Painkiller: Hell and Damnation is a fantastic experience. The Farm 51 recently released the DLC for the game and that too was met with critical acclaim. Overall, it’s one of the best first person shooter experiences and you owe yourself to play this game.
Recently, we got in touch with Wojciech Pazdur, the Development Director at The Farm 51 and Reinhard Pollice, Business Manager at Nordic Games. We spoke in great length about the origin of the game, their decision behind developing a requel and their opinion on next generation gaming.
Check out the full interview below.
Ravi Sinha: As a series, would Painkiller be a throw-back to the FPS shooters of yesteryear, where you’re invited to kill tons of enemies in extremely extravagant ways?
Wojciech Pazdur: You could say something like that. I’d just prefer to call it “going to good old times”. If there’s room for new titles like Shank or Super Meat Boy, which takes old school 2D shooters or platformer’s ideas to higher level, why not do the same with first person shooter genre? There are still thousands of people who aren’t just looking for a more cinematic experience in action games; with today focusing on pure gameplay essence is again a matter of debates and experiments.
Ravi Sinha: How was the decision made to do a remake/sequel (requel?) to the original Painkiller, rather than going forward with a true sequel?
Reinhard Pollice: We brainstormed a lot here and had ideas looking into a lot of different directions about a new Painkiller game. We ended up concluding that the market is lacking a key element of the original Painkiller, that “old school” element. So we decided that our game should be in the spirit of old school shooter games. We also noticed especially that console gamers never really had a chance to get into Painkiller, which is why we decided to take that route.
Ravi Sinha: Given that two of The Farm 51’s founders were involved in the original, was there a sense of going back and doing things differently, or just paying homage to what made the first game great?
Wojciech Pazdur: Painkiller Hell & Damnation is equally homage, continuation and expansion of great ideas from the original game. In 2004 there was a lot of performance, engine and timeline limitation that stopped us from making different things like we wanted them to appear in the game. It’s both crazy and extremely satisfying when we got back on the project and re-created the enemies, weapons or buildings exactly as we felt it should have been done years ago.
Ravi Sinha: Painkiller: Hell and Damnation has a fair bit of plot though, featuring characters from previous expansions in prominent roles. Does the straight-forward nature of the game ever feel at odds with that?
Wojciech Pazdur: Since the very beginning, we aimed at creating both continuation and re-imagination of the game universe. When we consider the flexible framework given by this insane mix of demonic and angelic worlds, there is no idea that is crazy enough to be pushed aside. Of course, to make it believable, consistent and cool, we spent countless hours on polishing characters roles, appearances, their look and dialogues – I believe the actual story makes much more sense than the original. This is because in first game it was changed several times during development and now we know what we wanted to tell from the beginning to end.
Ravi Sinha: Judging by the ending of the game though, can we thus conclude that a sequel with the Four Horsemen as antagonists is in the works? Or will it be an expansion like Battle out of Hell and Overdose were for the original Painkiller?
Wojciech Pazdur: It’s not a good time to reveal details of an upcoming project just yet, but the ending wasn’t implemented by accident. Again, the beauty of the Painkiller universe is its incredible flexibility i.e. we can pretty much expand it in all directions, like deeper into Hell, the “real” world, heaven or continue in purgatory… time will tell.
Ravi Sinha: What are your thoughts on criticism with the game, including the short campaign and multiplayer?
Wojciech Pazdur: Well, players have the right to expect a lot of cool stuff for their money. It’s just a matter of what makes sense to deliver when you can’t make all you want. It was not an easy decision on what direction to take, but after a couple of brainstorms we were all sure that it’s better to focus on extra value. This was to be generated by cooperative mode, survival multiplayer and strongly enhanced visuals on a smaller amount of levels, rather than to re-create the whole game that looks and plays exactly like the original. We laid the foundation with PKHD, and now we’re adding more and more new features and elements to remaining levels and modes. Besides regular updates, we will give out the mod-kit for PC, provide regular updates on the gameplay, and add more content to the game.
Ravi Sinha: How has the criticism shaped the development of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game? Will we see any unique additions for the console versions or improvements to the core experience?
Wojciech Pazdur: The console versions will deliver all bug fixes and improvements we’ve implemented to the PC game since its release in October 2012. But I think what’s more cool is the ability to play expanded campaign on additional maps that are exclusive for console releases. On top of it, several DLCs for PC version have been already released, so if any console player needs more adrenaline, it’s going to be much easier to satisfy his hunger.
Ravi Sinha: How has People Can Fly (developer of original Painkiller) reacted to Painkiller: Hell and Damnation? How deep was their involvement in the remake?
Wojciech Pazdur: People from the original team helped us a lot with their feedback on creative changes to the game. We were fighting like 10 years ago about weapon mechanics details, balance issues and visuals. Especially after the release of the PC version we got a lot of valuable design inputs that were incorporated into PC patches and our work on the console versions.
Painkiller: Hell and Damnation Intro Cinematic.
Ravi Sinha: What are your thoughts on the next generation of consoles, especially the recently revealed PS4?
Reinhard Pollice: I like a few functions that were announced but so far I personally cannot see a real benefit from buying that instead of a gaming PC. We will monitor further development closely and are also in a stage, where we evaluate certain game concepts for this hardware. Even a great platform sometimes isn’t able to convince a critical mass. A lot of factors are important here. Plus we are not in the position to be under the obligatory first-movers in that sense, so we will be careful for the time being.
Ravi Sinha: Finally, will Daniel ever have a happy ending and just be allowed to live in peace?
Reinhard Pollice: We thought about this many times but I guess “and he lived happily ever after”- peace is impossible for a video game action hero. Even Mario has to fight Bowser all over again, doesn’t he? So it might be that at some point he can escape the vicious cycle he is right now in purgatory but I am not sure if this means he can lean back and start an ordinary life again.
Special thanks to Yunus Ibrahim for setting up the interview.