I remember the day after Halloween in 2018, I was browsing some forums, and for some reason, all of the UNDERTALE tags were abuzz with activity. Strangely, though, they were full of art of characters I didn’t recognize, jokes I hadn’t heard, speculation I had no grounding in. As a big fan of UNDERTALE myself, I had to get to the bottom of this, and my search led me to Toby Fox’s website. It was here that I found the first chapter of his brand new game, DELTARUNE (under the somewhat ominous guise of an EXE named “SURVEY_PROGRAM”), and I was swiftly pulled down the rabbit hole once again.
It’s been three years since then. I’ve played through chapter 1 of DELTARUNE three times, revelling in Toby Fox’s signature offbeat storytelling and hypothesizing on the cliffhanger ending. I, like many others, wondered when the story would continue. Turns out it was yesterday, as during the 6th Anniversary UNDERTALE livestream, Fox rather unceremoniously revealed that chapter 2 would be out for the weekend. Naturally, I’m ecstatic for this, and plan to commit most of the weekend to playing the chapter, but I can’t help but wonder what took so long. As it so happens, quite a bit.
Deltarune Chapter 2: What Took So Long?
Since the release of chapter 1 of DELTARUNE back in 2018, Fox never stopped working on the game. Of course, as was the case with UNDERTALE, it takes a long time for one dude to make an entire game, though thankfully he did have assistance from several collaborators such as Temmie Chang. Even so, DELTARUNE was a big step up in the workload department from its predecessor; more cutscenes, more art, more detailed animations, and pages of potential dialogue, all of which Fox had to handle almost single-handedly. Even in situations where team members were handling the work, Fox stayed with them in a supervisory role the entire time.
“Unlike UNDERTALE, this is the type of game that would normally have many designers working on each aspect of the game,” Fox wrote in a September 2020 update on the game. “A story writer, a composer, an audio director, a map designer, a battle designer, a minigame designer, and an overall director. Instead, all of those roles end up handled by me.”
It didn’t help that, when chapter 1 of DELTARUNE was released, that first chapter was literally all Fox had. The rest of the game’s story, as well as any new locations and mechanical changes, were all purely hypothetical at that point, and took at least a couple of years just to map out. He also experimented with some different game engines in an effort to switch out from Game Maker Studio, though that didn’t end up going anywhere.
Possibly the biggest hitch came along in 2020 when Fox’s existing wrist and muscular pains suddenly became exponentially worse, to the point that he couldn’t even type on a keyboard. All of his work during this period had to be performed through speech to text, and speaking as someone who’s tried to work like that, it’s absolutely maddening. While he normally would’ve gone for some kind of surgery or physical therapy, since it was 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic made seeking non-COVID-related medical help much more difficult, so that wasn’t an option. All he could do was gradually recover on his own, though thanks to frequent breaks and a little ingenuity, he’s doing a lot better now.
Going forward, Fox has assembled a larger team of collaborators, and he has much more of the game mapped out, though he has also stated that there won’t be anymore releases until the remainder of the game (chapters 3, 4, and 5) is completed. More than likely, it’ll probably be another few years before we see DELTARUNE to its conclusion, though I think I speak for all of Fox’s fans when I say I’m more than happy to wait as long as required.