Scavengers, the interview with the CEO of Midwinter Games

Scavengers, the interview with the CEO of Midwinter Games


A month after our Scavengers trial, we return to the topic to deepen the game through the words of those who played a fundamental role in its development. This particular PvEvP hybrid has left us several positive sensations, in spite of some aspects still to be filed and the doubt about how much it can take hold on the public: not because it lacks the cards, indeed in some ways it has elements that make it unique, how much because the panorama within which it tries to dig its own niche is saturated and certainly not since yesterday. To better understand not only the idea behind Scavengers, or his inspirations, but how the developers intend to face a challenge not just, we spoke with the CEO and co-founder of Midwinter Games, Josh Holmes: a very interesting chat emerged. , which we report below in its entirety. Happy reading!

The interview

The preparation phase in Scavengers is essential Let's start with Midwinter Games. How was the team born and how many people worked on Scavengers?

Josh Holmes: Midwinter Entertainment was founded in 2016 by me, Daryl Anselmo, Fidde Persson, and Peter Burzynski, all AAA development veterans. We are based in Seattle, and it all started with just a handful of us working in a small house we called "Hoffice". Several years pass and we are now over 40, working in an office in Kirkland (although we worked remotely from home last year). We are still a rather small team, but we work with a large number of external partners, as well as receiving support from other studios within Improbable (Midwinter's parent company and the publisher of Scavengers). elements of history? During our play session it was unclear whether there will be a storyline accompanying the online challenges.

Josh Holmes: Ours is mostly a competitive online multiplayer experience, so the story isn't the cornerstone, but we have a rich lore that we've begun to introduce to players. Scavengers is set in a future where the impact with an asteroid shattered the moon and caused the Earth to fall in a second Ice Age. The remains of humanity are stationed on an orbital platform controlled by an advanced artificial intelligence known as Mother. Mother sends groups of explorers to Earth's surface to gather resources in search of a cure for the virus that has ruined the planet. This is just the tip of the iceberg: over the next few months and seasons, we will expand and improve the story, as well as the ways players interact with it. And who knows, maybe they'll end up getting to know Mother a little better.

The development team is gathering as much feedback as possible to improve the PvevP experience The idea of ​​a Battle Royale with a PvEvP system allows Scavengers to stand out from other games in the genre. What was the path that led you to this three-way system?

Josh Holmes: We don't think of Scavengers as a direct contender in the Battle Royale genre, but we were undoubtedly inspired by some of these games. When we started development, our goal was to deepen the competitive and cooperative experience by increasing the strategic options available to players. We wanted to make sure that no matter whether your play style is more PvE or PvP oriented, you have enough strategic paths that can lead to victory. In Scavengers, being successful isn't just about being the last person standing. In addition to the balance of the PvEvP formula, the unique abilities and weapons belonging to each playable Ranger must be considered, which creates interesting dynamics and adds tactical depth to team play. We just came out in Early Access, so now it's exciting for the team to see how players compete in matches and what tactics emerge.

During our play session we saw AI-controlled factions such as the Outlanders and the Scourge. Can we expect more factions to be added in the future? And maybe new maps on the way?

Josh Holmes: We intend to introduce a number of new challenges for players. New types of enemies are certainly among them, be it entirely new factions, new variants of Scourge and Outlander, or even dangerous bosses that can be encountered on the map. The imagery of Scavengers allows us to evolve and change the experience of the players, even in the way the map is presented. We do not exclude any possibility.

Josh Holmes, CEO of Midwinter Games We really appreciated the snowstorm system: it communicates a real and constant feeling of danger during the match. Are you going to evolve it, perhaps adding new effects to the storm?

Josh Holmes: Storms actually play a pivotal role in the gameplay. Since the weather is so unpredictable on the planet's surface, it limits the window of time in which the Explorers can complete their missions. Dynamic storms hitting the map can be both a danger and an opportunity. If you are too exposed to the cold you risk freezing, but at the same time the storm allows you to go unnoticed, perhaps offering an opportunity to escape or an opportunity to prepare for an ambush. We have received a lot of positive feedback about the climate system, and we see the potential to push it even further. We don't have any specific plans at the moment but we can't wait to experiment and see what happens in the future.

Making a Game as a service can lead to enormous success, but it is also a very risky path and failure is always around the corner. Especially now that there are so many Battle Royale and GaaS in the market. What plans do you have for upcoming content and to make sure the user experience is always fresh?

Josh Holmes: You are absolutely right. As developers, we understand the challenges of launching a live-service game, and that we must deserve and respect the time and attention of the players. We are still in the early stages of our journey, and this stage is primarily for receiving large-scale feedback and fixing the game ahead of the launch of our first season on consoles next year. In addition to this, we have a roadmap for the contents and news that will be spread over multiple seasons. Content and news that we will develop and expand based on community response.

It is not uncommon to come across local fauna Here, let's talk about user feedback. How much has it helped you so far? What were the most valuable suggestions?

Josh Holmes: Player feedback was vital in the development of Scavengers, and will continue to be so during Early Access and beyond. We started doing closed-door testing in early 2019 and throughout 2020, and the impressions received during that time were key to preparing us for the release. Feedback ranging from weapons to skill balance, through pace or game economy. We are grateful for the contribution the community has made to the development of the game and look forward to continuing this journey with them in the coming months.

Speaking of the art style, is there any particular work you have looked at to create your game world?

Josh Holmes: I should probably ask our art director Daryl Anselmo more specifically, but in general we took inspiration for the look of the game from a large number of different sources. Personally I've always been a huge fan of dystopian and post-apocalyptic science fiction; Hugh Howey's Silo trilogy, for example, or Picnic by the Roadside, Annihilation, John Carpenter's The Thing, Neal Stephenson's The Road or Seveneves are just a few examples. I must also say that the team loves winter, to the point of putting it in the name of the studio. We are fascinated by the possibilities and challenges that a cold setting can present to players.

The dropship, or rather the extraction point to run to when the mission is complete How has the game evolved during its development?

Josh Holmes: There have been a ton of gameplay ideas that we've experimented with over the years. When we first introduced the game to the press in 2019, we had a scoring system that was shared across all teams in the game. Teams had to work together to achieve a certain common score, but at the same time they could attack each other for their own personal gain. It was certainly an interesting mechanic, but the shared goal conflicted with players' natural desire to kick out other teams, and for many it proved confusing. This is why we switched to a shared scoring system within your own team, thus emphasizing the competitive aspect of the game. The mechanics of the dropship were also entirely different at the time: in the beginning it worked that, when the dropship landed, you just had to go inside to be safe and end your match. This, however, led to anticlimactic finals and created frustration for the first players on board who had to sit and wait for the match to come to an end. Well, we've been working hard on this, taking feedback from playtests and completely transforming it into what's in the game right now. There were several challenges, and the biggest was finding the right balance between PvE and PvP, to make sure they were equally complementary parts of the experience.

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