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Interview: 11 Bit studios - creators of Frostpunk and This War of Mine

Published: 13:30, 18 March 2020
Updated: 13:36, 18 March 2020
11 Bit Studios logo on frostpunk and children of morta background
11 Bit Studios

Polish developers 11 Bit Studios' impressive catalogue of games is set to become richer with new projects in 2020 and beyond. We talked to Konrad Adamczewski, the developers' PR Specialist about these and many other things in our latest interview.

You'll find some of the most emotional yet highly upsetting stories in 11 Bit Studios' games portfolio. From Frostpunk's grim and cold atmosphere where you're faced with tough moral decisions to This War of Mine's gripping war experience, 11 Bit Studios' games have been offering plenty of unforgettable moments and all we can say is - long may it continue.

And continue it will as Polish developers have several major projects in the works including their biggest game currently codenamed as Project 8. 11 Bit Studios were happy to talk about these and other games and offer their thoughts on some additional matters like micro-transactions, their Polish fellas in Techland and CD Projekt Red and more.

What can we expect from 11 Bit Studios in the future?

11 bit studios is expanding and we just moved into a new office that broadens our capacity in terms of employment. Right now we're working on three in-house projects and signed three new titles for the publishing division. The first game is coming from polish studio Fool's Theory know from stealthy action RPG Seven: The Dasy Long Gone, and second is a new project from Moonlighter makers - Digital Sun Games. 

Also, we will be releasing the third expansion for Frostpunk, the Moonlighter will hit iOS platforms and Children of Morta will be getting updates throughout the whole year according to 2020 road map. So a lot of exciting things are happening but also a lot of those which must remain a mystery for now.

Do you have bigger plans, perhaps for some AAA projects?

We cannot compete in terms of budgets and team size with juggernauts of the AAA segment but we don't need to race against them. We consider being premium indies that deliver an AAA-quality. For us, more important is to have a few projects released across a few years, both from our teams and external studios than making one game during that time. And right now we're capable to develop three games at the same time internally and the teams are growing, so we will get there in a few years and then see consider what we can do next.  

11 bit studios Picture of a player fighting enemies in Children of Morta Children of Morta

What areas of mythology and/or lore would you like to explore in the future? 

Our philosophy is more about what topics or dilemmas that we could touch and put atop. The human element is very important. Frostpunk and This War of Mine told about the humane conditions during extreme and dire circumstances. And that is a great ground to craft meaningful stories. If we highlight problems to tackle we can form a narrative or even gameplay elements around them.

Searching for those meaningful bits and inserting them into particular lore is more important than searching for particular mythology or a concept. Like with XIXth the century in Frostpunk. With its child labour and so on it suited themes like how far are you willing to go to survive a terrible situation and when the survival of a species depended on you.

Let's say you have an infinite budget, how would you spend it? What kind of game would 11 Bit Studios love to create?

I can tell you what game I would create. I love open-world games and would be thrilled to see one set during medieval times in Poland with a narrative that leads to the Battle of Grunwald which was one of the biggest battles in medieval Europe. Or during the XVII century like polish famous novel With Fire and Sword. Those were turbulent times that would fit a sandbox action-RPG game.

This War of Mine was inspired by the Siege of Sarajevo. Will you continue to explore similar, heartbreaking stories in your next games?

Like I’ve said before - human conditions during uncommon and uncomfortable circumstances are thrilling areas to explore. We want to ask players relevant questions and for this, we need them to face certain situations. Those could be inspired by real events like wars or theoretical like endless winter in Frostpunk. It doesn’t matter so much since the goal is more about telling thought-provoking stories. Those fit into our philosophy so we will continue to head in that direction.

11 bit studios Picture of a war torn city in This War of Mine This War of Mine

You are regarded as a studio that brings a degree of morality to choices a player makes, rather than the simple binary good/bad theme seen in many games. How do you feel about being such a moral compass?

We don’t want to guide the player in a certain direction like a compass. We don’t want to put our own ideas into their heads. We rather let them take control of a steering wheel. We provide them an environment that gives them the opportunity to make their own decisions and confront the outcomes. 

A game codenamed Project 8 is your next big thing. We know it's still too early to talk about it but can you at least tell us about the scope of the project? Is this your biggest title yet?

We broaden the scale of our projects from one to another and Project 8 fits into this evolution with a budget and scope that surpass Frostpunk. The development process is a bit different this time since simultaneous release across PC and consoles is very important for us, and the tone of the game will be a bit lighter this time, but it’s all we could tell at this moment.

We know it is always hard to pick one since you have so many great games behind you, but what's your favourite title?

I can speak for myself and I try to play as many games as possible from various genres. But action-oriented games from our portfolio, like Moonlighter and hack ‘n’ slash Children of Morta are closer to my heart. Of course, I’ve played a lot of This War of Mine and Frostpunk too, but struggled to survive the war and wasn’t a wise ruler of the city.

11 Bit Studios Frostpunk: The Last Autumn city Frostpunk: The Last Autumn

The most anticipated game of 2020 is coming from Poland. What are your thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077 and CD Projekt Red's colossal success?

As a gamer, I really can’t wait to put my hands on Cyberpunk 2077 and we could be super proud that such anticipated games come from Poland. Especially, that our offices aren’t far away and we know those guys since people change companies and polish game dev people tend to spend time together during conferences and industry parties despite working for different studios. So we keep our fingers crossed for their success also. 

Polish developers such as CDPR, Techland and yourselves enjoy a lot of love within the gaming communities. In the era of microtransactions and loot boxes, is it becoming increasingly harder to earn the respect and support from players?  

The community provides a great amount of feedback, both positive and negative. The latter proves to be even more important because it’s crucial to hear honest opinions about what they don’t like about our games. And it’s great we have people who call themselves fans of 11 bit studios games. 

They play a few of our titles, despite the genre, since they know they like what we deliver in general. For us, prolonging the lifecycle of a product work miracles. It is extremely important to stay true to what you believe despite the market trends. We believe in the well-balanced flow of paid and free expansions and DLC-s for our games.

Monetizing everything you create is bad since players simply deserve to get some free content just for being with us. This War of Mine flow of updates and new content lasted for five years. We kept a separate, dedicated team for this that whole time. That kind of commitment speaks out to many players. That’s a self-propelled system.

11 Bit Studios photo showing 11 Bit Studios members 11 Bit Studios

A massive thank you to Konrad Adamczewski and 11 Bit Studios for taking the time for this interview.

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