War is hell, a fact that many seem to forget when calling for it. This fact is echoed in This War of Mine, 11 bit Studios’ stellar survival title taking place during the Siege of Sarajevo in the Bosnian War. Things get even more serious in This War of Mine: The Little Ones, which will be releasing on January 29th for Xbox One and PS4, since it adds children to the mix. GamingBolt had a chance to speak to 11 bit Studios’ PR and marketing manager Karol Zajaczkowski, PR & Marketing Manager about the console release, the journey of the studio thus far and current industry trends.
"When you are digging and researching all the war stories, tragedies and deaths, it’s hard not to think about it, even when you are out of the office."
This War of Mine will finally be heading to the Xbox One and PS4 in January 2016. What are your thoughts on the game’s initial reception on Steam and how has it helped shape the studio in recent months?
Karol Zajaczkowski: The reception was great, even better than we’ve ever expected. Before the release we weren’t sure if people were ready for a game that is not about entertainment, but rather an experience. Luckily, people really liked it and what’s even more important, understood what we had in mind when we were designing it. The game was a commercial success and it sold really well. Both of those things were a great boost for the whole studio.
What motivated you to bring the game and its expansion to consoles?
Karol Zajaczkowski: From the very beginning we knew that we want to bring the This War of Mine experience to as many platforms as possible. A few months after the release of the PC game we did the mobile one, so consoles were the last field to conquer. But we didn’t want to make a simple port – we wanted to expand the game, hence all the new content you’ll see in The Little Ones.
Though This War of Mine received universal acclaim for its gameplay and themes, there’s been some worry about its overall grim nature. How do you manage this personally, especially when the atmosphere pushes overwhelming despair at almost all times?
Karol Zajaczkowski: It’s not easy, that’s for sure. We spent two years working on TWoM and another year on The Little Ones and it took its toll. When you are digging and researching all the war stories, tragedies and deaths, it’s hard not to think about it, even when you are out of the office. We’ve done it and we still believe it was worth it, but now it’s time for something else. That’s why our next game will be different – still serious and tough in terms of atmosphere, but not as grim as TWoM.
What are some of the bigger challenges of bringing This War of Mine to consoles, besides the control scheme and such?
Karol Zajaczkowski: I think console players are accustomed to different type of games. The majority of triple A titles are all about action, shooting and explosions. TWoM is different so we have to convince people that the fact that it’s something new, doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out. From looking at the positive previews from journalists and comments from players who are waiting for it, I believe we’ve managed to break that barrier.
"In simple words you could say that This War of Mine is about civilian perspective of war. The Little Ones broadens it with perspective of children."
Are the PS4 and Xbox One versions running at 1080p? What is the targeted frame rate?
Karol Zajaczkowski: Yes, both versions work in 1080p, 60 fps.
For that matter, given the time you’ve spent working on the PS4 and Xbox One versions, what graphical improvements have you been able to make to the base game in the meantime?
Karol Zajaczkowski: The graphics is quite similar to the PC, with the unique charcoal style, which is one of the most recognizable things about the game. We focused on the optimization, which resulted in the flawless gameplay experience. Other changes include a new mocap session for the children characters and re-done animations to give it a better, more realistic feel.
How much more content can veterans expect with The Little Ones? What fixes and changes will you introduce with the experience?
Karol Zajaczkowski: First of all, among the survivors there will be kids, and that changes everything. They behave differently, they have different needs and that twists the whole daytime gameplay. The moral choices will now get even harder and the emotional attachment to the characters is increased. It’s hard to describe in few words, but everyone who played This War of Mine says that The Little Ones is even gloomier. In simple words you could say that This War of Mine is about civilian perspective of war. The Little Ones broadens it with perspective of children. You must think about how to survive, but also think as a child to empathize with them.
"We didn’t invent anything or create fictional stuff. Things you see in This War of Mine actually happened in the past and are happening right now in different parts for the globe."
Be straight with us – with children included in The Little Ones, will the game really be recommended for the faint of heart?
Karol Zajaczkowski: Well, it’s always a matter of choice. We didn’t invent anything or create fictional stuff. Things you see in This War of Mine actually happened in the past and are happening right now in different parts for the globe. It’s your decision if you are willing to confront with the real picture of war, instead of relying on the vision created by Hollywood movies and FPS shooters. We believe it’s worth it, because it can open your eyes. It appeals strongly to one’s empathy.
Will all versions of the game receive future updates simultaneously? What other features can players look forward to after the release of The Little Ones and are there plans for more expansions?
Karol Zajaczkowski: We are still supporting the game; just recently we’ve released the first bunch of modding tools for the PC version and more of them will be released in upcoming months. Due to technical differences it’s not possible to deliver all updates to all platforms, nevertheless will not forget about the game.
From a gamer’s perspective, what is your take on PS2 emulation on PS4? Do you think it will be a success despite Sony actually charging money for digital PS2 games?
Karol Zajaczkowski: It’s a thing that may only interest I don’t know, 5% of the PS4 owners? Probably even less. That’s why in my opinion it will fail in the end. Of course it will be available as a feature, but as soon as everyone realizes there is no money in it, the developers will stop doing it and new titles will stop appearing.