I was lucky enough to catch up with Thomas Hentschel Lund, CEO and founder of Full Control
I have fond memories of both the Games Workshop’s tabletop Space Hulk Game as well as a version I played on the Commodore Amiga. How closely have you looked at the boardgame version as well as old videogame ports of Space Hulk?
We have taken the approach of a board game much more than the old videogame. We wanted both to go back to the roots as well as try to give board game fans a version that they can play on the go, and there are lots of board gamers who have no chance or money to get their hands on the physical version.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t take some queues on how briefings were done in both the old videogame port as well as Chaos Gate.
Since you started working on the game have you had any nightmares about being alone on a dead spaceship filled with Genstealers?
Hahaha. Not specifically that part, lots of other nightmares about being a small indie team releasing the first non-THQ/Relic/AAA production Warhammer 40k game though and what the expectations are from a 12 man team vs. big studios.
We are very proud of what we have done and how it worked out. There are also a few things we could have done better and different, but overall we met our goals and did what we promised to do.
Taking on a Games Workshop property is a big step for Full Control. Is it intimidating, or just exciting to work with such an established company and the universe they have created?
It’s a fantastic journey – from how the license was initially made to now. We are fans of GW, 40k and Space Hulk specifically, and it has not been without pride and sometimes small amounts of fear that we have done this project.
Games Workshop have been incredible to work with though, and being able to feed back into the lore and 40k world is incredible. We definitely have loved it so far, and there is still so much to do and contribute.
It has also opened a world of opportunity for us now both in regards to Space Hulk and other future games.
As a company we have also grown. From a smaller independent studio with roots in mobile titles to now 15 people making PC games.
You say your mission is to deliver new strategy games for the “soccer dad” group. I don’t like football, but I do like 40K a lot! As a 40K fan, what can I expect to see of the universe I love?
Primarily a return to turn-based. With less time to play big real time games, turn-based is simply a great solution to “soccer dad” style gaming. We can deliver 40k to you as it was originally created, in a fantastic 3d world and on multiple platforms.
With the rise of tablets, we can start deliver cross platform games that seamlessly move from PC to iPads and back again.
So you can have 40k at home and 40k on the move. Perfect!
What Warhammer material did you look to for inspiration? Novels, like those by Dan Abnett perhaps?
We took lots of input from inside and outside of 40k to inspire us.
From physical things, we looked at some of the environment models like Zone Mortalis from Forge World and the building models from Games Workshop like Fortress of Redemption. But also a lot of hints came from looking at interior photos of gothic churches.
Video game wise we played a lot of Space Marine, Dawn of War and XCOM:EU.
Story wise we have been looking mostly into the Space Hulk material though. The different versions as well as lots of White Dwarf reading.
Games Workshop also provided us with lots of concept art from different 40k aspects related to Space Hulk and generally interiors.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in translating the tabeltop game to the computer?
We have had different challenges – one of them being that Space Hulk is very interaction/social driven with randomness of dice playing a large role. Those things are not translatable into a video game, and we took the decision to focus more on what we could do on great visuals, animations, audio and so on.
We also took the decision to not make a pure 1:1 translation, but twisting it into a more video game approach while having most of the core rules intact from the board game.
I think we ended up with a good middle ground of what was possible, and seeing people having 60+ hours playtime already on Steam supports this. There are definitely also people who don’t like it and expected something different and/or even more video game aspects.
What are you most proud of in your interpretation of Space Hulk?
One of the most proud things is, that Space Hulk has replaced Dawn of War 2 as the “lunch break game” in the office. The guys in the studio totally enjoy the game, and that’s an achievement in itself.
On a more external side, I am simply proud that we managed to deliver a very focussed turn-based 40k game that lots of people enjoy to play. The response has been great and lots of people are emailing us how much they enjoy the game and want more.
Will Android owners or console gamers get to play this game at some point too?
We will definitely expand Space Hulk into as many platforms as possible moving forward.
Depending on the success on iOS, we will take a very hard look at Android right after. It’s a very tricky platform to develop for and make a living, but its getting better and better all the time. And we are very much looking at it.
Consoles are more problematic, as releasing on them is not possible without a large investment and/or partners to get it out. But we already started talks on this – but where they lead is very unknown at this point in time.
What are your plans for the future? Expansion packs? How about you show some love to us Tau fans out there?
First and foremost we don’t see Space Hulk as a fire-and-forget project. Over the next period of time we will add more content, several playable Space Marine chapters, coop missions as well as level editor support to the game. For as long as we can pay our salary and rent based on these additions, we will continue to do this.
The main production has ended though and that part of the team is now switching over to Jagged Alliance Flashback project. We ran a Kickstarter in May this year to produce a turn-based strategy RPG in this old school IP taking it back to its roots. That will be our main project for 2014.
But we are soon going to sit down and look into the eyes of the licensing department at Games Workshop to try to answer the question of “What’s next”. How, when, what – that is all too early to talk about. But we definitely would like to make more turn-based 40k games.