Meet The Makersː Direction and Design

Listen to an interview with the architects of your experience when you play THE FINALS. Gustav, Creative Director, and Matt, Design Director, are the creative brains behind the core experience and balancing—the directional pillars of gameplay that define the style and flavor of the game.

Originally aired on June 20th, 2023. Meet The Makersː Direction and Design


[Intro Music Plays]

Dusty (00:09)

Welcome to Meet the Makers, our interview style podcast on all things THE FINALS. I'm your host, Dusty Gustafsson. During our second closed beta, we assembled two members of the Dev team every day to help dig into specific areas of the game and answer questions from our Discord community. Creative direction is one of the most important parts of video game development, especially for a game like THE FINALS. The Creative Director is charged with building the vision and setting and upholding the directional pillars that define the style and flavor of the game, all while ensuring a fun, interesting playstyle that pulls people in and immerses them in the experience. The dynamic, intuitive, captivating world of THE FINALS is crafted, built, and guarded under the steady direction of our creative director. The design director is responsible for taking the strong vision of the creative director and turning it into balanced and fun experience. Our design director takes the lead and is the architect of gameplay, gunplay, game mechanics, weapons, balancing, game modes, and all the building blocks of combat that you as a player experience in THE FINALS. The number one priority is building a fun and engaging game that feeds into our core pillars.

Dusty (01:24)

I am here with Gustav and Matt. Welcome, guys.

Gustav (01:27)


Matt (01:27)


Dusty (01:29)

Gustav is Creative Director of THE FINALS and has been part of Embark since its inception. Matt, design director for THE FINALS, has been here since 2020?

Matt (01:39)

Yeah, middle of COVID. Perfect time to move to Sweden. It was beautiful.

Dusty (01:45)

Well, I'm glad you're here. I'm glad both of you are here with me today. Let's get into it, our typical starting question. Gustav, what's a typical day like for you as Creative Director of THE FINALS?

Gustav (02:00)

Well, I think that depends a lot. It's different every day. Sometimes I could spend days working on direction and presentations to explain some concept about the game's vision to the team. Sometimes I'm in feedback sessions with the team looking at different features and aspects of the game, playing the game together with the team as well. And it's all sorts of things. It's art related, design related, audio, narrative, animation, you name it. I'm all over the place.

Dusty (02:40)

So a little bit of everything. Yeah. Matt, as the design director, take a moment, please, and introduce yourself and what you do.

Matt (02:50)

As design director, I am across the top of the design department on the project. That would include game designers, level designers, UX/UI designers, people that work on progression and those kinds of things. For the most part, I'm trying to coordinate the work that they're doing and make sure that it's all coming together in something more holistic from the design side that meets the vision that we want. I think with design, you're constantly getting a lot of ideas, a lot of feedback, a lot of thoughts. It could be very easy to get pulled in any number of directions, but we have a direction that we want to go for, we have an experience we want to give players. I'm hopefully doing a reasonable job of making sure that everything we do pulls in that direction and makes a consistent experience.

Dusty (03:42)

Sounds like the two of you work really closely together each and every day.

Matt (03:46)

Yeah. It's good that we've not got bored of each other in the last however many years. Yeah, exactly.

Dusty (03:52)

Okay, let's go into some questions that we got from the community. We had probably the most number of questions for this one than for any of these so far. A very beloved Discord user, known as Fish, has written in. The Fish loves the virtual game show aspect of the game. He wonders how you landed on this concept. We've received a lot of comments just like this, by the way. Fans really do seem to enjoy everything from the branding, the crowd, the announcements, and more. And I think this one's for you, Gustav.

Gustav (04:30)

Yeah. I worked on Battlefield for a very long time, and it's obviously in this military war fantasy, and that comes with expectations, I guess. And there were a lot of things we couldn't do in that context. I think having restrictions is good for creativity as well. But I think after working on battlefield for I don't know how long, over a decade, and longing to do something else and to create something where we could mix things more freely and be more creative, I guess, with what we put in the game. So this idea of mixing themes and styles without being restricted to a specific setting, if you will, became a starting point for me. I think there's something powerful in combining things that on the surface don't necessarily fit together and putting opposites together, and that that could be part of the game's identity. The trick then was to come up with some context where people would accept that. I guess a ballerina and a soldier or a cowboy or whatever could be in the same game together and fight each other, basically. That's where this idea of a virtual game show came from, because that allows us to do that, to create that context where this works and you can put these things together in a way that people can accept.

Dusty (06:24)

Thank you. Thank you so much. I think it's safe to say from the questions that we got that it's working. One for Matt now. Shay asks, What is your balancing philosophy for the game? Especially when it comes to weapons and gadgets. In other words, they said, Do you nerf the overpowered weapons and gadgets, or do you buff the underpowered ones to keep them in line?

