Jens Matthies
reddit AMA - May 2014

Full wolfenstein enemy territory 2
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons Image

Hey /r/IAmA! I’m Jens Matthies, Creative Director for Wolfenstein: The New Order. Get psyched because I’m here to answer your questions! AMA!

Just wanted to say hello! How are you doing today? Did you drink some coffee this morning? What is your favorite kind of coffee? Thanks!

That's awfully friendly! Hello! I don't drink coffee. I find it to be a vile, bitter drink :)

How long is the campaign going to be? Especially if a player takes their time and collect's everything, how long on average would it take to complete the game?

If you collect everything and explore everywhere I think a single play through could end up close to 20 hours. But there's also lots of incentive to make a second play through, especially to explore the alternate time line.

Hello! How do you keep a series that's been around since the early 80's relevant and fresh in 2014? Thanks for the AMA!

Thanks for the question! I think this is the beauty of making video games. For example, the opportunities available to us developers these days are vastly different to what id Software had to work with when making Wolf 3D. Our goal has been to make the best Wolf game ever, and you'll see plenty of both old school and fresh new stuff when you play it.

Hi Jens, who came up with the idea of the referee shooting a soccer player in the "Nowhere To Run" trailer and Nazis destroying Mount Rushmore in "Boom Boom" trailer ? I want to hug them.

That was the talented people at trailer house G-Net. They've been awesome, and I'm sure they would love some hugs :)

What do you prefer then? I cant go a day without coffee!

I'm good with all good tasting caffeine delivery systems. Coke, Red Bull, something along those lines. Wish they would weaponize that stuff ;)

What was the biggest challenge when making Wolfenstein: The New Order? What kind of veggies do you like growing? how long have you liked doing that? Also I have to say that the panzerhund in that proof pic is amazing! Looking forward to the release of the game~

Biggest challenge was probably the scope. The game is huge and it was a monster to build. This year it's all tomatoes. But I like any plant that produces food. Except zucchini. Bleh. Yeah, it took days to get that Panzerhund into the office, but now it make the conference room a happy place :)

Will the new game be story driven (many hours of gameplay) with long term replay value, or will we have to rely on multiplayer to get any value out of it?

This game is exclusive single player. But we've built in lots of replay value. Most notably is that the player makes a choice early on the outcome of which opens up an alternate time line which changes the vibe of the story. It's recommended to do a second play through and see what would have happened if you chose differently.

If Carmack or Romero played this game, do you think they would be proud? I mean, i bet you guys replayed Wolfenstein 3D to capture the original feel of the game.

I think so. This game is our love letter to id Software and the shooters we grew up with, so I hope they'll like it. I don't think they will be expecting such a developed story line though ;)

You had previously worked on Riddick and The Darkness which were two favorite good games of mine which had an awesome soundtrack by the way. I think a good game always have to have a good soundtrack. Riddick and darkness had Gustaf Grefsberg which he really made a fitting sound to the game, would ever consider him composing your games soundtrack in future titles?

Of course! Gustaf (or Grappo as we call him) has worked with us for about 15 years now, and he's a key sound designer on Wolf. For the music in Wolf we worked with an amazing composer named Mick Gordon as his musical style is more appropriate for this game than Grappo's. We also have some special music contributions by Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah (looove that band).

If you could have worked for id software closer to the beginning of your career? Or are you satisfied with how your path set you with starbreeze?

I regret nothing :)

What do you think about the alternate Version of your game for germany? Since its not the thrid reich attacking the world, does it take away anything from the story? And how do you think about games being one of the few forms of media, where its not allowed to show any swastikas and other third reich related stuff?

We will celebrate at MachineGames the day the passionate German gamers convince their government of the obvious fact that games are indeed an art form.

Riddick EfBB - director's cut audio commentaries (often podcast length) and videos were one of the best (if not THE best) special edition bonuses ever to happen in video games. You should consider doing someting like that with this or future titles by MachineGames. :)

Thanks! As you can tell once I start talking, I don't stop :) I would love to do it again, it's more a matter of finding room for it in the schedule.

