Outriders Interview – People Can Fly Talks GaaS, Next-Gen and More

Outriders legendary weapons

Outriders is quite possibly the first big, AAA game set for release this 2021. While the game isn’t due out until April 1, there is a demo out now that gives gamers a beefy three-hour taste of what’s to come.

Just in time for the demo’s release, Square Enix invited MP1st (along with other gaming media) to have a roundtable phone interview with Lead Game Designer Piotr Nowakowski, and Creative Director Bartek Kmita at People Can Fly. The Polish studio known for developing games like Bulletstorm, Gears of War Judgment and more, was game to answer the questions thrown at them and here’s the transcript of that chat.

(Editor’s Note: Due to a technical error, some parts of the interview have been cut, and aside from sentence structure and a few grammatical edits, we have left the interview answers as is).

outriders demo review

Q: What was the decision making process in making  it (the demo) so large, basically making it the first part of the game that players can then just transfer over?

PCF: We wanted to show some basics about our game and realized that if we want to show, we’d have to slowly drag new players into it and it appears to be the first two hours of the game. We aren’t showing everything, and of course, it was tempting to basically troll the people  in the middle of the game…for some audience maybe that would be even better, because, y’know, more tools to play, more builds to create, more things to play with which where our game shines at the moment…it’s the greatest part of the game when you have to build your character in play.

But on the other hand, we know it’s not all that the people who’ve played the demo who don’t have experience with our game, but they don’t have the experience with this kind of games. The RPG systems, the loot systems, so we want to drag them into all those things, so what better way than to start from the beginning.

Another end, we took a bit more time to optimize everything and to show the path of the game and present what we have. On the other hand, that is the benefit of it, because when you finish this, you can swiftly go and buy the game, and your gameplay will be there, so we don’t have that problem of the player in the middle of the game that you have to go to the start and start a new character, and all of this. So there are pros and cons to it, but we have a complex game and maybe for some games 2-3 hours of gameplay is huge, but it’s a really, really small part of it, so we are not afraid of showing basically this kind of bigger content.

Q: This was supposed to come out late last year and obviously a lot of games have been delayed because of COVID and a lot of other fun stuff, so I was wondering what made you folks decide to delay the game, and the second part of that question is, what did you learn from this delay, from this extra time?

OK, first of all, we decided to delay the game, delay the launch because we weren’t confident that what we were giving is done. And because we wasted a lot of time in (unintelligible) we wanted to give people the full package. The whole product, so we decided to basically take more time to finish it, change some elements we are not happy about, add some small things here and there . We could have in theory, released this game and fix all the things in patches  and do these kind of things, but we decided to not go this way,  together with Square, we said no, and it’s better to delay this project, until we felt it was something that we felt, “OK, this is good, this is what we have, if they don’t like it, it’s the fault of the game; not that we didn’t do our best to basically finish it.” So that was the thought process behind it. The luxury we had that Square Enix — the publisher — agreed with us. We know that some people weren’t happy with this decision but on the other hand, overall  the sum of our happiness would be OK because later (it) would get more polish and better content. So that was basically the decision — the simple decision, that we weren’t able to finish everything on time.

We will see how the players react to the game after release, but for now, I feel that it’s worth doing that — polishing the game and making that additional effort because we’re looking at how the game looks right now and where we were on release date, it’s just more polished and it plays better.

Q: There’s been some scrutiny on some next-gen games moving on and neglecting their current-gen counterparts, and I wanted to ask, how has PCF and Outriders worked to create an optimal version of the game for PS4 and Xbox One?

PCF: For this game we are thinking of PS4 and Xbox One, so from day one we were releasing this game on those consoles  so that was normal for us, on the other hand, we are developing the game on high-end PCs, so we had in mind, y’know, let’s say lower spec and higher spec in the same moment. So the new consoles meet somewhere in between. But we never forget about the PS4 or the previous Xbox, because at some moment, when we start the development they were our main platforms. There was no part where we had the game (on higher specs) and right now let’s check out how it works on the previous gen. That was just not the case.

Q: Just to touch upon that next-gen question, I noticed in the broadcast preview for the Xbox Series S that you were targeting 1080p at 30fps, is that correct? Or can we expect 60fps to show up on the console?

