GTFO’s Grand Moff Talks About The Future of the Hardcore Shooter: “We’re a Niche Game”
Grand Moff, Svante Vinternatt from 10 Chambers Collective sits down with DualShockers to discuss GTFO, its Rundown, and the future of the game as it goes through Early Access.
GTFO is a hardcore horror shooter that prides itself on being a niche game. It wants to invoke fear and inspire teamwork. It wants to push its community to the limits with hardcore gameplay. Developer 10 Chambers Collective also plans to support the game for a long time — and with it arriving on Steam Early Access today, DualShockers wanted to know more about the game and its future.
Ulf Andersson and Bo Andersson founded Grin in 1997, a video game development studio based in Sweden which started off making racing games for PC and arcade machines. Eventually, the team at Grin found themselves working alongside publishers such as Ubisoft, Capcom, and Warner Bros. Interactive. After twelve years in the industry, Grin hit financial troubles and closed down with the two founders moving quickly to start up Overkill Software with long-time Grin employee Simon Viklund.
Overkill Software —also based in Sweden— released Payday: The Heist in 2011 which became a success. After working a deal with Swedish based Starbreeze Studios, a sequel was put into the works, later releasing in 2013. Ulf Andersson left Overkill in 2015 and started up his own studio in that same year, known as 10 Chambers Collective.
The self-funded 10 Chambers Collective resides in Stockholm, Sweden with a small development team that has, since the studio’s reveal in 2016, stayed small while focusing on bringing a game with high-quality. Even part of their motto is “our passion is quality.”
DualShockers was invited to Copenhagen, Denmark to visit the Unity Technologies building and got hands-on with GTFO. We saw how it had progressed since E3 2018 and experienced exactly what the new Rundown system entails.
After a few hours of buttock clenching scares and uttered profanities, I sat down with Co-Founder and “Grand Moff” Svante Vinternatt to find out some more about GTFO and its future as it approached its Steam Early Access launch. He explains the Grand Moff title was purely for legal and tax reasons, and that the team all do so many different factors in development that no one person warrants just one title.
“We’re a very small team, so we really have to focus our resources on one thing,” he says when asked if the game would introduce an offline mode for those who might want to just experience the game alone. “It’s kind of restricting,” he says, still talking about bots and offline play, “because that’s not a human you can communicate to, so bots could either do good or they could do bad — but they’re not a human being.”
10 Chambers wants to create a game that adheres to their target audience and that audience is one that is into heavy communications. “As you realized when we were playing, you had to speak all the time, and doing that with a bot — It would be really, really restricting on the game experience.” He clarifies that they have no plans to create an offline experience. “So instead of trying to do that, we focus on getting a better PvE experience, putting in more hours and getting those puzzles, getting those gameplay moments really, really fun.“
I bring up PAYDAY 2 and my experience with people not working as a team. I wanted to know how the team behind GTFO had tried to encourage teamwork. “So we actually won’t put matchmaking in early access to start out. We will have it down the road,” he explains. As he explains he mentions that they’re trying to build a community behind the game with a Discord that sits at over 65,000 users. Adding a quick play feature to play with random players opens “a lot of opportunities” for bad experiences. “We feel that matchmaking needs to be done in a way that fits the demanding team play of GTFO. Until we’ve solved that, you will need to be Steam friends with your teammates.”
Vinternatt essentially tells me that, at least to start, the game will be better enjoyed with people you know, or from the community who want to take it seriously. “It will be, in that sense, a little more restricted, but it will also give a better experience for those who actually want to play this kind of game.”
Last month, 10 Chambers Collective released a trailer detailing “The Rundown”, a collection of expeditions that the players can take part in that get progressively harder the further down into the complex you go. There’s a timer — when it hits zero the Rundown gets erased and a new one takes its place, introducing a new series of levels. But what if things go wrong behind the scenes? I wanted to know if they had a backup plan for missing a deadline.
“We will not set the timer until we are 100 percent sure,” Vinternatt explains and mentions only setting a date when they’re sure the content is ready. He also goes on to say how the team wants to be transparent with the community. “We’re gonna be upfront in how we’re doing stuff with the roadmap and with the Rundown. But I keep a lot of stuff secret because you want that feeling of finding something yourself for the first time. As long as we plan ahead and don’t set a date too early, I think we’re gonna have a good flow.“
“There’s gonna be a progression there,” he confirms after I ask if the Rundown was progression based or if players can jump right into the harder levels. “Right now in the current one, I think you have to complete both levels to open up the next area. So completing A1 and A2, and when you’ve done that you can play B1 and B2, but C1 won’t be allowed until the B2 is completed”
“We are thinking about the other variations as well that you complete two or three. And that unlocks a new tier. But there’s always going to be some kind of progression to get down to another tier.” The progression is tied to the Rundown mode, which seems to be the only mode the team wishes to focus on right now, “We are fully committed to PvE,” he says with confidence.