Matt (06:52)

I think this is quite a common question on multi-player games, is how to approach these things. I think we always try as much as possible to buff the underpowered things first and make everything viable rather than potentially having something that's really good that people really enjoy and then potentially taking that away. That's generally the approach we're taking. There are some limits to that. I know in people that maybe play collectible card games or may be familiar with the idea of Power Creep. Well, that can happen in balancing as well to some extent that if you keep buffing to try and get everything to the same level, you can, after a point, suddenly realize this isn't really the same game we started out with before. Everything's so powerful, so immediate, or so destructive, or whatever. So we always have to keep an eye on that. Are we still creating an experience that matches what we wanted to get to in the first place? And are we still delivering on that? But for the most part, we'll try and make sure that everything is as fun as possible and as impactful as possible. That's the approach we're trying to take where we can.

Dusty (08:02)

Great. I have another balancing question for you. This one is from Joey, Given that so much of the audience is likely to be casual players, which way do you plan to lean when it comes to balancing? Competitive or casual?

Matt (08:17)

Yeah, this is a difficult one. I think we're always trying to ideally, from the most casual experience to the most competitive experience, we're trying to make sure everybody can have a good time and that the game works well for that. We try to look at player feedback. We try and look at recordings of what players are doing. We try to look at analytics to see if that can help us. We obviously play the game ourselves and make our own conclusions on these things. And wherever possible, we try and make sure a particular weapon or gadget is working across the whole range. I can imagine a time in the future where maybe more competitive plays are coming. Because the impact of balance decisions can be so massive to how those experiences play out, we may, to preserve those, want to think about them a little bit more and have that stuff hopefully not damage any other part of the game, but maybe we'd optimize for that part of the experience. But the goal, wherever possible, is to try and hit as many players' experiences as possible and give them all a good experience. I think that's, at least in my experience, working on FPS games in the past is usually pretty achievable.

Matt (09:32)

So that's the ambition. Maybe I'll find that I'm a naïve designer and we can't get to that point. But I think so far we've done reasonably well on that front. And obviously these beta tests really help. I think hopefully people that played in say, closed beta one versus closed beta two are noticing a bit of a difference there. I think there's a lot more items that are viable now maybe than they were last time around. That's because ultimately, when you're trying to.

Dusty (10:00)

Way. And it was quite amazing to see just how different one or 2 seconds or one or two points could change something in the game and then change the way that people talked about it on the discord. Thank you for your answers. Another one, Alexandra, asks, how do you describe the art style of the game? What were your greatest influences and what do you see as the key features? I think this one's for you, Gustav.

Gustav (10:28)

Yeah, so this goes back to what I was talking about earlier, about putting opposites together and the contrast and the sort of tension that comes from that. So that was the starting point for the style and tone for the game as well. And the style and tone influences the art direction. So there are three style and tone pillars and they're sort of built around this idea of opposites. The first one is appeal and brutality. So an example of that is how we kind of strive to make our arenas very inviting and pristine, but then as you play, you sort of tear them apart with destruction. So that's one example of that and how I think it's sort of more satisfying to break something that is pristine and colorful than it is to break something that is already worn and broken down, kind of so that, again, it's creating that contrast. The other style and tone pillar is realism and stylization. So that's also about how even though the game is quite exaggerated and over the top, it's still grounded in reality. And we're talking a lot about this, making the game intuitive and easy to understand.

Gustav (11:48)

So that's connected to that as well as one example of that. And the last silent home pillar is chaos and control. And that is about making room for dynamism and destruction, for example, by having an art style that is uncluttered and kind of sleek and clean. So those are some examples of how I sort of approached the art direction of the game. And as you can tell, it's sort of connected all the way up to the top. So that's kind of what I've been trying to do, sort of lay a puzzle almost that connects all the way down into the different craft directions.

Dusty (12:28)

Excellent and thank you. And I have another one for you right away. Loaf of Bread and longtime Discord user G Toast asks how do you approach making a game set in the future? And as a bonus, he asks, whose idea was it to have a spokes egg? And I think he's referring to the Namantama.

Gustav (12:50)

Yeah. Setting it in the future. I think that made sense given that it's a game show in a sort of a virtual reality setting that that technology doesn't quite exist today. And so putting in the future kind of makes sense. It also gives us a lot of flexibility. We can go all the way from present day back into history and also go forward into the future as well, which is quite nice. And the inspiration for Nama Tama originally came from sports mascots and also the need to contrast the action and violence in the game with fun and playful elements. So the coin death is kind of a similar thing. You can say Nama Tama is an embodiment of the appeal and brutality pillar that I just talked about. A very cute and sort of friendly character that gets brutally crushed from time to time. But it's okay. Tama always comes back healthy and happy. So it's almost like a form of symbolism that this is VR and things can get destroyed, but they always come back shiny and new again, so there's nothing to worry about.

