Green Hell Interview – Surviving the Wilds

Creepy Jar CEO Krzysztof Kwiatek speaks with GamingBolt about the survival title, and where it’s headed going forward.

Posted By | On 25th, Dec. 2019 Under Article, Interviews

Owing to their very nature, survival games can pose a fair bit of challenge, but even the most hardened genre veterans would tell you that Green Hell is something else. With its singular focus on realism and being grounded, Green Hell is a game that feels constantly tense and dangerous. After a long and successful early access period on Steam, the game released in full with the 1.0 tag not too long ago, and we recently had the chance to catch up with he developers at Creepy Jar and talk about Green Hell, its launch, the state it is in, and where it’s headed next. The questions below were answered by Creepy Jar CEO Krzysztof Kwiatek.

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"Green Hell wouldn’t be what it is without Steam Early Access."

How helpful was the early access period for Green Hell, in terms of listening and responding to feedback from the community and figuring out what works and what doesn’t?

Green Hell wouldn’t be what it is without Steam Early Access. The ability to update the game frequently and maintain contact with our dedicated community — who was constantly reviewing all our ideas — is something that allowed us to polish the first Creepy Jar game. But of course, our limited budget was also one of the factors why we decided to launch the game as Early Access.

The survival genre is one that’s seen a lot of excellent releases over the years, and recent years especially have seen some great survival games. Did you look at ay games in the genre in particular for inspiration?

The Long Dark was a clear inspiration because of the extremely realistic survival feeling. It’s you against ruthless nature/environment. The pace is slow — it’s not an action game.

Also, The Forest’s Steam Early Access and developer dialogue with the community showed us the right direction. Honestly, we were looking at many different productions that were gaining big groups of fans. Not just survivals, and not just Early Access games either. Under the ‘survival’ tag on Steam, you’ll find a virtually endless list of titles, but in fact, very few of them are survival per se. Our favorite titles were: The Long Dark, The Forest, and Stranded Deep.

How much of an emphasis does Green Hell place on storytelling?

At first, when we launched Green Hell it had no story, only survival and challenges. People wanted to play a story but it wasn’t essential to get the game off the ground. We knew what we wanted our story to be when we released it and simply put, we needed a lot of time to make it perfect. The narrative in Green Hell is really dramatic and emotional. It has two endings and many layers so even if you think you know what happened it later appears that the story is much deeper.

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"Green Hell is above all a realistic, unique setting with a ton of attention to detail."

Green Hell’s Amazon rainforest setting is an interesting one, and it’s fair to say that it suits the game’s tone quite well- but what led to you picking this as the game’s setting? 

Green Hell is above all a realistic, unique setting with a ton of attention to detail. Before starting development, we did a lot of research and were surprised by how few games took place in the Amazon especially considering it’s such an interesting place. It’s the perfect environment to make a survival simulator game! With all its dangers — sickness, predators, conditions — alongside the indigenous people’s knowledge of how to survive, it’s the richest setting on Earth.

Now that Green Hell is out of early access, how has your approach to updating the game changed? Does the 1.0 tag do much to change how you look at additional content or fixes and updates?

Green Hell felt like a success long before the premiere of version 1.0, and we hope that it will stay alive and active for at least the same amount of time after it. Further additions and updates depend on both our ideas and resources, as well as the suggestions of our community.

Now that the PC version of Green Hell is fully released (with more updates to come!), it’s time for consoles — both of the big ones with PS4 and Xbox One, as well as Switch. Our friends from Forever Entertainment, who have extensive experience in customizing games for Switch, are already dealing with Green Hell on the Nintendo hybrid console.

As for the PS4 and Xbox One, the final decision has not yet been made – we are still wondering whether to do it alone or with a partner. We aren’t thinking about a sequel yet and are instead focusing on free DLC with co-op mode being top of mind. Green Hell, before the launch of 1.0, gathered so many fans that we will definitely come up with something. 

Green Hell’s survival mechanics are particularly interesting because they’re as much about mental well-being as they are about physical well-being. How did the idea come about to blend these two together in what seems like a mixture of survival and horror?

We wanted to give survival players something fresh — a different approach to already known mechanics. We had been reading a lot of books, watching movies and programs with Bear Grylls and Ed Stafford, and we took notice that both physical and mental health are strongly connected to each other. With low mental health, your body is weaker and the healing process is slower. And low health — wounds, worms under your skin — can drive you crazy. We felt that one condition almost couldn’t exist without the other, and only by having both mental and physical health to take care of would players feel the realism of Green Hell.

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"In the Amazon rainforest, everything can kill you — drinking dirty water, sleeping on the ground, walking through bushes."

What can you tell us about the Body Inspection mechanic and how it plays into the game’s survival elements?

In the Amazon rainforest, everything can kill you — drinking dirty water, sleeping on the ground, walking through bushes. We designed the game to be as physical as possible with your notebook, maps, and even your own body being able to be inspected closely. This feature not only makes our game interesting, but incomparable to anything else out there in the genre.

After a lot of research into worms, parasites and other dangers lurking in the jungle, we decided that things like these could even become our USP (unique selling point). The key was making this feature as immersive as possible. Alternatively, we knew it could be tricky having so much danger in the game and we risked making players frustrated. The key was to find a good balance. We feel we have created that balance and the features are ready to play.

Can you speak about Green Hell’s dynamic environments, and how they change during gameplay?

In Green Hell there are two seasons affecting gameplay. The wet season or rainy season can cause rivers to swell — areas where river beds are normally dry turn into rivers and streams — and it’s harder to dry meat or start a fire. Alternately, the dry season will force the player to move out of well-known and comfortable locations in order to find water. There are also day/night cycles which affect the fauna around the player. When the day ends birds and butterflies hide letting bats take over the starry sky.

Roughly how long is an average playthrough of Green Hell?

Survival mode is sandbox so players can spend a lot of time in the game — the longest save we have seen (posted by a player in one of Steam threads) was above 300 in game days.

Story mode takes a couple of hours for very experienced players and about 10-15 hours for those new to the game. Of course, if someone focuses on survival aspects not following the story the playthrough can extend to several dozen.

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