What can you say about the development of the game on the consoles? Did the eSRAM cause any issues for you guys on Xbox One? Basically will the graphical difference be minimal across both platforms?

Compared to the last console transition this one was a breeze. There are always tricky technical problems when developing games, but we have some amazingly skilled brains on those problems and I'm happy to report that Wolf will run with minimal visual disparity at 60fps/1080p on all platforms.

Hi Jens.Will there be an another Twitch stream before the game comes out? If yes, when? Thank you.

Yes! There will be a final one on Monday, the 19th.

Why is the hard drive requirements so high? Is it just texture bloat or did you figure that you can now afford to have audio bloat as well with blurays?

Yes, whenever we can bloat we will bloat! :) There's an obscene amount of content in the game, and all that good stuff eats storage.

Will we see what happened to the Japanese after the war in Wolfenstein: The New Order?

It's not something we go deeply into in this game, but if you explore the game world you will discover some information on the fate of Japan.

How much concern is there over how you approach the Nazi enemies? In terms of brutality you administer towards them, or just being historically sensitive. Does it make making an FPS easier?

Well, above all we wanted to make the best Wolfenstein game possible. The game is of course completely fictionalized and over the top, but we wanted the sense of oppressive Nazi horror feel authentic.

I mean as in, a second wolfenstein !

We loved getting to work on Wolf. It was daunting for sure, because it's a game that blew our minds when we grew up, and we've been idolizing id Software since before we started making games. We've worked extremely hard to make sure the id guys wouldn't feel like their trust in us was misplaced. We have lots of ideas for a sequel and we'd love to do one. It hinges on the financial success of this one, of course. There are many game modes you can unlock :)

I'm an IP attorney at a software company, but I struggle with my own company's investment in "loss prevention" and "rights management" tools. As a software developer, what's your plan to address (or work with) software piracy that so many other software vendors and studios worry about? Do you think that investing man hours in development of and implementation of DRM systems is a healthy use of limited software development time and resources?

I'm sorry, I don't care about any of that stuff ;) All I care about is making the best possible video games I can.

Both RTCW, ET and Wolfenstein (2009) all had traditional Allies vs. Axis style multiplayer with Wolfenstein twists (amulet powers, venom gattling gun, ect). If Wolfenstein: The New Order is a success, which I hope it is, and Bethesda greenlights a sequel, which I hope they do, is a multiplayer component or stand-alone like Enemy Territory possible? What would you do differently to make it Machine Games own unique experience?

Can't really speculate about how the future will play out. I'd love to do a sequel. I think it would be a lot of fun to make an Enemy Territory style multiplayer game. But MachineGames will never make both at the same time. We find that the best possible results come from having the whole team focused on a singular experience for the duration of the project.

How does it feel to have a plural name?

Well, could be worse. Our CEO/Executive Producer is named Jerk.

Whoa!!!! Meshuggah contributes music, that's awesome. I hope a soundtrack comes out. Is it a new song made for the game?

Yeah, Fredrik made some custom music for the game. All of the music in the game is amazing, I'm really psyched about it.

From the gameplay we saw, you can choose to kill either Wyatt or Fergus at the very beginning, how does it affect the game in the long run? Different locations? Dialogue between characters? What would it be?

Well, I don't want to give any spoilers, but it changes the vibe of the story to a degree and alters the gameplay somewhat. We think of it as an alternate ending, but instead of it just affecting the final cinematic, it affects the tone of the whole game a little bit.

So... about Fallout 4... Do you know anything about it? If so please tell?

Excellent question! Keep the excellent questions coming :)

What is the highest speed you have every reached while riding a bicycle? Do you have documentation of this?

Clarification needed. Do you mean propelled by my own muscles or while holding on to a vehicle?

I really cant wait to play The New Order! The team did an excellent job. My question is: what are you most proud of in Wolfenstein The New Order?

I'm really proud of the fact that the game we set out to make is the game we ended up with. It's exactly the Wolfenstein game I would want to play.

Is BJ Blazko still the grandfather of commander keen and the ancestor of the doomguy?

