“This isn’t This War of Mine 2.0. How can you even make a sequel to such a depressing game? No.” That’s 11 bit Studios senior writer Pawel Miechowski talking a little about the developer’s next game, Frostpunk. This War of Mine was a clear success from both a business and artistic perspective. Still, 11 bit doesn’t want to try to recapture that lightning; it doesn’t want to be Those Guys Who Make The Depressing Games.
What we know of 11 bit’s next outing is limited. Extremely limited. Our exposure to Frostpunk is a teaser trailer that released toward the end of August. It’s the first in a series of trailers. We’ll have a much clearer idea what this game is when we see them all.
Until then, all we can really glean about Frostpunk is what 11 bit wants the player to feel and to experience. “We’re aiming for serious stuff, so it’s definitely a serious direction. Depression can be part of it as well, but I think thrill is probably the better emotion to describe it,” Miechowski offers.
While we don’t yet know what kind of game Frostpunk is, 11 bit assures us that it’ll satisfy some of the more traditional elements that people look for in games. “I think I can tell you that this game will also be a game. It’ll be even more of a game than This War of Mine was. It’s not another artistic project. It’s not, it’s a game,” art director Przemyslaw Marszal comments. Miechowski adds “We’re aiming for hardcore gamers.”
Although everything was slathered in broad vagueness, 11 bit was most willing to talk about the world it created for Frostpunk. That’s what it seems most excited about, and the aspect that might allow itself to be used for future works.
“In Frostpunk, we have an entire frozen planet so obviously it’s something fantasy. In this environment, people are struggling because it’s frozen. This is where the survival comes from. Plus steampunk in this game is not just for the sake of having steampunk. It makes sense because it’s frozen and so when you melt ice you get water and steam,” Miechowski says. When asked if that means steam might be the greatest resource in the world, everyone in the room laughs knowingly. “It could be, yeah. Steam is a source of energy.”
Marszal elaborates “We think of it as a scientific steampunk game, I’d say. It makes sense why things work like that. Not just because it’s a sci-fi trope. Dishonored also tried to do it this way. It’s a little different, but they also tried to explain and build their world based on fundamentals. It’s based in truth and it’s a core part of the world. That’s really great and I like what they did.”
PR and marketing manager Karol Zajaczkowski is already thinking big with regard to the opportunity that Frostpunk‘s world affords. “This War of Mine was set on a certain place on earth in history. We believe that Frostpunk is much wider with much more possibility. I can imagine games being created in the Frostpunk universe which will be different for us. We have a lot of freedom with this and we’ll see where that takes us. We’re already looking for others ways of exploring that universe which are not as a game. It works because the setting isn’t closed, it’s a very big thing. A lot of stories can come from there and it’s part of our long-term plan,” he says.
As for where this game will show up, we’re not clear on that either. Marszal ribs “We are 11 bit Studios, we’ll probably be on every platform there is!” Then he adds “No, I’m joking. It’s a huge game and I don’t think it’d be suited for phones.” That clears things up ever so slightly.
It’s obvious that 11 bit revels in keeping us in the dark, in offering a little insight about the game without completely tipping its hand. Frostpunk‘s world sounds fascinating, an arctic hellscape that mankind has industrialized to survive. But, it’s also nebulous to the point of frustration.
With any luck, it won’t stay uncertain for a whole lot longer. If all goes according to schedule, Miechowski says that we’ll have a gameplay reveal sometime in the spring of next year and hopefully a playable demo at PAX East. Until then, we’re left dreaming of a winter wonderland.