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We speak to solo developer Zhen Wang about horror game The Drained Goddess which has left Early Access and launched as a full release on Steam.
Following its successful Early Access period, The Drained Goddess from solo developer Zhen Wang has launched in full on Steam. The Drained Goddess is a tense indie horror adventure where you’ll combat nightmarish supernatural enemies and unravel sinister mysteries where your choices and decisions determine the ending.
The Drained Goddess is an amazing example of what a one-person dev team can achieve with CRYENGINE, and we were delighted to catch up with Zhen to find out more about the game and the development journey he has been on.
Congratulation on the full release! What inspired you to make The Drained Goddess?
The story is inspired by a historical event from over two thousand years ago. The first emperor of the Qin dynasty dreamed of immortality. He sent a general with a large force to find a celestial island out at sea that could fulfill his wishes. But they never returned. The Drained Goddess imagines what happened on the island.
The game focuses on combat and exploration. Most enemies are optional and hidden by default, and players may not even realize their existence. But when they solve clues to find them, they will also learn the side story or conspiracy behind each enemy before launching into a dramatic fight scene.
How has the game developed during the Early Access period?
Thanks to feedback from players, the game has really come on with plenty of improvements and additions in the past year. Many new features have been introduced, including unique enemies, NPCs, equipment, and stories. The user experience has significantly improved with the new mission system, detailed journals, game maps, tutorials, and more. Finally, and most importantly, the final chapter and all story endings are available now.
How has the development process been?
As a solo indie developer, I really appreciate all support I received from Crytek. I want to give special thanks to Gabriel for making the cooperation and communication with the Crytek team so efficient and smooth. Also, thanks to all the engineers on the CRYENGINE Discord channel for answering my questions and solving issues.
I learned a lot during the development of this long-term game project. I started from zero and went to 70k+ lines of C++ code, mainly relying on the detailed technical references from the CRYENGINE documentation. I also navigated through the engine's source code to understand how it works to help me fix minor bugs. The process gave me a great overall understanding of game development and the industry.
Which CRYENGINE features made the difference for you?
CRYENGINE is great for nature scenes. The first challenge when this project first started three years ago was how to handle vivid nature scenes. I tried the main available game engines for several months, and only CRYENGINE could handle dense vegetation in a performance-friendly way. This is important for The Drained Goddess because its main story takes place in an old village surrounded by mountains, and vegetation is everywhere.
CRYENGINE is a real-time saver too. As a solo indie game developer, I can't handle too many details on a limited time schedule. When choosing a game engine, the most important thing for me was how much time it would save. CRYENGINE's subsystems work efficiently with each other and, importantly, work out of the box. For instance, the audio system is very easy to use. For example, all I need to do is prepare audio in FOMD Studio (as this was my choice for this project), then drag and play them in CRYENGINE. The simplicity of systems like this means I can spend more time focusing on actual game content creation.
Then, of course, the lighting is gorgeous. The night scenes look fantastic with the SVOGI system working with volumetric fog. Game object visibility and story immersion are perfectly balanced. There are moments in the game when you walk through a forest at night, and it feels like real life. But players can also see clues and props clearly when they are supposed to. I didn't need to bake lighting maps for hours to see the actual results, which saved a lot of time.
The animation systems are also powerful. The unique fighting scenes are some of the most exciting moments in The Drained Goddess. CRYENGINE’s reliable, flexible animation control system is very important. Thanks to the Mannequin system, I implemented my design for the combat system easily.
Looking back over the development, what advice would you give to other indie developers?
There are so many game engines and technologies available to indies nowadays. And we have many ideas that we’d love to see in our games! However, from my experience, there are two significant questions that we indie developers need to ask ourselves. What do we really need for our projects? And what resources do we have? For example, what skills do we have already, and how much would it cost to learn the required skills that we don’t have? Once the central concept for your game is clear, focus on that and cut unnecessary desires. Save those secondary ideas for other projects in the future. Also, indie developers should schedule the project properly before starting work. Otherwise, development time will never be enough, and the release date will be postponed again and again!
What’s next for you?
The journey of my game development career has just begun, and I am looking forward to developing more exciting projects with CRYENGINE in the future.
There are two choices. The first one is that the audience may be interested in the following story of this game. So, The Drained Goddess 2 is a possibility. At the same time, I have had an idea about creating a science fiction game for a long time. I am open to new themes, so I am still evaluating what happens next!
We can’t wait to see what’s next! Thanks, Zhen!
Experience The Drained Goddess on Steam right now.
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