I certainly hope so!

Will I get to fight a robot mutant Hitler for the final boss battle? This is pretty much a deal breaker. EDIT: Your silence speaks volumes. I will not be pre-ordering.

There will be no spoilers :)

What is the key to success of the story ?

Killing as many Nazis as you can :)

Can you make the main character Lt. Aldo Raine?

No, but I think B.J. Blazkowicz and Aldo would have a fun night if they had some beers together.

As a dabbler in MMA, how do you think you compare to CCP Games vs Gunnar Nelson?

Gunny would destroy me in less than a minute.

Is Stealth going to be forced or will it be optional in Wolfenstein?

On the rarest of occasions you'll be forced to approach a scenario either using stealth or armed combat, but at all other times the player is free to decide for themselves.

Hello, Jens! What are the influences of the previous Wolfenstein games? Could we see some places from Wolf3D, RtCW or even Wolfenstein in the new game?

We've been deeply inspired by Wolfenstein 3D. Many of the choices we've made have been extrapolations based on the foundational ideas in Wolf 3D.

I'm not Jens, of course, but Wolfenstein: The New Order doesn't have a multiplayer campaign.

What archaicruin said :)

What was it like designing parts like the prison camps in the game? Considering it revolves around the holocaust and the final solution.

For me personally, this was one of the reasons I really wanted to make the game. I think video games are uniquely powerful in that they can put you in places you cannot go, or would never want to go in real life. You're in for a ride with this game, that's for sure.

What do you think is the MOST badass thing in the game?

Sooo many options! A fully upgraded Laserkraftwerk is very, very badass :)

Why do you censor the game in Austria when the swastika is only forbidden in Germany?

I honestly don't know the details of that. I could come up with a few hypotheses, but I'd prefer not to speculate. Sorry, wish I could answer that for you :(

I'll take that as a 'maybe'.

I'll take that as an "I'll maybe preorder" ;)

Is there potential for Machine Games to work on a sequel for The New Order, will it have an ending that allows for sequels?

We would love to do a sequel and we have lots of ideas. We'll see how this one does :)

Does The New Order follow the events from Return To Castle Wolfenstein(my favourite!), Wolfenstein 3D or is it a complete reboot? Also a friend of mine worked with Mick Gordon on the soundtrack and has refused to tell me anything for the last 8 months! (other than that you're quite the metal fan) What kind of music can we expect in the final soundtrack?!

Wolfenstein: The New Order is constructed to play as a complete stand alone game, but it will also work as a sequel to previous titles in the series where possible. Mick surrounds himself with amazing talents, so I'm sure you have a highly skilled friend. The music is very varied and there's loads of it. The game is intricately scored from moment to moment with almost no repetition. A lot of the score features odd time signatures yet it's all very groovy. Can't wait for you guys to hear it.

It looks absolutely bloody fantastic so far, but I have reservations -- mainly, I've found that many/most modern multi-platform games seem to have a control scheme designed for a controller, with PC/keyboard controls slapped together as an afterthought (ie, Mass Effect 3, where one button did five different things, or Bioshock where certain keyboard keys were "reserved" for no reason). Is this something that people who get the PC version instead of the console version will need to be concerned with/aware of?

Wolfenstein: The New Order allows complete key binding freedom to PC players.

Hi Jens! How much influence from the original Wolfenstein 3D went into the making of The New Order? Are you excited that your game will be coming out soon? I sure am!

Wolf 3D is for us the true origin of the series, so we've been very inspired by it. I'm super excited for the release! But I do have some degree of separation anxiety, since this has been my baby for so long and now it's moved out of the house.

Have you ever played the board game Tannhauser? It is basically Wolfenstein the board game.

Sorry, I have not... But I remember Roy Batty mentioning something about a gate of some sort?

Why doesn't the Panzerhund edition include the actual game?

The very talented people at Treehouse who created the Panzerhund Edition are unfortunately not set up to sell games. It's purely a logistical issue that couldn't be overcome in a timely manner. I know it's weird, but please check it out. It's really amazing and the whole MachineGames team are all psyched about their copies :)

It sure doesn't look this way, but please assure me this won't be another Duke Nukem: Forever...

