Paradox and Iceflake - Community-Focused Development with Surviving the Aftermath


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Oct 8, 2020
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Hi PC Gamer Community!

It’s Lasse Liljedahl - Studio Manager and Game Director at Iceflake Studios, working on Surviving the Aftermath with Paradox Interactive. With our game arriving on Steam on Thursday, I want to look back on the work our team has put into the game throughout the last year we’ve been in Early Access, and give an inside look into the game’s ongoing development.

In case it’s been a while since you played, or you’ve never survived in a post-apocalyptic world before, here’s a quick rundown! Surviving the Aftermath is a survival colony builder set in the fallout of a world-ending event. Players must build the ultimate disaster-proof colony in a world filled with dangerous wildlife, catastrophic weather, rival societies, and more. Players can train Specialists to explore the world around their colony, scavenge for resources, build outposts, interact with other colonies, fight off bandits - all that fun stuff!

Since our initial launch last year, we’ve released 10 major content updates, introducing new features, or expanding existing mechanics.

At the start, we knew we wanted to make Surviving the Aftermath with our community. We followed Surviving Mars, and how that game evolved following its launch. In our minds, releasing the game on Early Access was the perfect solution to get players in on the ground level and it allowed us to start incorporating player feedback early on in the game’s development. But we knew it wasn’t enough to just launch on Early Access - we needed to prove we could make a game people wanted to play, and that we would take feedback from our players seriously to improve the game.


We built the foundations for Surviving the Aftermath from scratch. We had a vision of the game we wanted to make and the team at Paradox was supportive of all our decisions. They could see our passion and helped support us so we could bring the vision to life. When it was suggested that we launch at PDXCON, we leapt at the opportunity. After all, what better way to get feedback from players than to have a convention full of people who would [hopefully] be eager to play our game?

Needless to say, we were nervous. We had never done anything like that before. But we were excited and it gave us a goal. It was full steam ahead to PDXCON!


When we revealed Surviving the Aftermath at PDXCON, it became clear that we had something special. Attendees refused to leave the stations - they couldn’t stop playing our game! Paradox had just announced Crusader Kings 3 and a ton of other cool things, but people were playing our game, for hours on end. It was crazy, but very humbling.

Throughout the event, players would come up to our booth and give us suggestions about what they would like to see in the game. I kept a notebook to write everything down, but it became so full with notes that I ran out of paper and resorted to stuffing it with any loose scraps I could find. I still have that notebook somewhere, it’s bursting at the seams with notes and scribbles -- it truly is a sight to behold!


While listening to our community was our top priority, we wanted to go a step further. To make sure we could keep track of everyone’s reports, we developed a dedicated feedback tool that we built into the game’s interface. Any time players had an idea for the game, found a bug, or wanted to give us their opinions, they could click a button on the interface that would send their report directly to our team. It started out as a Ladybug icon, but like the rest of the game, this system has evolved and changed over the last year.

This system proved to be invaluable, and players loved it because we made the entire process as easy as possible. Everyone had a voice, and we were eager to listen.


Before revealing Surviving the Aftermath, we had a content roadmap and timeline of when we were going to introduce key features and game updates. When working on a game that’s in Early Access, it’s important to be flexible so that you can respond to the needs of your players. We’ve had features we originally planned to launch later in the Early Access period, like trade and the tech tree overhaul, that were bumped to earlier updates. We’ve also had features that were pushed back, such as updates to the World Map mechanics, so we could focus on the systems our players wanted, like enhancing colony building. Staying flexible and being transparent about the status of the game gave us the freedom we needed to react to player requests with each update.


Right after launch, we got to work on our first major update, aptly named Update 1: The Colony. Players told us they wanted more buildings and more colony options. This update added a ton of new buildings, including an upgraded Gate and Resource Extractors to enhance resource collection. The Colony update came one month after our initial release and set our cadence of content updates. It was also our first chance to prove we would keep our word about listening to the community.

Since then, we’ve released one major update each month -- the only exception being July because we needed to take a break! Each update has focused on a specific theme, usually introducing or expanding a key gameplay feature that will change the way players approach surviving the post-apocalypse.


Players can now use vehicles, establish trade routes with other societies, defend against rampaging wildlife, establish outposts on the World Map, and so much more. We’ve also created an entire pollution mechanic, added colony leaders to the rival societies, revamped the entire early-game, and deepened the colony-building aspects with energy and water systems. The game really has come a long way and it was all made possible by working with our players.

If you’re interested, you can check out our full roadmap of updates on our website here.


But it’s not just gameplay that we’ve been updating! Our players wanted the world to come alive, so our team has also been hard at work enhancing the game’s visuals. We’ve had three major visual updates that have drastically increased the visual fidelity of the game since its debut last year.

Check out these two screenshots! The one on the left is from Update 5: Sanctuary, after we had already made some visual improvements to the game since launch. The one on the right is from our upcoming Quests update, giving you a sneak peek at what’s coming on Thursday. You’ll notice there’s more variety in vegetation, the buildings are higher fidelity, there’s elevation differences, and we spent more time making the land feel alive.


But the visual enhancements weren’t limited to just the colony. We’ve also made the World Map look more dynamic and lively. There’s now more variety in the biomes surrounding your colony, visual landmarks like mountains, and much more.

The screenshot on the left is from Update 2: Outposts while the one on the right is from our most recent update launching on Thursday.


With our Steam Early Access launch, we are also releasing a major content update introducing a whole new slew of gameplay features and systems that we think you all are going to love. I won’t go into all the details just yet since the full announcement is coming on Thursday, but I’ll include a teaser below.

Now that we’re launching on Steam, even more players can get involved and help shape the game with us. We know Paradox players love mods, with that in mind, we encourage players to mod Surviving the Aftermath and share their creations with the community!

Our plan is to leave Early Access early next year. Leading up to launch, Surviving the Aftermath will continue to receive updates, including the introduction of our Endgame content -- we’ll have more details about that later, so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading! If you like what you’ve seen here, you can check out Surviving the Aftermath on Steam. You can also head over to the @Surviving_PDX Twitter account, which you can follow if you want to stay up-to-date about everything happening with Surviving the Aftermath. We’ll have more details about the game, and our official launch window, soon so be sure to stay tuned for updates!
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