Describing itself as “a fast-paced shooter in which players compete in large-scale chaotic PvP spectacles of skill, wit and a little luck, where everyone must fight to the death to stand alone at the top of the podium“, H1Z1: King of the Kill was released on Steam Early Access earlier this year in order to allow Daybreak Game Company to craft a game that fulfilled consumer expectations. Since then, the developer has been adding to the game via patches and has kept audiences informed of any tweaks and updates. As part of this commitment to transparency, I spoke to Garrett Fern (Senior Game Designer) and Terrence Yee (Producer) and got to quiz them on how King of the Kill came about.
What are the biggest differences between King of the Kill and the H1Z1 franchise? How can people distinguish between the two? At the same time, how are the two games connected?
Terrence Yee: They’re connected in the sense that it’s kind of the same universe and the same lore. What’s the concept behind the world that they’re in? Some sort of biological disaster happened. All the humanity has been wiped out. At that point, Just Survive is the persistent, horror, zombie, survival game – whereas King of the Kill is the more arcadey kill-fest where 150 people jump into a giant arena which is essentially the map, the 8K-by-8K map. And they survive to last man standing.
What was the biggest inspiration for having King of the Kill as part of the continuation of the franchise? Why go for a PvP orientated large-scale arena-type game?
Terrence Yee: Yeah. A couple of designers just had this idea to make a game mode based on the Just Survive game that they had. And it turned out to be extremely popular and accepted by the customers and our players. So we decided to just pour a whole bunch of more resource into it and begin to fully develop it.
Garrett Fern: Yeah. It occurred sort of organically because we developed the tech to build such a game as we were building the open-world, zombie survival game. And like Terrence said, a couple of designers got some programming resources, and just kind of ran with it, and wound up with something pretty exceptional.
Terrence Yee: Yeah. And then because the visions of the games are very divergent, we ended up splitting the product. And so that’s why there are two separate products now with two separate teams.
The game is currently in Early Access. How long has the game been in development for?
Terrence Yee: About a year and a half total. H1Z1 itself launched in January 2015 on Early Access. And then the team split between King of the Kill and Just Survive in February 2016.
When it launches, is the title going to be free to play?
Terrence Yee: Nope, you’re still paying.
When is the game due out?
Terrence Yee: Really soon. But we don’t release exact dates because we really just want to make this as good as possible…
Are there any plans for a console release?
Terrence Yee: Yes.
Okay, so PS4 and XBox One?
Terrence Yee: Correct.
What about NX or Wii U?
Terrence Yee: None that we’re looking at yet.
How many maps is H1Z1: King of the Kill going to have?
Terrence Yee: It’ll have one map when we launch. The map is actually 10 by 10, so 100 square kilometres. But because the map is so large and because you randomly spawn in and because the gas mechanic randomly pushes players, the game is always new. And there will just be so much more to explore and actually learn on this gigantic map.
Considering how congested the games arena is right now, and given that paid-for products like Battleborn have basically been still-born, what are you doing to ensure that King of the Kill will be able to find a sizable audience as a paid-for product – enough to the extent that players and developers will both find the project to be “worth it”?
Terrence Yee: Sure. It comes down to perceived value for the players. So we’re really concentrating on the quality of the experience and also the differentiation. Right now, there’s no game that matches this scale and this kind of experience that you can get in the game.
The game is able to host 150 players. What sort of player base are you looking at? How big an audience will you need in order for the game to be worth it from a development perspective?
Terrence Yee: Oh, you’re talking to the wrong people. Unfortunately, I don’t know those numbers.
Garrett Fern: We don’t know finance.
Terrence Yee: Yeah, that’s a finance number.
The game is designed to have co-op multiplayer. Will there be lead tables and squad-based tactics implemented as part of the final build?
Terrence Yee: We’re going to be implementing a scoring system, and we have leader-boards already. We do also support a two- and five-man mode. So you can play in teams in that sense.
Garrett Fern: But initially, the scoring system will only be for the solo…
Terrence Yee: Oh, that’s true. Yeah, initially.
King of the Kill is a third-person-oriented game. Is there going to be a first-person view for players? Will that be implemented?
Terrence Yee: You can actually switch to it.
The game has crafting in it. Are you looking to have monetisation options where people can buy certain aesthetic enhancements, or guns, via paid DLC?
Terrence Yee: We won’t do anything that increases player power or accuracy or anything like that, because we want to be as purely competitive product as possible. So all that is paid for is just cosmetic looks.
Will there be a modding aspect implemented within the game, even if it’s just for PC?
Terrence Yee: We haven’t really gone down too far that road yet.
I know that King of the Kill has got one map which is 10km x 10km. Is there any way for people to be able to change certain variables in the map when they are logging into the servers? Is there anything like that which will enable them change environmental locales?
Terrence Yee: Not right now… We’re concentrating just on our new map that will be just as it is.
Is this something that you are looking to implement in future?
Terrence Yee: Probably. We can’t talk about that right now.
Thank you very much.