Flying Wild Hog and Jagex are partnering on an untitled ‘rich, deep, connected and customizable multiplayer action RPG’ set in a brand new Sci-Fi universe. This is the second Flying Wild Hog game to be unveiled this year after Shadow Warrior 3, just like CEO Michał Szustak told us in our interview published this February.
The game is set to launch next year as the very first Jagex Partners publishing deal. We’ve had the pleasure to interview Flying Wild Hog CEO Michał Szustak, Game Director Michał Kuk, as well as Jagex CEO Phil Mansell and VP of 3rd Party and Partnerships Jeff Pabst to learn a bit more on this upcoming game, from its business model to the kind of experience the fans can expect to find.
Michał, why did you choose Jagex as the publisher for this new Flying Wild Hog project?
Michał Szustak: There aren’t many experienced successful publishers in the world in the area of living games. 20 years of experience, over $1 billion of income. It’s pretty impressive. We just couldn’t find a better partner for our project than Jagex. Obviously, we were approached by many other partners but honestly, it’s really hard to beat Jagex.
On the other side, Phil, why did you pick Flying Wild Hog as your first Jagex Partners publishing deal?
Phil Mansell: When we first met Michał and the other folks at Flying Wild Hog about a year and a half ago, they were a bit earlier with the game development but we could tell the scale of the studio was incredibly high. They had an amazing action RPG they were working on, it looked brilliant and felt brilliant to play. They had the ambition to make it into a big successful online game and were looking for the right partner. I think we felt there was a good fit in what Jagex offers, which is that skill set to publish a game, market a game, understand all the back of house, live operations, and sort of optimization side. And then with Flying Wild Hog’s just phenomenal ability to make amazingly satisfying, enjoyable action games, but also experiment and iterate and improve the game over time, we just felt there was a really, really good match because we’re specialists in publishing specifically live games. For us, it’s about finding select really quality games that we think have amazing potential in the market. We saw that with Flying Wild Hog and this game, and we thought it was probably the best example we could start with on our publishing journey that showed the amazing potential of teaming up with a developer like Flying Wild Hog.
Michał Szustak: I just wanted to add that having the opportunity to be the second game for Jagex besides RuneScape, it’s something that is very exciting for us.
The press release mentions that the game from Flying Wild Hog will launch on the new Jagex publishing platform. Can you tell us anything about this new publishing platform?
Jeff Pabst: Jagex has been around for a while and we have online services for our current titles. The new publishing platform is sort of a modern version with the best of the current platform as it were. The way that we’ve been running the games currently is built on technology that we built over the last 20 years, so what we’re doing is we’re taking some of those core functionalities and payments, accounts systems, and modernizing and then adding new feature sets such as marketing, technology and analytics stack to be able to work with more modern engines like Unreal or Unity, and with external developers, it’s something we’ve been investing in over the last couple of years. We’re really looking forward to bringing out titles such as Flying Wild Hog’s new game on this platform for players globally.
Is this game just going to be available on this new platform, or will it also appear on Steam for example?
Jeff Pabst: The goal is to have a multiplatform title. We want our live games to be playable on as many devices as possible, on every device that makes sense for the game. We’re working with Flying Wild Hog to identify those platforms and bring the game out on as many platforms as possible.
I know that Jagex expanded in the mobile space as well with RuneScape. I’m wondering if mobile is also something that’s being evaluated for this new Flying Wild Hog project.
Michał Kuk: I think I can answer this question. We’re open to any kind of device like Jeff said, we want to reach as many players as possible. We’re working to figure out the best outcome for the game. And yeah, that’s the current state of the product. We are basically working to make sure that the game will fit as many devices as possible and players will feel the same experience regardless of which device they are using.
Is cross-platform a goal as well, then?
Michał Kuk: Yes, sure, we’re also thinking about it. That’s a huge amount of work that we need to think about and we’ll decide what will be best for gamers and then for the game.
In the press release, I’ve also read that the game will be built with Unreal Engine 4. Since it is launching next year, does Flying Wild Hog consider upgrading to Unreal Engine 5, or is it too early for that?
Michał Kuk: That’s a question for our tech department. But the Unreal Engine 5 is still in experimental mode, so we need to make sure that the engine is stable first and then we will decide.
The last time I spoke with Michał earlier this year he told me that the plan for Flying Wild Hog was to not forget about current generation users. Does that mean this is not going to be a next-gen only game?
Michał Szustak: We’re not going to forget about current-gen players for sure. The fanbase, the user base is huge. The game will be built around the community. Jagex is master of creating engagement and long-lasting communities, after all. Together, we are going to make this game a success.
I don’t know how much you can tell me about the game. Probably not much, but was there any kind of inspirations that you can speak to?
