I attended the What’s Next de Focus event last week and had the opportunity to talk to some of the team that is working on Necromunda: Underhive Wars. Unfortunately, the game was not available to play at the event so please bear that in mind when reading this interview.
I had the chance to sit down and have a chat with Guillaume Voghel, Producer on Necromunda: Underhive Wars at Rogue Factor. We spoke about what Necromunda is, what problems the developer has encountered in early development and how difficult it is to live up to fans’ expectations.
GameWatcher: Could we just get you to introduce yourself, please, and tell us a bit about Necromunda: Underhive Wars?
Guillaume Voghel: Necromunda is an adaptation of the table top game itself. It’s set on a world where an entire planet is geared towards producing weapons and equipment for that world. Basically, it’s a turn based strategy game in which you have a third person camera and movement controls. Your goal is to assemble your gang with people and have them level up, so you can fight other gangs and become the ruler of the Underhive.
GameWatcher: What makes Necromunda stand out against other titles in this genre?
Guillaume Voghel: I think the key factor here is that we’re exploring this rich license that has a lot to give. Necromunda has huge amounts of lore and they already have very well-defined gameplay. Having those strong fundamentals, bringing them to PC and consoles and adding in a little bit more, I think it allows us to jump start the design of the game and, in the end, give players a stronger experience.
GameWatcher: What difficulties have you encountered so far in the game’s development?
Guillaume Voghel: It’s still early in production, but the main difficulty we’ve had is that a lot has been said about the world of Necromunda through novels, rulebooks and guides, but not many images have been created for the world. We tried to find some concept art, but there’s less than ten concepts available. We’ve been working at re-imagining what the world looks like and trying to find the signature look of it. We found that a grim dark setting is what we want to head towards. Everything is brutal in that world, it’s very industrial, there are very dark subjects and there’s a lot of outlandishness and a lot of betrayal. We want to be grim but still have some pockets of lights here and there to make sure the game is still interesting and has some contrast.
We’ve been really defining this style, and it’s been quite a trying exercise, but it’s been incredibly rewarding. When you have some breakthroughs, and you see that something makes a lot of sense in the environment, it’s incredibly rewarding and hopefully people are able to appreciate that. The ideal reaction we hope we will get is “when I was playing twenty years ago, that’s exactly how I imagined it”.
GameWatcher: What did you learn from developing Mordhiem and how has this impacted the decisions you have made in Necromunda?
Guillaume Voghel: One of the big things we learnt is pacing. The pacing in Mordheim has been a little bit slow, and players have been quite vocal about it. We definitely want to quicken the pace a little bit in Necromunda. We want to make sure you have less downtime, that your actions are quicker. It’s difficult to go into detail about how we are going to do it because we still need to keep some secrets to ourselves, but adjusting the pacing is one of our top priorities.
GameWatcher: Which games inspired you to create Necromunda?
Guillaume Voghel: That’s a good question… We’ve been thinking about a lot of games. Our Creative Director often mentions Valkirye Chronicles. To a certain extent, we’ve learnt everything with Mordheim. There’s a lot of lessons we had with Mordheim that are going to directly impact Necromunda - that’s also one of our big ones.
GameWatcher: Have you considered integrating VR support for this game?
Guillaume Voghel: VR is a tricky thing. I used to work at Rocksteady and we did the Batman VR game. I think VR is well suited for a lot of very cool experiences. It was one of those very narrative-focused games where you get to feel something very different. In our context, it’s definitely something that is interesting but we want to focus on making the PC and console games as strong as possible. At this moment, VR seems like something that would be a distraction for us. One of the worst things to do with VR is to force a bad port on it, then it feels like it’s been shoehorned just for the sake of having that little VR tag. We definitely don’t want to do this. We are still a fairly small studio with only twenty-five people, so we really need to pick our battles on which areas we want to focus on. VR is cool, but it’s not one of the main priorities. Maybe later down the road, because there’s a lot of interesting things to do with VR, but with our present focus it’s not something we are really looking at.
GameWatcher: Have you found it difficult to live up to fans’ expectations?
Guillaume Voghel: Ah man! It’s a tough position to be in. We are insanely lucky because we have super passionate fans. We often look at the forums and look at all the people giving their opinions. It’s been coming around a lot that Rogue Factor should do Necromunda… We were kind of laughing because we were like ‘okay, you guys guessed it’, but at the same time we were super frustrated because we couldn’t talk about it. Since we’ve been announced we’ve had tremendous support and opinions from people. We’ve received a lot of emails from people telling us what the game needs to be. It’s kind of funny, like, long emails, ten page emails! It’s funny, but at the same time it’s super interesting to see this. People are so passionate and willing to give their time so strongly and this is something every developer should wish for. We are really lucky to have those people support us. Our Game Director on the Steam forums opened up a thread saying ‘hey guys, Necromunda has been announced. Here’s the thread to give us your opinion, please go ahead’. I didn’t follow the thread but after two or three days there were already two hundred answers… People were involved! The community is absolutely terrific, it’s great, we love it!
Well, it sounds as though the guys at Rogue Factor are going to be pretty busy. Necromunda: Underhive Wars doesn’t have a solid release date yet, but we’ll be keeping you up-to-date with more news on the game as soon as it’s revealed.