You know, I (Robin Ek, TGG) have more or less been a supporter of Voidpoint and their retro FPS game “Ion Fury” since day one (yes, I’m talking as far back as when “Ion Fury” first got announced as “Ion Maiden”).

Well, I don’t regret that one bit, because I got sold on the game as soon as I saw the first trailer for “Ion Fury”, and as soon as I got a chance to play the PC preview build of “Ion Maiden”, I got sold on the game forever.

So much so that I got super thrilled that I got a chance to do an interview with 3D Realms about “Ion Maiden” back in 2018. Well, that was almost two-years ago, and a lot has happened with Voidpoint and “Ion Fury” since then (like the recently announced expansion pack for “Ion Fury”, for example).

That’s also exactly why we decided to reach out to Voidpoint for a new interview in the current year (2020), and luckily enough for me and you, Voidpoint accepted our interview request.

So with that said, please enjoy our interview with Richard Gobeille, the founder of Voidpoint and Director of “Ion Fury” =)

voidpoint ion fury the game

“Ion Fury” (originally called “Ion Maiden”) became a huge success story once it launched for PC back in February of 2018, and Voidpoint more or less became a world-famous indie games studio over a night.

Cola Powered Gamer:
Just out of pure curiosity, what exactly was it that made you decide that you wanted to create a game such as “Ion Fury”?

Richard (Voidpoint):
A:It’s hard to really distill it down to a single reason. I mean,  everyone who worked on the game had been interested in making something like this for a long time. For me personally, it also had something to do with being completely broke, but knowing that releasing a good game would solve that problem.

voidpoint ion fury

Voidpoint is an indie game developing studio that originally consisted mainly of Build engine modders.

Cola Powered Gamer:
From what I understand, a lot of you are modders, right? So with that fresh in mind, was it hard to assemble a game development team?

Richard (Voidpoint):
Yeah, everyone on the team made mods beforehand.

This particular game actually started with someone from 3DR posting a thread on our forums, asking for people who knew how to use Build to apply to work on a project.

Evan Ramos and I then connected with 3DR regarding it and took it over completely pretty soon after we had a bunch of people apply and then went through all the applications and picked out the people we already knew could get the job done, more or less.

The game was originally supposed to be some promotional tie-in thing for 3DR’s Bombshell game, but they didn’t really bother with giving much oversight to the project so we ran with it in our own direction. They wanted some promo thing and we wanted to make a real game.

voidpoint ion fury lets kick some ass

That’s right, “Ion Fury” was built with and runs on a heavily modified version of the good ol’ Build Engine (“Duke Nukem”, “Shadow Warrior” and “Blood” made the Build Engine famous).

Cola Powered Gamer:
This is something which I (and most likely, a whole lot of other people) have wondered about. So, why did you decide to use the Build Engine for Ion Fury? I mean, why not any other given modern engine? You know, like the Unreal Engine for example?

Richard (Voidpoint):
I guess that’s a combination of already having a ton of experience with Build, and wanting a gimmick that was completely unique among the other retro games coming out.

All of the ones on Unreal or Unity etc sort of prove that “anyone” can make a retro-styled game on a modern engine. It’s a lot more difficult when you go hard in the paint and actually have to fight against ancient tech vs having a modern engine that you just stick old looking assets in.

For example, some of the retro-style games using Unity etc actually use legacy data formats and just have their own code attached to Unity that handles loading and using said formats.

Well, those ones are a lot more “legitimate” to me than some of the others I guess it’s kind of like restoring an old car versus building a replica. It’s just not the same thing.

voidpoint ion fury blowing some zombies up

One of Voidpoint’s biggest obstacles while developing “Ion Fury” was that they didn’t really know what they were doing plus the lack of oversight during Ion Fury’s early development.

Cola Powered Gamer:
What would you say was your biggest obstacle during the development of Ion Fury?

Richard (Voidpoint):
The biggest obstacle was probably not really knowing what we were doing and the lack of oversight during early development. It’s the same thing that allowed us to turn it into a full game instead of promotional material, but it was definitely pretty rough for a while. Another big obstacle was the lack of funding.

voidpoint ion fury level design

“Ion Fury” offers some of the most advance and biggest game levels that’s ever been seen in a Build Engine-driven game in the current year (2020).

Cola Powered Gamer:
From my point of view, the level design in Ion Fury is like a lost art. I mean, most of Ion Fury’s levels are bigger than the levels that are found in other Build game on the market right now. So, how long did it on average take to create one single level in the game?

Richard (Voidpoint):
That’s hard to quantify as all the mappers were working on multiple maps at the same time.

Most of the levels took a couple years from start to finish, but that of course includes time spent waiting for art assets to be completed, etc.

The levels in the DLC seem to be going a lot faster, possibly because all of the questions about how to create things that came up during the production of the main game already have answers.

