For the uninitiated, Alex Quick is considered the “father” of Killing Floor. From modest beginnings of modding for Unreal Engine 2.xx to collaborating with Tripwire and releasing the retail version of Killing Floor, which sold millions of units and gained a cult following. Fast forward to now with 2 retail games under his belt (Depth being his second), what is he up to? We poked and prodded him for a while until he submitted and agreed to participate in the following Q&A. Enjoy.
RQ: It’s safe to say that Depth has been a success for you and the Team. Was it a runaway success or did it take time to gather momentum? It must have been quite daunting putting out such a niche title. It’s not everyday you see a Sharks vs Divers game.
AQ: Last I checked, Depth had shipped somewhere in the neighbourhood of 400K copies, so by most standards, it has indeed been a success. Has it been a runaway success? Not really. There was a 4+ year slog to get the game to release, and a year of VERY intense post launch support before we really started seeing the player interest and sales figures begin to ramp up. We didn’t have much (any!) of a marketing budget, so we relied heavily on word of mouth and Steam promotions.
RQ: Any more major updates coming for Depth? Have you determined a shelf life for the game yet? Do you think the sales model (DLC) that has been implemented into the game works well?
AQ: That’s really up to Digital Confectioners, now that they own the rights to the game. With their current track record, I imagine there will be more updates in the works. In terms of DLC, I think we were mostly just experimenting to see what fit. We knew we didn’t want stat affecting DLC, or microtransactions so we opted for a more traditional cosmetic model with premium pricing for high quality skins. It was a modest success, but nothing to write home about. The main thing holding it back was that our playerbase was really too small to drive up sales, so we tried to time our DLC launches alongside Steam promotions when we knew there would be more “chum” in the water 🙂
RQ: We know you’re currently wrestling with learning UE4. How has the transition from UDK been for you? Did you have to reinvent the wheel or do they both feel familiar to each other? Similar workflows, etc?
AQ: Oh do you ? Have you been stalking me on Facebook again? Oh well. I guess the cat’s out of the bag. Yes, I am making the transition to UE4, and so far it’s going great. I’ve been able to achieve in just a few weeks what took months in UE3 / UDK, and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface. I was initially concerned that the removal of UnrealScript ( the only programming language I knew RIP 🙁 ) would be a setback, but it has turned out to be quite the opposite. Blueprint is a fantastic tool for quick iterations and prototyping, and C++ has enough similarities to UScript that i’ve been able to dive right in and feel reasonably confident that I’m not writing gibberish.
RQ: What’s your dream project (game genre, tools)? Who would you like to work with in the games industry and why? Who inspires you?
AQ: My dream project, is whatever one I’m currently working on. It was Killing Floor, then it was Depth, and now it’s …. something else. The people I want to work with most are the ones that I’ve made cool games with in the past. It probably doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who those might be 🙂 I can’t point to any one person as an inspiration, I try to learn from everyone I meet. It’s totally possible to learn more about what makes a fun game from someone who has never played video games before than from a game designer with 20 years of experience.
RQ: Any plans to dive into VR anytime soon? Also, would you consider implementing this into Depth? Imagine that?!!
AQ: Nope. VR is cool, but I think we’re still in the honeymoon phase where everything seems overly miraculous and awesome about it. I would rather make games that are fun on their own merits than ones which only work in the context of virtual reality.
RQ: To many, you are considered the Daddy of Killing Floor. People, including myself, still play KFMod to this day. Do you miss the good old days of modding for KF? Care to share a development anecdote? Any desire to revisit KFMod and give it some enhancements?
AQ: Ah yes. Modding. I don’t miss it as much as you might think. It was a time when I was still learning the ropes of game development and struggling to figure things out on my own. I distinctly recall the gut wrenching horror that followed my first online test of Biotics Lab running on a dedicated, rather than a listen server where I was the host. At the time I had absolutely no concept of replication or the relationship between client(s) and server, so I just assumed that it was the engine’s way of punishing me for making too much progress too quickly. Medkits were floating in mid air, and couldn’t be picked up, specimens didn’t play their animations when they attacked you, and if they did they would float around afterward. Stuff was constantly disappearing or not appearing at all. Good times.
RQ: How do you think the development of Killing Floor 2 is shaping up? What are your thoughts on it going into Early Access?
AQ: It plays smooth and looks great. It’s definitely the kind of game that seems like it shouldn’t even be in early access because the quality is so much higher than everything else. Whether it was the right call or not is going to be an unknown until the game does its ‘full’ launch. Players may have lost interest in it by then, or perhaps the launch will kick off a massive expansion of the playerbase. Tripwire obviously put a lot of thought into the decision, and thus far they’ve been doing almost everything right. The safe money would be on the latter.
RQ: What’s next for Alex Quick? Obviously you’ll be beavering away on something, any hints?
AQ: More sharks, if you can believe it! I actually feel that there’s more mileage left in the systems and mechanics we developed for Depth. I want to see what will happen if all of the really fun stuff (being a badass shark, thrashing, hunting helpless humans) was translated into a single player experience where you have nearly unlimited freedom to roam. That’s about as much as I’ll say for now, but expect more information in the coming months, it’s already in development 🙂
RQ: Apart from Primal Carnage: Extinction 2: The Sequel; any upcoming games you’re looking forward to?
AQ: The next expansion for the Witcher 3 : “Blood and Wine”. CD Projekt Red has shown time and time again that they know how to deliver quality DLC, and I’m itching for any excuse to sharpen up my silver sword.
RQ: Did you know that the lolly (money) model in Killing Floor 2 actually has your face on it? Seriously, check it out the next time you play! What’s the story behind that? Did Tripwire just say “hey man, nice beard, wanna be immortalised?”
AQ: Yep, I actually gave them the photo for that! Louice, Tripwire’s supremely talented graphic designer, transformed me into a bearded queen, which was then slapped on the backs of every piece of dosh. Remarkable stuff!
So there you have it. Massive thanks to Alex for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions and thanks to Tripwire for the high resolution Dosh image. 🙂