Indie studio Unknown Worlds has kicked up a press storm with
the release of Natural Selection 2 and its AAA look. It seems impossible that a
team of seven (henceforth to be called, the magnificent seven), could produce a
game with the depth, quality and features that we see in NS2. If you know
anything of the history around the Natural Selection universe, you will know
that this game was in fact, not the creation of a few dedicated individuals.
A Team Of Seven Is Making A Game That ‘Shouldn’t Be Possible’ Jason
Schreier on Kotaku
The phenomenon that is Natural Selection is a combined
labour of love from the NS community and its staff. It’s a triumph, an anthem
to celebrate the accomplishment of gamer and developer. I will play it just to
share in some way the incredible experience this community has gone through.
I caught up with Hugh Jeremy, designated spokesperson for
Unknown Worlds by day and NS shoutcaster and streamer by night.
What are the major
changes you’ve made from NS1 to NS2?
“We have two major
areas of focus for NS1 – NS2 changes.
The first is to make
the game more accessible to new players. Clearer tech-trees, better in-game
help, and removal of opaque and arbitrary game mechanics have helped us do
this. For example, individual players may now buy their own weapons. Simple
things like round-end (Who won? Who lost?) have been made clearer. The list
The second is to
make the game deeper, more balanced, and more competitive for advanced players.
We have achieved this by adding an alien commander, collecting detailed and in
depth balance statistics and creating a resource system that remains balanced
across all player numbers.
These are just
examples; there is a whole heap of stuff!”
The vibe around NS
speaks about exceptional passion and dedication, both from the developers and
the community. Why do you think this is?
“Like water, it is
the natural human tendency to move down the path of least resistance. We
instinctively walk downhill, we buy fancy exercise gear instead of just working
hard, and we like to make movies, games, and music that are easy to create and
Sometimes, we decide
to do something hard. Like land a rover on Mars, or win an Olympic gold medal.
Often we react to the idea of doing something hard with scorn: If it is hard,
it must be bad. This is not true. If something is hard to do, if it is hard to
bring a game concept to fruition, then it might just be that the reward at the
end of the development is an amazing, unexpected experience.
That is what Natural
Selection 2 is. Our passion to develop the game, the passion of our community
to create the game, and the whole ecosystem of Mods, Maps, eSports and humour
that is growing up around it. That is a reaction to people saying: “Oh wow,
this is not the easy way out.” It was hard to develop this thing. But you know
what, because it is different, unique, and challenging, it is providing us with
a new and amazing experience.”
A fantastic looking
and playing game that could truly be the start of something unique and
wonderful in the PC gaming world. Tony
Hsieh on gamingexaminer
What role has the NS
community played in the shaping of NS2?
“The NS community’s
role is total, complete, and crucial. The community funded the development.
They have created official maps. They built the entire spectator system. They
have argued passionately for balance changes, unit changes, and gameplay
additions. The team has been hired from the community. Mappers, coders,
spokespeople have all been hired because they were working on NS as volunteers,
as community members.
The question is not
‘what role did the community play’ but ‘what roles did the community not
NS2 has a very steep
learning curve, making it a daunting challenge for gamers who’ve not played
NS1. Have you implemented any game mechanics that could ease new players into
the NS2 world?
“NS1 had a steep
learning curve. NS2 does not. It has a challenging learning curve, more so than
say a free-to-play mobile browser game, but is not daunting anymore. We are
implementing in depth tutorial and help systems in the game to make sure new
players can find their way around easily. For example, ‘Explore Mode’ allows
player to explore a pre-built map with hints and tips about what everything is.
After all, if people
only wanted games they can pick up in 30 seconds flat, we’d all be playing
boring crap sequel clones all day!”
The electronic playground
is filled with F2P MMOFPS’s, like Planetside 2. How will NS2 make its own mark
and keep its player base?
“Making a game free-to-play does not mean creating a loyal player-base.
It is not the price of a game, but the quality of a game that dictates whether
or not players come and stay. In fact, we think players will appreciate the
fact that they do not have to pay-to-win, and simply pay a one off fee to gain
infinite access to our ever growing, constantly updated and unique game.
We already have over
40,000 pre-orders for NS2 and rapidly rising. We have debuted at no.5 on the
Steam top-seller list and no.1 on the indie list. Live cast NS2 matches happen
every single day, and competitive teams abound. Entire games have been built
using Spark mod tools. Our mapping forums are chock full of community
This game has a
wonderful, thriving, noisy, brilliant player-base. That player-base has built
this game. They will continue to do so – They own it, it’s theirs.”
Balancing a game
where the two teams are so very different is no easy feat, and Unknown
Worlds seem to have got it spot on. Jamie
Donnelly on Strategyinformer.
What are you
expectations of NS2 as an eSports title?
“We expect that it
the decision about whether or not NS2 will be an eSport does not lie with us.
It lies with the community of players already building a competitive ecosystem
around the game. ‘eSport’ is a term that gets bandied around as if it requires
the blessing of large gaming organisations to be valid. But we know better – We
know that if people want to play a game competitively, they do not wait for
someone to bless that play. They will make that play happen. Given the
exceptionally healthy rivalries, match circuits, livestreams and hero players
that are already growing, we expect that there will be a healthy competitive
The passion that surrounds NS2 is infections and admirable,
it demands our respect and support. MWEB GameZone will continue to host servers
and assist the local NS2 community with the resources available to us. For more
information on the game you can check out my article, “Thechallenging world of Natural Selection 2.” NS2 is also available via the Steam Store.
community: #natural-selection on
IRC (Shadowfire network)
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