Cold Furnace Studios are thinking outside the ‘box’!

Cold Furnace Studios is a Canadian based studio comprising mainly of military veterans and AAA game developers. So it is any surprise that some of their training methods are a little ‘unorthodox’?

From flying F-18 jets to taking the team out to the firing range, Cold Furnace want their team to have a true and realistic understanding of not only what they are making but how that experience will affect those playing it.

I sat down with the Community Manager for Cold Furnace, Max Rampage, to pick his brains a bit about how they are taking their development processes outside of the box to provide a fresh and realistic perspective from the view point of the end user.

Cold Furnace Studios is a start-up Game Developer based out of Atlantic Canada. Our amazing and dedicated team is made up of ex-AAA developers, Military Veterans, and local artists. We are creating a military themed FPS/RPG that will immerse the gamers in open world settings while providing the riveting storytelling action of linear shooters.

We are drawing on the decades of military experience within our studio to tell gut-wrenching stories that will be both physically graphic as well as morally compromising. This traumatic experience will be brought to life by our outstanding dev team and hopefully with any luck, by fans who want to experience it.

CEO Mark Wheeler
CEO Mark Wheeler

Cold Furnace have adopted some rather unorthodox training processes to get their development team feeling the realism of the weapons and scenarios that ‘The Undying’ will portray in the game. Can you elaborate on this for us?

Well, being that the CEO and myself have Military experience and are avid gamers, we obviously care a lot about the realism. The CEO especially values the importance of first hand experiences and how important they are for recreating complicated military equipment, vehicles, and tactics. To that end, we have started taking our artists and programmers to live firing ranges so that they can experience the weapons we are asking them to create.

They can hold different weapons and feel their different weights and then how those various characteristics affect aiming, sight picture, and weapon control. By getting to fire the weapons they get to hear the different sounds, feel the different materials, and see the different effects of various weapons for themselves. It’s the best way to ensure we are bringing the real deal to our gamers. And what the hell, it’s a crap load of fun!

How do you feel these activities will impact the development process?

These events with our staff will keep the development honest and accurate. In our minds, we have the military experience within our ranks, so why not share it with the brains of our operation? It just seems like the best way to ensure our games are authentic and accurate to reality.

What can you tell us about your experience in the military and how that equips you to bring a unique perspective to the table?

My personal experience with the military has seen me hold a variety of different jobs and learning different skills over the course of 11 years. From basic small arms handling to grenades to anti-tank weapons to fighting the 25mm auto cannon in a Light Armoured Vehicle, to Flying in the back seat of an F-18 during Close Air Support training, I think the only weapon I haven’t fired is a tank! The military has really been the best place for me as it is not only a critically important job, rewarding on its own, but the high-octane and fun value never ceases. With respect to the game development, it’s experiences like mine and the CEO’s that will ensure our game is the real deal by bringing comprehensive knowledge from the macro perspective of military operations right down to the tiniest detail; such as, having the ejection port of a weapon on the correct side of a weapon and ensuring it stays open once fired until manually closed.

Lead Art Director Brad Lucas
Lead Art Director Brad Lucas

I recently watched a video of you pulling, I think it was, 6G’s – that’s some serious speed. How do you draw from an experience like that to advise your team on aspects of realism in game design to really immerse players?

The backseat ride in the F-18 was the best 90 minutes of my life. It was the fastest and hardest I had ever traveled and was truly unforgettable. Yes, during the 20mm gun strafe we pulled some serious Gees, 6.5. Although I knew we would have to egress after the strafe, the pilot didn’t warn me how hard and fast he had to accelerate to get out of there so that we didn’t get hit by the ricochet of our own rounds. You will also notice that my arm falls hard into my lap at that point, which is because at 6.5 gees it unexpectedly became too heavy to lift!

The amount of details I learned from that one flight was amazing though. The cockpit is tiny, especially for a big guy like me. The ejection lever is a giant “D” ring that is pressed between your thighs just begging to be pulled. The canopy comes right down low to your sides making you feel like you are in mid air no matter where you look. The suit you are wearing inflates when you experience Gees in order to help you as you push the blood back up to your head by squeezing your legs as if you are trying to squat. And just to make a casual turn, the jet pulls 4 Gees! All those little details I learned in 90 minutes. I think that really answers your question right there. By actually experiencing these situations we at Cold Furnace Studios are creating, we can recreate the best possible and most realist simulation for the gamer. The devil is in the details.

Oh ya, and when we touched down, I was a sweaty mess ready to walk on the Earth again.

This kind of attention to detail can sometimes be a hit and miss in some FPS titles of late, and when this happens and you catch it, you are pulled straight out of your immersive state back into reality and concentrating on the error. This is not something the developers want to happen, and as you can see, Cold Furnace Studios are taking it to the next level with their procedures to ensure you are never stuck asking yourself why the AK-47 sounds like a side arm!

CEO Mark Wheeler, Lead Art Director Brad Lucas, Game Design Director Jeff Mundee, and Lead Game Dev Director Terry Sznober
CEO Mark Wheeler, Lead Art Director Brad Lucas, Game Design Director Jeff Mundee, and Lead Game Dev Director Terry Sznober

 

If you would like to take a look at the Max Rampage’s experience in a F-18 Jet, take a look at the video below. It really puts in perspective just how far Cold Furnace are willing to take things to ensure you get an awesome experience from ‘The Undying’.