2005's first person shooter Painkiller was a cult favorite for fans of the genre. Now members of the game's development team have created a new company called The Farm 51 and are using the Painkiller engine for an all new title called NecroVisioN. In the first online interview about the game, FiringSquad got a chance to chat with The Farm 51's lead designer and artist Wojciech Pazdur to find out more about NecrovisioN.
FiringSquad: First, how did The Farm 51 come to be formed?
: The reason we found our own game development studio is because we wanted to create a game we couldn`t work on in the firms we were previously employed. Radomir Kucharski used to work on Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault and Men Of Valor: Vietnam, and while it was great fun to be part of MoH:AA project, developing another realistic military shooter started to get a little old by the time MoV:V was done. So he teamed with two of his friends, Wojtek Pazdur and Kamil Bilczynski, previously working on Painkiller and Painkiller BooH to start works on NecroVisioN. Shortly afterwards, a couple of other ex-PCF developers joined along with a bunch of other very experienced, talented and dedicated people and half a year ago we started developing NecroVisioN.
FiringSquad: How did the idea for NecroVision come about?
: Since all of us here in The Farm 51 are big fans of FPS games and hardcore players, we wanted to create a game we were missing ourselves. There are a lot of realistic WW2 shooters and a couple of great Sci-Fi games but we cannot find any cool fast-paced FPS based on Victorian aesthetics. But letís face it, WWI is not very interesting as a subject for a realistic war shooter. Firstly it was mostly trench warfare, and sitting in a trench for 10 hours of game-play is far from our definition of fun. Also the weapons were very limited to mostly bolt action rifles and heavy machine guns during the Great War, so we wanted to add more flair to it and give it a real boost.
WWI is an amazing background for an epic action horror game. This is the moment when the world was changed forever, where the old world transformed into modern times via pain, fire and toxic smoke. Technologies of mass killing were just growing, being just as dangerous for their creators as their enemies, so probably itís the strangest war conflict that humanity has ever seen. And that was the first war where death and destruction achieved such big scale. So itís not so strange that a greater demonic evil has been awakened from its restless dream.
Another reason for picking up this theme is the possibility of mixing old-fashioned, strange and unusual elements for the game-play and visuals. Do you know that some WWI soldiers were wearing metal uniforms and using morgensterns for melee combat in trenches? What about pilots dropping their bomb by hands and rats being a common dish in cold and muddy tunnels? The conditions of WWI were much more unusual and nightmarish than many people think and itís why we prefer it for a horror game instead of more modern and technically sophisticated WWII or later setting.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the storyline for the game?
: NecroVisioN is a story about an epic underground war between Vampires and Demons. The human race wasnít even aware of the existence of Vampires, who went underground ages ago to hide from deadly sunlight. Tapping the rich sources of raw materials and precious metals the civilisation of Vampires endured years of successful expansion and technical evolution.
Vampires rarely left their underground world and had a small group of humans secretly working for them on the surface. Unfortunately, along with technical development, Vampires started to experiment with black magic and opened the gates to the Demon world. This resulted in a Vampire war with the Demons. Vampires struggled for years losing ground to the much stronger Demons, and even the mechanically- and magically enhanced Vampire Łber-soldiers, Shadow Warriors, were too outnumbered to get an upper-hand, so Vampires started to recruit humans to their armies. The shell-shocked soldiers hanging in some limbo state between life and death were perfect candidates so Vampires had great harvests on the battlefields of WWI which had just begun.
FiringSquad: What sort of missions and locations will NecroVision have?
: Our guiding principle in level design is variety. This is key for making games addictive so they donít get old after a couple of hours. There will be several ways to complete every map; this will depend on the playerís style. Skilled players will be able to progress by killing hordes of opponents, while someone better at solving puzzles could bypass a lot of combat.
At the beginning of the game, missions will be fairly realistic and will authentically recreate the atmosphere of WWI, which was quite gruesome. Later on, Demon elements are introduced into the world. Towards the end of the game, the environments evolve into a fantasy underground. A similar transformation happens with the enemies. The game starts with combat against regular soldiers; fairly realistic (but not necessarily historically accurate). They later change into undead and then ultimately Demons.
FiringSquad: What sort of enemies will the game have?
: As we said before there will be a great variety of enemies from regular human soldiers, to undead soldiers then up to Demons. The player will also have to face huge war machines and humongous Demon bosses. We wanted to create different enemies than most FPS offerings and also make them logical and consistent; connecting with the difficulty progression and graphical changes in gameís world. The undead, demons and monsters are nothing new to this genre, but we have mechanical characters and cyborgs that are completely unique. WWI saw a lot of experimentation with technologies of mass killing and we are following this thread with the character design. Imagine what could be created when an evil genius is trying to create a mega-soldier with dead body parts, steam engines and old fashioned machine guns. The level of technological sophistication from 100 years ago makes the mechanical creatures of NecroVisioN closer to those of Silent Hill than those of Quake 4.