Green Hell is a survival game from Creepy Jar set in the Amazon jungle with a focus on reality. We spoke with Krzysztof Kwiatek the Art Director and co-founder of Creepy Jar to get his thoughts on the game, the industry and the future.
Krzysztof, thank you for taking the time to talk with us but before we talk about Green Hell, would you be able to tell us about a few of the challenges facing a small games company and the roadblocks you face in publishing on Steam?
“Sure, we think each game developer will have different problems so I cannot talk for anyone but us, however, speaking specifically about Green Hell I can say that so far, we haven’t faced any major roadblocks. We have tried to be smart and to make sure that our game fits in with our skills.
If I was forced to give advice to other developers just starting out:
– Make a game for other players, not for yourself, your game has to cover other peoples fantasies and whims not your own.
– Start with a small team of experienced specialists, this will save you money and decrease your development time.
– Find a balance of new features vs your budget, unique game features are important and create your game identity, however, you have to find a good balance and say yourself – that’s enough! Often people have more ideas then they are able to do well.
– Every day new games are released on Steam, there is a lot of competition and it’s hard to compete. If your production isn’t unique or outstanding in some way you probably will fail.”
Speaking specifically about that competition and given the monopoly Steam has on software sales coupled with the sheer number of games available on the platform, how do you make your game stand out among the many that are available?
Green Hell taken solely as a survival simulator is clearly one among many in the market right now but far from being an issue, we think this is a strength. There is a lot of gamers who enjoy survival games. After some research you can hone in on what they want, sure you can’t find exactly what they like and dislike so you follow the signs and ask yourself what you can do to make new, fresh game for them? So far everyone who has played Green Hell for a few hours or more will know that our survival features and game mechanics are quite different from other games. People appreciate that difference and so we are able to stand out.
We bet on quality and with some original ideas and a true to life setting, the Amazon Rainforest, we have a good formula. The Educational aspect alone in Green Hell is very important too players can learn how fauna and flora look in the real rainforest whilst sat at home in safety.
Is the process of publishing on Steam an easy one and was there any doubt in your mind that you would have the game accepted for sale?
Currently, it’s very easy. The real problem with Steam is how to become visible to players, how to stand out. Steam can help by giving you a few Visibility Rounds which we will be testing soon.
Aside from the financial aspect do you think it would be possible for Green Hell to exist if there was no early access program?
It would be very difficult purely because of the limited budget to make our game. We have a lot ideas and want to give players good quality, realistic and polished experience, to do that, you need time and of course money. The other aspect that early access gives us is player feedback and that isn’t limited to bugs it’s actually more about how your gameplay features work. That’s the point, make your game features the best that they can be. The early access program makes this process easier and more effective.
What does it feel like the day you send your game to the wider world for sale? Specifically, what are you hoping for when you press go?
It was equal parts very exciting and very stressful. We know that Green Hell is unique but at first glance, players may have thought it was to The Forest or The Long Dark. After a few minutes players feel the difference and love it. We didn’t expect that Green Hell would be so well received at the beginning of early access.
What do you see as the biggest hurdle for Green Hell in terms of future success?
Another survival game releasing that could potentially draw attention away from our game so the most important factor for us is to stay still visible to our present and future fans.
Moving on to the game, what is Green Hell about?
Green Hell is a realistic survival game set in the Amazon rainforest. It’s a “true” survival simulator where you are battling against nature to survive. Some players call Green Hell “the hardest survival game ever made” but our goal wasn’t just to make a difficult game. You can survive in our world provided you have the ability to learn and still discover. Dangers are all around – tribes, animals and even plants, everything has the potential to kill you, just like in the real Amazon and that is the most exciting part, this place exists in the real world and it’s just as deadly to those with no skills as our game is.
Given the number of survival games, and especially those in early access at the moment what do you think sets Green Hell apart from other titles and what do you see as the main reason someone should buy Green Hell if they already own the aforementioned Forest or Long Dark for example?
