Game Muse contributor Sam Coleman caught up with Wojciech, Development Director at The Farm 51, and Reinhard Pollice, Production and Business Development Manager at Nordic Games to talk about Painkiller Hell and Damnation, out on Xbox 360 and PS3 on 5th April 2013.
Hey, how are you?
Wojciech: We’re fine. We’re fine. We’re fine. Crunch time mode engaged. We’re fine. We’re fine… that would be if life was a Crysis game. Right now we’re at the “we’re fine” stage.
How did you feel the reception to the PC version of Painkiller Hell and Damnation was?
Wojciech: It’s almost exactly what we expected. A few little surprises, many players accepted the slight adjustments to the original design than we counted for. We were very afraid of altering anything from the ancestor’s look and feel, but in many cases it was inevitable or really needed. From another aspect, we still need to work hard now to provide all remaining parts of the puzzle – maps, characters, bosses – as players appeared to be very impatient to be able to play through the whole Painkiller universe again.
What aspects of Painkiller H&D are you most proud of? (Design, weaponry etc)
Reinhard: I think the weapon, the Soulcatcher, is definitely the thing I am most proud of. Its mechanic is totally unique and fits perfectly with the style of Painkiller and its visuals are simply outstanding.
Wojciech: Soulcatcher aside, which is the icing on the cake, we’re most happy when people tell us that the true spirit of Painkiller is here again and due to the new technology and fancy visual tricks, you can still play in a way that made you love the original. Looking on challenges, the biggest task was to implement new PvE multiplayer mode (Survival) and keep it consistent with the rest. However the most valuable feature for players is probably the cooperative campaign, where you basically play the original Painkiller but in a completely new, let’s say… more social, manner.
What games did you take inspiration from for the game?
Wojciech: Painkiller, Painkiller, Painkiller… and some other games. As there is almost no competitive or comparable game, we didn’t need inspiration for the game as a whole because we were working on a remake for the title that is still outstanding in its genre. What we were looking for, were the subtle elements to enhance the experience and keep the original feel. Here are some good titles and universes helped us on the art direction field – The Witcher, Warhammer, Skyrim, Castlevania. For referencing the new Survival mode we’ve played Left4Dead, Gears of War’s Horde and Call of Duty’s Zombie modes.
Are there plans for any post-launch content for the game?
Reinhard: Yes, we have a plan to bring patches with improvements and small new features on a regular basis, most probably monthly. Besides that, we have planned to regularly give players content packs that give new material to enjoy the gameplay of Painkiller even more. Those content packs will feature levels, maps, enemies and probably also weapons. On another side we are currently evaluating the possibility of bringing Painkiller Hell & Damnation out on Linux as well , but this may take a little more time.
What other game series would you love to reboot given the chance?
Reinhard: From our own list of IPs it’s definitely Aquanox as it has unique underwater settings. I believe a perfect shooter could be made out of it. Speaking of all game series I know of, I would love to work on a sequel to Silver – it’s just a really great RPG game.
Wojciech: Duke Nukem. Firstly it would mean I could have like 7 years of vacations before having to do any real work! Secondly, this hero and his universe still has a huge potential. Seriously though, personally I’d love to work on any classic FPS old school titles in the future, like Wolfenstein, Quake or Unreal. But Painkiller fills that gap in my heart perfectly, so I’m really happy about what I now have on my desk.
What made you decide to do a PC version first, before the Console versions?
Reinhard: The console version always takes a bit more time due to the platform holder requirement process. As we had already finished with the PC version we thought it would be best to release Painkiller on PC first and incorporate the feedback we received into the console version. Ultimately this all means that players will receive a perfectly balanced and a polished console version.
With most Shooting games having a cover mechanic, what made you decide to reboot the game in the old style FPS?
Reinhard: When speaking about rebooting a game franchise I think you have to choose a path where you use the game mechanics it was known and loved for. Painkiller was very famous for old style FPS gameplay and in addition to the crowded shooter market, very little games offer similar gameplay.
Wojciech: Well, Painkiller with cover system would be like Iron Maiden’s song played in dubstep. Technically it’s possible. Could it be good? Perhaps. Would we work on it? Only with ear plugs. Therefore it doesn’t make us the best guys for this kind of job.
What is next for Nordic Games after the console version of Painkiller Hell and Damnation?
Reinhard: We already have fixed plans about our next release together with The Farm 51 which is also a shooter but in a much different setting. Apart from that project we have 2 classic adventures in the works with another development partner of ours and are currently evaluating much bigger projects on some IPs we own. Regarding what’s next in the Painkiller series, we have yet to decide. We first want to see the feedback from the console version and our content packs to determine what the best direction to head in will be.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
You can find out more at www.painkillergame.com.