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The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

Hollow Knight Silksong, a Game Stuck in Development Paralysis

Promotional+art+from+Hollow+Knight%3A+Silksong.+Courtesy+of+Team+Cherrys+press+kit+for+the+game.+
Team Cherry
Promotional art from Hollow Knight: Silksong. Courtesy of Team Cherry’s press kit for the game.

The 2017 Indie Metroidvania, Hollow Knight received a lot of attention in the indie game sphere. Because of its excessive popularity, a sequel was announced two years later, on Valentine’s Day of 2019. Hollow Knight: Silksong was revealed through an announcement video on that day, featuring a cutscene and some short splices of gameplay. It was shown that gamers would play as Hornet (who protected the ancient city of Hallownest in the first game) in this sequel, with a focus on acrobatic and smooth combat. The hype for this game was at an all-time high and fans of Hollow Knight were ready for more information on the game. The development team, Team Cherry, delivered, short blog posts on progress released somewhat consistently through their website until December 2019.

Silksong News Tapers Off

December of 2019 brought the release of one final blog post for the year (and unbeknownst to fans, for the foreseeable future), detailing that the game had reached its promised 150 unique enemy count, and linking to two preview tracks made by Silksong’s main composer, Christopher Larkin. The two tracks showcased what the music direction for the sequel would be like demonstrating a heavy emphasis on stringed instruments. After releasing the final blog post, Team Cherry would go radio silent until six months later, in early June. Matthew Griffin, Team Cherry’s marketing director, sent out various riddles on the official Hollow Knight discord server. These riddles, when solved, provided the community with an early look at four NPCs who would be in Silksong.

After this, Team Cherry went back to being radio silent for six more months. This led to wild speculation running rampant in the game’s fanbase at this time. Finally, in early January 2021, Hollow Knight Silksong was featured in Edge Magazin’s issue 354. Here, the developers commented on the direction of the game and revealed a few minor details. However, it was still enough to keep the Hollow Knight community hyped, knowing the game would be well worth the wait.

The next major update was Silksong’s most recent gameplay, in June 2022. This a meaty trailer for the fans to chew on, but the more significant part of Silksong’s long history of paralysis is what came soon after it.

A gameplay screenshot of Hornet avoiding the attacks of a massive bug. Courtesy of Team Cherry’s press kit for Silksong.

Xbox’s Release Date

On June 12, 2022, Xbox wrote a tweet about games that would be available on day one of their subscription service, Xbox Game Pass. Xbox said that all games in the image they attached would be available to play in 2023. Therefore creating the deadline and release date of sometime before the end of 2023.

Team Cherry eventually put out a statement that development was continuing and the game had gotten rather big. They said that the game would be delayed from its intended 1st half of 2023 release date, but left things vague as to when fans could assume the game would release. Some still thought Team Cherry would make their promise on the 2023 deadline, while others thought there was no way it could be released in 2023. 2023 passed and Silksong was still in development.

Now here we are, Silksong is still in development, with sporadic affirmations that work is still being done on the game coming from members of Team Cherry.

When asked how important he believed release dates to be, SRA student Benny Camou responded “If they [game developers] say that a game is gonna come out at a certain time, it should come out at that time. It’s like keeping a promise, you tell someone something and they expect you to make good on that. They trust you. Breaking the promise is breaking the trust.”

But the thing is, it wasn’t the game developers who made the promise in the curious case of Silksong’s false release date. It was Xbox. Sure, Team Cherry may have been consulted beforehand, but they were most likely being pushed to provide a release date already. And even if it was completely Team Cherry’s fault, sometimes a delay is for the best.

Legendary game developer, Shigeru Miyamoto once said “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad” and it seems Team Cherry shares his same sentiment. It is clear the game has gotten big, and when released, it will most likely be worth the wait, given Team Cherry’s previous work.

The Fans’ Desperation

Though patience is not a virtue many gamers have. Something began brewing in Silksong’s online fan communities. With every day without news that went by, Hollow Knight fans grew more and more impatient. Some began saying something must have gone wrong. Others thought that Silksong had been silently canceled. Seeing an opportunity, some began to put up troll posts in the Hollow Knight subreddit, proclaiming that Silksong had finally been released. Eventually, fans embraced the posts and began posting about all the cool areas they’d explored and all the boss’s they’d beaten in ‘Silksong’, making up random things to keep themselves entertained during the news droughts of Silksong.

Another example of this madness that befell some in the community during the eternal wait for Silksong, a YouTube channel known simply as Daily Silksong News. This channel uploads daily, with one sole purpose, to report whether or not there was Silksong news that day, and go into specifics if there was. But this channel doesn’t just use the same voice recording for when there isn’t news, no, the channel’s creator records a new voice recording every day (with the expectation of when he invites guests to report the news), usually saying there is no news. If that isn’t insanity, I don’t know what is.

A screenshot of some recent Daily Silksong News video thumbnails. Always no 🙁

The Importance of Game Dev’s Communicating With Their Fans

Most of this is in good fun, the people making up details about the ‘already out’ Silksong are just trying to pass the time while having fun, and Daily Silksong News is just a
funny side project for its creator, but so far five year wait paired with the lack of any consistency in regards to updates from team Cherry themselves is a bit frustrating to some. It’s understandable for Team Cherry to make delays, or else you end up with glitchy, unfinished games that don’t live up to their hype or potential. Likewise, it’s great that they’re increasing their scope and making the game even bigger than they originally planned. Most fans are ok with that, the thing that rubs people the wrong way about this whole situation is the total disappearance of updates over long periods and the poor communication of the delays.

Communicating these things to fans is important to keep them satisfied, especially when updates are being posted somewhat consistently for a year. For these things to just vanish, without any further explanation leads fans to jump to the worst. If anything should be learned from Silksong’s ordeal, it’s how important it is for developers to maintain good communication with the fans that support them.

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About the Contributor
Enrique Torrico, Staff Writer
Enrique Torrico is a junior at Santa Rosa Academy. He has been going to Santa Rosa since halfway through 9th grade. Before that he went to Elsinore High School. He was put in the journalism class but so far likes it. He is from Menifee, California and his parents are from Peru. Some of his hobbies consist of drawing, playing with his dog, and playing video games. An interesting fact about him is that he can speak two languages. After high school he is planning on going to a community college then maybe transferring to a university. 
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