Back To The Forest With Endnight Games
Back in 2013, a fantastic game called The Forest was released into early access on Steam. It had this pretty cool premise about a crashed landing leaving a father looking for his son, who was kidnapped after the plane crash. Over the next few years, we saw the world of The Forest change as Endnight Games developed it into something truly terrifying and fun. With the release of Sons Of The Forest coming up so soon, I was given the opportunity to talk to the devs about what it’s been like at Endnight leading up to this release.
Justin: Before we dive into the Sons of the Forest questions, I would like to ask a few about The Forest. Where did the idea for The Forest originate from?
Endnight: There had been a ton of zombie games, but we couldn’t think of any cannibal games. Since we had almost no budget, we set it in a forest, so we could use procedural generation to help create the world instead of having to hand-make everything.
Justin: Some folks like myself followed the development of The Forest from beginning to end. So when the final storyline pieces were put into place, did you always know that’s where you wanted the story to go? What happens with Megan, and how Timmy ends ups?
Endnight: We let the story just develop naturally as we built the game. Part way through development, we added a locked door near the end of the game, but it took us a lot of time to actually work out what to put behind there. We knew we had someone kidnap Timmy at the start and that it would need to end with the player leaving the island, everything else was added gradually to the game leading up to the story release, where it all sort of came together.
Justin: How did the studio deal with the immense following The Forest got?
Endnight: Things stayed pretty much the same before and after the release. Although we have grown in size for ‘Sons of the forest,’ we stayed really small with only 3-4 core developers for most of the forest’s development, mostly due to us not knowing how to grow a company or get bigger.
Justin: What lessons did you guys take away from The Forest when creating Sons of the Forest?
Endnight: We learned a lot about how to keep things as simple as possible, and not overcomplicate things for no reason. We also found we could just hint at things with story and people would figure it out, we didn’t need to spell everything out.
Justin: Is Sons of the Forest a direct sequel to The Forest?
Endnight: It takes place after the events of ‘The Forest,’ but we don’t want to give too much away about the story.
Justin: Endnight Games has been notoriously quiet about Sons Of The Forest. Not so much as a peep until you all feel like you have something big and important to say. This is an interesting approach in the modern era of Twitter, where every small bit of information gets announced and shared. How does the team handle this, and why?
Endnight: We just never want to waste people’s time and feel it’s better to share something when it’s worthwhile, instead of just constantly bugging people. We wanted to try very little communication, and not really much promotion aside from showing gameplay trailers when they were ready, and see if we could still get people excited about the game without any marketing.
Justin: Sons of the Forest really seems to be taking The Forest to the next level. Was it stressful trying to elevate what you have already done with The Forest and take it to that next level while trying to manage the expectations of the player base?
Endnight: We didn’t want to just do a graphics overhaul and felt since people had already played ‘The Forest’ that they would want something new. Our inventory for example, in the first game was a static single screen, now it’s a fully interactive experience where you can pan the camera, see the player equip armor by looking down at your body, and it unwraps in the world. It’s the same idea with our building system, we tried to make it more visual, more fun and more immersive by actually letting people put the structures together instead of just mindlessly filling in blueprints.
Justin: Did the team already have an idea for Sons of the Forest after wrapping up the story of The Forest?
Endnight: We had some rough ideas, but it took around a year before we actually started working on fleshing it out. The story changed pretty substantially as we developed the game.
Justin: How long would you say Sons of the Forest has been in development?
Endnight: We started late 2019, so about 2-3 years, a large chunk of which was during covid, which was a challenging time to make a game and ramp up/hire a team.
Justin: The question I hear being asked a lot around Sons of the Forest is when it releases will it be Early Access like The Forest? And, of course, are there console versions planned?
Endnight: We’re going to release in early access and are currently focused on just PC. We would love to do consoles in the future but don’t have any firm plans yet.
With Sons Of The Forest coming out so soon, I want to thank Endnight for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m incredibly excited to play the sequel to one of the games that formed one of my best friendships with another person. Seriously, nothing makes you love or hate someone more than when they cut a tree down on top of your fort, destroying hours of work.