Dusty (14:02)

I love that, and I love the Nama Tama as well.

Matt (14:07)

It's good that he comes back shiny and new because it would be a terrible life otherwise. Poor Nama.

Dusty (14:15)

Okay, I have one for you. Matt Logan has a question about game modes. How did you come up with the idea behind the cash out game mode? And what were the biggest challenges in making it work so smoothly?

Matt (14:30)

So I have to go back a long way now to think about where we did this. So cash out. I think generally with design stuff, you usually start out by thinking about what experience you want to have and then what kind of rules and incentives and dynamics are going to create that experience. And so we knew from the outset we wanted to have this highly destructible world, this highly interactive world. And the question from a game mode perspective was, well, what kind of game mode creates those moments? And we had I think you might remember this, but at one point I did this absolutely insane Excel sheet, which was like every type of dynamic interaction we could think of in a matrix with the same interactions. And we were looking at, like, when they interact with each other, what happens. And so something like players interacting with the environment or geometry, we could see a lot of potential for what we call Dynamism, this sort of interactive part of the world where players can climb platforms or they can smash them or they could push them, potentially, or pull them or whatever. And so when we looked at that and we saw where we thought the most kind of rich spaces were for interactions and for these dynamic kind of moments, a lot of it kind of pushed us towards sort of take and hold type scenarios where there was some part of the world that you wanted to get to and then either fortify it or attack it.

Matt (15:58)

And so at one point, we actually used to kind of, on the design side, refer to like a competitive puzzle game that the defenders were trying to build this puzzle around the objective, and the attackers were trying to get rid of it. And so that's kind of where this started from. We've also been big fans of risk reward gameplay. A lot of the time we wanted to get a bit of that. We look at things like Battle Royales and Extraction Shooters, and we think there's something quite nice about the stakes that are involved with those games. And early on, when we were looking at cash out, we actually tried it with just a single life version. So in a tournament, you'd go in, there was revives, but you only had one life to try and get all the way through the tournament. And that was part of what nudged us a bit towards the multiple teams side of things as well, rather than two head to head teams. And obviously as you play these things, over time you learn what works and what doesn't. And then we kind of decided maybe we don't want elimination so early.

Matt (16:55)

So we started Spawn systems and those kind of things, and so it kind of evolved from that core. But really the thing that's persisted throughout is this kind of competitive puzzle game, sort of capture and hold side of it. Which might sound a bit dull because capture and hold shooter modes have been around for decades now. But it really offers something that goes well with destruction, with the mobility that we have, with the use of all the gas cans and fuel cans and those kind of things. So it was a lot of experimentation as well. There's not many games that have this kind of level of destruction. That's quite a new design space to try out. And so if I think now we've probably been through like 60 different game modes over the last few years, just trying out lots of different things to go, well, what does destruction do to this and does it work or doesn't it work?

Gustav (17:49)

I still want to do single life tournaments again at some point. It was really awesome. Completely different from what we have now. Obviously what we have now is great as well, but I just remember playing internally and seeing a team, we sort of ran into each other and nobody wanted to fight because so much at Stakes, we sort of backed off and yeah, it's just really cool and quite different. So I hope that we can do that again in the future.

Dusty (18:17)

I was never in that game. I just was murdered immediately. All right, well, the good news is that Logan described it as smooth, so that's nice. And I have a follow up for you as well because we got a lot of questions about modes. What's the future look like? Will we ever see larger team sizes, smaller team sizes, team death match, any sneak peek that you'd be willing to mean?

Matt (18:47)

I think Gustav kind of just hinted at it that there's definitely other ways we think the game can be played and modes that would benefit from the destruction and dynamism that we have and physics and the server side movement and so on. So we absolutely want to explore that stuff. Some of it would likely be in smaller kind of seasonal modes. When we look at some other free to play shooters, we like that they experiment with modes quite often and put in something that's sometimes you can have a really good game mode, but it's only going to work for a couple of weeks before people have like, okay, I've had a lot of fun, but I'm kind of done with it. But it doesn't make those experiences any less valid. So I think we'd love to explore that kind of stuff. We'd love to explore modes with different team sizes or team numbers. So I don't know if I have anything to sneak peek or leak, but we are absolutely thinking about those kind of things and that we'd love to try out some different game modes and different experiences as well because ultimately that's part of keeping the game fresh in the long term.

