Gameology: Why did you choose the survivor genre?
Ryan: We don’t really consider JoE to be a pure survival game because we wanted to bring a lot of different features to the table. Since the “Survival” genre is such an expansive subject, and being such big fans of it ourselves, we asked, ‘Why can’t we incorporate all these different aspects that we really enjoy, like an overarching story line, interactive NPCs, and massive living worlds and see what we can come up with?’ That’s really how JoE came about. We wanted all these things that you don’t really find in any one game to be available to players. We didn’t want to make just another “run-and-gun” zombie shooter, but one where the world develops around the players. Where you can find NPCs out in the world who are also trying to survive, safezones, traders, where the seasons change and have an effect on the world. All this brought into a multiplayer world or MMO-style experience.
Joe: Most of the other games you find out there are really good but a lot of the time you’ll find yourself in a situation asking, ‘Why can’t I do this or that?’ For example, in a linear game you may find a door that, if that’s not the way the game wants you to go you can’t go there, while in reality, you’d probably be able to break the door down and go explore. That’s what we want to allow the players to do in true open-world fashion.
Ryan: And that’s another thing that the game has always grown and branched off to allow for all these different features. We have our base idea but we allow ourselves to explore and experiment with all the things we want to include.
Joe: That brings up another point that a lot of what we’ve changed and built in are recommendations and based on feedback from our community. We never wanted to produce a game and say, ‘Here’s a game, play it and like it or don’t’. All the feedback, positive and negative, has been helpful and really helped shape the game.
What are your expected release dates and what are your objectives, or benchmarks, to meet along the way? What is your criteria for determining that a patch or release is “ready”?
Ryan: Well, we obviously want to fix the bugs and patch the game as things come up, so that takes a higher priority as we release patches. So we list all the things that we want to add, what we want to fix, what we want to put in and test.
Scrub: Yes, we keep our short term goals quite flexible in order to address problems and issues that pop up during gameplay as new features get added into the game. Our longer term goals are a bit more date-specific in that the larger aspects of the game need to be implemented by such-and-such date.
Ryan: So yeah, when we first released the alpha we knew there were going to be tons of things that would need updating and fixes that would need to be added, so we were, for a while, putting out weekly patches and updates. In a few cases we released patches mid-week even, in order to address serious problems. Now the huge, game-breaking bugs have started dwindling away and we’ve opted for fortnightly patch releases to allow us to implement some of the larger features of the game and allow us to focus more on the optimizations and the background things.
So when you have a date for a release, and the game or fix or release isn’t ready, how do you address that?
Ryan: That’s actually happened with our Private Alpha release. We’ve worked hard to remain transparent with the community and, when a build isn’t ready, or is broken or not up to our standards, we try to announce to the community what’s going on and that we’re not happy with where the game is at and that we’re going to have to push the release date out a week or month or so, whatever we need to do, in order to provide players with the best possible Jaws of Extinction experience.
Joe: And the community has been very understanding when it’s come to that.
Ryan: Yeah. I mean, we’re not going to push it out a whole year, because that’s something we should’ve forecasted and planned for.
Scrub: And it’s certainly not something we do lightly. If it does happen, it’s with everyone’s best interests at heart. You have to be honest with your community.
Joe: You have to have your community’s trust and one of my largest gaming disappointments was No Man’s Sky, where some fundamental aspects were promised, but then they weren’t delivered, and that little bit of dishonesty got them a really bad reputation, which is a massive shame. I mean, people remember things and they pick up on that.
Ryan: You don’t just want folks to buy your game, but to share in your dream.
What can you tell us about support planned for the game after Public Launch (Patches, DLC, any microtransactions, etc)?
Ryan: The way we plan on it is to, of course, continue to patch things as they come up. Further down the road, at full release, you’ll get access to the full game and won’t need to purchase DLC in order to experience the whole game. For our public alpha relase (due out at the end of February) we plan to release chapters to allow players to continue the story, again, all at no cost. Then, as things progress, we’ll release different parts of the map, along with vehicle upgrades, weapons, a massive city and different POIs. Just like expansion packs used to be, but we’ll provide them included with the price of the game itself. There will be absolutely zero microtransactions or loot boxes or the like. Once you purchase the game, you get the whole game and will have access to all the DLC as it becomes available. You will be able to earn in-game currency called “bucks” from doing quests, collecting bounties, and things like that, then you can use those bucks to purchase different skins and upgrades, but all of it will be in-game. You won’t be purchasing packages of “Bucks”, you’ll earn them. Now I think microtransactions are okay to offer players for skins and emotes and the like. If a player wants to make those purchases, that’s fine, but we won’t have that, and it will not be a “pay-to-win” situation. A capital N-O.
Thanks guys for taking the time to sit with us and let us put this information out. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Ryan: I would want to encourage folks to join our Discord. Our website does have some information, but the best way to get involved in our community is on Discord. We are very active there and we and our moderators are more than willing to answer questions and interact with folks.