Turtle Rock Studios — the developer best known for the Left 4 Dead series and Evolve — has revealed to GamesIndustry that it’s working on a new AAA IP that will be published by free-to-play specialist Perfect World Entertainment (Star Trek Online, Blacklight Retribution).
According to Phil Robb, Co-founder of Turtle Rock Studios, the new IP is not just a game, but a new franchise, “set in all new universe,” that will harken back to the style of gameplay its fans have come to expect. Further, for the new IP the studio had decided to focus on what it does best: “heart-pounding moment-to-moment online co-op FPS action.” Robb adds:
“And with Perfect World as our partner, we will always make sure that our players come first by listening to them and growing the game based on how they play and interact over what we hope are many years to come. We cannot wait to show them what we have in store.”
President and GM of Turtle Rock, Steve Goldstein adds that the developer isn’t quite willing to go as far to call the new IP a spiritual successor. According to Goldstein, that particular label “has big expectations tied to it,” and it also “sets an expectation that we’re making something sequel-like that does not deviate too far from the original formula.” Which isn’t the case. While the team is focusing on a first-person shooting co-op game, it is aiming to have the new game be something “players classify and designate and judge” themselves.
Goldstein goes on to reveal that the new game is not anything post-apocalyptic, nor does it include zombies, but rather has a “strong dark fantasy element to it.”
Goldstein then goes on to talk about it’s new relationship with Perfect World, and how the publisher aligns with the studios new process for developing a game. As well as how important free-to-play is for the developer, and how it provides a platform to have a game with a lasting community.
“With Perfect World, we have a publisher that’s all about the service and consistently and frequently expanding the scope of its games over several years. We think that type of approach and mentality are really what’s required to launch something new as opposed to putting out sequel after sequel….
We can’t overstate how helpful [F2P] is to us as developers. It’s a direct line toward taking the game that we wanted to play when we first started working on it and ensuring that it will be a game that our community wants to play for years to come. This completely changes the dynamic of how we make games,” he said.
With a $60 product, you only know if you are going in a good or bad direction from some focus test groups and then an alpha and a beta. There’s not much room to change course if you see elements that you want to work on based on how players are actually playing your game. At best, you can only hope to make these changes sometime post-launch and at that point, you’re probably knee-deep in DLC, because that’s what a boxed product needs to make a profit these days, given the insanely escalating costs of development, marketing and publishing those products. It’s not a very limber process.”
Goldstein continued, “But with a service-based title, we can react to players’ behavior instantly. If we see something that players don’t like, we can modify it in the next patch. Same goes for things that users are enjoying or playstyles that we didn’t anticipate. With Evolve: Stage 2, we were releasing an update every week with changes to the game that were based on our users’ reactions. We expect to implement this process at the outset on our new title.
To us, boxed product is like a speech, a developer is telling something to its audience and they have to listen. With free-to-play, it’s a conversation and we love that dialog with our players.”
While Turtle Rock’s big focus is on its new IP, that won’t be ready until at least 2018 the developer revealed. That being said, the company is also working on other projects, including two VR titles for Oculus: Other Worlds and Face Your Fears.
Goldstein also revealed the studio’s plans to become a multiple project studio, traditionally it has always been a one project studio. As of right now the studio is 70 strong, but is expecting to have an influx of people for the new project that should bring the studio to around 100 people.