You may rest assured.

oh man, check it out: (link)!) I'm surprised you guys didn't pick it up in your research! You'd love it.

Thanks for the link!

Hey Jens. I'm playing through RtCW in anticipation of The New Order. Will there be as many hidden switches and gold bars behind paintings of Hitler in The New Order? Edit: And awesome work by the team on the whole meta extended universe with the soundtrack and Nazi world influence etc.

Oh yeah, it wouldn't be Wolfenstein unless there was tons and tons of hidden stuff to find :) Thank you for the kind words!

So, how open is the game? When I think of old school shooters, I think of the complex maze like level design. (link) Also, thanks for reviving Wolfenstein :)

The openness of levels is one of the old school things we're bringing back with Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Hey Jens, Are the Elite guard in the game?

Yes!

Do you by any chance know what yhe soldiers are yelling out when they see you in the original Wolfenstein 3d?

Well, the one thing I remember is the line "Mein Leben!" which (unless my German fails) means "My life!". Which of course makes little sense, and I fondly speculate that this was John Romero's made up German back in the day. And I'm happy to inform that under very special conditions, you can get the enemies in Wolfenstein: The New Order to say "Mein Leben!" when they die.

Hey Jens! I wanted to know, if you were to do go back in time and do something to enhance your game development skills, what would you do? Also, what is the most important thing to learn and improve if you want to become a game developer? (btw you have a hand in a couple of my all time fav games like darkness and riddick and now wolfenstein, Thanks you)

Hello! I think you learn the most from making mistakes and correcting them, so I'm not sure going back in time would help :) For any aspiring developer, the most important thing is deep specialization and understanding of your craft. The second most important thing is learning how to communicate with your peers. Games are made by an army of insanely passionate specialists with OCD all working together towards a common goal. Make sure you love what you do, and do what you love as much as you possibly can. And never give up no matter how hard it gets, because it will get very, very hard.

How many weapons are there in the game and how many can be dual wielded?

Essentially all weapons in the game can be dual wielded, except the mounted guns and the Laserkraftwerk.

Hi Jens, can you elaborate on why there is no multiplayer? Cheers :)

We knew that we'd make the best possible game if the entire studio was fully focused on a stellar single player experience. Adding multiplayer would split our focus and reduce quality over all. It was not a sacrifice we were willing to make.

Hi Jens, my question is - did you ever play the game Commander Keen?

Bizarrely I have not! My experience with id's games started with Wolf 3D :)

Hi, can't wait to play the game, it sounds awesome. I'm hoping to get into the industry myself, I'm just about to graduate my first degree. I was wondering if you've got any tips for people who want to get into the industry?

Specialize your skill set and practice, practice, practice. Pick one thing and try to become the best in the world at it. Don't forget that games are made by people working together. Your ability to communicate, deliver and receive criticism matters way more than you think :)

I really hope you see this question. What is the status on the doom beta for PS4 or Xbox One digital downloads? I want to play the doom beta but I also do not want to have to buy the game on disc to do so. The website has said check back later for quite awhile now and with the game coming out in 11 days, I would hope we would know by now.

In North America, you can already pre-order on PSN and you'll get the beta access. For Xbox One, Bethesda is still talking to Microsoft to see how this will work. They'll work it out eventually :)

You take back what you said about zucchini!

Never! It tastes worse than water! :)

Hey Jens, My question to you is a question/advice thing for moving into the games industry. I'm 19, from the UK, don't have a degree but working a full time job in London, and looking to try and dabble in making some indie RPG games and maybe do something further based on my success or lack thereof. So the question is: What, to you, is the most important thing in making a video game when you have limited resources to work from? (Extra info: I have a mediocre background in writing, decent media knowledge, and great analytical skills). Also, I used to do karate for 8 years, it mostly avoided working from the ground unlike most MMA disciplines I'm aware of, another question for fun is do you like work on the ground or on your feet when you spar (which I assume you do)? Keep up the good work, will most likely get this game on release if all things look good!