Dusty (20:23)

Absolutely. Thank you. And I think that was a pretty good sneak peek. At least that we are thinking about it. All right, so Dark Snake, who's been in the server for as long as I can remember, asks, "Will there be hidden story elements that help communicate even more lore for those who are interested in learning more?"

Gustav (20:44)

There are already hidden story elements in the game. You have to look harder, I guess.

Matt (20:52)

I didn't even know that as well. I'm going to have to go and look.

Gustav (20:56)

What's the labyrinth? That's a question you can ask yourself. And yes, this will continue. There's a whole world outside of THE FINALS that we will reveal over time. So yes, absolutely.

Dusty (21:12)

Thank you. And mysterious, I hope. Maybe each of you can talk about this from your own perspective. Hunter asks, What design challenges and thoughts go into developing and choosing new maps so that each map has its own feel and some quirks. Do you want to get us started on this one, Gustav?

Gustav (21:33)

There are a lot of different ones. Variation is one, obviously. If you look at Monaco and Sol that we have in the game right now, they are very different both in terms of gameplay and visual style and theme. That's one aspect. Another one is that THE FINALS is this global phenomenon and these arenas, they take place in all sorts of places all around the world. So, expanding on that is another aspect that we think about, like how we can do that in the best way possible. We also want the arenas to be set in iconic places, something that is appropriate for a big entertainment show. That's another one. The list goes on. We need to make sure that the locations we pick actually support the gameplay and the dynamism and the unique aspects of the game that we have placed. There are a lot of different ones there. Matt, do you want to add to that?

Matt (22:39)

Yeah, I think just more from a gameplay perspective, we're usually trying to make sure that each map offers something a little bit different and also enables different play styles. Monaco is the oldest map that we have, so that was very much maybe a bit more open in terms of gameplay goals that we understood that core of the capture and hold that I mentioned a minute ago and we built for that. But I think retroactively, when we looked at it, we realized there was quite a lot of slightly more run and gun gameplay, a lot of very tight loops. It was very close quarters. So when we started to look at Sol, we knew we wanted something with slightly longer engagement distances. We wanted some bigger interiors in the buildings because we felt they gave us a different type of gameplay. And then in the maps we're starting to look at now without spoil anything or naming names, we are thinking more about destruction again. I think with both Monaco and Sol, we have… One way to describe it is like a lot of open doors by default. You can go in and out of windows, in through glass walls and those things. And so we're starting to experiment now a bit with what happens if those spaces are slightly more constrained by default and what gameplay does that give us and how does that change the way of their typical play?

Matt (24:00)

And ultimately, we're trying to make sure that on every map, each play style has some places where it works well and then maybe some places where it doesn't work so well. So you're trying to think about snipers and where they can be effective. You're trying to think about heavies and where they can set up defenses and really protect the location. You want to make sure there's opportunities for scanning people, all those kinds of things. One of the challenges with the game with so many gadgets and abilities is trying to make sure that they all have opportunities to work in every level that we put together. That's a big part of what the level designers are looking at when they work on that stuff.

Dusty (24:37)

Great answer, guys. All right, here's one from Jeff, and I hear this one a lot, Will you bring back the prop surfing and zipline techs that you nerfed in CB 1? Matt, that's you, right?

Matt (24:53)

Yeah. This is a really difficult one because we're a game about player creativity. We're a game about dynamism, and we use this term dynamism a lot, but it's the mix of, I guess, world interactivity. So whether it's destruction, whether it's the physics stuff, whether it's moving platforms. We want players to create with that sandbox, and we want them to have fun doing it and we want them to find out tactics that we don't always think about. One example from the other day, somebody was talking about our mine is too powerful or too powerful, and somebody internally suggested that goo, when it lands on top of them, should block the explosions. I was like, That's a really good idea. We hadn't really thought about that.

Matt (25:40)

Then I also realized it probably just worked, so I tested it, and it does just work. If you put goo on top of a C-4, it's going to block the explosion. We want players to experiment like this. We want them to use the sandbox. But we also have a direction that we believe in for the game, and that direction is just... As I've mentioned, part of it is about the experience as intuitive, so players don't get surprised by things that they're not expecting. Part of it is also about having different play styles. We have the lights that are about mobility, they are about flanking.

Matt (26:15)

We have the heavies that are more about defending or destruction. But what ultimately people saw in CB 1 with things like the prop surfing and that stuff were bugs. They were not things that are intended part of our direction. They didn't really give us the mobility we wanted. And so we looked at that and we were like, Okay, this is creativity, this is fun for the players, but it's starting to break some of our pillars. It takes away things like the intuitively of the experience. As cool as it is for someone to be riding a gas barrel 200 meters above your head, players aren't always expecting that. It's not intuitive, and so that doesn't really hit what we're going for in the experience.

