A must-see Polish studio, Techland is a solid company that has delivered revered games, some of which are the rallying banner of a loyal community, Dying Light in mind. Released on our machines already 5 years ago, the title is still vigorous, as much because of its universe which supports the weight of the years rather well than of its exemplary and regular follow-up, as evidenced by the arrival of the DLC Hellraid planned for this summer. But the players are however essentially looking towards the rest of the successful game, announced for a while without having even a window of exit, giving free rein to rumors which continue to amplify and reporting development difficulties, rumors which the studio quickly tried to cut short. A necessity in view of the vagueness in which the players are left and to which we return here.
An ambitious and discreet project
Techland is an independent studio, most of whose productions easily meet the quality standards expected from any major release that has capitalized on the success of its franchises, Dead Island and Dying Light. If the most confidential, but nevertheless exhilarating spin-off Battle Royale Dying Light: Bad Blood did not have the exposure that the studio probably expected, the original title itself, still has many players at the moment , helped by multiple and regular additions to an already rich enough adventure with a sufficiently solid sandbox aspect to promote online cooperation in the long term. Techland is therefore a busy studio, which, however, has an ambitious project in its boxes called Dying Light 2. Wishing to build on the solid foundations of the original game, the Polish teams have declared that they aspire to something greater for this sequel, by opting for an approach emphasizing as much on the gameplay as on the narration, a little more behind in the previous opus. At the helm of the writing is Chris Avellone, many times revered for his work on Fallout, Divinity: Original Sin II or Baldur's Gate. Announced as 4 times larger than the first part and detailing its desire to involve the player in its adventure by establishing a narrative red thread full of choice and consequences, Dying Light 2 is undoubtedly a game full of promise, which we have d 'elsewhere have already been able to glimpse the charms twice without having had the opportunity to put our hands on it ourselves unfortunately.
Announced for the first time as part of E3 2018, Dying Light 2 had treated its presentation to cover the whole range of its ambitions. Choice of dialogues, alliances with groups of local survivors and drastic impact of the player's decisions both on the story and on his environment are all impressive ambitions that Techland intended to honor by the end of 2019. After a new presentation of 45 minutes in the latest edition of the Los Angeles show and a more precise exit window this time fixed for spring 2020, Dying Light 2 testified to his good health and at the same time sharpened the impatience of the players
An undated postponement and a crisis that create concern
Dying Light 2 was part of the package, and an official Techland press release said that for the usual "desire to deliver the best possible experience", his project was postponed without a date or even an exit window being set in the statement. If the postponement of an ambitious game is the norm today and that finally, as they succeed and multiply, the additional delays do not really move the public, the custom is that communication does not leave its audience deprived of an indication as to the date of publication of the title which interests it. In this case, it is perhaps this awkwardness that prompted the public to question the good health of the game. no precision on the duration of the additional development delay induces a certain lack of precise vision of the current state of the game by its teams, which sends a negative message even if reality may be quite different. Assuring that Dying Light 2 would give his news "in the months" following the announcement of the postponement, the title of Techland was however walled in a radio silence, the only solid information concerning the franchise concerning the still active follow-up of the events of the first episode.
If the current health crisis on the cultural sector has unfortunately not yet fully deployed its devastation on the cultural sector, the video game industry, more resilient than other economic sectors facing the consequences of Covid-19, h as proven , on the side of its strongest companies, that the production of games in progress was only partially affected by the telework arrangements made around the world. If concerns about deliveries or short-term postponements occurred, the release schedule was only partially upset by the crisis. The impact of the latter on Techland's activity, which could have exacerbated the development delay, was ultimately limited
We started working at home in the second week of March, Techland having opted for telework quickly. There is a small team working in the office, but they obey strict rules of social distancing, use hydroalcoholic gel and control their temperature. Techland has introduced security measures to ensure that everyone is protected. We communicated online and visually to circulate information and continue development. – Aleksandra "Ola" Sondej, Techland press relations officer
A survey that depicts a twisty development
But it is essentially a survey published on the Polish site PolskiGamedev, pl who shed light on the development of Dying Light 2. Before going any further, it should be noted that what initially set the powder on fire is a translation of the article from Polish into English. English posted on Twitter, deleted since. If the bottom of the article, which has neither been confirmed nor denied by Techland spokespersons, reports developmental difficulties, some omissions portrayed a darker and more biased situation than what the more nuanced article letter suggested. Ola Sondej quickly intervened to clarify the various comments circulating about her company, including rumors of a takeover of the independent studio by Microsoft:
In case you guys wondered, Techland was not acquired by another publisher. We're still an independent studio, and will deliver Dying Light 2 on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
– Ola Sondej (@olasondej) May 6, 2020
In case you were wondering, Techland was not acquired by another publisher. We are still an independent studio and will deliver Dying Light 2 to PC, Xbox One and PS4. In this regard, the translation of the article on Techland that is circulating is completely inaccurate. While I have your attention, the development of Dying Light 2 progresses, the game is in good shape (and in good hands). He is coming. – Aleksandra Sondej, press relations officer at Techland
When we contacted Alxandra Sondej in order to obtain, in particular clarification concerning the inaccuracy of the said translation, she told us that the latter was only "On the parties mentioning comments from anonymous sources", that she " totally omitted the response from Techland employees and the additional explanations regarding the role of creative director Adrian Ciszewsk in the studio " Finally, the portion on Chris Avellone would have been translated awkwardly, placing it in a bad light and "Suggested that Techland had a bad relationship with him, which is absolutely not true."
In order to have a clear idea, we called on two French / Polish bilinguals to obtain a more enlightened translation of the article published on PolskiGameDev. We therefore warmly thank Pol, a Twitter subscriber as well as Arizona, for the help and the time they gave us for the translation of the survey. The article indeed highlights problems of coordination and clear vision of the direction of Dying Light 2. According to the investigation, the management would have multiple times changed the plans of the game and too many people would have sought to intervene on the script, multiplying the debates and slowing down the progress of the work. In the front line of the article is Chris Avellone, precisely. According to a senior employee of Techland, Avellone would have had the will of a consequent and deep scenario, which he managed to create. However, the structure of his quests had gradually become too standard (carrying an object, talking to PnJ, killing a zombie) and did not seem to correspond to that of Dying Light 2, an employee arguing that Avellone conceived of his quests as if he "wrote them for Fallout New Vegas." It was then that many people would have sought to influence the scenario, so much so that ultimately, a large portion of the elements of the game was questioned: what should the characters, factions, their state of spirit or even the quests themselves. Certain determining elements of Dying Light 2 were questioned at the last moment, like, for example, the functioning of cooperation in the game, cooperation which is decisive in that it is undoubtedly, at least in part, the reason for the success and longevity of the first Dying Light. The numerous debates and conflicts among decision-makers have therefore eroded the morale of certain employees who would have preferred to leave the company. However, Chris Avellone, contacted by the Polish site, minimizes and reassures that according to rumors, there would be little left of his original scenario:
I like to work on Dying Light 2 and I like to work with Techland. Of course we touched on certain elements of the project and of course they evolved as we went along … but this is the case with any creative process. History is the key element of Dying Light 2. For me and for the team, the important thing is that it is well transcribed. "- Chris Avellone
The multiple iterations, suggested by Avellone and also confirmed by Bartosz Kulona, lead developer on Dying Light 2, are however nuanced by the intervention of Krzysztof Sazon, in charge of Techland's social networks, to which Alexandra Sondej redirected us during our interview request. If the reworking of central elements of the game remains a standard in the development of video games, a standard from which Dying Light 2 does not depart, the time does not seem, officially at least, to alarmism:
The main pillars of Dying Light 2 have not changed since the start of production. It is natural to evolve various aspects of any game during the development process. There are many reasons for this, for example optimizing or improving and expanding promising elements.
Game development is not a straight line or a simple process. This requires a lot of iteration, testing various concepts and adjusting them. The development of DL2 was not smooth – it is never the case with any game – and we had challenges to meet in order to deliver the ambitious vision that we create. We are working hard to get the game ready for you – Krzysztof Sazon – Social Media Lead at Techland
But if Avellone is singled out for certain facts relating to the structure of the quests, it is essentially another key member who is mentioned in the Polish article. The main person targeted by the various sources is the creative director Adrian Ciszewki, nicknamed Pyza and who would be internally baptized "the evangelist" because of his supposed tendency to prophesy in the offices his vision of what should be the scenario of the game. If a former employee claims, like others, that the current creative director of Dying Light 2 has, in his long journey with Techland, had a crucial role in the success of the games and that he therefore made a lot of although in the development of the studio's productions, others believe however that he does not really have the shoulders of a manager, nor the good was of spirit required by the function. Reputed to be a workaholic waiting for his employees to do the same, he happened, during the development of Dead Island, to call his employees at 10 p.m. to perform certain tasks, when there was no as much crunch time. The main criticism which is invoked against it by certain sources remains its fickle nature, modifying at the last minute certain decisions just before their final validation.
But the harsh remarks made against Pyza are evaded by Avellone who " does not remember conflicts "With him, and lessened by Bartosz Kulona, who claims to have worked with him for 10 years and to trust him, like many other key members of the studio, and recalls the decisive role that man has had on the evolution of Techland. The integration of parkour to go from Dead Island to Dying Light, for example, it is he and according to Kulona, Piza would often ask advice and advice from his employees, but some " (cannot) seize this opportunity " Many ideas making the salt of Dying Light first of the name would come from the validation by Pyza of the ideas of the employees of the studio, and the man, described as multicasquette, being consulted on subjects going beyond the strict artistic creation, is also described as " open to dialogue "
Dying Light 2 E3 2019 Trailer
Divergent speeches, a fully playable game
In addition, the speeches continue to diverge depending on the people to whom the questions were asked. Regarding the release date, the speakers range from the most optimistic to the most pessimistic. When some believe that an outing at the end of the year would be mandatory in order not to miss the Christmas holidays, but that it would be necessary to cut large portions of the game, others say that given the scale of the title , marketing this year is not on the agenda. One of the indicators of a chaotic development would be the absence or on the contrary the multiplicity of vertical slices. Behind this name hides in each studio a kind of big playable demo revealing all the elements and mechanics of an upcoming game. Again, the information was firmly denied, the famous vertical slice would have remained unchanged and the game would have recently crossed a crucial stage of its development, as we were told by the communications manager of Techland.
The development of Dying Light 2 is taking place in accordance with our internal provisional planning which we revised at the beginning of the year. We took a very important alpha step a month ago, and the game is playable from start to finish. Currently we have a team working on announcing a release date and we are preparing a nice surprise for the players, we want to show them something very exciting when the time comes. We don't want to spoiler it for anyone. Aleksandra Sondej
The speech therefore seems to be appeasing on the side of Techland officials, who also claim to take "very seriously" the allegations in the Polish article, notably pointing to management problems during the development of Dead Island. Whatever the case, the stakeholders and opinions differ as to the situation within Techland's premises. If it is legitimate for the moment for the concern about the project to grow in light of the multiple elements that we have mentioned in this article, Techland wants to be reassuring and it would seem that we are only a stone's throw from the broadcast concrete information on this ambitious project.
- PolskiGamedev, pl
- Pol, a Twitter subscriber as well as Arizona which we thank for their help in translating the article
- Email interview with Ola Sondej, press relations officer at Techland