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Behind BattleBit Remastered's seven-year journey to become a smash hit

The low-poly game inspired by EA's Battlefield series has become a smash hit: all while being a part-time hobby project for its creators.

Kamiab Ghorbanpour, Contributor

July 19, 2023

5 Min Read
A screenshot from BattleBit Remastered. Low-poly players dart among cargo containers.

BattleBit Remastered, developed by SgtOkiDoki, Vilaskis, and TheLiquidHorse, has become an incredibly popular title on Steam, proving to be one of the most successful hit titles of the summer. The game has risen to the top of the Steam bestseller charts.

What makes BattleBit Remastered a jaw-dropping achievement is its limited scope of production, with a team of less than five people. The game’s astonishing success can be compared to a young David standing against the Goliath of triple-A titles with ten times the price tag.

Development on BattleBit Remastered began with three hobbyists who still had 9-5 jobs and became a seven-year project with a long and troubled history. None of the developers had any background in game design; they were all working in their own fields, and making this game was a pure hobby for them.

What sets this game apart is the astonishing array of ambitious features, an extraordinary achievement for a small development team that was made possible by the choice of low-poly art style and graphics.

The developers spoke to us about the making of BattleBit Remastered, and shared stories about the unusual moments that paved the way for their success, explaining why they still might keep their day jobs.

BattleBit Remastered was inspired by the Battlefield series

The developers behind BattleBit Remastered were originally inspired by EA and DICE’s Battlefield series. Surprisingly, their low-poly take on the Battlefield formula has become more positively received than 2022’s Battlefield 2042.

The group first met while modding 2014’s Unturned. In 2016, they got together to work on a new low-poly video game akin to the games they were used to make mods for.

After almost a year, development became a tad more ambitious, and the team looked for other people from different modding communities to join in. Max Fink, one of the core team members, joined them in 2017 from the modding community of Ravenfield. “In the beginning, it was more of a contract/freelance job since I specialized in what they needed at that time, but then the job led to long-term friendships,” he said.

A screenshot from BattleBit Remastered. The player looks through the scope of a rifle.

Their idea was to make a large-scale combined arms shooter that is easy to run and accessible to everyone. A core value for the development team was the idea that BattleBit Remastered could run on as many computers as possible—even the ones with the weakest specs. “We have stayed true to our core idea and will follow this idea until the end,” the developers promised.

From hobby to hit video game

Fink still, to this very day, holds down a 9-5 job as an industrial engineer. When asked if they would describe the development process as a part-time job, the team said, “Up to this moment (release date), it has never been a job, even a part-time job, but a hobby.”

The team never met in real life during the seven years of development and kept working on the game remotely. Since the development of BattleBit was more of a casual than professional pursuit, there weren’t any strict rules, and most things came to them through trial and error. It was essentially a fun project the team members worked on whenever they had spare time.

The most challenging part of the process for them was to learn everything from scratch. Aside from Vilaskis Shalashev, who joined in 2021 after working on 2016’s Onward, none of the members had any background in game design besides modding. Without any professional training, they had to teach themselves how to make an FPS title.

The key was to help one another grow—sometimes in unexpected ways. For instance, Okyanus Mutlu, one of the dev members from Turkey, didn’t know how to drive and had no prior interest in cars. This posed a challenge when they wanted to implement driving mechanics. It was up to Fink, who had his driving license, to teach Mutlu how to implement driving mechanics by playing racing games together.

A screenshot from BattleBit Remastered. A player rappels down from a helicopter.

BattleBit Remastered’s title is also something of an oddity. The name implies it’s a “remastered” version of an existing game—but if you search for the original “BattleBit,” no such game exists. At least, not publicly. The developers picked the name BattleBit Remastered to pay tribute to an earlier version of the game that was never released—and to joke about the long development process that led to the final game.

After seven years of struggle, the low-poly shooter was released with “small issues and some headaches,” said Fink. However, the launch was, for the most part, smooth, and the response from players was staggering. “Despite being overwhelmed by the response and the number of players, we tried as best as possible to keep our heads cool and focus on improving the experience," added the team.

They mentioned a number of issues that they are currently working on, such as underwhelming classes or balancing problems. “People are kind to say these are minor issues, but in our opinion, they are quite major.” As of now, their plan is to continue working on BattleBit Remastered and refine it further. And despite BattleBit selling hand-over-fist on Steam, its developers still aren't going full-time. The group told us they will continue to keep their day jobs—though if full-time development on BattleBit Remastered becomes viable, they'd definitely consider it.

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