Neon Giant's Co-Founders Tor Frick and Arcade Berg have told us about the development behind The Ascent's Cyber Heist DLC and shared their secret to keeping the original game relevant.
80.lv: Please introduce yourselves to our readers.
Tor Frick: I am Tor Frick, Creative Director at Neon Giant.
Arcade Berg: And I’m Arcade Berg, also Creative Director and Co-Founder beside Tor. Me and Tor met in a gamedev Uni a hundred years ago, and both had scrappy "making games at home" experiences beforehand. We both were fortunate enough to immediately get jobs in AAA at different studios but occasionally ended up in the same workplace. Him in art, and me in design. The list of games we’ve worked on is long, but together we’ve worked on things like Gears of War, Bulletstorm, and the recent Wolfenstein franchise.
Neon Giant and The Ascent
80.lv: Could you tell us more about Neon Giant and The Ascent?
Tor Frick: Neon Giant has been up and running for a bit more than four years now, and just over a year ago we released our first title, The Ascent. The team is currently growing slowly but steadily, with a team of 16 talented developers.
Arcade Berg: On that note, any help getting the word out that we’re looking for senior developers is appreciated.
Tor Frick: The Ascent is a solo and co-op action-shooter RPG, set in the dense cyberpunk world of Veles. It mixes high-octane action and spectacular effects with a dense and intricate world. The idea and the setting came about pretty organically. When we started working on the game we were only a couple of people, so we went in a direction that we felt inspired and comfortable with. We are all sci-fi aficionados, so we drew inspiration from many different works in the genre, spanning books, movies, games, and comics.
Development of the game took a bit more than three years. The game is using Unreal Engine 4. The size of the team fluctuated throughout development, but in the end, the internal team was 12 people, helped along by a number of partners and contractors. There were a ton of challenges along the way, the biggest of course being the scale and scope of the game, including multiplayer.
Arcade Berg: The fact that several of us at the studio have experience shipping games made with Unreal Engine and some of us having worked at Epic helped a lot. We knew what we were getting ourselves into to a certain extent.
Cyber Heist DLC
80.lv: Now, please tell us about the new Cyber Heist DLC, when did you come up with the idea to create an expansion for The Ascent? What was the development process behind it?
Tor Frick: We felt that there was a lot more we could explore with the IP, we always built the idea of the world first, so there were a lot of things to dive deeper into. We wanted to take a lot of what we learned with The Ascent and create something that used that and pushed it a bit further. So it was very similar to The Ascent, but with fewer missteps along the way!
80.lv: Please tell us about the new content the DLC brings.
Tor Frick: Cyber Heist takes the player outside the Ascents Group’s arcology for the first time, on a new contract. The DLC includes a couple of main missions, and a few side ones, as well as a whole new area of the world to explore, along with new weapons, including melee!
Arcade Berg: And don’t forget fun new characters and a massive new soundtrack with ~20 new tracks! If you enjoy it, it’s available on Spotify and Steam. (Steam gets a bonus track, which is sick.)
80.lv: It's been more than a year since The Ascent was released, what is the secret to staying relevant in today's ever-changing world?
Arcade Berg: We let the work do the talking for better or worse. We don’t interact on social media as much as we would like to because it takes a lot of time because the game was a success, so we’ve instead opted to release updates, big and small, free and paid all the time since release. And we’ve made sure that what we deliver is what people are actually asking for as a way of saying thank you and we see you. We added New Game +, VO for side missions, a hugely popular photo mode, a bunch of weapons, armor, etc., and now finally the big one with more of everything.
Tor Frick: As I mentioned before, we are growing slowly but steadily right now, hiring for our next game, so there will be a bit of a hiatus from us, while we are focusing on that.