This is a dangerous world [Voice 2]
Certain monies were made available [Voice 1]
And this nation is at risk [Voice 2]
To the forces in Central America [Voice 3]
You know the buck stops here with me, I made the decision [Voice 4]
We did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages nor will we I don’t think there was like an immediate change that happened after launch but it was the beginning of sort of this new stage in our company’s life I guess after Insurgency when we started making money we kind of stayed how we were for a little while, we kind of felt comfort in sort of the system that we created for people working remotely by we did get to the point where we felt inhibited by not having a physical location when you’re working remotely you get a sense of being an isolated not just from the team but also personally, and that can be pretty challenging sometimes I just graduated college and I was still living at my parents house and I was recording, I was doing voice over and writing, I was trying to become a voice actor All the voice-over for Insurgency was actually recorded in the closet where our Christmas tree used to be I remember coming up once from recording and I was like, sorry mom about all the noise and the screaming and she just replied FUCK, SHIT, GODDAMN IT, SON OF A BITCH because I was doing combat dialogue, so she just repeated all my lines back at me I thought it was pretty good, mom, thanks I was in Mexico, I was in my living room making games They brought me on originally to work on the tutorial we wanted to have a little bit of a narrative tutorial for insurgency where it would be like some voice acting and a little sequence of things tutorials are hard to make that was around the end of the year 2013 and we launched Insurgency in January 2014 I think it was right aftre the first Steam Dev Days, I remember. That was where I first met Jeremy Blum in person I went there because I was working on my own game it was a Source engine modification called Underhell no money involved, just people getting together, making games, and being, like, modding I had Underhell on the Steam Greenlight platform and yeah, we met for the first time, shook hands, like, hey okay, we’re shipping in a couple weeks, shipping Insurgency, catch you around and yeah Insurgency ships and it was really well received I think nobody really expected that kind of success for a little indie company the processes of how we make games didn’t really changed so quickly after we started making serious money but that helped, that helped hire more people and get everybody formalized I think when we moved on site locations when we really started to be a video game company it wasn’t until later on like probably 2 or 3 years after Insurgency came out that we decided to open like a more formalized central location and we chose Amsterdam for that location Pretty much we needed a place where we can immigrate the vast majority of our team and a lot of our core team members especially the core engineers were Europeans that were able to, like, you know, on the drop of the coin relocate if we opened an office somewhere in Europe we actually had two guys in the Netherlands, two guys in the UK, one in Germany so opening up a studio in Europe kind of made sense it needed to be, like, an english-speaking country, and it needed to not be too expensive so London was out of the question and Amsterdam kind of fit the bill for all that we moved here in November 2015, I remember building the desks, the IKEA chairs exciting to come to the office everyday, work hours, it felt like ooh this is professional now it’s been a bit of a challenge for us logistically managing Dutch contracts and things like that especially as an American company the decision for Amsterdam specifically might have been slightly selfish I mean it was a little bit based on feedback from other team members too like that they liked it there as well but honestly like in my travels like through Europe like that was the place that I wanted to live the most that kind of goes back to the selfish aspect of it, right? but obviously like there’s no regrets about that like I think we built a great team there, and also I met my wife there, which is a plus, right? we kept supporting making post release content for Insurgency for about two years and a half for free I remember the process of making the updates was just, okay we got all this, what else do we want to do? and so mostly maps, new guns, new game modes, night maps, night visions, a lot of tactical stuff We didn’t charge for DLC and I think it was another thing that really helped us at that moment because you don’t want to split your player base even if you bought it on a stem sale for 2 dollars, you get all the content that came out at the time so a lot of us were passionate to really just make more maps to polish the maps we had we started to get more people, more talent, and we started to have some people come on full-time that weren’t like I myself started working as a community manager we did all this free content updates to support the game and we did that for like 3 years We just kept putting content out and people kept buying the game I remember the first the we wanted to do, like, create as many levels as possible and then we came up with the idea to create classic maps from the mod and later on we even redid Sinjar, one of the most popular maps I remember that I went to Jeremy, and was like, how am I gonna do this? it’s like, how can we recreate something that was so popular? And he said to me, like, if there’s anyone that can do it, then it will be you in the mod days, you’re always kind of working on your own, you know? There was like a team but the communication was not that strong, and also everybody was at school, but this time everybody was working full time on the game, so pretty much 24/7, I could get advice from people, feedback, which helped a lot So Sinjar in the end became like a map from everyone, not only from me anymore which was really cool to see we didn’t want to be one of those developers who gets into a yearly cycle and just pumps out game after game after game to monetize a company