Matt (27:13)

I think similarly a lot of the game modes work because of things like pacing. How often do teams fight each other? Where do they come from? Can you defend the approach to the hospital, for example, on Sol? And if a player is able to use what is an oversight on our part in terms of a glitch to cross the map in three seconds, all of that stuff starts to fall apart. The players that did it, I mean, fair play to them for discovering this stuff. It was amazing, and it pointed out some places where we just not really noticed issues with the way we'd approach things. But that's not really part of our direction, and so we felt we had to take those out. What is part of our direction is that there is a play style with high mobility. That's the light play style. We have gadgets and abilities that support that, and we still want to deliver on that side of things, but it needs to be in an intuitive way that players can understand. I would hope that players in this closed beta are still seeing that. I mean, I looked at Reddit the other day and there were some insane clips of people using the grappling hook just to keep wrapping around a house and flank people, and that got shared on the Slack because everyone in the office loves seeing that stuff. It was an amazing clip. It was nuts. In fact, it was brilliant. We should just release that as a trailer because destruction was in there, the movement was in there. It was absolutely brilliant. We still want to deliver that side of the experience, but there are places where we have to go, Okay, that's a cool trick that someone's discovered. But if it's a glitch, if it doesn't really hit the direction we're going for, then those are things we have to address.

Matt (28:23)

Hopefully that makes sense to people, because I know there's a particular community out there that really love this stuff, and we don't want to not speak to them about that. I think it's worth being clear about it.

Gustav (29:05)

Absolutely. I totally agree with you. It's a balancing act, because we were talking about enabling emergent gameplay and rewarding creativity and allowing players to come up with new ways to play, that is definitely at the core of what this game is, but there are limits as well. Like you were mentioning some things that completely break the flow of the game mode and things like that, we need to address those. But it doesn't mean that we're going to remove it all by any stretch of the imagination. We want that in the game, for sure.

Matt (29:36)

Yeah. One of the design challenges of this game is when you make things very systemic as well. People find this stuff all the time. There was a bunch of really cool videos from the first Closed Beta where people were looking at that stuff. I remember, particularly, I think it was a Japanese streamer who was incredibly excited to find out the goo-gun bounced off the jump pads and that just had me in stitches. He was so happy. We love that people find that stuff. I think there was even one today where somebody got a C-4 bounced off a jump pad, killed on Sol. That's the stuff that we're hoping people find and make use of, and it's great to see that happening.

Dusty (30:14)

Great answer, and thank you. Jim in Creative wants you both to take a peek into the future. Two years after launch, the game is thriving. What will have evolved from this current version? Maps, customization, modes, weapons, gadgets. Anything you can hint at? Rob hinted at Dragons yesterday. Is that in the cards?

Matt (30:38)

He's obsessed with Dragons.

Gustav (30:43)

Sure, there would be Dragons. Don't make him happy. Should I start?

Dusty (30:48)

Yeah, go for it.

Gustav (30:49)

I think we can get back to what we just talked about. This sandbox that we're trying to create with play style, customization, and all that enabling player creativity and coming up with new ways to play the game, basically. I think that from my perspective, I think that I would like us to focus a lot on and to expand on that. Obviously, we will add new maps and cosmetics and new gear and all that stuff. I think it's important that the choices we make feeds into our pillars and what makes this game what it is. And dynamism is one part of that. It's maybe a bit of an abstract concept, but it's one of our pillars, one of our game direction pillars. It's dynamic, and that has to do with this idea of creating a systemic sandbox of consistent, reliable systems that players can learn and master, but that can also combine to create these emergent behaviors and maybe unintended outcomes sometimes. Right now we have destruction, and it's an amazing dynamism feature that allows for a lot of cool stuff to happen.

Gustav (32:04)

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are a bunch of things that we are considering. I'm not going to commit to a date or even say that we're going to build any of these, but I'm just going to rubble through a few examples. So vehicles is one, for example. A very dynamic thing, right? More gameplay impacting time of day and weather. It's in the game now, but I think still there's lots more we can do there. Wind and forces, electrical systems, fortification tools, so you can maybe repair broken buildings or set up fortifications, things like that. There's a bunch of things that we'll be looking at in the future to expand on this and allow players to, again, play creatively and come up with their own ways of solving challenges.

