An Interview with Derek Neal, Executive Producer of Extinction
Derek Neal is an executive producer at Modus Games and on the upcoming ogre-slaying action game Extinction. He took some time out of his busy pre-launch schedule to sit down and chat about the different types of enemies and gameplay elements featured in Extinction.
GameSkinny: Most of Extinction revolves around fighting giant ogres known as Ravenii. Why were ogres chosen specifically as the main enemy of the game?
Derek Neal: In order to provide gameplay variety, we wanted different armor sets to behave really differently; so for example, the spiked armor can hurt you, the iron armor has dangling locks on it, and the bone armor has flaming skulls you have to put out. The Ogres can wear various combinations of different types of armor, as well as potentially weapons, which makes their loadouts seem very patchwork. At the same time, they aren’t just pure brutes -- they do have some culture, as well as some level of technology, and their own language, all of which are facts that feature prominently in the story. We needed a villain class that was brutish, but not completely stupid ... cultured, but likely to show up in patchwork armor. Ogres were a natural fit.
GS: What were the inspirations for the vulture and jackal minions that follow the Ravenii, and why do they do so?
DN: They are some of the lesser races that have been enslaved by the Ravenii. As far as what gameplay purpose they serve, even though all the terrain is destructible, there are still places the Ravenii (being 150ft tall) can’t really go ... for example, inside of caves. The Jackals and other enemies provide a constant and immediate threat that Avil has to deal with, while the Ravenii are slower, implacable, and much harder to handle.
GS: The main character Avil is said to be the last of the Sentinels, due to the order degrading over time. What can you tell us about how or why this happened?
DN: The main factor in the decline of the Sentinels is that the Ravenii have been absent for many generations. As the threat grew more distant, people began to forget, and the need for the order seemed less pressing.
GS: It has been said that prior to the arrival of the Ravenii, humanity was constantly at war with itself. We haven't seen any footage of the Ravenii fighting each other -- is there a possibility of seeing this in the game?
DN: The Ravenii will beat their chests and roar at each other sometimes, or make other threatening gestures, but it never gets to the level of an all-out brawl. They are part of the same army, they are intelligent, and they are generally cooperating with each other.
GS: What is the difficulty curve for this game like? Would it be best for fans of the stylish action genre, or will it be more welcoming to all types of players?
DN: The game is actually fairly difficult, but it’s not because it’s hard to play. The controls are very straightforward, and most of the individual systems (like climbing, wall running, saving people, combat, etc.) are easy to get into and manipulate. The difficulty comes when trying to combine everything together seamlessly. Ogres are assaulting the city from all sides, a group of people close to you are being eaten by Jackals, your health is running out, and you’re failing the mission objective. What do you prioritize? Can you do it fast enough to save them all? If not, what do you sacrifice? And can you make those decisions on the fly, while trying to avoid imminent death from a huge monster trying to stomp you?
GS: We know there are various techniques Avil can use in combat. Are there extra benefits and rewards to gain from using a variety of techniques?
DN: Doing well in combat earns you SP, which you can use to upgrade Avil. But the main reward for mastering the combat system is doing better at the missions, having more time to save more people (which also earns you more SP), and making you look like a total badass.
EM: In the beginning of the features trailer, it is explicitly said that Extinction has no microtransactions; however, the game does have exclusive pre-order content depending on where it's purchased from. What influenced these decisions?
DN: Obviously, we want to encourage people to pre-order the game, so we provide some incentives for doing that. Honestly, adding microtransactions never really entered our thought process while we were initially building the game ... it was always going to be a story-based, single-player experience. But now, with all the recent controversies over microtransaction implementations in games, we’re definitely pleased not to have gone that way.
I thanked Derek for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. Extinction will launch on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on April 10, 2018, and both physical and digital copies of the game are available to purchase. Players who pre-order Extinction will gain access to exclusive DLC depending on where they pre-order it from.