Insurgency 2: Interview with Jeremy Blum, Creative Director at New World Interactive

The original Insurgency started out as a Half Life 2 mod that has been universally lauded as one of the best mods ever created for that game. To this day, it is still played activlely – an impressive feat, given that the mod has been out for over six years, and even went on to win "Mod of the Year" the year it was released. The team at New World Interactive has reunited after working for large development houses for years after the release of the original Insurgency to bring the a sequel to the next generation of gamers. Check out what Jeremy Blum, creative director at New World Interactive had to say on their upcoming game, Insurgency 2.

Previously, you’ve worked on projects, such as Red Orchestra, which have used a very realistic approach. It seems the team at New World Interactive is taking a similar approach – do you think players of Red Orchestra will be right at home here, or will there be a learning curve?

Insurgency 2 is a lot more focused and much easier to learn. If you come from playing RO2, INS2 would seem to be a piece of cake. These kinds of players will probably flock to our realism game mode, which is for the “thinking” player. The learning curve is really quick in the game and its competitive nature drives people back for more each round.

Security vs Insurgency forces square off in INS2

Why do you feel Kickstarter is right for Insurgency 2 rather than a traditional model of seeking a publisher for your project?

When you’ve already invested a lot of time, passion and money into something, it’s a hard bullet to bite when a publisher tells you they’re gonna take almost all of the profits and that we should be thanking them for giving us a “job.” Is the traditional model necessarily the right model? A system that gives complete power to the developer is what we should be shooting for, so Kickstarter is certainly a step in the right direction.

Do you feel like Insurgency 2 could have a market in the eSports world, perhaps building off the steam of Counterstrike: Global Operation?

Absolutely. We built this game from the ground up to be highly competitive and balanced. CS:GO’s timing could be good for us. Our game is very different but just as competitive, so we could provide these competitive gamers with a refreshing new option with the same minimum hardware specifications.

Why did you decide to ditch the targeting reticle and HUD?

Well we didn’t really ditch it – it was never there in the first place. It creates a cool dynamic of uncertainty in the game. It’s pretty easy to aim even without it.

Ins 2 uses no HUD or Targeting Reticle

New World Interactive hosts only five people on site working on Insurgency 2 – about how many active staffers do you have contributing to the game?

We have about five others working remotely, so we have an active team size of about ten all together. This is a pretty small team for what we’re setting out to do, so as you might imagine we’re all multitasking quite a bit.

What would you say is the biggest difference in developing a game independently versus developing for a well-established development house?

Everyone plays a much bigger overall role in the project, and for the most part we work on things we want to work on. 

One of your stretch goals on the Kickstarter included a console version – what challenges do you expect to have in porting Insurgency 2?

Well our engine is already ported to consoles, so it would be mostly optimization and fixing miscellaneous issues that might arise. We’ve already tested the game on an Xbox controller and it felt pretty good. We’re trying to prioritize our PC/Mac release first, which is ultimately why the stretch goal for Console is so high at the moment.

How many maps can players expect in Insurgency 2, assuming all of your stretch goals are met? Will they feel more closed off and arena style, open or a mix of the two?

You can expect 6+ maps depending on what we’re able to achieve. The maps will have a mix between closed off and open, varying between our different game modes. Don’t expect our “open” maps to be too open though – this is a medium range game not a long range one.

The theaters you can definitely expect to see are Iraq and Afghanistan, however in the future we hope to introduce some new environments and scenarios such as Libya, Somalia, Chechnya and Syria. We want Insurgency 2 and its sequels to stay truly present in the non-fictional sense that most games avoid.

Imagine someone has never played the original Insurgency, but was a fan of games like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor. What would you tell them to persuade them to give Insurgency 2 a shot? Is there one defining feature that you think would draw them, or is it more of a complete package?

Insurgency 2 while much more realistic than these games still maintains enough similarities to them for players to be able to easily transition from them. No one is reinventing the wheel when they make a new FPS game – they’re all different and the same at their core. Our different feels good though, so I’ll let the players be the judges.

Concept Art for new art direction in Ins 2

You said on your Kickstarter that you feel your art direction has to change to compete with big name titles – what about it did you feel was inadequate?

It’s not that it’s inadequate, it’s just evolving so much right now and we feel like we’re finally on the verge of something that looks good and is the best use of our tech. When we have something we’re happy with, we will have to go back and make each map just as good. We have over 10 maps right now and will more than likely cut a lot of them. Whatever maps we do end up including in the final release will look properly polished.

We may have been minimally staffed developing this thing, but it’s important to us that this isn’t evident in the final product. Although we’re by all means an indie game we want our environments to look so good that people confuse our game for a AAA publisher-backed title. Hopefully this combined with our strong competitive gameplay and low price point will make purchasing INS2 a no-brainer.

The Ouya has also been taking Kickstarter by storm – have you given any thoughts to porting Insurgency to Ouya, where the development costs would be significantly lower than the 360/PS3?

It is appealing, but we can’t comment on this yet because it will depend if the engine we’re working with gets ported to Android or not.

Ouya - could this be a home for INS2?

What can players do that want to support the project, in addition to contributing to the Kickstarter?

Whether we’re successful on Kickstarter or not this game is going to get made, so help us spread the word! It’s not only about contributions (although each contribution is greatly appreciated) – Insurgency will be returning with a vengeance and that’s what this story is really all about.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Jeremy! We wish you luck on the completion of Insurgency 2's Kickstarter and on the upcoming release in general!

Dustin Steiner is GameZone's eSports Correspondent! You can follow him on Twitter @VGHC_Deitis and check out Video Gaming Hard Corps, a South Florida Competitive Gaming organization, where he is a tournament organizer!