He goes on to detail how the game is going to be varied despite being stuck to this Rundown mode, “It takes steel commitment. We don’t want to grow the team because we want to have control over what we do. However, with the objectives, we are going to make stuff up. Having other objectives and having other tweaks or modifications.” He then references Dungeons and Dragons, as Vinternatt describes the team as a Gamesmaster, throwing curveballs at the players and seeing the outcomes.
“The tools that we have created over the last couple of years are essential for us to be able to produce the new expeditions for each Rundown.” But despite having tools in place to create new expeditions easily, he assures me there is also “a lot of handcrafting” to ensure the game feels good to play and has a good flow. With GTFO heading to Early Access, it allows them to try these out, “That’s why we’re going out and trying out, to see how the community reacts and hopefully they will be frustrated in a good way.”
I was curious to know about customization and microtransactions. The team has already explicitly stated there will be no loot boxes or pay to win mechanics available. However, the mention of cosmetics being included in a potential “Support the Dev” pack in the future made me wonder, so I asked if they had plans for a microtransaction store focused on cosmetics, “I guess we could.” he says with uncertainty. He mentions how the game costs $34.99 and comes with the heavily supported Rundown, “We have this Rundown like continuously going, and it’s free. I mean, you get new levels for free continuously, which is a kind of new way of doing things.”
With GTFO still being in its early stages, the team is still unsure how to go about getting extra funds. “Of course, we need to put food on the table and there might be support developer packs. I’m not sure if it’s gonna be a store or if it’s gonna be like something in the future that is like a deluxe edition or something like that.” He does mention that, whatever it is they decide, “it’s going to be something that’s fair.”
Cosmetics, if included, will have to fit into the world of GTFO. “You won’t see someone running around with pink bunny ears. It could be fun to run around like that, but it kind of ruins the atmosphere. This is a serious game. We want to keep it serious.” But 10 Chambers Collective hasn’t really discussed cosmetics as it’s not a priority, “first of all, we just want to get the game out there.”
I dig to find out about character customization in terms of changing armor, and customizing weapons. “Absolutely! We have that plan already and a lot of stuff in the pipeline. But they just haven’t had time to do that yet.” Interestingly, Vinternatt clarifies that it won’t just be visual customization, but players will be able to manipulate weapons and tools through progression. He uses the following example, “Say you have a shotgun you like and a sentry gun, then let’s put them together and make a sentry shotgun.”
As GTFO is a game that’s incredibly dark and stylized to look as if you’re looking through a helmet, I asked about accessibility. I clarified that I wasn’t on about difficulty options, but instead ways of making the game more accessible to the player with features such as HUD scaling and color-blind modes. “We might already. I’m not sure if we already have scaling and stuff like adding what you want.”
“One of the guys in the team is color-blind if it works for him, I guess it works for other people that are colorblind as well,” he informs me. He goes on to say that they haven’t discussed accessibility plans yet. “I know we need to make a decision as a team, but absolutely. I don’t see why not. It’s just a matter of time and prioritization at the moment.”
I wanted to know if GTFO had plans for a more intuitive ping system, similarly to Apex Legends and Fortnite. Currently, the game only allows you to ping doors and lockers. “We have tried different ways of doing pinging. We tried having everything pingable in GTFO, but then people just started moving towards the pings and stopped communicating that much. We felt like that kind of ruined some of that experience.”
Vinternatt explained how the team wants to introduce tools, such as the bio tracker that pings enemies if the player has the tool, that offer a variety of ways to encourage the team to communicate together. “We’re a niche game so it won’t be for everyone. I mean, we’re fine with that. Everyone won’t like this type of game and it’s fine. But hopefully, those people who like it will love it or not.”
With the team constantly talking about supporting GTFO for as long as possible, I was interested in knowing if they had any plans for DLC or expansion packs, even if it’s so early on. “We don’t have any plans right now,” he says while mentioning about still having lots of work to do on the base game. “We want to do the rundown for a long time and give the community more value for their money than they actually expect. So will you see an expansion? We haven’t even talked about it.”
Regarding GTFO and any planned platforms, Vinternatt confirms, “We will start out at PC and Steam” detailing that they’re using Early Access to make the game experience good. “Doing several platforms at the same time with this kind of team would be really tough. So instead, we use that, we take time,” He then adds, “we would love to release on consoles”
I also brought up the rise in streaming services, asking if they’d bring GTFO to platforms such as Google Stadia or xCloud. I expected a similar answer, though he adds “the more platforms the game would be available on the more people could probably play it or we could get some some some extra help in marketing and that kind of stuff through these platforms that that be awesome.“
GTFO has launched on PC for Steam Early Access.
The interview has been edited for readability. The costs of the trip to Copenhagen to experience GTFO were covered by Unity and 10 Chambers Collective.