Matt (32:52)

Yeah, I think there are tons of ways to expand that toolkit and we absolutely want to do that as the game goes live. And that includes through gadgets and abilities potentially. That would include game modes that can maybe take advantage of these different things in other ways. There's so many opportunities there. We've mentioned our pillars and direction a few times while we've been talking, and I think it's maybe worth just mentioning that maybe people that are on here, if there are any, that work in development, have experienced this a bit before. But devs tend to work on a lot of projects that have pillars and direction like this. But there can be a tendency at times for teams to do that stuff early on and then forget about it as development goes on and it gets busy and it gets chaotic and it's understandable that people maybe lose that a little bit. But I think part of what's allowed us to deliver a game that's quite different from other shooters on the market right now is the fact that throughout development, we've been quite religiously following our pillars. And even to this point, we're still doing it.

Matt (34:00)

And when we think about what we could add to the game in future, we're doing it. I think that's a big part of what's led to us having, hopefully, an experience that feels very clear in terms of it trying to do something different, and it is this level of interactivity and destruction and those kinds of things. I think we're quite bought into really living by those pillars at this point, and that will hopefully be reflected in everything we carry on doing to the game going forwards, that we just expand this sandbox, because ultimately those games where players have a lot of choice in how they play, play style, tactics, all of that, it can keep giving for a long time. I think any designer or developer that works on a multi-player game wants to almost create a sport, they want something that people feel like they can play for years and years and years. We think this approach will really help with that stuff and give people that… That the game feels fresh every time you come in because there's another experiment you can try. There's another build that you can try and those kinds of things.

Matt (35:08)

Hopefully that means there's many years worth of updates left and we don't run out of ideas six months from now. Who knows? We'll see.

Gustav (35:17)

I don't think that's going to happen.

Dusty (35:18)

No, I mean, you just added a whole new pillar, Dragons.

Matt (35:21)

Yeah, exactly. Keep you going. Yeah, that's true. That's just so much room in there. They got at least five movies out of those Dragons, right?

[All Laugh]

Dusty (35:31)

Matt, his eminence, the holy rat Pope asks, "Can you talk a bit about the challenges you're facing with balancing the riot shield?"

Matt (35:42)

Yeah, I noticed this question. I think it's interesting because the current state of the riot shield is a bit choppy at best, I guess. I think in Closed Beta 1, it was quite a responsive weapon. People, if they got close to an enemy with it, would just windmill in with the baton and get a few hits off really quickly. But we looked at it and we felt it played a bit too much like the sword from a Melee weapon perspective. Hopefully people between Last Closed Beta and this one have noticed that we've tried to do more with the Melee weapons, try to differentiate them a little bit more. What we really want with the riot shield is for it to be slightly more impactful when you make a hit, but you do actually use the shield more often as part of your play style. We don't really want the player just getting on top of the enemy and just swinging the baton over and over. We want them to get in, land a hit or two, maybe raise the shield, land a third hit to get that kill. That's where we're heading direction-wise with it and balance-wise with it.

Matt (36:46)

It means the attack has been slowed down a little bit to try and encourage people to use the shield more. But we do have a couple of bugs in there that make using the shield a bit hard right now. So if someone was to stand on a server alone right now and just raise the shield without swinging, they'd see it raises quite quickly. But if you swing and then try to raise the shield, there's a slightly protracted delay in there that actually makes it quite hard to do that. One hit, then raise the shield. This is something we're already looking at and we're definitely going to improve future. But that shield really should be way more responsive after a swing, so you can really incorporate it into that playstyle. That's the experience we're going for. We know it's not there yet, but it's only a matter of time before we can get that in and nailed, hopefully. Hopefully that answers that question. It's not quite where we want it to be right now, but we're already aware of that.

Dusty (37:46)

Absolutely. That's why we're doing CB2.

Matt (37:48)

Right, exactly.

Dusty (37:49)

The Rat Pope also wants to know if you have plans for any future Melee weapons that you'd be willing to share, such as a wrench or a chainsaw.

Matt (37:59)

I don't think we've picked anything specific yet, but we absolutely intend to add to the pool of weapons over time, both Melee-ranged weapons. I think as much as possible, we'd like to get variety in there as well. I don't think we're the shooter that wants 50 flavors of assault rifle necessarily. We'd love to have more differentiated weapons. I know the combat team we have have talked about all manner of ideas before, and one of the guys is very, very, very keen to have a bow and arrow at some point in future, which I just think is inevitable at some point. And so more Melee weapons, I think that will definitely happen at some point. It's just a question of when and what. I do like the idea of a chainsaw, putting people into coins. That sounds pretty cool. But yeah, nothing to leak right now on that front. We'll see where we go. But it's absolutely our intent to keep expanding that stuff.

Dusty (38:55)

Thank you. And no spoilers. Leland is back with his most popular question in the arena. Which one of you dominates? Who wins on a 1:1 firefight between Matt and Gustav?

Gustav (39:07)

Matt wins. No question.

