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Space Hulk Deathwing: Looking Forward and Making Improvements

If you played Space Hulk: Deathwing, a third person co-op shooter based on the Warhammer 40K universe, from Streum on Studio and Cyanide last year, you might have walked away with some less than ideal impressions. For the impressive premise, there were a ton of problems and design choices that didn’t really make for the most fun experience. That being said, Streum on Studio has been dedicated to fixing a lot of the issues. It’s been supporting Space Hulk: Deathwing with a number of updates and will actually be looking to release the game on Xbox One and PS4 this year.

GamingBolt spoke to the developer about the upcoming console releases, what’s being done to improve the overall experience and why players should consider re-visiting the plucky shooter.

“We saw many players were unhappy about being “forced” to have an apothecary, so we made changes that allow players to have more diverse compositions in multiplayer.”

How has the reception been to Space Hulk Deathwing since launch? What motivated a release on consoles?

At launch, we faced some technical issues – more than we expected to encounter. Yet we also saw that beyond the technical issues, most players were having a lot of fun with the core of our game, which was very motivating.

In partnership with our publisher, we have continued to extensively support the game on PC with free updates since release, and we’re soon releasing the game for consoles. There’s a lot of anticipation for the console version, and we think the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be great platforms for the game!

Space Hulk Deathwing has been receiving numerous updates since launch. How much has fan feedback influenced that?

We just released our 7th free update – and with each one we strive to fundamentally improve the game.  The fan feedback has been invaluable; we try to read everything. Many changes have been made based directly on player feedback. For example, we saw many players were unhappy about being “forced” to have an apothecary, so we made changes that allow players to have more diverse compositions in multiplayer.

The new game mode Special Missions released with the 6th update, and is also based on player feedback. Players really liked the environments, but wanted different objectives to do inside them. It has also allowed us to get deeper in the randomization of objectives, enemies and situation to get much better replayability, especially in special missions. As they are separate from the main campaign we have a lot more of freedom.

What obstacles did you face in bringing Space Hulk Deathwing to consoles?

To allow the console versions to run well, we had to improve the way the loading works. While it might not be seen on the PC version, this is something that took quite some time.

“We like the idea of all the classes being specialized, as it is interesting in team play and offers many different ways to play.”

What major changes can we look forward to with regards to the interface, controls, graphics and so on?

We improved the interface and controller mapping for the console. The interface took us a long time but we are very happy with the results. It feels clearer and is more intuitive.

Are there any console-exclusive features that we can look forward to? Perhaps some unique playlists that will be cycled in and out?

There are no console exclusives features, we will release the Enhanced Version as a totally free update for the PC at the same time as the console releases.

How will the console releases affect updates going forward? Can we expect the same updates to consoles as well as PC?

Right now we are focusing on the content for the Enhanced Edition.

Several complaints have been made about Deathwing since launch including the imbalance between classes, lack of bots in multiplayer and lack of progression between matches. What are your thoughts on these and how are you working to fix them?

The recent patches and our work goes in line with much of this feedback. We like the idea of all the classes being specialized, as it is interesting in team play and offers many different ways to play. You have to take in consideration the advantages and disadvantages of your class, and play in accordance with them.

We tried to improve diversity by adding more weapons and adding skills for many classes to give more options while reducing the feeling that the apothecary was a requirement to succeed (even if it can make life easier to get one). As for the progression between matches – it’s coming!

“We are happy with the engine, and we are getting more and more used to it, as it was our first big project using it.”

What new content can we expect from Deathwing in the next few months?

So far we have already released more weapons, more skills, a new class and a new game mode. The progression system with persistent class customization is still to come!

What is the biggest feature that you personally wish to add to Deathwing in the future?

We are all very excited to unveil the Customization feature, not much of which has been revealed yet. We can assure you that it will make each player feel unique, with many things to unlock! We hope to be able to talk about it in-depth soon, but a few things that we can say: it will be unlockable both in solo and in multiplayer, and everything is unlockable in-game, with no microtransactions.

Can we expect a sequel to the game in the near future or a potential new game in the same universe?

All we can say is that we are absolute fans of the universe, and it’s great to be able to show it through our game!

Can you please tell us about the engine that the game is running on? The game looks absolutely spectacular.

The game has been made on Unreal Engine 4, which allows for very nice shading and lighting effects. We are happy with the engine, and we are getting more and more used to it, as it was our first big project using it.

What kind of improvements have you made to the engine in terms of physical based rendering, global illumination and lighting?

UE4 on its own has what is needed to get great rendering. As long as you understand what to do (and what not to do) and how to work with it. The artist’s workflow is quite different than when working physical base rendering. They have to learn how to work with it to achieve the best results, but also to understand the few cases where they should ignore physical rendering to achieve what they want.

“The differences between PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are not as big in terms of development as you might think.”

Physical rendering is good, but in some circumstances you prefer something less physical but prettier. One great challenge was to switch between what needs to be lightened dynamically and what needs to be baked. So we mainly compose with what UE4 has and artists’ regard. Of course, some things have been modified to better suit our needs. But as said, UE4 was already great on that point.

In a recent interview, Mark Cerny, the lead engineer of the PlayStation 4 Pro claimed that converting a base PS4 game to PS4 Pro version is just 0.2 Or 0.3% of the overall effort. What is your take on this? Do you think that the extra work required to develop an additional Pro version is actually bigger than the number quoted?

Definitely, the hard part is having the game working well on PS4, then the PS4 Pro allows you for a better experience. I can’t comment on the number though.

The Xbox One X has been designed as a native 4K console to begin with. But do you think it’s capable to run your game not only in 4K but at Ultra PC settings and that too at 60fps?

We can’t comment on this just yet.

What is your take on the differences between the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X from a development perspective?

The differences between PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are not as big in terms of development as you might think. They are both more powerful version of the “vanilla” console and serve the same purposes: providing a better graphical experience for the user. The hard part is getting your game to work well on the vanilla console, then the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X allows for cool bonuses.

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