The idea that the Manor Lords dev should 'just hire 50 people' to update it faster is 'fundamentally not the way things work,' says publisher

 A medieval village.
A medieval village.

It's an exaggeration to say that early access city builder Manor Lords was made by one person—developer Greg Styczeń has worked with a number of contractors—but it certainly isn't being developed by a big, 50-person team. Some players think it ought to be, though.

In a recent interview with PC Gamer, Tim Bender, CEO of Manor Lords publisher Hooded Horse, recalled seeing a post in the Steam forums asking if the game had been "abandoned" because it hadn't had an update yet—just four days after its early access launch. A solution put forward by another commenter was that Styczeń should "immediately hire 50 people and create a gigantic company, and that way they can get faster updates."

Bender brushed off those comments, which are hardly the first of their kind and feel like siblings of the 'dead game' accusations that get thrown around whenever a game's concurrents dip, as "one of the facts of life" that inevitably come with launching a successful game. What commenters actually want isn't always what they say they want, he said, particularly with regard to the hiring spree pitch.

"What they're probably not thinking about is that that's just fundamentally not the way things work," said Bender. "The best growth is very slow. It's keeping the core vision intact. It's the importance of Greg [Styczeń] and his work process. And so, as a result, people are going to be clamoring [for updates], and I think that's just virtually guaranteed. There's no pace of updates that would not result in people clamoring for more, and would not result in a bunch of people saying the ideal solution is to just hire 50 people."

The actual plan, says Bender, is to "follow the path that made [Manor Lords] so successful" in the first place rather than trying to make "a giant studio to spring from nowhere." Styczeń has also chosen not to release a detailed development roadmap.

"I've made a mistake once or twice before, of promising and working on a feature only to find out that the testers didn't care as much as I did and that they actually wanted something else," wrote Styczeń just before Manor Lords' early access launch. "So even if I have a plan, I want to adopt the philosophy of 'listen, verify, implement'. This way I expect the first month of patches to be just bug fixes and polish. During that time, together with Hooded Horse, we'll be collecting your feedback and then prioritizing work based on what we hear."

Aside from the revenue, collecting feedback is of course the point of an early access release, even if some of that feedback is going to be that you should just hire more people. "Part of the virtue of an early access release is that ability to get such mass feedback, and really go out and engage in a dialogue with [players] and let that guide development," said Bender.

Styczeń is working on the first Manor Lords patch now, so to answer that one poster's question about whether or not it's been abandoned: it has not.