Continuing from the last Meet the FK'ers with Jordan Leithart, we've got a brief chat with Frostkeep co-founder Jeremy Wood. Check it out below.
RF: What's your name and what do you do at Frostkeep?
JW: Jeremy Wood, Co-Founder
RF: Tell us a little about your backstory, where have you worked prior to joining Frostkeep, what games have you been involved in making?
JW: I got my start as an engineer on the original World of Warcraft team back in 2001. After seven years and two expansions, I moved onto Titan, which eventually became Overwatch. In 2012, I joined Carbine to work on WildStar, until forming Frostkeep in 2016.
RF: What game most influenced you? Was it something in your childhood or in later years?
JW: I play a wide variety of games, PC and console, as many as I can get my hands on. I feel that there is something to learn from every single game, and the more I play, the better I am able to contribute to the games I work on. World of Warcraft is probably my single biggest influence, and probably the game I've sunk the most time into over the years.
RF: What are you main influences in your work? Is there anything outside of the gaming world you feel has helped you become a better developer?
Being a successful game developer is mostly about effective two-way communication. I am always looking to better myself from that standpoint, and I've been incredibly fortunate to learn from many amazing people, both professionally and personally. Understanding human psychology provides great tools for communication, as well as for game design in general. Game developers tend to focus so much on "fun", which is ultimately impossible to quantify. Really boiling down the psychological impact of content and systems is a more objective way of measuring the success of your designs.
RF: There have been a lot of Early Access Survival games released over the last few years, what do you think makes Rend stand out from the rest of them?
JW: The biggest things we've tried to do with Rend is provide social structure for those who come in alone or in small groups, and to really give strong competitive goals to all players. Most survival games rely entirely on their sandbox elements, which is obviously enough for a large section of players. Our aim is to bring some structure to the genre and attract a wider swath of players to this rich and interesting survival community.
RF: The team have been pretty fantastic at engaging with the community so far, is that something you feel is a real differentiator between Frostkeep and your competition?
JW: One of our goals as a company has always been to be "real", cliched as that may be. We are gamers just like everyone else in our community, and we engage with them as gamers first, not as developers. We are all creating Rend together, even if Frostkeep is ultimately making the decisions and building the game. We want to be human beings, rather than faceless PR bots, and that means sharing in our failures and our successes, and ultimately being honest with the community about the realities of game development.
RF: Being with such a small team, what benefits do you feel you have against working in a traditional AAA studio? What do you miss from previous work?
JW: Our size allows us to have a highly collaborative work environment, in a way that would be difficult in a larger team setting. We all sit in one room, working together on every problem. Everyone's voice is heard and given equal objective weight. We can quickly pivot on new ideas without hours and days of meetings. The downside, of course, is limited resources. We have to be very conscious of our direction, and make sure that we have the capability of delivering on our goals.
RF: What's next after Early Access, are there any extra features you'd love to implement in Rend?
JW: We come from a MMO background, where launch is just the beginning, and Rend will be no different in that regard. During Early Access, we will be adding tons of content and features, working with the community to grow the game into a full and satisfying product. When we think we have come to a point where Rend is truly a complete game experience, we will lift the Early Access tag. After that, we will take stock and see where Rend should go, whether that be new maps, new game modes, etc.
RF: And finally, which aspect of Rend are you most excited for players to get to experience?
JW: The Reckoning, even in its early state, has been a blast. Experiencing a true war, where all sides are present attacking and defending, really epitomizes the fantasy that draws most people to the survival genre.
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