that way if you look at insurgency now, it was released 5 years ago and there’s still thousands of people online at any one time, any time of the day and that is not that common partly due to our continued commitment to our community by keeping updating the game adding free content, free DLC, new maps, new weapons, the community sticks around We added Steam Workshop support post released for insurgency standalone and there were just so many cool maps, so many cool sound mods, funny sound mods, so many cool weapon skins, and character skins, all this kind of stuff and that’s just more contact for your community, right? and its all free and that modding scene definitely helped keep our player base interested and active It was such a big deal we even started hiring modders to work for us Like Chief-C who’s retired Air Force just making co-op maps for fun and every week I would do a livestream and I have a guest on from the community like a modder or someone, I had him on I remember once I just said to him offhandedly you know your maps are really great like it’d be kinda cool if one day you did something like, I dunno, like, a map like in the Raid, like in that movie, that Indonesian movie, and he went, okay, and then he did it he just made a map like that right then and there Ben Turtell, our weapons animator, who constantly gets emails from EA and Activision like everybody wants him because they can just see that our weapon animations are of a pristine quality and yeha, he’s just making them all by himself, there’s just this guy making gun animations and just loving it and yeah, he was making animations I think on the workshop, and we were like, dude, you wanna come on board and get paid for that? he was like, yeah, and he just did We really had a lot of passionate modders that were really excited to make content for the game and we had the community to thank for that because that made other people want to buy the game of course, and it just produced more stuff We’re very close with our modders, we speak to them a lot and try to help them out where we can I originally started working on a World War II mod for Insurgency so I’d started making textures for weapons, I set up a small team and yeah we just plotted along making a mod for Insurgency, and New World contacted me when I’ve been showing them some of the World War II stuff we were doing And they reached out in 2015 to see if we wanted to collaborate as a community project we started getting excited at the idea of working on a World War II game we all really loved Day of Defeat I think on the team, I think Day of Defeat was one of the inspirations for Insurgency, actually, the just one-shot-you’re-dead gameplay, everything is so tense all the time I know that Jeremy Blum’s a fan of Day of Defeat, I’m a fan of Day of Defeat, especially the DOD_CHARLIE map, the beachhead map that’s always been a great inspiration for me back at Steam Dev Days, I approached Valve and I said we’re very interested in Day of Defeat like is there any opportunity there, you know, would you you guys consider licensing it to us or anything like that? and you know, it didn’t really seem like there was much possibility there but one of the people there told me, you know maybe you should just make a mod of Insurgency and you know we can see what happens sort of And I kinda took that with a grain of salt, like I didn’t think much of it then a couple years later I kind of reached back out to him about that just to see if like If we would have Valve’s blessing to do, to pursue using insurgencies experience and gameplay but bringing it to that World War II setting maybe bring back some of like the old school map designs from Day of Defeat the sort of nostalgic ones that lot of us grew playing they actually expressed interest in it and I hopped on a call with them and they basically said like we would support this if you guys want to move forward with it this was kind of a big deal, you know we were like you know Valve, like, they kinda control the industry right? they run Steam, and And here they are saying like we could basically do a spin off of Day of Defeat this was a game that a lot of us loved and grew up playing it kind of struck us in such a way that I guess sort of carried us away a little bit and we ended up sort of shifting our priorities around to find a way to make this happen somehow we kind of test the water’s first and so what we did is we built a mod for insurgency you know that was World War II starting out with like a D-Day map and like one other map just to get a feel for a like if this was something that people would enjoy and that only took us one month using assets that we like purchased online, like we didn’t put a ton of production into it obviously We were trying to more prototype an idea than we were trying to create something at a high production level and we decided, let’s see- let’s maybe like kick this off and see if we can get some of the people in our modding community involved and see if it sticks and it did, we made a mod, and lots of people checked it out we’ve had a few maps and with very basic content and it got to the point where there was actually a demand for this type of game so we went down the route of having it as a stand-alone title It was early 2016 when they said like we think we’re gonna go and do this as an early access game because we had a really good response from the mod We had like 165,000 downloads within like 3 months so it was- yeah, it was something we felt like the community really wants and the thing is, we didn’t want to half-ass it we had the fire support mechanic which kind of came from the explosions I guess I had put on the map cause we had explosions on the map, and the idea to make that an actual game mechanic came about and Jeremy Blum had the idea to tie the fire support system to having a commander and a radio man together so that the officer would talk to the radio man and say, hey call fire support and he would do it and the idea was to like encourage team play through that, and I thought it was really cool at the time, a lot of fire support systems in video games were tied to killstreaks and it was very