We would like to give survival players something fresh with a very different approach to survival mechanics. It’s man against nature. In Green Hell, you have to treat yourself like you really would do it in the rainforest. As well as food and water in Green Hell you have to face new survival challenges: illness, parasites, wounds, poisons, dirty water etc. Finally you have to deal with your psyche, this is a terrifying aspect which is a very important consideration when you try to survive alone in the jungle.
Given the initial difficulty in Green Hell are you worried you will alienate some of your potential audience?
We know that for now Green Hell can be to hard for some players. We’re thinking about making difficulty modes to assist the more casual players. Currently, all modes are quite demanding. So in the near future, there will be an “easy mode” where there will be no sanity meter or possibly without tribes to worry about. Easy mode will be like “a tourist in the jungle”. Hard mode will remain for advanced survival players.
How can players follow Green Hell and its Development?
We published the Roadmap on our site where people can see what we are working on
We have seen many games in an eternal early access state (DayZ, Rust etc) how long do you plan to have Green Hell in active production and do you think that 1.0 this year is an achievable goal given the amount of work involved and the level of detail you are adding to surviving?
The full release is planned at the beginning of 2019 (winter) we intend to stick to that. You can check it on the Roadmap.
What can we expect on full release in terms of the building system and how do you feel about mod support?
The Building system was improved in the “Animal Update” and it’s now called a Modular Shelter which allows players to design their own shelter layout. Additionally we plan to release the Mud Building Update, this is the 4th big update and will be here in time for Winter this year.
How dynamic do you intend to make the AI? Currently, there appear to be certain areas with natives and specific areas where snakes live and other creatures live?
We are Still working on improvements but we like the idea that specific types of animals and dangers are in specific areas, this way, the smart players can learn to avoid them or find an alternative.
Can you talk us through the creative process behind something like the worm infection? How does it go from an idea to implementation and where do you draw the line between realistic infection and fun gameplay system?
The rainforest is very inspiring and has a huge potential in terms of giving us ideas for a survival game. There’s a lot of natural, realistic and exotic dangers like parasites and worms. After a lot of research about this, we decide that things like these could even become our USP. On the other hand, it can be very risky having so much danger and we risked making players frustrated. The key was to find a good balance and through focus testing with lots of iterations of our current game, we feel we have created that balance and the features are ready to play.
The map is going to be very large and the gameplay realistic. In the Amazon itself the rivers are the highways so what types of transport will we be able to craft and how do you think a safer way to travel will affect the way people play the survival game?
In Green Hell, there’s no river system for fast travel. To be honest, we don’t plan to add rafts or similar for travel. It’s a slow paced game and we would like to stick with that.
You want to focus on the single player aspect of the game but many people are asking about multiplayer. When you see a feature requested so often is it hard to keep your original focus or are you influenced by what people are asking for now?
In our Roadmap you can see that we plan to make co-op mode, a lot of people asked about it and we feel that surviving in the middle of the rainforest with friends will be very cool. We decided to add this mode just after full release. We don’t want to fail with our original plan where single player and story mode are the most important.
What changes do you think you will make to the survival aspect of the game given the initial feedback from a wider testing audience?
So far the main issues appear to be problems with the item spawn system and sanity, we actively follow threads on the Steam forum and then put plans in place to find the best solution for that issue. We of course still want to expand our survival features list, for example, the addition of fishing in the Water Update.
A fan question now, tempast2003 wanted to know
The survival system is very fun as it is, will there ever be options in the future to change the pace of survival with longer days and night progression? I feel at its current state the system is very good for a fast-paced game. However; if the player wanted to extend out the cycle of the day for a less rushed feel in more of a sandboxed style mode.
We made the night longer in previous updates. Yes, we’re going towards slow pacing and will continually tweak things to make it better and more playable.
Will there ever be a random chance mechanic to contract (a host of) different diseases from unsanitary activities like looting the bones from a rotting corpse or carrying around rotten meat? Would be great if symptom mimicked actual disease’s caught this way. Especially if they were animated as well :D.
Sounds good, we’ll think about it. The illness/diseases feature is something we would like to improve much more than now.