GameZone (GZ): What sort of time did the development team put into this expansion? What would you say was the most time-consuming aspect of it all?
Tymon Smektala (TS): I think that the most time-consuming aspect, as with all game development, probably is figuring how it is supposed to work. It's the thing I mentioned in the beginning. We had a completely different mechanic gameplay pillar, which was parkour movement. Then we introduced something which parallel to that, the buggy driving. Then it was a fight between should we make the map more drivable or more parkour friendly? We found a way how to make them both work. And the easier answer was that we can make obstacles, ramps, hops and jumps that will make the player steer the buggy in a certain way, to put some skill into driving the buggy. But then we also realized that those same objects can be used for parkour movements. So you will be able to either steer around them or hop on top of them. Of course, that is the basic description of the solution. It is more complex than that, but that's how it works.
GZ: The base game has been out for quite a while. I play on the Playstation 4 and I've noticed that I have not trouble what-so-ever finding co-op partners. Why do you think people are sticking with this game and what are you guys doing to draw people in and keep them there?
TS: I think the gameplay is great and that's the simplest answer really. We specialize in gameplay. Techland is a studio where gameplay is king. I think that's why people love Dying Light. Because it really plays well and we kept adding new content. Recently we released video highlighting all of that content, expansion packs, DLC, new weapons, new skins, lots of things to try. So I think that's what keeps people interested and I think that's what keeps people investing their time in the game.
GZ: Could you maybe give us an idea of when we are getting a release date?
TS: I can not, but it's not going to be far away. Basically: Soon. Please stay tuned and we will reveal the release date quite soon.
GZ: Do you plan to develop more DLC or expansions based on customers requests or comments?
TS: To be honest, it is too early to tell. We have some plans, some far-reaching plans, but right now we are focusing on The Following. As I was saying with the base game, first the base game needs to be solid for people to expect any DLC. Now this expansion needs to be solid before people can expect more. So right now we are focusing on this one, and if it's well received, we will start making more.
GZ: Do you have plans to stop supporting Dying Light with DLC and expansions and moving on to a full fledged sequel?
TS: Well, it always happens. There comes a point and time where we have to say 'Okay, that's it for Dying Light, now let's look for something else.' It might not be Dying Light 2, it might be Dying Light 2, but surely there will be a time where we stop supporting Dying Light as it is.
GZ: Hopefully not anytime in the near future.
TS: I hope so.
GZ: There was this Drink for DLC campaign. You guys kinda poked Bungee and Activision. Did you guys get any response from them?
TS: From them, no. But we were really surprised but the reaction by our community and the gaming community in general. People really loved what we did. We offered some DLC for free, and we will deliver those DLCs. We will announce them, I think right after Gamescom. It will be very soon. People will get a lot of free gameplay time for free because they really got excited about our little joke.
GZ: Here's a sensitive question. Hellraid. What's happening with it?
TS: Okay. Well I wasn't involved in Hellraid at all, but as the official statement said: We needed to go back to the drawing board. What we had wasn't satisfying for us. It could have been satisfying for gamers, but we wanted more. We wanted Hellraid to be more ambitious than what we had. So now we are thinking of what we can do to make it more ambitious. When we are ready to reveal something, then we will reveal that.
It's clear that Techland and the team behind Dying Light holds their community in high regard and that they want to show it. Not only do they listen to what the community says, but what they are interested in. We are getting a game that should make any fan of the zombie genre giddy, one that will draw in more players to an already phenomenal game. My time with the new expansion was brief and completely amazing, but my time talking with the warm staff that was genuinely thankful for our excitement and appreciation for their game made my visit with Techland all the better.
Dying Light: The Following has no release date at this time, but will be free to all season pass holders or 14.99 for all others.
After some hands-on time with Dying Light: The Following at Gamescom, we got the chance to talk with the producer of the game, Tymon Smektala, to discuss the massive expansion. We learned a lot about the game, but also what drives the team that gave us one of the best games of the zombie genre. Techland has undoubtedly earned the respect of the gaming community, and it turns out the developer appreciates us as well. Check out the full interview below.
GameZone (GZ): Thank you for freeing some of your time for us. I've read that you made this expansion as a response to your players comments. What exactly were the biggest requests received? Complaints?