It kind of depends on the kinds of games you want to do. If you want to make the next Tetris, you can (and should) do it basically on your own. If you want to make a triple A, high production value game, you will need to join a team. Teams like this are very big and very specialized on individual crafts. In general, coders don't make game design, modellers don't make audio and so forth. This means that teams have open positions for specialists, or even specialists within specializations. Like an AI programmer, or a UI programmer or whatever. In order to measure up to the skills needed to fill one of these positions you need years of focused practice and peer review. If you're a modeler, submit your work to the cg forums and let other modelers critique your work. Learn and get better. Degrees are basically useless in this industry, at least in my experience. I've hired hundreds of people over the last 15 years, and I've never once asked to see a degree or any kind of proof of education. It's all about your portfolio. Same goes when applying for a job in the games industry, make sure you submit a link to a good portfolio. Your portfolio is 99.9% of what your future employer will care about. I love grappling, but my cardio is shit so it makes me feel like I'm dying :) At the fight club at work we do mostly stand up sparring.

Hey Jens, is the processor minimum requirement really going to be an i7? I would really love to play but I don't have an i7. :/

Yeah, the specs are the specs. It's a jungle on the CPU front, and the i7 is what the tech guys can get behind.

Have you played Wolf ET?

Yes.

Another question how do you maintain that sexy beard of yours?

Years of practice! I've come to realize that one can never truly master the art of grooming a beard.

Hi Jens! I remember reading about W:TNO when you were first revealing it, and being very excited about an opening scene involving a Nazi officer interviewing you with a deck of cards. It sounds like a very tense non-combat encounter not unlike the opening of Inglorious Basterds, one of my all time favorite scenes in any film. My question is this: is this encounter still in the game, and will there be more of these tense, non-combat encounters in the game?

Yes, and yes! I don't want to give spoilers, but we work a lot with the pacing of the game. We think of it more as an action adventure than a straight up shooter. Although it is very heavy on the action ;)

How much consideration did you guys give trophies/achievements? As someone who is an avid trophy hunter, I notice that a lot of the time devs seem to put very little effort into trophies, and others they seem to be a focus, can you comment on why there's this disparity and how do you see it changing in the future?

We've spent lots of time on this and there's tons of stuff to collect in the game. I think you'll be very happy :)

What's your absolute favorite part about being in the gaming industry?

For me it's the variation. As the project moves through the cycle, I get to deal with different kinds of issues, and with each new game new technological opportunities open up so you can realize things that wasn't possible before.

Will the game take a linear approach to the missions like most modern shooters do or will it be more map design per level oriented, like the old games?

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a lot more old school with much less linear map design than most other modern games.

I'll just say first off, the game looks like a ton of fun. Is the focus on a darker, more serious plot with some humor elements to it, or is it just all around goofy fun? I ask because I don't want the game to feel conflicted with itself, and some of the things represented in the gameplay and trailers I saw aren't really things to make light of. I'm sure you guys know what you're doing, but it's been something I've been wondering ever since I started following the game. Also as a side note: I like how you did your special edition, of putting all the goodies separate from the game. I thought that was a smart move, and think more games should do that.

The focus is on a darker, more serious story with some humor. You can compare the tone to something like Inglorious Basterds or District 9. It's a lot of fun and mayhem, but there's a sinister undercurrent and truthful drama carrying the story.

Hi Jens, What is it that gave you your inspiration for you job and what keeps you motivated/relaxed in the stressful time before release? Also do you know any code and collaborate with programming the games or do you stick to creative direction? Thank you for your time! :)

Hi Bran! I've always been driven by a deep need to create. Don't know why that is, I just know that if I'm not creating something, I'm not happy :) If we're crunching, the only thing that keeps me relaxed is working, counter intuitive as it may sound. I'm profoundly useless at coding. I kinda get the basic concepts, but I couldn't write a line of code. I stay on the artistic side of things.

