Depressed demigods. Creepy acquaintances. Skeletons with short memories. Not your usual business management sim fodder – but then, Craftlands Workshoppe (out now via Steam Early Access) is no ordinary business management sim.
Developed by Arvydas Žemaitis – the brain behind the well-loved Shoppe Keep series – Craftlands Workshoppe is a crafting and business sim with a fantasy twist and a liberal dose of irreverent humour. Set in a quirky world among the clouds, Craftlands Workshoppe invites players to fight their way to the top, mastering three noble crafts and solving the former owner’s mysterious disappearance.
“The idea sort of stemmed from borrowed ideas from other games I enjoyed,” explains Žemaitis. “Initially Craftlands had an Overcooked-style crafting system, and that was supposed to be the main hook and crux of the game, but slowly evolved away from it. The system was redesigned and became its own thing.”
With its otherworldly setting and its cast of zany characters, Craftlands Workshoppe certainly provides a vibe different to that of many management games. But Žemaitis explains that this was an organic process, rather than a key vision for the title. “The humour…” he ponders, “let’s put it this way: it’s not something I plan ahead, nor do I write down funny bits. It comes to me as the game develops, and if something just pops into my head at the time of making a cutscene, task, feature – I’ll include it. So it seems that apparently I get a lot of weird ideas as I develop, judging by the humourous elements in this latest title.”
For an Early Access game, Craftlands Workshoppe is already more polished than many. “The game in itself is feature complete, and the core game loops are implemented fully,” Žemaitis explains. “Not to toot my own horn, but what I’ve noticed from beta tests and our own internal testing, and now the Early Access launch, is that the game has a very high level of polish and is more thought-out than any previous title of mine, making it more enjoyable as a whole. The visual style, the story, I am hoping these things will catch the eyes of potential players.”
Already, the game sits at 91% positive player reviews on Steam at the time of writing. But Early Access is very important to Žemaitis, and over the next six months, he hopes to learn from the game’s community of players to evolve and polish the title to the fullest extent possible. “It’s impossible to make a game like this on your own,” he says. “You know it too well, and what is fun for you may not be fun for everyone else. So we now need players to tell us what they think about the balance, the controls and the game loops. Ultimately, do they love it as much as I do? I’ll be in constant discussion with the players and work in collaboration with them.”
Craftlands Workshoppe has also been a deeply personal endeavour for Žemaitis, an opportunity to challenge himself on a game that he has made almost entirely himself. “I wanted to test myself as a solo developer, and to see what kind of visuals and gameplay I’m able to accomplish alone in a room with no outside help. I took up a challenge of making a game out of my comfort zone – most games I made were first-person – then have an overarching story and big end goal to the game, instead of just limitless gameplay without a main goal to reach.”
Žemaitis is particularly proud of the visuals – “it’s my first time making visuals for a game by myself, and I do hope to improve as I continue working on it, but the whole aesthetic and looks are very close to my heart” – and the in-depth management aspects of the game. “I hope that players will really love those,” he says, “making sure their workers, freights, ghosts and other automated elements of the game bring them lots and lots of funds to let them focus on other parts of the game than just funding their operation.” As well as refining the core gameplay, Žemaitis intends to spend his time finishing the overarching story ready for a V1 release.
Craftlands Workshoppe is out now via Steam Early Access. The game has a 30% launch discount until 20th October, with an additional 10% off for owners of either of the Shoppe Keep titles. So what are you waiting for? Fly up to this wonderful world in the clouds, and craft and manage your way to success!