Interview: CEO of Bankroll Studios Spencer Rose talks Hurtworld development
Hurtworld is a multiplayer, open-world, survival shooter currently in development by Bankroll Studios, an independent studio located in Melbourne, Australia. I sat down with the CEO of Bankroll, Spencer Rose, to talk about Hurtworld and the development process.
FJ: Where did the idea for Hurtworld come from? Are there any specific titles you took inspiration from?
SR: The original inspiration for Hurtworld was a mod for Garry's Mod called Gmod Stranded I played in 2005. That was the first time a sandbox game made me work for my materials; I was hooked from there. As more and more multiplayer survival games were released, I felt that the survival mechanics always became trivial far too quickly, and games deteriorated into deathmatch as there wasn't much else to do. I wanted to create a game where survival was a progression, not just a hunger bar.
FJ: What past experience do you guys have in video game development? What led you all to Bankroll Studios to work on Hurtworld?
SR: I've been developing games since I was a teenager as passion projects, but actively avoided working in the game industry to keep my passion. Over the last 10 years I've mostly worked in the corporate software industry.
Around 2007 I started working on my own engine to create a multiplayer survival game. Building my own engine was a terrible idea! I would spend 6 months working on the engine, go back to full time work for a year, and repeat.
At the start of 2013, I switched to Unity and started making leaps and bounds, around July I brought on the rest of the team. The guys come from a wide range of backgrounds, from Australian game and film industry vets to a seasoned graffiti artist turned 3d artist.
FJ: Due to the success of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, did you ever consider that route to perhaps gauge interest and potentially fund Hurtworld to be a bigger game than it would be without? Or is that route still an option perhaps, after or during the upcoming closed alpha?
SR: Fortunately we haven't needed to skimp on any important part of Hurtworld to this point, everything we have built is a foundation for much bigger things. A Kickstarter would only serve as a marketing campaign at this point, which I believe to be slightly dishonest.
We plan on releasing some sort of early purchase in exchange for alpha access, but I want the alpha to be close to worth the money when we offer it, rather than grand promises and long timelines.
"The Slug. It moves like molasses and handles like a shopping trolley, but damn if it can't take a beating."
FJ: What features and aspects of Hurtworld make it stand out from the crowd in terms of the open-world survival genre?
SR: Our biggest goal with Hurtworld is to create a deep survival progression that doesn't become trivial once you establish some basic needs. That feeling in Minecraft when you haven't yet found coal and its becoming night, or DayZ when you have no weapons and are being chased through Cherno by zombies. These experiences are what make a survival game. When you overcome that challenge and find a level of comfort is a great feeling, but what do you do next?
Hurtworld tempts you out of your comfort zone with rich resources, better loot and higher tech like vehicles and electricity. It will also throw more dangerous creatures, harsher environments and new challenges at you that can't be taken on without the proper gear. This makes the survival experience never trivial.
Combine this with true open-world multiplayer built from the ground up, we think we have not only a unique survival game, but a solid platform for custom games once we release the modding SDK.
Lastly, the thing that matters most to me in any game I play, is tight low-latency controls, smooth movement and rock solid multiplayer. I've done my best to ensure nothing compromises any of these throughout development.
FJ: Developing an ambitious game like Hurtworld is sure to come with some trials and tribulations; are there any notable bugs or glitches you guys have experienced? Anything especially funny, any that stick in your mind as being difficult to fix, etc.?
SR: My favourite bug so far was a bone scaling issue on the Rafaga (A predatory bird) only when he aggro'ed you which made his head 10 times bigger, it was terrifying!
A defining trait of the Rafaga; you know it's angry when its head inflates!
FJ: On a similar note, what are you most proud of in the game so far?
SR: As a game designer I'm most proud of the construction system. That you can create pretty epic structures in a short period of time and it just feels right. I can't wait to start pumping out new building parts once we start scaling up content.
As a programmer, my masterpiece is the server authoritative network code. Hopefully nobody knows it exists, that means it's working!
FJ: As a new studio without any games under your belt already, what made you opt for Hurtworld rather than something in a different genre? For example a platformer or puzzle game appears, from a non-developer standpoint, to be simpler to create than what Hurtworld is shaping up to be.
SR: Making Hurtworld was a no brainer for me. It's the game I've always wanted to play and it's the area I have the most knowledge to draw on as a gamer. 8 years ago when I started working on Hurtworld, the task was close to impossible. Every year I gained more experience as a programmer, engine tools became better quality and publishing from a small studio became more accessible. It was only a matter of time. Once I gained the backing of my awesome team, the game became a reality.
"The Roach: For when you want to get somewhere fast, and don't mind how many pieces you arrive in."
I'd like to thank Spencer for his time and I wish him the best of luck with Hurtworld. If you're interested in following the development of Hurtworld, here are some relevant links: