The Inspirations behind Huntdown and the future of games in Sweden

Craig spent some time with Easy Trigger Games, developers of upcoming indie game Huntdown. They talk about the 80s, arcade shooters, the companies origins in Trollhättan and the future of games in Sweden.

We’ve mentioned Huntdown a few times here on Pause Resume after getting hands-on time with it at EGX late last year. It impressed us so much that we wanted to find out a bit more about the 80s inspired shoot-em-up, so we decided to reach out to the developers at Easy Trigger Games and speak to the company’s founders: Tommy Gustafsson and Andreas Rehnberg.

Huntdown

First of all, we’ve had our hands on Huntdown and loved it so far. Can you tell us a little bit about how Easy Trigger Games came to be and what inspired you to create something like Huntdown?

Andreas Rehnberg: The inspiration is mostly from games and movies from our youth. It all began when we discussed gaming on old consoles and computers which we both grew up with. Some of these old games have awesome features that have not really been in use since then. Forgotten stuff! We started to list in-game features that we liked and then carefully decided functions for a classic setup where these features together would create innovative gameplay.

We lacked a genuine arcade shooter as we would like to play it. After testing out some demo builds we were hooked, our vision of an action-packed tactical platformer actually worked. And now two years later we see lots of retro-inspired games and movies popping up everywhere. Guess we’re not alone feeling the winds of nostalgia.

As Huntdown is our first game we didn’t have any name for the studio for almost a year. The company was temporarily called Huntdown! That was until Easy Trigger Games came to be.

There are some strong references to 80s and 90s movies and themes throughout what we’ve seen of Huntdown so far. Are those intentional? And if so, what has had the strongest influence on the style and look of Huntdown?

Tommy Gustafsson: They are very intentional. The concept and the dystopian world we’re building in Huntdown comes from cheesy action movies and sci-fi pictures mainly from the 1980s like Bladerunner, Total Recall, The Running Man, Robocop, The Terminator, or Big Trouble in Little China. Nowadays, it seems that many associate the ‘phenomenon of the 80s’ with optimism and glamorous colours, you know, pink neon and sunburned characters in white tuxedos driving a Ferrari Testarossa towards a warm sunset behind a silhouette of palm trees to the soundtrack by Jan Hammer. However, we want to go darker and a bit gloomier with Huntdown. Think of the pitch-black feeling in Escape from New York or Cobra with Stallone!

“I also think many Swedes, in particular, get creative indoors when it’s cold and dark for most of the year. What else is there to do apart from design games?”

Why is Huntdown coming to the Nintendo Switch? What advantages do you think the Switch and working with Nintendo gives you that other platforms don’t?

Andreas: We have been designing Huntdown to work on most platforms from the beginning, so it works perfectly on small screens as well as on big 4K screens. We didn’t even know the Switch was coming until we met with Nintendo the year earlier. Having tried out the console for some time now we absolutely love it and Huntdown is playing flawlessly on it, especially in co-op.

We’ve spoken to indie developers before who have developed their game almost entirely in a coffee shop, how does your workstation compare to that? And do you have any interesting stories about how Easy Trigger came together or how you’ve developed Huntdown?

Tommy: Me and Andreas Rehnberg met at a startup park called Innovatum in the city of Trollhättan, Sweden. We both had our own companies and offices here. It’s a melting pot of companies within the creative industry. We’ve got game studios, 3D-studios, design bureaus, film production companies – you name it. Often these companies cooperate in one way or another and that’s exactly what happened between us. I had a (still working) Commodore Amiga 500 in my office, and Andreas was a C64-guy back in the days so we totally jived from the beginning. He asked me if I was interested in doing graphics for a platformer. He had ideas about making a pixelated game with a lot of retro influences, something that we both grew up with. Huntdown came to be and now we’re working with the game full-time with employees and Coffee Stain Publishing who is also funding the development.

Andreas: Least to say, we are very fortunate to have a nice office at Innovatum. So it’s basically one big room with the team sitting tight. We have an arcade cabinet, a fish tank and a TV with all the dev consoles to test on. We’re working basically all the time and we sometimes try to celebrate when we hit new goals. Mostly by shooting with stuff that packs a punch, igniting large pulse-jet rockets or going to tractor-pulling races for inspiration. Some of the team members even got shot by a real vortex-cannon, not many can say that haha …

The games industry often centres on American developers and what they’re up to, but in your experience, how is the industry growing in Sweden and Scandinavia? Have you noticed any big changes over the years and how do you think the games industry will grow there in the future?

Tommy: The game industry in Sweden is thriving. We are only around 10 million people in this little country, yet we produce great games and music as well. Most people know of the Battlefield series, Need for Speed, Goat Simulator, Hotline Miami or Minecraft just to name-drop some titles. We have great studios in Sweden and we are proud to be part of the scene.

I think the game industry in Sweden will explode for many reasons. Nowadays it’s really easy to start designing games with free software and all the tutorials in the world just a mouse click away. Anybody can start programming or try out animation even on a tablet. When I was young I was fortunate to be able to do animations (with onion skinning and all) on my Amiga 500 computer. I also think many Swedes, in particular, get creative indoors when it’s cold and dark for most of the year. What else is there to do apart from design games?

Huntdown will release for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch in 2018

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