Interview: Martin Wahlund of Fatshark about Vermintide
We here at TiX Towers are big fans of Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide, Scoring it a whopping 9/10 in our review. Our Senior Editor, Greg Giddens, is a fan of not only the game but also the Warhammer table top games that inspired it, and he was fortunate enough to interview developer Fatshark’s CEO, Martin Wahlund, about their Skaven slaying multiplayer title. The interview took place on January 15th 2017.
This is Xbox: Can you tell us a little about Fatshark and its development background?
Martin Wahlund: Fatshark was founded back in 2007 and started as a consultant firm where we helped other studios that needed help finishing a project. Then in 2010, we released our first own IP called Lead and Gold, which is a third person multiplayer shooter in a wild west setting. After that, we released other co-op titles like War of the Roses, Krater, and War of the Vikings. Then, in 2015, we released our biggest success to date, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide.
This is Xbox: Why do you makes games – what inspires you?
Martin Wahlund: Fatshark is all about creating great cooperative games, where people come together to have fun and solve problems. We love the dynamic behind co-op games, and enjoy giving players the freedom to succeed or fail trying as a group.
This is Xbox: How did you come up with the concept of Vermintide?
Martin Wahlund: Being passionate fans of the Warhammer Fantasy IP, we’ve always wanted to create a Warhammer game that both stayed true to the beautifully dark atmosphere of the world and showed it off from a perspective we had not seen in previous games – first person. To be able to walk along the gothic streets of a city in the Empire or to slash into the enemy with one’s axe were things we ourselves were craving from a Warhammer video game.
This is Xbox: How involved were Games Workshop?
Martin Wahlund: We worked closely with Games Workshop throughout the development of Vermintide. Whenever we had new concepts, in-game renders, marketing assets and so on, we would send them to our contacts at Games Workshop for approval and feedback. Additionally, with the help of two of Games Workshop’s veteran writers, we were able to create our own lore for Vermintide while weaving it into the End Times’ official stories. We were even told that Vermintide would become a part of the canon.
This is Xbox: Have you played or collected any Games Workshop tabletop games before?
Martin Wahlund: Oh, most definitely. In fact several of the key people on the Vermintide team having been playing the tabletop games since the 1980s. Being such huge fans of Warhammer for many years, Vermintide is therefore a dream come true for a lot of us at Fatshark. Our office is filled with miniatures, both in the making and finished, and if you were to open a few of the cupboards lining the walls, you would find terrain pieces for Warhammer Fantasy Battle painted and ready.
This is Xbox: Were there any unique challenges to developing Vermintide?
Martin Wahlund: This is the first time we have been able to publish our own game with a budget that felt fitting for the size and scope of our plans. Having the freedom that comes with self-publishing was both liberating and terrifying. While we were considerably more in control of our schedule and had more creative freedom, we were also haunted by the prospect that if the end result wasn’t well received, it would be entirely our fault.
Our biggest take away was therefore that a little extra time can do a great deal for the quality, but give a project too much time and you risk working on it forever.
This is Xbox: What went better than you thought it would during Vermintide’s development?
Martin Wahlund: Looking back at the development of Vermintide, especially being our first self-published project, the fact that we were able to remain faithful to our original vision is something we are very proud of. By keeping the same core team throughout the project, we were able to avoid compromising the quality and could pay attention to details, both large and small. By keeping a constant eye on the ball and the core pillars of the game, we made sure we never lost the essence of what we wanted Vermintide to be.
This is Xbox: There’s a lot going on on-screen at any one time in Vermintide. Was it challenging optimising the game for Xbox One?
Martin Wahlund: Thanks to our experience with bringing previous titles to the consoles, we were prepared for the challenges we would face with Vermintide. That is why we made sure to give ourselves the time needed to optimize the experience and make sure our console players would have as much fun with the game as our PC players did.
This is Xbox: We know Karak Azgaraz is coming to Xbox One in the near future, but are there any other DLCs or features that will be coming to the Xbox Ones version that you can talk about?
Martin Wahlund: Karak Azgaraz will be coming to consoles on the 28th of February. At the same time, we will also be bringing Quests & Contracts to our console players, so they will now have a new means of acquiring loot for their heroes. As for future DLCs, the Skaven army is cunning and secretive, so who knows what they might be plotting?
This is Xbox: Is the Vermintide concept something you’d like to revisit with different enemy races, or perhaps with the Warhammer 40,000 universe?
Martin Wahlund: We adore the Warhammer Fantasy world with its rich and diverse factions, so who knows what enemy races might appear in the future. As for the Warhammer 40k world, it might definitely be something for us in the future, since both the gameplay style and the atmosphere would work great with the sci-fi settling as well. But it is not something we are looking into at the moment.
This is Xbox: Are there any plans to bring new playable characters to Vermintide?
Martin Wahlund: Vermintide was designed to be a 4 player co-op game with five heroes to choose from, to ensure that even if you were the last one to enter a team you still had two heroes to select between. Since these heroes can be tweaked to better suit the players unique play style through their choice of weapon and have personalities that play off each other, we currently don’t feel the need to expand the crew of heroes. But it might be something we pursue in the future.
This is Xbox: Was it intentional to skew perception and give the Elf a Scottish voice as opposed to the running stereotype that the Dwarf must have a Scottish dialect?
Martin Wahlund: At Fatshark we like to diversify our characters and go against established stereotypes. This is reflected in characters like our Bright Wizard, a crazy elderly lady with pyromaniacal tendencies, or in the fact that our elf Kerillian is the one with the Scottish dialect.
This is Xbox: What’s next for Fatshark – is there anything on the horizon or an idea you’re eager to work on next?
Martin Wahlund: We will continue to work with Vermintide, evolving and exploring the Warhammer Fantasy world we’ve established. As for other projects, mums the word.
Greg Giddens: I entered the competition you held to voice a character in Vermintide. Why wasn’t I picked? I would have been perfect (Can only blame the jury. Have to have a better one for future events).
Martin Wahlund: Definitely the jury’s fault. We will make sure to cast them to the Skaven the next time we see them.