Matt (39:11)

Me. I've played a lot of shooters. That sounds like I'm good. I'm not good.

Gustav (39:16)

Actually, I think I'm decent. I'm not terrible at all. On the other hand, you balance all the weapons and all the gadgets.

Matt (39:25)

I know we're the most overpowered thing, is it? Yeah, exactly. You're shooting. I mean, part of balancing is usually me playing the worst thing at any moment in time. But no, I think we actually have quite a lot of people on the team that are big shooter fans. I think there's a good range of experience for us to tap into in terms of people that maybe played not so often and then people that have played a lot. We try and make use of that where we can. It's really cool.

Dusty (39:51)

Yeah, you guys sure do. It always feels like being fresh meat entering the arena in an internal playtest. All right, for both of you, how did you get into this industry? Why did you get into this industry? And do you have any tips for contests out there that might want to follow in your footsteps?

Gustav (40:13)

Should I go first?

Matt (40:14)

Yeah, go for it.

Gustav (40:17)

I'm quite old. When I started in the game industry, there were no schools or anything you could go to to learn to make games, and maybe I should go back even further. My brother, he knew the guys that found the Dice when they were working on the Amiga and they made these pinball games. I don't know if you're familiar with them, but anyway, they were working on the first game in our house where I grew up, and I was eleven at the time and kind of snuck down there. They didn't like me being around, of course, but they let me play the game at one point. I just remember a bunch of text on the screen assembler and they compiled the code and this game came up and I could start playing it. And that was kind of a magical moment. It's one of my strongest childhood memories and I guess that set me on this path. There's also something called a demo scene. I don't know if you're familiar with that, but that was something I was in back in the day, and I still do stuff even today, and a lot of people from there went on to make games as well. So I suppose that was the closest you could get to a game dev school back then.

Gustav (41:36)

So anyway, I applied for a job at a couple of places. I went to art school after Yuma Sit. What is that? High school? High school, yeah. But I guess I had some aspiration to become a painter at one point, but quickly dropped that idea and decided to apply for a job in the games industry and got rejected for a few places. And then finally I managed to actually lie myself into dice by saying that I knew how to model three D and stuff, but I hardly any experience with that. And that's where I met Rob for the first time. I've been in the games industry for over 20 years, and he's been my manager for that entire period, which is cool and strange at the same time. No, he's an amazing guy. But I started out as a 3D artist, and then I guess it just sort of went on from there. I worked with Level Art and lighting and concept art, and after a while I became an assistant art director, and then I became an art director and I worked on Battlefield for ten years, like I mentioned before, on Company Two and Battlefield Three and Battlefield Four and Battlefield One and lots of other Battlefield games.

Gustav (42:48)

Mirrors Edge, I did lighting for, so I've been doing a lot of different things. And when I started at Embark, I got hired as an art director as well. But we already had an art director that was working on art creators, so I was sort of helping out with other things. And then once we decided to build THE FINALS, I was the first person on it, I guess, and that's how I got to be a creative director. It kind of happened organically. It wasn't something that was planned or that I sort of particularly wanted to do. I think I just want to make games and I think that sort of happened. But it's been an amazing journey. I'm very grateful for it, even though it's been very hard as well. Touching on so many different areas, I think especially design was a challenge for me. So I started to give props to Matt right here. Because I think, apart from Rob, of course, I know he's listening and has been incredibly supportive and I love him. You are probably Matt, one of the people that I've learned the most from when working on this project.

Gustav (43:58)

Because as an art director, you focus so much on the visuals. And I'm not saying that's easy, it's not easy at all. But you can make an image and you can show that someone and say, hey, this is what it should look like. But with creating experiences and designing games, it's a completely different ballpark and you pick up a lot of things and you learn how games work when you worked with it for 20 years. But I think I completely underestimated the work that goes into that. I was dropped in the deep end there, you could say. But Matt was there with me and he helped me a lot and yeah, so I've learned a lot.

Matt (44:38)

I'm glad I could help with that because I wouldn't have been able to help with the art. No chance.

Gustav (44:43)

I got the art, that's all good.

Matt (44:50)

I mean, I'm similar to Gustav, I guess that I'm also old, but for a long time I couldn't really make out what I wanted to do in kind of life. Right. I trained to do computer science to start with and then quit university partway through. I worked for a couple of years at a company that wholesaled scientific equipment. So I was buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of test tubes to sell to people or chemicals or it was a very weird job. I decided after two years I really didn't want to do that for life. I went back to university to do web design and so I was doing a combination of programming and kind of 2D type stuff. And by the time I graduated, I decided I didn't want to do that as a job either. And so after five or six years of not really being able to make my mind up, I was fortunate enough that my brother, who's also in the games industry and works at Sony Santa Monica, he trained at university as an animator, a games animator. And so what I knew I wanted to do was something I was passionate about, which was basically games or football, neither of which I had any qualifications for.

