As GTFO comes to a close and 10 Chambers looks towards gearing up for their next title in Den of Wolves, the air around this developer and the potential of their next project is infectiously exciting. Ulf Andersson and Simon Viklund at the helm of a new heisting game with a sci-fi flavour is an unexpected, but very welcome prospect. Ahead of its reveal at The Game Awards, we got to sit down with Simon Viklund to chat about Den of Wolves and the conclusion of GTFO.
Concluding GTFO With Rundown 8.0
As far as live-service titles go, GTFO has had a pretty strong run if you’re willing to label it as such. Despite four full years since its launch in early-access, 10 Chambers have consistently delivered new content and updates to keep players coming back. Perhaps more impressive is how its very niche appeal and hardcore nature still resonates with so many players. When asked about how it feels to be wrapping on GTFO after all these years, Simon spoke to the conflicting nature of it all; “It’s bittersweet, we all have mixed emotions, for sure. GTFO has been a passion project for us, it turned out so well and it was important to us as a studio. It’s hard to let something go when you have a good thing going, but it isn’t a game that can sustain 10 Chambers long-term.”
Simon also discussed hopes and the efforts that the team put into Rundown 8.0 in an attempt to deliver a satisfying conclusion for longtime players; “I can only hope players will enjoy it. I don’t have any expectations, but we put a lot of effort into it. The level design department and the narrative team are the ones working on the latest stuff, and it’s quite ambitious in terms of storytelling.”
Building Something New With Den of Wolves
Seeing the original creators of PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2 come back around to heisting is a promising concept after all these years. When asked about how it feels to be returning to roots, Simon described that while it feels familiar, it’s also quite different; “In a way you can say we’re going back to the heist stuff, but it’s also a forward motion. GTFO was based on the refinement of mechanics from the PAYDAY games, where Den of Wolves is a honing of mechanics in the PAYDAY games and what we did in GTFO. Thematically, we are going back to something that we’ve done before, but the science-fiction elements of it brings a lot of fresh ideas to the table, I think.”
One divisive element of GTFO – especially when it launched in early-access – was its difficulty. It’s undoubtedly a hardcore game and has quite a narrow appeal, but the players who really gel with it have stuck with it, because there isn’t much else quite like it. One thing Simon made clear about Den of Wolves was that it would fall more in line with PAYDAY in terms of difficulty. That’s not to say it’ll be easy, but definitely less stress-inducing than GTFO can be in some of its more tense content.
When asked about the opportunity to bring back old and new players with increased accessibility, Simon expressed excitement regarding reaching a wider audience; “Yeah, we’re excited to bring old PAYDAY fans back into the fold. At the moment, PAYDAY 3 isn’t as complex or in-depth as PAYDAY 2, and we don’t want Starbreeze Studios to fail, but there’s definitely room for more than one franchise in the space. If they do well, it forces us to do better also.”
The sci-fi setting of Midway City is perhaps the most distinct element of Den of Wolves that we know about so far. Simon mentioned that this had always been a part of the vision for this project; “The sci-fi stuff was there from the get-go. The idea came from creating a place or location that lets us do anything we want. What enemies you fight, the type of weapons you have access to and even just our general game concepts. It’s a groundwork we can continually build from.”
“Ulf Andersson constantly has at least 200 game design ideas floating around in his head. He’s a genius when it comes that stuff. This is a pipe dream he’s had for a long, long time. There are elements we have in PAYDAY: The Heist, PAYDAY 2, and GTFO that all feed into Den of Wolves, those games had to be made first. Those ideas he had as we worked on our earlier games have always been in there, they’ve just found a new context in the years that 10 Chambers has been developing.”
The role of science-fiction in Den of Wolves is deeper than just serving as inspiration for its visual aesthetics. During a deeper look at the game, there was mention taking inspiration from sci-fi classics to inform some of the set-pieces and heisting scenarios. Ghost In The Shell, Blade Runner, The Matrix amongst others were all mentioned – all of which are ripe with timeless ideas and concepts to pull from.
When asked if the team had any elements or ideas that they really wanted to see in the game, Simon spoke broadly about without giving away too many specifics; “We have fully-formed ideas and concepts that allow Midway City to be a sort of brick and mortar world of Den of Wolves. We want it to encompass a lot of different visual motifs and ideas to keep it interesting for us as developers, and for the players by offering a variety of locations.”
“We aren’t ready to go into detail yet, but Midway City is very consciously designed to be fun for us as developers. It allows us to throw out any idea and play with it. We failed in our previous titles by limiting ourselves in setting. We like the flexibility these sci-fi aspects afford us, they’ve been so important in allowing us to open up and get more creative. It’s important for us to enjoy the journey of developing the game, if you have fun making it, I think it’s evident in the final product.”
Difficulty was a massive point of contention when GTFO released in early access, but 10 Chambers have since stuck to their guns and cultivated a hardcore experience with a dedicated fanbase. The return to a more tame difficulty level in Den of Wolves means more people will be able to jump in, but it’ll still offer challenge to those looking for it. When asked about how it compares to PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2, Simon talked about what they’re aiming for.
“Maybe not as arcade-like as something like PAYDAY 2 turned out to be, but something much closer to the first two PAYDAY games. I think people tend to forget that we worked on casual games before moving onto GTFO. We have loads of combined experience among the team from all different kinds of titles. 10 Chambers wasn’t founded to make hardcore games – that’s just where we started with GTFO. It’s actually much harder to make a difficult game, haha.”
He further elaborated on the way they approached difficulty in PAYDAY and how that’s going to change in Den of Wolves; “We will have difficulty variations but they won’t be a defined choice. It’s weaved into the experience in a more thematic way. I can’t go into details too much, but it’s going to be a different sort of difficulty system that allows players to play a version of the storyline that presents more challenge. We also want that to accommodate players who want a more casual experience.”
Simon is most well known for his work as the composer of PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2, as well as his work on GTFO. One thing mentioned during our preview was that composing for a horror game has been a very different experience for Simon in comparison to working on the early PAYDAY games; “I’ve been asking in every meeting since the year 2000 – when are we going to do the horror game? Working on GTFO has been an eye-opening experience because I never realised how difficult it is to make horror music.”
“My music production process is so ingrained in electronic music. Unnerving horror music is so different because you’re trying to create a mood. It has weird time signatures, it’s sort of atonal, non-melodic, and overall just more creepy. You can’t structure it like you would an EDM track, I think it turned out okay ultimately, but it was a very hard process. I’m happy to be moving back to something with a little more attitude and swag because GTFO’s music couldn’t have either of those, haha.”
Simon further elaborated on the kind of music he wants to make for Den of Wolves; “I have clear ideas of things I want to avoid repeating that I’ve done before. What’s important is to be able to convey the same badass energy that PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2 do. That emotion can be conveyed well through electronic music with different textures and tempos. A lot of the music in the PAYDAY games is like club music, I don’t want to go down that route again.”
“I want to make it futuristic, but it can get to a point where it’s too avant-garde for its own good. It won’t evoke the emotion that it should. We want it to sound like what electronic music would sound like decades from today. I also want to collaborate with composers or EDM producers of different ethnicities to weave flavour into the world and storyline given the cultural melting pot that Midway City is.”
If you missed the announcement for Den of Wolves at The Game Awards, you can check out the trailer below. The game is due to launch in early access for PC in the coming years. In the meantime, the final content drop for GTFO – Rundown 8.0 – is live right now!