Among Us has been a pop culture phenomenon. The blank-faced astronauts we know and love have found their way onto The Tonight Show, shared impostor vibes with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pushed limited-time merch capsules with BT21, braved Slime Climb in Fall Guys, and been forever immortalized as a chicken nugget that auctioned for almost $100,000 on eBay. But even with Nendoroid figures and a one-off manga adaptation on the way, developer Innersloth wants to keep things fresh and moving.

“We have always wanted to add things like roles, maps, and a better way to get cosmetics in the game, even before the game blew up,” notes community director Victoria Tran. “We were able to do that in 2021, but the focus for us has always been on improving the game for our players.”

That dedication has always been a driving force behind Among Us. The online multiplayer social deduction game made a quiet debut in summer 2018 and—with the help of YouTubers and Twitch streamers—took home wins for Best Mobile and Best Multiplayer at the 2020 Game Awards.

Innersloth’s response? Grow and innovate. The independent studio scrapped its concepts for an Among Us 2 and instead hired new talent to improve the core gameplay, counter spam attacks, upgrade Twitch and Discord mobile connectivity, add some much-needed quality-of-life tweaks, and introduce a new map (The Airship) with 15-player lobbies and an entirely new art style.

The team didn’t stop there. Updates rolled on with bug fixes, six new player colors, and podcasts and panels discussing the importance of creating sustainable, kinder online communities. Then, in November, Emergency Meeting #33 added account linking, achievements, three new Crewmate Roles (Scientist, Engineer, Guardian Angel) and one new Imposter Role (Shapeshifter), and “Cosmicubes”—special cosmetic paths that use in-game currencies such as Beans (free) and Stars (paid) to unlock themed items, like holiday sets and Riot Games’ Arcane bundle.

Introducing features isn’t new, but for a smaller indie studio, it can define their future. Innersloth spent most of 2021 making sure people could play on their preferred platforms, and sure enough Among Us was the 13th most downloaded game on PlayStation last year, despite launching on consoles on December 14. 

To find out more, WIRED spoke to Victoria Tran and Innersloth founder and game designer Marcus Bromander about the team’s new beginnings, that Among Us VR reveal, the inspirations behind Roles and Cosmicubes, and why the act of building a connection with those around you can make life worth living.

This Q&A has been edited for both clarity and length.

WIRED: With 2021 being a complete evolution of Among Us with new maps, roles, and even new hires, how much of an overall challenge has it been to experiment and accomplish internal goals while catching up and trying to stay relevant?