Natural Selection 2, Unknown Worlds' recently released real-time strategy first-person shooter, was finished with the help of fans, according to a recent interview with game director Charlie Cleveland.
Speaking with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Cleveland explained that the project was plagued with money problems and a lack of manpower. But with the help of several resourceful players, Natural Selection 2 grew into the game it is today.
The game's spectator system originated with a player, an Amazon employee who "decided he wanted to make a better spectator system than we had," Cleveland said. The team was so impressed with his work that they asked him to contribute to the game — a trend that would continue with an Austrian player named Andreas. For two months, Andreas was paid to help finish the game and work out its bugs, with hopes for hiring him on permanently, Cleveland said.
"He didn't graduate from college," Cleveland said. "He's never worked on a game. But he's an amazing gameplay programmer. You could not find this person if you tried."
Even the team's now central PR man, Hugh Jeremy, got his start doing fan work.
"He made 300 videos for NS2," Cleveland said. "We weren't promoting the game at all. He started NS2HD, a channel on YouTube. He was just posting a video every day, or every other day. He did better videos than we could ever have done."
Natural Selection 2 released on Oct. 30 for PC via Steam. It's available in a regular edition priced at $24.99, or a Deluxe Edition, which includes the game's soundtrack, digital artbook and more, for $39.99.