First off, thank you for joining me on this Q&A! I’m sure this entire month has been a whirlwind of excitement, franticness, and anticipation for yesterday’s launch (which so far had had an incredible response from the gaming community). I think most people reading are now familiar with your story, but for those of you who are not, here’s a link that sums it up pretty well.
While everyone is excited to hear as much about the game as possible, your unique story also begs many questions on what it takes to drop everything and start pursuing your goals 110%, while having very limited funds to do so. So without further ado, I’d like to welcome Klaes Simonsen from BetaDwarf!
So Klaes Simonsen, what exactly has been your personal role in the development of Forced?
I am a 3D Environment artist at BetaDwarf.
And what were you doing to support yourself before joining the BetaDwarf team?
Before joining BetaDwarf I was a student at the University of Cumbria in the UK, studying Games Design and Digital Arts.
How exactly did the team meet, and at what point did you all decide to commit to developing Forced in “full-force” (pun absolutely intended)
The two cofounders Steffen and Kenneth decided that they wanted to take their education more seriously and wanted to make more of it. So they began a mission to gather a team of like-minded ambitious students and create a company. I think it was the intention from the start that this was going to be an all or nothing type project (bear in mind I personally had not joined at this point).
What kind of game-development experience did your group have before starting development on Forced, and did you bring on any new members since your founding in 2010?
Actually none of the founding team members had any experience with making games let alone industry experience. They usually refer to themselves as “complete newbs” before they started this project. They had been dimpling a bit around with the unity engine about a year before the development on Forced started, creating a prototype called Armies vs Champions. There has been some change in the lineup since the start of the project, but a big part of the original team is still with us today.
What games inspired the design and direction of Forced most?
Forced takes inspiration from a lot of different games actually. Forced has been described as a mash up between a lot of different game genres and it quite accurately reflects the process we’ve gone through. We have looked at games like Diablo and torchlight especially in terms of graphics. Lara Croft – The Guardian of Light and Alien Swarm in terms of controls. Left4Dead was a huge inspiration for a lot of the coop elements, and finally Crash Bandicoot inspired a lot of the overlaying design, like for instance that the game is broken up in small levels that have three crystals, completion, challenge and time trial.
What is your favorite feature of the game, and what is a feature that you are particularly proud of?
I think it shows that one of our primary focuses have been coop. We’ve really been trying to come up with something unique and present people with something they aren’t used to. A lot of the elements are of course inspired from other games but the combination is new, at least to us. With FORCED we chose to approach this via communication. We have tried to design the game in such a way that it is very hard, if not impossible, to complete the game without good communication with your teammates. This is what inspired Balfus the Spirit Mentor, because he is a shared avatar or resource if you will. Not only is he most often the key to solving the objectives in the game, but he is also a benefit to everyone in the game. If they can figure out a good way to share him that is, and that is only achieved through communication and strategizing as a team.
Given that you all had quickly dwindling funds in the middle of developing Forced, what are some measures your team took to cut down cost and stretch what you had as far as possible?
I think the image explained how we cut down on rent at least But as a company we could have interns now and then, which were given a small bonus by the government, we also took small personal loans and used our savings. We made food together very often and shopped cheap places. Lastly we were very isolated and focused so we didn’t really go to cafes, cinemas etc. at least only very rarely.
What was the single hardest moment in the 3 years it took to release Forced, financially, motivationally, or other?
For me personally, I came to BetaDwarf about a year ago, when they only had the money to buy the computer equipment and office space, and couldn’t really offer any salary. So I was left with the issues of wanting to work on FORCED so bad, but also trying to put food on the table and paying the bills. For me it was more a question on how to maintain a work day of 8-12 hours at BetaDwarf, and still having money enough for the rent. Luckily for me, we have in Denmark a political system that allows unemployed workers to get just a little bit of money for some months within a two year period, while trying to get a job. That little cash flow kept me going, and gave me the opportunity to offer everything I had in me to BetaDwarf and FORCED the game.
What does Forced offer the gaming world that in your opinion is underrepresented currently?
I talked earlier about how Balfus induces an element of communication and in term cooperation. And we really feel like there is not a lot of that in the game world. Sure there are a lot of games you can play in coop but many of them really just means that you play the game at the same time as your teammate and not really with them. In some games the highest level of coordination or communication you’ll find is who gets what loot and should we go there or there, but the slaying of monsters is really disconnected to the other player. We believe that coop features like Balfus and the Mark system really add a lot to that sense of actual co-op and not just playing side by side.
What was your team’s main objective when designing Forced? Are there any philosophies or ideas that you as a team have committed to upholding?
Our main focus is always to have fun while making the game. Our CEO Steffen Kabbelgaard Grønning took a lot of inspiration from the Valve way, where the philosophy is that everyone should be able to speak their mind, and all opinions are worth listening too. With this kind of mentality in mind lies a good working atmosphere and it made us all feel very welcome and added to our individual creative confidence. It also gave some hefty debates around the office, as we all have so much passion and strong opinions on how games should be and look like, but it got everyone involved in the process, and that was something we all appreciated and learned a lot from.
What’s next!? Now that you have gained a sizable following, and some great press (as well as being a multiple award-winning team!), is there anything in the immediate future you can share with the community that they can look forward to? Besides playing your awesome game of course, because that’s a given…
While working on FORCED and keeping it updated, we are also going to look into some DLC’s. We want to support Forced and continually provide content. Some of the DLC’s we are talking about at the moment are hardcore mode, Vs survival mode, and lastly more awesome Survival Maps. Maybe even PvP, who knows.
Last, do you have any tips for those who plan on undertaking a similar challenge as the BetaDwarf team? That is, developing an independent game full-time by themselves or with a team.
Passion. Believe in what you do, and keep going even though things might feel like you are going uphill sometimes. Should you fall and burn, then try the hardest you can, to remember your passion and why you began this trip to begin with, in other words put up a giant poster on the wall with a line that tells you why you want to achieve this – and then move into a house with your team. Because if you survive that, you must have something going for you
Thanks again for your participation in this Q&A! We all look forward to following your continued progress, and enjoying the fruits of your labor! For continued updates from the BetaDwarf team, be sure to follow them on facebook , or on their official site.
And don’t forget to view the trailer and buy the game on steam!