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More details about This War of Mine studio's new game Industrial

"We want people to quit the game and stare at the wall..."

Industrial, the codenamed next game from This War of Mine team 11 bit Studios, will be officially revealed around PAX Prime in early September, and released second quarter 2017.

"That's the moment when we're going to announce that, finally, after months of being silent we will be ready to tell you what the game's about," Karol Zajaczkowski, RR & marketing manager, told me at Polish conference Digital Dragons 2016.

We haven't heard much about 11 bit's new game since I talked with Zajaczkowski a year ago. Back then he suggested we would hear more in autumn 2015 but we obviously did not.

11 bit is still cautious revealing too much information about Industrial but I learned what I could. The key things to know are that Industrial represents a step up in terms of ambition from This War of Mine, and that it is not This War of Mine 2.

A year ago there were 40 people at 11 bit and 10-15 were working on Industrial, but now nearly the entire 60-person workforce is beavering away on it. "This War of Mine was still an indie project," said Zajaczkowski, "but right now we are playing in a different league. It's not triple-A yet but I would say our next game is somewhere in-between."

He added: "Just like you said: it's not This War of Mine 2 - we are not planning to make a game like this at the moment. But what both of those games have in common is there will be a lot of serious topics. It's not some simple game you can enjoy playing on the couch. There is something that requires emotional involvement when playing."

Incidentally, on the topic of a possible TWOM2, he said: "We are seeing that people are willing to stay in touch with TWOM and it would be a shame to waste that. But again we don't want to go the easiest route, just to make TWOM2, because that's not how we do it."

We were joined by Jakub Stokalski, lead designer of Industrial, who had more to say about the new game.

"With the next game we're not really trying to go all out on some super-serious real-world problems," he said. "We're building a game for gamers. But at the same time we really believe in meaningful experiences. We don't want to build stuff that is frivolous, stuff you can play around with for an hour and forget about.

"Ideally we want to build experiences that will stay with you and make you ask questions about yourself, about society in general, and the dynamic we currently see today in the world. Not a social or political commentary game but a meaningful and serious game nonetheless."

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This War of Mine's unexpected success set an expectation for the sort of games 11 bit Studios should now produce - because, as Stokalski put it, "After TWOM, there is no way we can go and build some match-three mobile stuff."

But within those expectations there is now more room to manoeuvre, because This War of Mine showed there was an appetite - a profitable appetite - for that kind of game. It means with Industrial 11 bit Studios can push the boundaries even further.

"Today maybe some things with TWOM would be different, but four years ago when we started doing that game, no one actually knew it was going to catch," said Zajaczkowski. "Who'd expect that a game that's about suffering, about the emotional toll, would be so popular?"

"Today we know that people are ready for such games and we know we can push some borders even further. Taking that experience: that's what we're going to put in Industrial, because we know people are ready for serious gaming, for experiencing stuff that's pretty hard for them."

He added: "We want people to quit the game and stare at the wall and think about stuff like, 'Wow, did that just happen? I killed that guy?' That's what we want to happen. Not like you play the game and power-off the console and go to the shop. No - you have to think about it. And right now we know that some borders can move even further.

"For our next game you can expect that we're going to cross some lines that weren't crossed [in TWOM]."

Industrial won't be set around a real-world topic but it will be about things real people experience. "In this sense it will be based in reality," said Stokalski. "It will be a fictional subject about some very real things that we see and hear."

"You play 100 survival games and This War of Mine is different," said Zajaczkowski, "and this will happen again here. When you think about a genre it can be 'ah, ah, it's this type of game' - and then you will play it and it will strike you with a lot of different things that haven't been used in that genre ever before."

Industrial is currently only being developed for PC "and we'll see".

11 bit Studios' most recent release was This War of Mine: The Little Ones on console, which I reviewed and Recommended. Nevertheless I thought it could have been grittier and more daring, so it's nice to hear 11 bit is thinking along these lines with Industrial.

11 bit is also publishing games now too - games from smaller teams that otherwise may not make it to market. The first of these games is Beat Cop, a pixelated, side-scrolling, '80s-inspired game.

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