Fun Dog Studios will unveil tactical survival horror game Forever Winter

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Fun Dog Studios will unveil tactical survival horror game Forever Winter
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Fun Dog Studios announced it will unveil its tactical survival horror game Forever Winter at the IGN Fan Fest on February 21.

Fun Dog Studios was started in 2022 by former triple-A game developers to focus on an employee-owned venture that gave them creative independence.

The Olympia, Washington-based studio has grown to 30 people, including veterans behind major titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, Doom Eternal, Killzone and The Witcher 3.

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Breaking away from the constraints of traditional game development, the newly formed independent studio is not only 100% founder-owned but is also committed to reclaiming the spirit of innovation, risk-taking, and creative freedom that defined earlier days in the gaming industry.

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Led by Miles Williams, CEO and creative director, Fun Dog Studios is set to unveil its maiden creation, Forever Winter, a tactical survival-horror shooter that pits squads against colossal war machines in a chilling and unforgiving landscape.

“It’s essentially a post-apocalyptic fever dream, very much inspired by Japanese model kit combat style,” said Williams in an interview with GamesBeat.

It was inspired by Japanese manga artists, the Russian film Dead Man Splinters, and anime like Ghost in the Shell, Williams said.

“It’s definitely it’s got some very tongue in cheek components. Probably in the vein of something like Fight Club, where there’s a little bit of nihilism. But there’s also like a charm to it. And I think like Frank Miller definitely comes to mind as well,” Williams said. “It has a lot of graphic novel inspirations there.”

Fun Dog Studios has 30 people.

The official trailer for the game is scheduled to make its debut at the IGN Fan Fest on February 21.

In a departure from industry norms, Fun Dog Studios prides itself on being fully creatively independent, allowing its team to defy conventions and pursue unique gaming experiences. Speaking about the mission, Williams emphasized the desire to bring back the days of experimentation, novel storytelling, and diverse gameplay.

“This is personal to us. We’ve worked on some of the most successful games ever, and miss the days when the industry flourished with new experimentation, new stories, new gameplay, and new voices; so we formed our own company where we could be free to do that,” said Williams. “As independents, we’re free to forge our own path to make games we all can’t wait to play ourselves. We’re not chasing the hot new trend, we’re trying to bring back things that we’ve felt the industry has lost. Think new IP, less plastic.”

Fun Dog Studios has a fully remote team. The studio’s philosophy challenges the conventional notion that games need to be universally accessible, advocating for a return to more challenging and rewarding gaming experiences. The company has raised a round of funding.

Williams said that the challenge of working in triple-A games is that the budgets have ballooned so much that the risk aversion is high.

“I honestly have had the most fun in game development in the place where you can do a lot of rapid iteration and quickly prototype new things, and kind of push it,” Williams said. “I felt like a lot of the studios, back in the day, give or take 15 to 20 years ago, were pushing the envelope. They were pushing the envelope on a lot of new mechanics, or a lot of new systems like, and it felt very much like a Renaissance.”

The teaser trailer features dry humor from a masked character in heavy armor.

Asked about the scope of what a 30-person team can get done, Williams said that in past games the teams could get work done with perhaps 10 people.

“I think it’s more of a working smarter, not harder situation, where you can cut down a lot of the nonsense,” he said.

The game had been a passion project for a while and then it scaled up in 2022 with a small round of funding. The inspiration came from reading a lot of Japanese manga comic books, including Ghost in the Shell with brutal visuals. Other inspirations included Anthem and Japanese kit-bashing titles.

“I’m hoping we can get back to a new renaissance in game development. And it looks like very much like that’s happening. So it’s a really exciting time,” Williams said. “We’re really inspired by underdog stories.”

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