individual, it’s like, yeah I’m doing good and I blow things up it was a positive feedback loop, but to tie it to really cooperative gameplay it was quite special we built this game to do an early access launch and then a full launch with the idea being that it was going to go the same way that it did with insurgency which is that you know, we can build something that’s fun but rough around the edges get it out there, work with the community to make it great, and then ship it as a full product and that’s what we did When we launched Early Access, we got a ton of visibility on Steam and it was incredible, like, you know, but the game wasn’t in ready form for it yet and then the game subsequently got really good the challenge we faced, though, is as soon as we got to the release with it and we launched the visibility was terrible but day we first launched Day of Infamy The response rate on that was a lot lower than we had anticipated partially because of other games launching at the same time PUBG was launching the same week as Day of Infamy and all the streamers and YouTubers just wanted to cover PUBG but on top of that, we just didn’t really get the promotion or the or the awareness or the visibility that we thought we would we definitely made our money back and then a little bit more but like 4X or 10X- we didn’t do the amount of multiples that we felt like the game really did deserve to do we spent you know a good amount of time making the experience great and I mean it’s got great reviews on steam, it’s a good game, our team is very proud of the game that we created it’s one of those games in my opinion that fall under the category of a good game that just did not take off the way that it could have If, you know, maybe a different release date, different marketing effort, different platform, you know, whatever it just didn’t really take off how we hoped to this day, there’s still hundreds of people playing Day of Infamy at any moment and while some people say like for multiplayer game that may as well be dead there’s plenty of multiplayer games out there that have 0 people playing at any moment or like under a hundred people playing at any moment we get like tweets everyday about Day of Infamy, like, when are you gonna update it, when are you gonna make a sequel, or, you know, whatever, so there is a hardcore fanbase for it that still exists and still loves the game it’s nice to get those tweets, you know, because it’s sort of acknowledgement that this project wasn’t completely in vain, you know? But one thing I will say is that I mean this is sort of alluding to the future a bit, is that I wouldn’t say that in history of Day of Infamy is over I’m not trying to say that were committed to doing like a new Day of Infamy or anything like that but we have been discussing some potential promotions around the game and ways to get the game discovered by people that had never known that existed It’s, you know, in our opinion the best World War 2 experience you could possibly play I think one of the reasons why Day of Infamy also didn’t take off was the datedness of the visuals it was still using Source engine, like, we basically built on top of Insurgency right? that was one of the learned lessons as well is that like we can’t keep trying to put out Source Engine which get updated the last time in like 2006 or something like that You know, we can’t keep trying to put out an engine that’s that old nowadays and like expect for it to be successful, like, we have to compete visually, aesthetically with what’s out there on the market Source engine was, you know, the past and we gotta be looking into the future At the time source engine was kind of going down like, losing steam, so to speak- oh god that was not intentional we knew that we would have to move on from Source Engine at some point and we kind of started to look into our next project and Unreal engine was starting to become this industry-standard engine and we started looking at the tools, had a few ideas for a few projects and we thought of all kinds of things like there were definitely a lot of different ideas within the team we discussed the possibility of porting Insurgency to Unreal for the sake of getting a console version out because we were not able to release the source engine version of Insurgency on console that was just not part of our engine arrangement that we had with Valve and furthermore they wouldn’t provide any support for that so we would be completely on our own and we were not really qualified to do so the other possibility was, you know, kind of the next evolution of Insurgency, whatever that looked like You know a lot of us had a lot of different ideas about what that could be and truthfully some of us really want to take things, not just like one evolutionary step further is being on a better engine with better graphics and some new features we thought like, oh, like, we could do something even grander than that like we could maybe experiment with single player, maybe experiment with a cooperative campaign and also do all the multiplayer stuff that we, you know, are kind of known for that project was what we are referring to as Insurgency: Exiles it took place in the Cold War, in the country of Nicaragua where there was a revolution Really to show both sides, but we particularly wanted to cover the Socialist revolutionary side of the conflict, we thought that was very interesting at the time to have a campaign from that perspective there was a very involved conflict there with the Contras essentially there was an insurrection, so an “Insurgency,” in Nicaragua and the government in place, which was a dictatorship, got overthrown and then there was another government put in place, and the people that were kicked out of Nicaragua moved to the U.S. and started making their mafia there and then the CIA is the U.S. got involved into their activities, and started funding them money so that they would go back and overthrow the recently overthrown government there’s this whole story about how the CIA, through drug trafficking, funded the Contras and that whole thing was just a massive deal that the history books kind of glaze