Interview: Compulsion Games Talks We Happy Few

Posted on by Ryan

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Once in a while a video game comes along that just makes us go “What the hell did I just see!?” For many who watched Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference, that was We Happy Few. A Microsoft exclusive for Windows 10 and Xbox One that even the most jaded Sony fanboy turned their head and said “That’s different.” Maybe it was the art style, or maybe it was that Clockwork Orange feel. One of the parts that stood out about the trailer shown at E3 was the birthday party with the cake being eaten that became a dead rat. That image has been stuck in my, and many other’s heads since it was shown.

We at Gaming Conviction had many questions after seeing such an incredible trailer. So we sat down with Compulsion Games Community Developer Nalia Hadjas to discuss inspirations, the E3 experience, and debunk some rumors and misconceptions around the game simply known as We Happy Few.

GC: What was the development team’s reaction to having their game shown off during Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference this year?
Nalia Hadjas: Part of the team was in the crowd at the conference and the rest was at the studio watching it on the TV. The whole team was really excited, as it was a wonderful experience to watch Guillaume (head of the studio) walk on the stage and show a part of the game everybody had been working so hard on for a long time. Our social media, which is usually relatively tame, blew up.

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GC: While many first discovered We Happy Few at E3 this year, you actually had a Kickstarter campaign last June. How did that go?
NH: The Kickstarter went well, we met our goal about a week before the end of the campaign but it was not an easy road. We had a strong launch but after 2 weeks we were starting to stall (we overlapped with last year’s E3, which wasn’t a great idea). A post on imgur by one of our community members (thank you!) blew up and helped us reach our goal.

GC: When I saw the trailer I got a Bioshock meets Clockwork Orange vibe. Were those inspirations behind the idea for We Happy Few?
NH: Clockwork Orange was definitely an inspiration but not Bioshock. We get compared a lot to Bioshock but I believe it is because there aren’t many first person games in retro dystopian cities. Our game was inspired by Brazil, The Prisoner and Hot Fuzz, to name a few.

GC: At the beginning of the trailer, I noticed the main character was checking tubes of newspaper. Was that a hidden reference to the movie 1984?
NH: Not even! We just thought pneumatic tubes were cool. Since the early 60s was a time of optimism for the future and an excitement for technology we are having fun including all sorts of machinery and gadgets.

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GC: What inspired the art style?
NH: Stylistically, Whitney Clayton our Art Director is inspired by stop motion – realistic textures over exaggerated designs. The setting inspiration (1960s Britain) works to support the story and concept. Art style draws from British Mod culture. The early ’60s was a time of optimism for the future and rejection of the gloomy, war-torn past and tradition.

GC: I have heard that the game is open world. Is that true and if so just how large is it?
NH: Yes and no. The game contains several biomes, with paths between them, and several narrative points of interest all around the world. It will be up the player’s choice to either follow the story or to explore and survive to eventually escape the islands.

GC: What exactly is Joy?
NH: Joy is a drug that induces happiness and makes you forget your memories. The result is a happy Wellie that doesn’t remember his or her past, or much of anything really.  And gets really aggressive when confronted with anything that makes them challenge their reality.

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GC: Will we play as one character, or will we playing as multiple characters as the story progresses?
NH: We have three main characters. You will start as Arthur Hastings. By playing the game, you will unlock the two other characters and be able to play their story. All the stories are intertwined.

GC: Where can our readers keep up with We Happy Few?
NH: On the News section of our website, on Twitter, on Facebook and on Steam!

We would like to thank Compulsion Games for this amazing opportunity to discuss their new game and we thank you for reading.