(Editor’s note): The answers here are different from what People Can Fly has announced after the interview. Please check here for further information about this.

Q: What are your expectations for cross-platform play? I know it’s turned off by default, so I wanted to ask: are there any known issues that players should be aware of when attempting to play cross-platform?

PCF: Known technical issues that came to our mind: it’s when you’re with friends on different platforms, because of the technical aspect it’s not fully perfect, we are aware of that, we are trying to figure out some kind of solution for that but it’s not affecting gameplay itself or things like, it’s just how it is to share all the friends list for all the platforms . From my perspective that’s the only small thing that I can mention as not being perfect on the cross-platform point of view.

Q: Is this something that’s going to be fixed for launch or is that something that’s going to continuously worked on?

PCF: So, I don’t know if we’ll be able to somehow finalize that, but maybe we’ll find some solutions that are outside of our systems that still can be used for players connectivity to make it easier. So here I am talking about some workarounds and different solutions that’s something we need to implement in-game, if there are other options we would do, but right now seems like a little bit harder to find friends on different platforms  because we cannot show that contacts between platforms. But it’s the only thing that’s there (known issue).

outriders new trailer

Q: It’s not a live service game and I wanted to sort of check in on that and see if that was still sort of the case, and  wanted to revisit that and  talk about why that continues to be the case or not be the case.

PCF: That is still the case, so we are not a Games as a Service (GaaS), nothing has changed here. We were temped in the beginning to go this way, but we want to go into the different process and realize that these systems…didn’t make progress for us, and not making the game better and it just basically made the game worse, so we decided to resign from it.

For example I can give the story component, the Games as a Service was a little bit difficult for us to chop into serious content. This would put things differently, and we realized this game has a whole story where it has a beginning to end so basically, not working (GaaS) for us, And there were other systems that weren’t exactly working, I know it sounded because most of the shooter competitors are doing the Games as a Service that this can work great, but somehow in our mind it worked differently and (we were thinking) more old-school like Diablo, Diablo-style. What’s important is when we release the game that doesn’t mean we abandon the game, and we don’t want to work on this game anymore. If we have the player base, People (PCF) will be willing to say this works for sure to produce more content, produce more adventures, and activities for the people. It doesn’t have to always as a Games as a Service system, rather maybe fit it into bigger blocks with the daily chores or daily quests or however you call it.

Q: Say this game does really well, gets a great fan base, you decide to do more content, would that be sort of like a free DLC for players, or sort of too far out…

PCF: We will see what happens. Right now, it’s too soon to talk about it probably.

Q: Can Stadia users expect a demo anytime soon?

PCF: It’s too early right now to make some statements or confirmations, so we will see how it goes.

outriders new gameplay

Q: How is the solo campaign experience and the balancing compared to playing in co-op?

PCP: The experience should be evenly interesting and intensive for someone who plays solo and co-op…. given the balance and each setup will feel comfortable. It’s a little bit different of course, because if you play in a team you may have more tools, the combined power of all the builds tree from different or same characters. So the cooperative mechanics still, most of the mechanics exist also in single because we were not building the game that where one class interacts with a different class and there is a interaction point. It was rather lets have pieces of elements that the system are built and the pieces can be on one class and the second and then the interaction is created.

Still you can have both of the elements on a single class because there are mods for the weapons. So while the class is oriented to one of the direction, the more tools that you have, the different the gameplay can be. I’ll say playing in a single you will experience all the mechanics you will have in multiplayer, but playing it in multi adds a different layer to that.

The endgame content is aimed more towards the multiplayer, still you can beat that in single. It will be a little bit more challenging, it will take more time to gather all the things and be more perfect. Still, it will be available in single-player. If you are a single-player oriented player, yeah, you will have a full game with everything available for you.

If you prefer the multiplayer, then it will add additional layers. What’s the most interesting, you can switch between that at any moment. That was super important for us when we were thinking about the game, because that’s the way we like to play. Sometimes you are in the mood, “yeah I’ll just play alone”…but then you play with your friends, you don’t have to switch games, its the same one, you can play with a different approach, different possibility, the difficult adjust. So from that point of view it’s a competent experience and that was one of our goals and I really feel we succeeded, we are super happy about that approach.

We’d like to thank Square Enix for inviting us to chat with People Can Fly. Outriders is set for release this April 1 on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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