Tymon Smektala (TS): First of all, we realized that there was one fantasy of zombie genre fans that we didn't deliver with the core Dying Light game. That was driving over zombies with a car. Lots of people that love zombies would love to drive over them with a car. We didn't have that in Dying Light, so we decided 'Hey, let's introduce cars in our expansion pack.' That's very hard because that's a completely new game mechanic that works parallel to our other very important gameplay mechanic, which is our parkour movement, the natural movement system. But we figured (out) a way how we could combine those two things, how we could manage the requirements of both types of gameplay. But then we also scanned the forums, the websites, comments, whatever about things that people that people would like to see in upcoming Dying Light content. And we realized that they want more firearms, so we are giving them that.
There will be new SMGs, shotguns, other new, cool firearms, lots of ammo to use so they will be able to shoot zombies as well. They also wanted specific things like crossbows. Crossbows are very popular among zombie genre fans because of The Walking Dead (tv series), so we decided to give them crossbows. We had that (type of) gun before, but when we saw that people really wanted that, we really put our focus on that and wanted to make our crossbow very cool. So what you've seen just before (in The Following demo) is just scratching the surface of our crossbow gameplay. You will be able to upgrade your crossbow, you will be able to craft bolts that have different effects. So you will really be able to play with that thing.
And another thing is that people wanted a new story or some more story content in Dying light. We decided that 'Hey, if they want more story, maybe we can give them something, but something that huge and something a little bit different than their used to.', because if we were to just give them more of the same, more of the missions in the same vain that we had in the base game, they could be disappointed. So now we have a new story, a story that centers on a mysterious cult whose followers seem to be immune to the virus. But it's up to you to figure out what is happening in that new region. Are they really immune? Or maybe they've found a cure? What's happening there? So so to do that, you need to find the leader of the cult, a person they call the mother. And the rest is up to you.
GZ: So speaking about the new items and crafting. Did you guys make any advancements or did you introduce new types of crafting materials?
TS: There are no new crafting materials, but you will be able to craft new weapons with new effects, so people who loved crafting in Dying Light will be able to scratch that itch in Dying Light: The Following as well.
GZ: I've already heard the map size is larger than in the base game. What kind of square mileage are we looking at?
TS: To be honest, I don't know the exact number, but basically in the base game we had two maps, the slums area and the old town area, but if you combined those two maps, they are the same size or a little bit smaller than the map that we are using in Dying Light: The following. It's a huge space, and that's the reason it's important to have a car, because it's easier to travel across such a space in a car.
GZ: I noticed that there were some challenges specific to the crossbow. Will there be any vehicle challenges?
TS: Of course. Challenges were very popular in our base game. People who played co-op loved them. They were able to compete with each other while playing the base game. So now we are adding more of that stuff. There will be stuff that's sort of easy to guess (at) like who kills the most zombies while driving the car, who gets there first to a certain location, but I think there will be some more other more surprising things they experience in Dying Light: The Following.
GZ: Should players expect any big surprises in the expansion the likes of what they haven't seen in the original game?
TS: Well there are some surprises, but I think lots of things are new. There are surprises related to the story. You really have to work hard to reach the end of the expansion and discover what is happening there. But there are also a lot of new things that we don't need to cover before players eyes. There's a completely new mechanic with the buggy. You will be able to upgrade the buggy, get new skins that will allow you to kill zombies with the buggy in style, with more efficiency, more creativity. There are new weapons, there's a new region, there's a new story. The new story is non-linear, so that means that you can reach the end of the story by any means you choose. So there are lots of new things. There's no need for surprises. We just want our fans to understand that what we are making right now is fan service. It's a big thank you to the community. So BAM! Here are the new things you will be able to play with them.
GZ: What sort of playtime should expect to get from The Following?
TS: I would say it's ten hours minimum, but I think it might go even bigger than that because the expansion got the whole studio so excited that everyone in our studio and our team wants to leave their mark on the expansion. So we had a couple level designers that weren't involved in The Following at the beginning, but they really wanted to do something, so they are creating quests for that. We had artists that weren't involved in The Following at all, but they really wanted to add something from their field of specialization like new weapons, new stuff, so we kept adding and adding and adding. I think it will be bigger.