over We felt like that’s something that hadn’t really been covered in games before like this idea of all these Latin American revolutions that occurred in the Cold War All these proxy wars where there are like very brutal dictatorships supported by the United States, you know? the people rising up against them felt very sympathetic to us in our research and so that was something that we felt like the gameplay of Insurgency And sort of the experience of Insurgency could very easily carry over into where you could either fight as like a National Guard or like, you know, a sort of revolutionary I kind of liked the idea of the theatre because we had just done Insurgency, which was like a modern military shooter, and this kind of added like a different variety and spice like I like art and stuff like that, so it’s like not too old it’s not you know going back to like Day of Infamy, WWII era of stuff it’s kind of, like, in between, and you would have, like, very interesting equipment and character and stuff like that we got to travel down to Nicaragua as a team and it was awesome we got to study, you know, not only the culture, the places, we got to you know take texture references and just really try to understand a little bit more of what we were trying to do back home we had planned for this island of Ometepe, and so It’s this island in the middle of essential a lake and the team that we were with, so about 5 of us, we went on a boat and went to the island And we essentially slept on the island, which is a big volcano, And so the next day, early in the morning, we climbed to the top of the volcano and took a bunch of reference photos We were gonna model a lot of the scenery and the landscape of what we saw and bring that back home, it was going to be a integral part of the gameplay We were actually gonna have that featured as one of the spaces that we were going to be creating for Exiles we kind of wanted to make it an- not open world, but like a- I dunno what it’s called, like node-based open world game where you have: this level’s here, this level’s here, but you can kind of travel between all the points, and we just had this idea of what we wanted to pull off So we did a lot prototype work for that I remember doing the first play test with only few weapons implemented, and a few basic things, and a game mode, We had playtests of this game, we had the island fully running we had, you know, different scenarios we were playing and touching on we had vehicles, and that coming in, So these were new things that we just never had before and so that was exciting to see some of these things And I even remember going to playtest and stuff, we were all shooting our placeholder Galils from Insurgency in Exiles, because like, hey that gun was around then too or something and it was cool, like, to have a new environment and new sounds even though it was all placeholder We really like the insurgency platform, we really like the I guess the framework, the gameplay that we had, high lethality, objective based, minimal HUD, adversarial and co-operative multiplayer, all that stuff we really liked, and we take this to a new setting It was- it was way too big we never actually went, like, full production on Exiles, we started the pre-production process which was when the name came up, and some of the idea of the story, or what would happen for the setting, but we never actually got into production it was just too much at the time, I think we were trying to make this single player, multiplayer, co-op game which probably have the scope of something like Far Cry or GTA and we realised very quickly that something of that scope is probably- well, we were punching way above our weight at that point we realised that the scope was too much for exiles probably about a year into the project or so and it really turned out to be the case that we were slightly in over our heads, we were very ambitious and kind of in this sort of dreamy mentality where we thought that we could take on something, you know, much bigger than I think we were able to take on so I think it’s a little bit of just sort of monitoring the landscape and also reassessing our own capabilities to come to the realization eventually that this might take us where longer than we are keeping well putting into a project right now like you know, it may have taken us 4 or 5 years to make the project at like, you know, 70% of what we you had set out to do in our design So all things considered, it did make more sense to kind of pivot at some point And decide, like, just to do something a bit more straightforward and something that we already have more experience with it’s really hard to to cancel a project, right? because you’re thinking to yourself that there was a lot of wasted effort here, and that maybe we shouldn’t have ever pursued this in the first place, you know? And I think it could have been done in maybe a simpler way I don’t know that canceling a project for us is a big uh oh when it’s done relatively quickly it’s never interesting to think you’re gonna build something and start and then pull the plug because by the way the cash were going out doesn’t stop we’re not like other developers, we don’t build our staff up, launch a project, Fire our staff, and then reap the rewards without them, when you get on the team you stay, so the stakes are higher so the cancellation of Exiles I mean it’s at- in my mind it was a blip and canceling Exiles could possibly be, and I’m not trying to project will be, could be more of delaying it, we do not lack ideas that’s the good news that decision was also easier knowing the fact that all the work that we had done wouldn’t be so in vain because we would be able to utilize a lot of it if we made a new Insurgency so even though we didn’t end up fully pursuing that project and completing it as we had hoped it taught us the engine and a lot of the code that we wrote for that project actually ended up laying the groundwork for Sandstorm that project basically transformed into what Sandstorm became What is it? It is an Insurgency remake? Is it Insurgency 2.0? What kind of story are we trying to tell? What is Sandstorm going to be?