Review Fix Exclusive: Inside Geneshift

Review Fix chats with Ben Johnson (Founder, Nik Nak Studios) who discusses his awesome Grand Theft Auto 2/Diablo hybrid, which is currently in early access on Steam.

Review Fix: How was this game born?

Ben Johnson: I started developing Geneshift in 2008 after college. I wanted to create a small project to put on my resume – expecting it to take a few months at most. Eight years later, I now realise my time estimation skills were lacking a bit. I was playing a lot of GTA2 and Diablo at the time, and I thought it’d be cool to merge the two ideas together.

Review Fix: What was development like?

Johnson: It’s been ongoing for over 8 years now and a huge part of my life. After the demo was placed online in 2009, I gathered a small community who provided feedback and ideas – leading to a perpetual state of development. In order to save money I left Australia in 2014 and started  coding from cheaper countries around the world – recently spending 2 years living in Peru.

Review Fix: What makes the story special?

Johnson: If you’re talking about the development story, it has to be the fact that Geneshift was coded from all over the world. If you’re asking about the actual in-game story, my favorite part is the subtle satire of game stories in general – since it draws attention to the various tropes seen in many game stories these days (e.g., how the main character is always super strong and saving the world).

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Review Fix: How special is GTA2 to you guys?

Johnson: I used to play GTA2 a bunch when I was a kid. The vehicles were great fun and there was something about the top-down view that I really liked. (I always like to be able to see my own character when I play games.)

Review Fix: How do you think this game improves on the GTA2 formula?

Johnson: Well, they are quite different games – though GTA2 was the main inspiration. Geneshift has a much stronger multiplayer focus than GTA2 does – with modern net code and far more attention to the PvP balance. There is the entire mutant skills system, which GTA2 lacks – and this adds plenty of tactics and replayability to the combat.

Review Fix: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?

Johnson: It’s a strange experience writing fragment shaders in a youth hostel while a bunch of travelers are singing “Kumbaya” on the table next to you. A year of Geneshift’s development was spent traveling in cheap countries around the world – hopping from country to country when the visa expired. And after that, I settled down in Peru for two years – where I tried to learn Spanish while coding the game. It’s been a great ride that I’ll never forget.

Review Fix: How does this game disrupt the game landscape?

Johnson: I think the most interesting thing is how it merges genres: Taking the PvP combat from shooters like CS, mixing in a skill system from MOBAS, and then adding vehicles on top. I’ve tried to give gamers as many ways to kill each other as possible.

Review Fix: What are your goals for the game?

Johnson: My main concern right now is getting enough people to enjoy it. That’s why I put a free multiplayer demo up on the Steam page – so even if someone doesn’t have enough cash, they can still enjoy the game that I and my community have spent the past eight years creating.

Review Fix: Who will enjoy this game the most?

Johnson: GTA2 fans will get a kick out of the vehicles, certainly. But even more generally, anyone who enjoys fast-paced PvP combat will really like the unique blend of guns and skill-based combat. And the campaign works with up to 4 players in online co-op, so many gamers will enjoy hopping on with a few friends to slaughter zombies, explore for unlocks, and just mess about with a bunch of crazy cars and mutant powers.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Johnson: Well, this is only Early Access – so more development! Eight years just isn’t enough. Once I get through this launch, I’ll be back to development, eagerly listening to the community for where to take the game next. I’m thinking more skills, weapon and vehicles. Maybe a helicopter would be cool.

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Patrick Hickey Jr.

Editor-in-Chief, Founder at Review Fix
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the upcoming book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.
About Patrick Hickey Jr. 6544 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the upcoming book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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