Hey man, no question, just wanted to say I absolutely loved Riddick and The Darkness, and I'm super excited for a new Wolfenstein. Thanks so much.

THANK YOU!

'Dabble in MMA'...like as a viewer or actively engage in combat? Any cool fight stories?

I got kneed in the eye once by our Animation Director. Thought he had broken my orbital bone, but fortunately that was not the case. It did however fuck up something inside the face bones, so I lost all feeling in three of my front teeth for a few months. We have a fight club in the basement at work and we try to keep it friendly and safe :)

Jens, how often do you get questions about Fallout and The Elder Scrolls from fans who confuse Bethesda Softworks with Bethesda Game Studios?

Often! ;)

Not a Wolfenstein question but I've loved your guys games since EFBB and was a a HUGE fan of The Darkness. Why was there never any attempt to port The Darkness over to the PC? I've played it so many times on my PS3 but I felt like it would have been an amazing experience on the PC as well.

I honestly don't know. Those kinds of decisions would be made by some bean counter at 2K :)

How'd your weird obsession with floor plans start? And, what do you think is the most overpowered weapon in New World Order?

I think it has to do with the creative problem solving of optimizing floor space. I love making spaces useful through clever solutions. I've had the good fortune of getting some of my floor plans built too (like the MachineGames office), and it's surreal to see the things you drew on the computer become physical in the real world. Most over powered weapon is probably Herr Faust. You'll know what I mean once you play the game :)

Who makes you laugh most at Bethesda?

It's a toss up between Todd Vaughn and Matt Firor.

Are you implying that if the Nazis took control technology would be like 1000x more advanced?

No. The Nazis took control because they had somehow obtained access to some mysterious 1000x more powerful technology.

You have mentioned that the story is deep and well crafted. After the prologue 15-20 years pass and BJ is in a hospital. I am wondering if there is an explanation in the game for BJ still being able to fight and actually having mobility at all after being in a coma for 15-20 years. Did the Nazi's do something to him or did that magic mojo from Wolfenstein 2009 change him? Or is it just a case of "just go with it"? This kind of stuff bugs me.

Well, there's an emotional trigger explaining why he snaps out of the coma, but aside from being tended to by a kind nurse named Anya during his coma period, there is no explicit explanation for why his muscles haven't atrophied over the years. We tried making the player move in a staggering, sluggish way for a couple of levels, slowly regaining his full strength. But we had to cut it, because it turned out not to be, you know, fun ;)

What type of vegetables do you grow? Also, the viscosity of the blood splatter in the trailer for The New Order was very satisfying.

Over the years I've grown, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, leek, jerusalem artichoked, artichokes, asparagus, chards, lettuce, all kinds of herbs, blue berries, raspberries, strawberries, soy beans, fava beans, string beans, peas, zucchini (bleh), melons, grapes, peppers, chilis... Probably more things that slips my mind at the moment :) Thank you for the kind words! Our effects artists will be happy to hear that. They've worked a lot on that viscosity!

I've seen in the trailers that there is an ability to modify the environment with your weapons. How big a part of the gameplay is this?

It's a pretty big feature in the game. You can find all kinds of ways to use the laser cutting ability to your advantage.

Hey Jens, I've only ever played the old 2d wolf game...the one that wall call wolf 3d. I really liked the trailers for this though. Can I play this game straight in or is it necessary to play the 2009 wolfenstien first? Thank you for doing this. :)

Hi Bongobongbagoombabong (very cool name!). Wolfenstein: The New Order has a story that stands on it's own. No need to have played any prior game in the series.

Get psyched?! Is this loading screen making a triumphant return?

Perhaps subliminally ;)

What motivated you to leave Starbreeze other than just being on your own? Were you anxious? Did you spent a lot of time looking for investors/start-up funds? What thought popped into your head when Bethdesda picked up your studio? And lastly, what kind of floor plan are you currently working on? Thanks for keeping a young teen's favorite game alive!

We spent about a year and a half living off borrowed money before the deal was made with Bethesda. Scary times :) Right now I'm working on a vertical floor plan for a 25m2 house over water.

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