Matt (46:00)

But because he knew the industry a little bit better because he'd done this kind of games education, he was like, Go and get a job in QA somewhere. Start there, try it see what you like and decide if it's for you or not. So I started out as a QA tester. I did a year at a small company in the UK. And then I moved to a company called Splash Damage in London. I was there for almost 14 years before I moved to embark, so I worked up from QA into kind of a production role, and as a producer I was working a lot with gameplay engineers and the designers, and I started to pick up a lot from them about design. And I'd also separate to working in the games industry I'd been quite involved with. It wasn't called Esports back then, but let's say competitive gaming.

Matt (46:48)

I could win about two pound 50 or $2.50 if I played competitively at that point. So it wasn't really Esports, but I was part of that kind of competitive scene in the early two thousand s. And we hit a point on some of the projects I was working on at Splash where they actually needed someone who had that kind of knowledge to help with some of the design work. And because I was already the producer for that team, I started to take on little bits of design work. And over the space of a couple of years, that became a lot of design work. And then I kind of nudged towards, hey, I quite like this design stuff compared to being a producer, so maybe I could do it full time. And I eventually made that switch. And so I've been doing design for probably over ten years now, I reckon I can't remember exactly. And a lot of that has been on first person shooter games of one kind or another, or certainly PvP games as well.

Matt (47:43)

And for anybody wanting to get into the games industry, we both have quite weird roots into that. I think the best advice I could give is just to start trying to do it. Whether that should go and do a games education, whether that should do modding, whether that is going and getting a game like Dreams and downloading that and just editing in that stuff. I think the act of actually building a game is what forces you to start asking questions of like and the most important question to me, I think, when working on a game is what experience are we even trying to make at the end of this?

Matt (48:20)

Is it supposed to be scary? Is it supposed to be intense? Is it supposed to be a challenge of skill? Is it supposed to be something you play with friends to have a good time? I think if you can start to think what you want that experience to be, and then you start to play with the rules and the mechanics and the game modes to go, how do I actually make that experience happen? That's the best way to learn this stuff. And there are a lot of ways to do that like I say, there are as many people I've met in the games industry who are entirely self taught or came from the mod scene as there are people that went into games education. So I don't think there's any one correct route to that. I think the main thing is just to start exposing yourself to that environment and that process because you only really learn by doing it. You can learn from listening to other people as well. But I know earlier in my career for sure I would listen to other people and go that doesn't really make sense. And then at some point I'd experience messing up on something and then I'd be like oh, I totally realized what they were saying now it kind of registers.

Matt (49:29)

And so I think that act of working towards something, even if it's a tiny little game, is a big step towards kind of getting started and developing on that front.

Gustav (49:40)

I just realized that I only talked about myself and I didn't offer any advice at all. I'm sorry, but you mentioned but at least in Sweden I don't know what it's like in the rest of the world, but I'm really impressed by the quality of the different educations that are available today. Like I mentioned, that was not something that existed back when I started. So I think that's really cool to see.

Matt (50:06)

Yeah, over here especially, I think the difference not wanting to rubbish anyone's work in the UK at all, but some of the games courses over here in Sweden are really good. We have a lot of ex- kind of students from places like Game Assembly and Future games who are now full time here and they're really good at what they that's a that's a great way if you get that opportunity to get to work on games.

Dusty (50:33)

Well, you both started with I'm old, but you ended with I'm experienced. I think that shows throughout this entire talk. Thank you. Okay, not everyone loves this egg-shon of the show, but look on the sunny side up, folks. This is the second to last episode. In honor of our adorable, our spokes egg, the Nama Tama, and to continue the embark tradition of telling absolutely terrible puns, I must now ask each of you to tell us an egg joke.

Gustav (51:12)

Dusty, you really going to make us scramble up a pun?

Dusty (51:15)

I am.

Matt (51:17)

I don't want to do this. I'm not much of a practical yoke-er. Good Lord, that was so bad.

Dusty (51:23)

Oh, it's terrible.

Matt (51:25)

I would love to think I was even witty enough to come up with that bad pun, but I had to write it down. I'm sorry. I'm a fraud.

Gustav (51:31)

That's okay, man.

Dusty (51:33)

It's okay. Telling jokes is not all it's cracked up to be. All right, that is all for today's episode of Meet the Makers. Thank you so much for listening. If you're hungry for more, please join our Discord community and make sure to play THE FINALS when it finally releases.

Gustav (51:51)

Thank you.

Matt (51:51)

Thank you.

[Outro Music Plays]

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