Announcing the game you have been working on is one of the most simultaneously wonderful and harrowing experiences a game developer can have. After working passionately on something for a long time, you finally get to tell everyone about it and see if they get as excited about it as you are. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they’re not. Most of the time, it's actually both, as we all have different tastes, turning every scrolled-through gaming forum or comment field into a bittersweet roller coaster of affirmation and doubt.
All of this is perhaps especially true for Generation Zero. As our first self-published action game, there has been no big publishers, license holders or other external stakeholders involved. This is the studio’s game, the team's game, and my game to an extent that we maybe haven't had before. We are calling all the shots, but we are also taking all the risks. Some would probably say that an action game with tactical elements set in rural Sweden is a risk in and of itself, as opposed to - say - making a zombie survival battle royale game or something.
The creative freedom has allowed our small but brilliant team to double down on passion and develop an experience that we feel brings something unique to the table. An open world action game with co-op, where stealth elements and suspenseful exploration of a beautiful but hostile world are mixed with adrenaline-pumping explosive combat against an invading army of deadly machines. All set against a backdrop of 1980’s Sweden.
We often talk about Generation Zero as a guerilla action game, because it helps paint the picture of how the odds are stacked against you. The world of Generation Zero might be pretty to look at, but it is deadly to trek through and you need to be on the lookout for every car, shed or house that might provide the loot you need to survive. You never know what might wait over the next hill though and it could just as well be one of the enemies roaming the world looking for you, forcing you to decide whether you can take the fight or trust in your hiding skills. But whether you take the fight and win, take it and have to run away, or don’t take the fight at all - the game will never outright fail you and tell you to start over because you played it wrong. The persistently simulated enemy continues to roam if it wasn’t destroyed, keeping all of the scars of your encounter and letting you come back to finish the job later, and mission objectives are tied to the same persistent world, and will remain where you left off.
And this is at the heart of Generation Zero. The freedom to approach any situation with whatever means available and your own creativity as a player or group of players. There is no right way, only your way, and our goal is for no two fights to play out the same. Anything can alter how things play out, whether it is the obvious like your weapons or the type of enemies, or the more subtle factors like time of day, environmental opportunities, weather or specific skills.
If it is something I have learnt from 10 years of developing open world sandbox games, it is to let go of the reins and let the player take control. Don’t force solutions or dictate how they should play. Just provide the right toolbox of creative toys to play around with, and they will come up with solutions that you could never have imagined beforehand. Generation Zero has been created with that in mind and I can’t wait to see how players overcome insurmountable odds by setting advanced ambushes or taking down the toughest enemies through incredible gameplay skills. But I also can’t wait to see groups of friends foregoing the dense atmosphere of the game to just mess about in multiplayer, causing explosive mayhem and physics exploits in the most crazy-looking 80s avatars they can put together. I hope you find the game as exciting as we do, and can’t wait to show you more.
Welcome to Sweden!
Game Director, Generation Zero