We The People: Fusing Extraction With An Apocalypse
Personally, I’ve been an absolute sucker for an exciting, no-holds-barred apocalyptic adventure for quite some time. And recently, I’ve been venturing deeper into the world of extraction shooters – particularly the more hardcore variants such as Escape From Tarkov. So, when I came across We The People, I was nothing short of enthused about the game’s base concept.
We The People is an ambitious indie title from Small Indie Company, and it sees players dive headlong into a post-apocalyptic extraction shooter with hardcore survival elements. It’s in development as we speak, and after connecting with the team, I learned how the game came to exist, how that development journey has unfolded, and why We The People is so exciting.
Read on to check out my interview with Drew Falck, the Creative Director at Small Indie Company.
Inspiring Greatness And Starting the Journey
GTH: Everything about We The People really impresses me and it speaks to me and what I look for in a game. I’ve heard how eager you all are to bring something fresh to a genre that in many ways is just finding its feet, but I’d like to hear first-hand the inspirations behind We The People. Are there any other games out there that kickstarted the interest in building an extraction shooter like this one?
DF: ‘I think as we continue to develop, we’ll start to see We The People grow into its own skin, so to speak. There are some rather awesome extraction shooters and looter shooters that give us a ton of references on what we aim to learn from. Not just seeing what they’ve done well, but understanding where they fell short in the eyes of their respective player bases. Our team was heavily inspired by games like STALKER, Squad, Insurgency, Escape From Tarkov, The Division, Fallout, Arma 2 & 3, and DayZ.‘
‘Continue moving the extraction genre forward in a meaningful way’
‘In many ways, we acknowledge we’re standing on the shoulders of giants like EFT and DayZ, and want to pay homage to them, show a level of irreverence for the work they’ve done and continue moving the extraction genre forward in a meaningful way.‘
GTH: Can you share anything about the team’s journey to get to where you are today? I saw on the website that you’ve got quite a sizeable team – what has it been like combining resources and talents, and what kind of things have you learnt along the way?
DF: ‘I started teaching myself game development via YouTube tutorials, forum threads, and Udemy courses. Because I see myself more as a shepherd for the Creative Direction of our games – We The People and Fear & Fealty – I’ve done my best to grow our team and surround myself with folks that are far more skilled than I am in both technical and artistic aspects.‘
‘Although we are a small team, everyone here has brought a ton of passion to what we’re creating, and that doesn’t always come across early in the development phase. When people get to interact with in-game characters for example, who will be voiced and acted by their favourite content creators, I think they’ll see and feel the hard work being put into it.‘
‘Showing off our game this early on is a challenge though, as we’re getting feedback on things that aren’t really fully baked yet. However, we’ve seen a ton of positivity coming our way and will use that as fuel to maintain the course.‘
Why Is ‘We The People’ So Exciting?
GTH: In the devlogs, I’m seeing hardcore survival elements, a ballistics engine that promises realistic gunplay, and elements like inventory and weight management. They’re fairly core elements to what some have come to expect from extraction shooters, so I’m super curious to learn about the unique selling points of We The People. I’m already sold on the project, but what’s in the mix that would encourage others to get involved?
DF: ‘We know that wanting to be immersed in a world that tries to kill you in hundreds of different ways is definitely for a niche group, but finding a way to balance our game design to be more applicable to a broader audience is our goal.‘
‘… the only thing that should be hardcore about our game is the gameplay itself.’
‘We love the extraction shooter genre, but feel they miss the mark when it comes to making (the games) ‘hardcore’. You’ll find in most of these games that the gunplay, movement, and survival elements are done exceptionally well, but the user accessibility and UI/UX are done poorly. To us, the only thing that should be ‘hardcore’ about our game, is the gameplay itself. We want to use elements like our Weapon Customization systems to alleviate some of the bloat that comes with the Tactical Hardcore FPS and Survival genres.‘
GTH: How deep is Small Indie Company looking to dive into the extraction shooter concept? Let’s consider a moment something like Escape From Tarkov, with its trading system, peer-to-peer marketplace, skill progression, and questlines that ultimately lead to an endgame. Are any of these elements being considered for We The People? Or is it more a case of getting it off the ground first and then looking at what else can be done further down the line?
DF: ‘We’re looking at We The People as a love letter to the genre, something that people will get to watch grow over time.We know what we want to provide in terms of a minimum viable product leading to our Early Access launch on Steam, as well as long-term plans for the game’s evolution over time.‘
‘Another big intention of ours is to solve a large pitfall of many extraction shooters…’
‘We intend to have systems like an in-game auction house, vendors, and questlines, as well as skill, player, and hideout progression systems-all accessible inside of our in-game hub we’re calling the Safe Zone ‘Settlement’ which would be available to players immediately. There are core aspects of the game that we feel need to be available in the earliest stages as well. This would be the very traditional extraction game type which is fundamental to our core gameplay loop, but also our arena game type which provides players with a change of pace with the same high stakes and high reward.‘
‘For more info on that, I would suggest watching our Devlog #1 on YouTube. Another big intention of ours is to solve a large pitfall of many extraction shooters, which is a stark lack of endgame. Most games in this genre only focus on providing a repeatable wipe-based progression gameplay loop, which keeps people coming back but doesn’t hold onto their attention beyond the first few weeks or months. This would be something we would want to include early as well, and continue building upon over time.‘
Where Does It Go From Here?
GTH: What’s the roadmap looking like in terms of playability? I saw a reference to a demo being released during the Steam Fest, but what’s going on down the line?
DF:‘We’re looking to come out with updated Demo builds as often as possible to coincide with our Devlog updates and internal milestones. We’ll also be hosting Multiplayer Playtests, Server Stress Tests, Bug Bashes, etc for early supporters leading up to our Early Access launch on Steam.‘
‘Once we reach Early Access on launch, we will be focused on knocking out major milestones, including hotfixes, updates, and new content frequently until we reach our initial intended goals to leave Early Access and have fully released the game. The intention is to not extend the scope of our development beyond our initial plans, so we can maintain consistency and stability as we grow to scale.‘
GTH: Any parting words of wisdom for indie developers out there? If there’s anything else you’d like to say to effectively plug We The People, please feel free!
DF: ‘To those considering picking up game development out there, take the leap. Don’t get stuck in the endless loop of criticizing other games if it doesn’t meet your expectations, be bold and try to create the game you yourself would want to play.‘
‘Stay true to your ideas’
‘Bring others along with you on that journey, document your progress and take both praise and criticisms with a grain of salt. Be open to feedback and put player sentiments above all else, but also stay true to your ideas. Check out and wishlist We The People on Steam. Feel free to support us on all of our socials and thank you for being a part of this journey.‘