, in your heart. You have to find that emotional direction first. Then we work with the design team to figure out what kind of story we want to tell, and if there’s an opportunity to expand our lore, that’s even more exciting.
How far in advance do you usually plan events and seasons?
Elena: Thank you for this question! It’s my favorite.
Planning actually takes place in two parts. The first part is how many seasons or events we’re going to release in a year. This planning goes really far in advance, maybe months or even years in advance. We always want players to have something new to explore, new content to see, new adventures or reasons to play the game. When we define all the structure and time slots, we begin planning what we’re going to do.
Ideally we have an idea, or a theme for a new season months, or sometimes even a year in advance. Our designers then take that idea and see what they can make out of it. We try to create varied seasons. Sometimes you’ll see seasons that are more focused on emotions and connections, like the Season of the Little Prince. It also has a lot of assets, and our art team has worked really, really hard to create an atmosphere for the players. There are also seasons that are focused more on the gameplay, like the Season of Prophecy with the elemental trials. You have more things to do in the world, and maybe less art. Sometimes we want to tell a story, like in Season of Dreams.
Seasons are different because we know we have a very diverse group of players and some of them are more into lore and narrative. Some are more into art or gameplay. We try to serve them all.
What's the most important aspect of a season: the spirits, the area, or the story?
Kyle: We care about all of those aspects, and we think about the emotions. In the bakery here at TGC we only have some many eggs and flour so we do sometimes have to move the focus around. Every season we try to push the boundaries of what we can accomplish with our small but mighty team. Some seasons we work hard to make the spirits more memorable, like in Season of Belonging or Season of Dreams. Other seasons we’ve worked hard to make the areas more memorable like Season of Prophecy.
I think in the Season of the Little Prince we really pushed the story. Creativity is a muscle, so every time we make a season, we strengthen the different aspects so hopefully going forward seasons will continue to get better.
Will you ever do more livestreams where the devs play with the community?
Robert: Yes! We’re in the early stages of planning for future livestreamed content. We want to do a lot more of it, and feature more members of the Sky team. We have a lot of very talented folks here doing different things, and we think it’s important that all of them have a chance to shine and share their stories with players.
When will Sky be available for PC?
Robert: We’re still discussing Sky on PC. We definitely think it could be cool, and feel that Sky on PC would have real upside. That said, we do not currently have firm plans to announce. We just launched on Switch, after all!
Are there plans for an official Sky artbook?
Cecil: Yes, it’s something we’re currently working on. When we have more information to share, we’ll do so on the official Sky social media channels.
What’s it like working at TGC?
Elena: Being a producer, I feel very emotional working at TGC. When I first joined, I was a bit scared. I wasn’t sure I’d be a good fit, I wasn’t sure I was good enough, all of that. Working at TGC is like playing Sky. I joined and I was like a Moth, a bit nervous, freaking out over every candle and heart. I’d see Krills and just run away, see Kyle and just run away, but everyone was so, so welcoming and kind.
They took the time to explain and show me around. I feel like I was accepted as family, which gave me a lot of warm feelings. Playing Sky feels a lot like working at TGC. You explore, you do new quests, you talk with ancestors, you get new outfits - virtual ones since we’re all working from home. Hopefully we’ll meet in-person in the future. It feels like a journey, all the things we do together. I’m already making friends and I’m very excited about that. I hope I can create more connections and meet more amazing people in the future. It’s just an amazing place to be, surrounded by people from all over the world. We have people from all backgrounds, all different places, different genders, it’s amazing. Being part of such a group makes me so proud. It makes me feel happy that I can be a part of that.
What was the hardest season to create, and why?
Kyle: Season of the Little Prince. It was the first time we added a character from another universe into Sky. It was the most writing we have ever done. It was some of the most content and levels we’ve ever created. It pushed our tech to the limit, especially with NPC logic since we’ve never done something like that before. We were working on many other things at the same time including Switch, Shared Spaces, and updating our user interface a bunch. It was a lot of work for our small team. We gave the season a lot of heart, much like how the Little Prince has a lot of heart.
As a new player, who missed a lot of seasons, will there be a chance for new players to obtain previous seasons ultimate in any way?
Robert: While there are a lot of players who are interested in acquiring ultimate gifts from prior seasons, there are also those who would prefer to keep some aspect of the season unique to those who were part of the original run of said season. This is something we continue to discuss internally, and don't have a decision at this point. We did want to make sure to comment on it though, as we know it’s a hot topic in the community!
Will there be more masculine-presenting or androgynous hairstyles in the future?
Robert: Yes! We have heard player feedback on this and are looking to add more masculine-presenting and androgynous hairstyles. Thank you all for taking the time to let us know that this was such a big deal. You won’t have to wait too long to start to seeing them.
Will we have a new candle run method in the future? Or a new system to obtain candles without having to do all the maps?
Robert: We mentioned this in our Daily Light introduction video, but yes, we’re going to continue to add more ways for players to collect wax through social means. We understand that candle running is not the most exciting thing and we want to create other ways to acquire candles, specifically ways that encourage players to be around each other.
Some examples of this are the cherry blossom tree during Days of Bloom, as well as the geyser in Sanctuary Islands. There’s more to come in the future.
While Jenova was unable to attend the livestream, he did answer some questions for us to share on the livestream.
The fish that appear in ponds and lakes - why do they not have squares on their bodies like most "light" related creatures? Are they just decorational? Are they sentient? Why are the fish like that?
Jenova: We have a very low polygon budget, and control on how small detail can go. The fish's body is shaped like a diamond if that helps.
Why do the Krills look "corrupted"? Were they always like that or something happened to cause that?
Jenova: They are corrupted. As for what they look like before corruption, time will tell.
Any ideas on a Krill Call as a season ultimate maybe?
Jenova: That’s a question for our Lead Audio Engineer.
What are Sky children’s favorite dishes?
Jenova: Sweets made from light .. maybe mochi?
Thanks for reading, and please look forward to our next stream in the coming months!