The Forest Interview – Talking About Influences, Multiplayer, Plans for the Future, and More

We speak with Endnight Games’ Anna Terekhova about their unique and atmospheric survival video game.

Posted By | On 05th, Nov. 2018 Under Article, Interviews


One of the best and most unique games to have been released on PC this year is Endnight Games’ The Forest, which launched in full in April after four years in early access. The Forest a unique and incredibly atmospheric title that takes the ideas of a survival genre, blends them with engaging building mechanics, and puts it all to use in a beautiful and dangerous setting the likes of which are rarely seen in video games. Now, The Forest is out on PS4, and fuelled by excitement for this launch, we sent across some of our most burning questions about the game to the developers. The following questions were answered by Endnight Games’ Anna Terekhova.

The Forest

"We didn’t want to fill the world with fetch quests, or find item type missions that fill many open world games. Instead, players decide themselves what they want to do and then the things in the world occur, often changing the players’ plans."

One of The Forest’s biggest strengths has to be its atmosphere, how it makes you feel so isolated all the time. The setting obviously plays a huge part in that, but how do you strike that balance of achieving that sort of atmosphere without every making it too overbearing?

The game is really separated into two parts. We have the cave systems under the world that are dark and scary, and then the above ground which tends to have a much brighter, light mood. These two elements work together and we hope stop the horror element from ever feeling like its too much for players.

In multiplayer the game tends to be much less scary, that is until you get separated from your friends.

Are there any stories or films or games that influenced you directly while you were working on The Forest?

Originally the old Italian cannibal films from the 80’s inspired the setting, however over time the story and game has developed to become its own thing.

“Empty open world” is a criticism that we hear levelled at a great many games, but in the case of The Forest, that seems to work in its favour. What was the process of deciding what kinds of activities to give to players while keeping the world true to that sense of isolation?

We didn’t want to fill the world with fetch quests, or find item type missions that fill many open world games. Instead, players decide themselves what they want to do and then the things in the world occur, often changing the players’ plans. Because every plant and tree can be chopped down, and then items collected, you’re constantly doing something as you move through the world, chopping, collecting, chasing rabbits, finding a cave entrance to explore etc.

Can we expect any notable changes or additions in the game’s PS4 version?

There are a ton of improvements we’ve done for the PS4 release. We’re also planning on bringing these improvements over to the PC in a patch update. Some of the improvements include new GPU grass for better visuals and performance. Most of the trees and plant are have been tweaked and improved visually. We have new billboard shaders for a better looking distant trees, and a bunch of bug fixes and small improvements to the UI and gameplay.

What would you say are the biggest things the multiplayer co-op adds to the experience? Do you think the multiplayer can work against the game’s atmosphere, or that feeling of having to survive all alone in this harsh, deadly environment?

Multiplayer adds a level of extra randomness to everything which we feel really suits the game. You now have an extra person in the world who is maybe constructing things and wants to help you fight off the enemies, or maybe wants to destroy your base when you’re back is turned.

We do watch a lot of playthroughs of players on Youtube or Twitch, and people seem to really enjoy experiencing the game together, building structures, exploring caves and fighting off enemies.

the forest

"Instead of a traditional story, we wanted to just have a situation players are in, in this case, you crash land in a mysterious forest, and there are unfriendly locals. The real story is unique to each player and how they chose to play the game and experience the world."

The Forest was in Early Access for four years. How much would you say that helped shape the final product into what it is today? Are there any major features or mechanics in the game that you can point to and identify as a result of the feedback you got from the game’s Early Access years?

We took the early access experience extremely seriously, and listened to all the feedback from players. We’re really grateful to everyone who played the game in early access and especially those who took the time to offer comments, both positive and negative. The Forest became a much better game with the guidance and feedback of the players who were actually playing the game over that 4 year period.

It’s difficult to point to a single feature, every element of the game was tweaked based on player response. If elements of the story were not making much sense we would add more clues, if a part of the gameplay was frustrating we would try and tweak to improve it. 

The AI of the cannibals plays a huge part in helping players what they’re about, and it’s fair to say that it does a lot of stuff through gameplay that many other games would choose to do through storytelling or exposition. How hard was it to get that part right?

We’re not interested at all in story told through NPCs or cutscenes really. Our game has almost no dialogue and tries to tell the story visually instead. We have a few lines of dialogue, but none of it is important to understand the game.

Instead of a traditional story, we wanted to just have a situation players are in, in this case, you crash land in a mysterious forest, and there are unfriendly locals. The real story is unique to each player and how they chose to play the game and experience the world.

Do you have any plans for a sequel?

We’d want to really change things up for a sequel. When The Forest came out it was really a unique game, since then there have been a lot of similar survival games released. We do have ideas of what a completely new take on a survival game could be (unlike anything else that exists currently) and are really excited to start exploring those ideas.

Any plans for adding stuff like PvP, or maybe a sandbox mode where players can just build their bases to their hearts’ content?

Once players finish the game they can unlock the creative mode. Additionally players who don’t wish to deal with enemies can play in peaceful mode.

We discussed PVP frequently, however we feel The Forest works better as a friendly co-op game. We like that the multiplayer component tends to be a more friendly experience, where you help each other build, survive and live in a world.

Does the game will feature PS4 Pro-specific enhancements? What can players expect if they are playing the game on PS4 Pro? Is 4K/60fps on the cards?

Both the original and Pro versions will run at 30fps. With extra visual improvements on the Pro compared to the original PS4.

From a development perspective, how do you find the PS4 Pro to be? With so much GPU power, we are sure you must be doing some amazing things.

There’s always challenges in bringing a game from one platform to another, in this case from PC.However the pro has made this process a lot easier than it otherwise would have been. The bulk of our optimization work has been geared towards making sure the original PS4 offers the same experience as the higher powered console, or a high spec PC.

the forest

"We’d love to bring the game to Xbox in the future."

How is the game running on the original PS4, frame rate and resolution wise?

We’re targeting 30fps and currently locking down final resolution. The tricky part with The Forest is players can build their own structures, and so one of the major challenges has also been optimizing and loading buildings so that when players start building massive towers and bridges across the map things still run well.

Do you have any plans to bring it on the Xbox One?

We’d love to bring the game to Xbox in the future.

Why did you go console exclusive with PS4?

Sony had first contacted us back when the initial trailer for the game was released. We were able to build up a really good relationship with them, and knowing that as a small team we would only be able to focus on one console at a time being exclusive for a short period of time made sense.

Next-gen is coming sooner or later. From a development perspective, what is your biggest expectation from PS5 and Xbox Scarlett?

We’re really excited about upcoming consoles, but to be honest we don’t know much about them at this point.


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