Michał Kuk: Yeah, of course, there were lots of inspirations. But to be honest, there is no competition for us. Most of the game is our vision, made from scratch. It’s something new. It’s hard to compare to anything other because there’s nothing to compare basically. If you read the publisher announcement, it’s going to be our multi-platform multiplayer game set in a brand new Sci-Fi universe, with a combination of RPG elements and fast-paced action. You can imagine what will come out from cooperation between Flying Wild Hog and Jagex.
So, is it fair to expect some kind of MMO-like elements?
Michał Kuk: I believe you can expect everything from this game!
I asked Michał in the previous interview whether their next games would also be played in first-person view. Of course, Shadow Warrior 3 is still a first-person shooter, but can you tell me anything about this new game? Is it going to be played in third person as most action RPGs?
Michał Kuk: I don’t want to spoil anything, because we’re preparing huge announcements. Stay tuned, and I’m pretty sure you’re gonna love it.
I’m reading that you have several open and closed beta tests planned, right? Are those going to be hosted early next year, with the launch scheduled for later in 2021?
Michał Kuk: We’re aiming to release the game next year. I cannot tell you exact times dates for the closed beta and open beta yet because it’s all fluent until we’re 100% sure that that the game is ready to enter the closed beta stage, so there’s no point of giving you a date because first of all, we need to make sure that the game will be ready and the players will be happy of what way they will receive.
When did you start developing the game?
Michał Kuk: Flying Wild Hog Cracow was established in 2016 with an idea to experiment because that’s one of our core values, to have a gameplay laboratory. That’s something that is really important to us. And that was the idea for the studio in Cracow, to create a team that can not only experiment in our area of first-person shooter games but also in different genres, basically. So that was the reason to create the studio in Cracow and since the beginning of the studio, we have been working to create the team that will be perfect for this game. It’s been all-around three and a half years so far, almost four years. We were building the whole team, the project, it’s our vision, our idea.
Michał Szustak: What’s really nice about working with Jagex is that they really value our independence and our way of making games and really appreciate it. That’s why I think it’s also the best partner for us. Right now we have 250 people, it’s quite the experienced team but as I said a few months ago, we want to be masters of action games. They’re going to deliver explosive fun gameplay to the players and Cracow is one of our laboratories where we actually created something very new, totally different from the things we created earlier.
Flying Wild Hog Cracow is kind of leading the development on this one, but the rest of your studios are collaborating too, right?
Michał Szustak: Yeah, it’s super important for us, like we discussed back in February. We switched to Unreal Engine 4 and all the studios are using the same technology so it’s much easier for us to actually share the knowledge and obviously the experience of making gameplay is something that we share across the studio, the expertise. With the new engine, it’s much much easier. But this game is owned by the Cracow team and they are independent, sort of.
Interesting. I don’t know how much more you can even tell me about the game at this point. Is it going to be reliant on loot drops and stuff like that, as is the case in most action RPGs, or are you trying to focus more on the action side?
Michał Kuk: The action part is the most important, but we’re not closing ourselves only to action. I’m pretty sure we’re gonna deliver what’s best from RPG games combined with our action experience.
Michał Szustak: I believe that there are two layers of engagement for these types of games. The first one is obviously second to second combat, you know, action, and the second layer obviously where Jagex can shine which is creating long term engagements, progression for players, building a community, creating a place where you actually have fun with your friends. So, these are the two layers we are focusing on right now.
Can you talk about the business model yet or is it too early? Because I know that Jagex is very keen on free-to-play.
Michał Kuk: Yes. Their business model is free to play, that’s what was Jagex does best. And then I think Jagex elaborate on it more.
Jeff Pabst: Yeah, the focus is on free to play and making sure that we build, as I was saying, the right metagame around it to make sure that it’s engaging, and make sure that the players are not only having fun but have reason to come back and have more fun.
Of course, the big question on free to play games is always surrounding the store. Is it going to be strictly cosmetic items when it comes to microtransactions?
Jeff Pabst: I think we’re gonna develop the right monetization strategies to match with the kind of game we’re building. We’re not going to focus on any specific one until we’ve gotten a little further down the line in terms of what we can deliver to the player and what we think makes sense for the game. We can definitively say we’re not going to make something that’s pay to win. But we definitely want to find areas that match with the fun and the engagement that’s been built in the game. Not only on the day to day gameplay but like I said before, the meta systems in there are there to drive the long term engagement.
Okay, I have one more for Flying Wild Hog. Do you consider this game to be an open world kind of game or is it going to be session-based?
Michał Kuk: It’s basically open universe. It’s a mix of everything you just mentioned. As I said, there’s no game to compare with. You need to wait until we reveal it because we’re so excited to show you something new, something fresh.
In that regard, when can we expect to actually see the game? Is it going to be later this year?
Michał Kuk: I’m not sure yet because it’s part of the marketing plan we’re working on still, we don’t have any fixed dates right now.
Michał Szustak: We are announcing something right now, so you can expect that we are going to pour more and more information about the game later this year and early next year. You know, just to keep players waiting for more and more, to be excited to actually start playing the game.
Thank you for your time.
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