Hunted: The Demon’s Forge Interview

InXile Entertainment execs on the future of the RPG, the nature of fantasy, changing up co-op gaming and giving Blizzard their first contract.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, March 17, 2010

But now, finally, in the past three or four years, wham! People are actually making money from iPhone and free-to-play, so now all this creativity is happening again. So for me, as a creative person , I love it. Because I am starting to experiment. We have smaller products, we did Line Rider and Fantastic Contraption – I didn’t invent it, but we find talent that we work with.

And I think one of our strengths is that we’re really good at cultivating internal talent and recognising external talent. I gave Blizzard their first contract, I gave BioWare their first contract, I gave Treyarch their first contract…

VGD: Bet you tell all the girls that at parties.

Findley: Yeah! [laughs] I’m not trying to brag, I’m just saying I love working with external and internal people. But the point is, with Facebook and so on, we’ll continue to play with that stuff. Because I love the fact that to be experimental again. And we’re lucky that Bethesda has been supportive on this project. To their credit, when we showed it to them they got it right away.

The environments are pretty capacious.

The environments are pretty capacious.

VGD: Bethesda does seem to be trying to make a name for itself outside labeled-as-such role-playing, with WET and Brink. Do you think they’ll be successful in becoming more than ‘just an RPG company’, and will Hunted: Demon’s Forge play a big part in that?

Findley: I think our product is proof of that. Because it’s not a hardcore Oblivion RPG, it’s off-point, I think it’s an example of that. And Brink is brilliant, so what they’re doing is right. To comment on their behalf, they’re not doing too much, they’re doing a few things really well and getting behind the things they do in a big, big way. With that, I’ve got to say yes, honestly, even if I wasn’t doing work for them I’d say that that is a good strategy to take. They’re not doing Dirty Dancing, they’re not doing like an off-on, ‘oops, here comes a race car’ type thing, you know.

VGD: How important is the storyline to this game? It kicks off on quite a familiar, Dungeons-and-Dragon-sy note. Will that tone, those kinds of references remain consistent throughout?

Findley: Well, we’ll see. The beautiful part about fantasy is that it’s a language unto itself, right – you know what a dragon is, or what a hobbit is – and we can look at those things and get a sense of where they are in the universe. So you want to stay within that part of it, you don’t want to lose that part of it.

You don’t want to go so fantastical that you look and you go ‘what the heck is that?’ It might be kind of a weird minotaur or whatever, we do have dragons with our own spin on them, but it’s comfortable. And Blizzard certainly subscribes to the same thing – it’s not like we’re not creative people, and couldn’t do this kind of crazy Baron Munchausen stuff, but if you get too off-base, people don’t connect with it.

But then, we do start to tweak and turn it our own way so it has its own vibe and feel. So that’s how we look at fantasy. Ours is more of a dark fantasy, it’s not high fantasy, this is darker than World of Warcraft – you can see the imagery, the intensity of the violence, that sort of thing. So what we get in films like 300 and stuff like that, I would probably go a little more, a little darker. Dark fantasy absolutely defines us, it is not a high fantasy.

VGD: Is there a platform you’re leading on?

Findley: Well honestly we’re not leading on any particular platform because of the Unreal Engine and the way we’re developing. All our versions are being done internally, we’re not contracting on any of our versions. We are simultaneously delivering across each of the systems, so honestly there is no lead SKU.

VGD: Do you think InXile would ever consider developing their own, entirely original fantasy universe?

Findley: Well, we want to be doing this product for a long time, we love this world and we want to run with it. If I were to do something else, it would probably be something post-nuclear or something of that nature. Rather than go do another dark fantasy thing, I’d probably look into another genre that I like.

VGD: Do you worry about the level of violence in this product at all? I spoke to one of the Red Steel 2 developers a few days ago, and he said (of Sega’s MadWorld) that if you put that kind of violence in a game you’re going to sell 10 per cent.

Findley: I don’t know if that’s true. Part of it is that we need to wear our artistic hats sometimes and not just our marketing hats. We want to deliver a certain kind of experience – it’s dark, it’s violent, it is what it is. Now, we may get to the end, and if they say ‘hey, this part of it pushes it over the top, and if we don’t get into Walmart – ‘ we would look at that stuff.

But while I’m in production now, let’s just deliver the thing we play and love. If literally all mature games sold 10 per cent, there would be no mature games. So I just don’t believe that to be the case.

VGD: I don’t think he was talking about Modern Warfare 2 and co! MadWorld is obviously an extreme example. Thanks for your time, Matthew.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is coming to PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Release dates have yet to be announced.

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