Recently we got in touch with Insurgency 2's project lead, Jeremy Blum, and asked him some questions about New World Interactive and their new game. This time around, we also allowed the fans to send in their questions. All interview questions and answers are below. Enjoy!
Rollin Bros: What struggles did you and your team come across when deciding to start an indie game company and how did you overcome these struggles?
Blum: I think financial pressure and morale struggle definitely both applied to us throughout development. It’s tough being a young startup studio in this industry.
I think the biggest challenge we’ve faced so far happened about a month ago, when our team down-sized. We had about 7 people onsite for a steady 8 months but now there are only 3 of us. Needless to say we have a handful of contractors all over the world who play pivotal roles, but two of our guys had to return home for personal reasons and become independent contractors, and two others I had to let go because of our tight financial situation. So obviously this has put us in a tough position because on one hand we want to make all these great improvements to the game that our community wants to see, and on another hand we are limited in how fast we can produce these changes.
I think being at GDC and participating in the independent games summit was a big eye opener for me, especially amidst this “restructuring.” I heard many inspirational stories from independent game developers who had gone through some really tough times to get their game out. I also got to spend some time talking to Charlie Cleveland, the creator of Natural Selection. Despite some community backlash on certain differences between NS1 and NS2, their community essentially “saved” the project on multiple instances, and I think there’s something valuable to be learned from this.
Rollin Bros: What do you feel has played the largest role in successfully opening an indie game company?
Blum: Knowing good people to start up with and having the money you need to make it happen. That and a lot of hard work that went into the mod before we decided to make the game, which made this an actual opportunity in the first place.
Rollin Bros: What makes you so passionate about Insurgency and when did that passion take root?
Blum: Well it started about seven years ago. After playing an instrumental role in the conception and creation of Red Orchestra I was determined to make a game that embodied much of the same character but in a modern setting. Our team spent almost four years working on Insurgency in our spare time before we released Beta 1. We invested so much time and dedication to the mod that this project is really a tribute project for many of us. It is essentially the opportunity to finish what we started.
Rollin Bros: If you had built Insurgency exactly how you wanted, without worrying about what the audience wanted, how would it be different?
Blum: AI is something I’ve taken a great interest in lately so personally I would like to focus on more cooperative game modes like convoy ambush and also improve the PVP modes to include objectives besides capture points like destructible weapon caches.
Rollin Bros: Did you ever think about planning another game with a Call of Duty-like style considering it may have attracted a lot of attention to modern gamers?
Rollin Bros: With so many modern FPS games on the market, what is the void you hope to fill with Insurgency 2?
Blum: Insurgency is a realistic, bare-bones, cerebral FPS experience. It’s got the free aim and damage model of a hardcore realistic shooter but the experience is not boring, clunky or frustrating. It’s kind of like a bastard child of Red Orchestra and Rainbow Six. I consider us more of a competitor with a game like Red Orchestra than a game like Call of Duty for instance. This is how we stand out, by not trying to compete against mainstream casual FPS games.
Rollin Bros: Insurgency 2 is quite different from the Insurgency mod. What is the reasoning behind creating something different than what the hardcore Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat fans were accustomed to?
Blum: Insurgency is what we always wanted the mod to be at its core. I think there are some key differences but at the end of the day they are very similar. One thing we have done is taken surveys, so we can actually analyze what the community wants to see with real data. The two things people liked most about the mod according to our survey was first and foremost its level of intensity, and secondly its squad and commander system.
The people who played the mod who are off-put by the game will eventually come around. When people can play HD versions of Baghdad, Almaden and Sinjar, when we re-introduce Push and Battle, and when we improve the squad system and add tactical maps. These are features from the mod that people have missed the most, and they are coming.
Rollin Bros: What are some major changes made in Insurgency 2 from the Insurgency mod and why?
Blum: We got a little bit away from the "restrictive" nature of the game in the way the squad system works, which was a deliberate design choice. We've spent a lot of time improving weapon feedback, which we felt was "okay" at best with the mod in comparison to the game. We also focused a little bit more on cooperative vs. AI which is something that was never even touched with the mod. This was decided because we've seen a growing trend in multiplayer games towards cooperative and we want to be a part of that.
Rollin Bros: Is Insurgency 2 more focused on a consistent style of gameplay, or can players tweak server settings to create their own custom experiences?
Blum: Well we come from the mod community so we always want to keep the game open to a certain extent. Don’t expect everything to be open, however we will restrict certain things if we feel they should not be tampered with. If a lot of people are playing a modded version of the game instead of the game itself, to me, that’s an indicator that we are doing something wrong. So that’s been an experience we witnessed with realism mod, and as a result we ended up using a lot of those settings for the normal mode in the game, and people have responded very well to this change.
Rollin Bros: How are you taking direction from the vibrant community that has sprung up around this game, with so many people making suggestions and so much passionate discussion around the direction of the development of the game?
Blum: We are constantly modifying the game based on input we’re receiving from people. That's why this is an Alpha and not a Beta - because we are still willing to change core game mechanics if there is a high enough demand for it.
Rollin Bros: Currently we know of 4 game modes in Insurgency 2. Are there others that are being worked on or do you feel that 4 is enough?
Blum: For right now four game modes work fine. We are going to be bringing back Push and Battle from the mod which will make a lot of people happy. In the future we have plans to add more game modes to the game which we will reveal a little later.
Rollin Bros: Insurgency takes the path away from cone of fire, and more towards a player-managed system of sway and recoil. How can new players better understand this approach to more quickly adapt to the game, and enjoy what it has to offer?
Blum: Basically, your gun and your head are not attached to each other like most FPS games. If that makes sense to you, you’re off to a good start.
Rollin Bros: What features will the game have that is essential to competitive play (e.g. demo recordings, round restarts, etc.)?
Blum: All of the above, this is a Source Engine game – this thing is built for competition and server flexibility.
Rollin Bros: Is there a planned release date for Insurgency 2?
Blum: Nope, however we will be launching early access on Steam very soon, which will open up the game to a second round of feedback and testing. We will then continue to make improvements and set a release date when we know we can deliver something we're proud of.
Rollin Bros: Are there any plans in the future associated with the promotion of the game? Is there a possibly of a free weekend on Steam?
Blum: Yes once we get on Steam we will be promoting the game more and think of creative means to do this. For now we have stayed relatively quiet intentionally so we can get all the major feedback and issues sorted before we hype the game to a larger audience.
Rollin Bros: As far as promotion of the game in other countries, fan websites and blogs can go a long ways. One fan asked if there will be fansite kits released to aid those interested in supporting Insurgency 2?
Blum: Yes we will probably release a fansite kit after we launch on Steam. Right now we're too focused on getting the game ready. We will do everything in our power to support the community and the fans as much as possible. I think we all want to see this game have a long lifetime and there's no better way to do that than to keep improving the experience and supporting the community.
Rollin Bros: Can we expect to see an open or closed beta in which players will be able to obtain free keys to participate and provide feedback as a final testing stage before the official release?
Blum: If Valve lets us do a free weekend while we are still in early access we will do that. Otherwise, we will stick to the closed alpha and beta that our fans have signed up for.
Rollin Bros: Are there any plans for DLC in the future?
Blum: We plan on releasing DLCs that will be free to purchasers that will include new scenarios and new game modes that we have planned for further down the line after we get what we currently have as solid as possible.
Rollin Bros: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today Jeremy. Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers?
Blum: Thank you to all our supporters, and for those of you who are itching to play the game with more people. We will be on Steam early access pretty soon so you don't have to wait much longer.