Team Alpha are the makers of Alphabirth, one of many mod packs for The Binding Of Isaac. Despite releasing their third pack just this week, the team's head coordinator took to their blog to say that, for now, work on more Isaac content has been put on indefinite hiatus.
Since the release of Afterbirth+, the most recent addition to the Binding Of Isaac family, the team has struggled to work with the mod API put in place by developer Nicalis. Intended as tool to expand modders' potential, it "became more and more apparent how much of a disappointment the API and expansion was," wrote head coordinator FacemanFoothand.
In the blog, the team details an outline of what went wrong, and how things could have been made right. Foothand writes out the lack of content, unfinished assets, and glaring bugs that contributed to a rocky start for Afterbirth+. Though patches rolled out to fix up issues with the core game content, the mod API had apparent holes as well — and those were slow, if ever, to be fixed.
As a team, the very clunky nature of the API began to run us down. This, compounded with the fact that Nicalis had very little to no meaningful communication with the community left us in the dark. We continued our work with the hope that the API would improve.
To date, it has not. Basic functions are still broken, bugs that were discovered at the start still persist, mod integration with base-items is nonexistent and base features like solid entity control still have not been added. We took matters into our own hands and spent months building the AlphaAPI in order to more easily deal with the glaring flaws of the API. Even with our new API fully functional many things could not be fixed, and the drain on our energy continued to grow.
Foothand goes further, detailing a lack of communication from developer Nicalis and struggling with the tools given. Despite enjoying their time together making the Alphabirth packs, the team was burning out. They close with a statement:
Team Alpha has pushed forward these last few months to get together one last pack to say goodbye to the community for now. We hope that we are proven wrong and comprehensive API updates are just around the corner, but until then we can no longer commit so much energy to working in creating content for a game that shows no support for their dedicated fans.
We hope this isn't the end, but it feels like it is. Thank you for the good times Isaac community.
In a reddit thread on the Isaac subreddit, modder Ashkain tells a story about a specific workaround the team made to create special tears:
Like that one mod that we made where you shot rock tears? Yeah there was no real way to add custom tears. So what we did was made it so the mod quickly changes your tears to a different sprite (noticeable with a high shot speed) and to make the tears have a different noise, we had to make it so a fly would spawn, play a noise, and be deleted on the same frame (this was when the API was just released). He had to do a lot of hacky shit like that just because it just was that limited of an API.
Coder Scayze also left some laments for the state of Isaac modding:
Not only were there no improvements to the api, there was also no communication with nicalis, not even with booster pack authors, as was already mentioned in the blog post. I even PMd Tyrone on Twitter once, with no success.
All that together resulted in a community that is slowly breaking apart.
Personally, I lost faith in nicalis. Sadly, I'll probably never work on Isaac again, unless Ash comes up with some stupid ideas again >.>.
For the time being, Team Alpha is still active on Twitter, saying yesterday that they are currently updating the wiki for their newly released third pack and working on item guide videos for the content as well.
Wiki is now completely updated with Pack 3 information. Item Guides start later today!
— Team Alpha (@ModTeamAlpha) September 8, 2017
You can read the blog and its details in full here.