When we were doing the main game there were a lot of times when a certain map effect was needed but didn’t exist yet,or specific art was needed for something, or a combination of both where a new object was required that needed both new art and new code. There isn’t as much of that with the DLC.

voidpoint ion fury flynns arcade

“Ion Fury” might just be one of the most fun to play and best looking Build Engine FPS games ever created. As a matter of fact, “Ion Fury” is pretty much the “Duke Nukem 4” that we all wanted but never got (imo).

Cola Powered Gamer:
During the development of Ion Fury you switched to voxels for item pickups and objects. Well, why was that the case? And was this hard to implement in an older engine?

Richard (Voidpoint):
Well, since Blood and Shadow Warrior both had voxels, we already had support for them in the engine, we decided to go for the voxels pretty much just because we could. I wanted to have spinning weapon pickups.

They’re “retro” and they can be helpful to draw the player’s eyes to an item they might have otherwise somehow missed.

voidpoint ion fury you vs big brother

Voidpoint had a lot of sources of inspiration while creating “Ion Fury”. However, one of the biggest sources of inspiration is actually the real world itself and everything that’s currently going on in our world (the whole “1984” police state roll-out all over the world via lockdowns).

Cola Powered Gamer:
What was your biggest inspiration for the setting in Ion Fury?

Richard (Voidpoint):
I can’t speak for anyone else on the team but I was personally inspired by the direction I see the real world headed. It’s just an exaggerated and sarcastic view of the path we’re already headed down I guess the guys who actually made the maps would probably have answers that name specific media they were inspired by for certain sections.

voidpoint ion fury the upcoming expansion pack

Yes, that’s right. “Ion Fury” is getting an expansion pack in 2021 for both PC and consoles! And based on the announcement trailer, Voidpoint is pushing the limits for what the Build Engine can handle even more in Ion Fury’s upcoming expansion pack.

Cola Powered Gamer:
Just recently, the expansion for Ion Fury recently got announced. So, could you perhaps give us some more details about this said expansion pack?

Richard (Voidpoint):
I guess most of what I can say about it at this point is probably pretty obvious–it will have a bunch of new levels and include new weapons and enemies as well.

So if you’ve seen the teaser video you can probably tell that there are some vehicle sections as well. I can also say that we’re aiming for settings for levels that are different from the main game. There will be more open and outdoor areas and fewer corridors and labs.

voidpoint ion fury i hate spiders

Creating “Ion Fury” was anything from a “walk in the park” experience for Voidpoint… Because not only did they run into problems during the development process of the game, but they also struggled with plenty of financial issues throughout large parts of the development of “Ion Fury”.

Cola Powered Gamer:
This is something that I have thought about more than once actually. Well…did you have trouble financing “Ion Fury”? I mean, this being your first commercial game and all?

Richard (Voidpoint):
Yes, definitely–that aspect was pretty difficult.

Most of the people who worked on the game did it for no up-front pay, only the promise of royalties once the game was released, but this arrangement wasn’t possible for everyone.

For example, one of the mappers had to pay the 3d modeler himself and when the game came out I had to pay him back. There were a few times during development where I personally completely ran out of money and couldn’t afford, like, anything.

voidpoint ion fury ion maiden

Not everyone might be aware of it…But “Ion Fury” was originally named “Ion Maiden”. However, Voidpoint had to change the name of “Ion Maiden” into “Ion Fury” once Iron Maiden (a British Heavy Metal band) threaten to sue them…

Cola Powered Gamer:
Oh boy…I bet that you’re going to have a blast with this question *cough cough* So, did you ever expect that you would end up being sued by Iron Maiden during the development of “Ion Maiden”?

Richard (Voidpoint):
Not really. I still don’t personally believe they ever had anything close to a winning case, but fighting it would have been very expensive and would have delayed the release of the game by much longer than we could survive for.

We aren’t the first people they’ve pulled this shit on and I doubt we’ll be the last. They used to be my favorite band but it turns out they stole my favorite song (hallowed be thy name) from someone else anyway.

Oh well…

voidpoint ion fury multiplayer

At no point in time did Voidpoint (not in their wildest dreams) think that “Ion Fury” would become such a success story and smash-hit. For example, “Ion Fury” won IndieDB’s “Indie of the Year” award back in 2019, and “Ion Fury” was the third best selling game on Steam back in 2019.

Cola Powered Gamer:
Now, for my final and wrap up question for this interview. Ion Fury won several awards and even is compared to the classic FPS games. So, did you ever think Ion Fury would become such a success when you started the development?

Richard (Voidpoint):
I had no idea it would be as popular as it ended up being!

Like, I knew that I personally thought it was good, but I attributed it more to it just being full of things I like (because I was the director) and figured I was just biased when we released it and then everyone else liked it too I was pretty surprised.

Robin Ek – Editor and co-writer.

Cola Powered Gamer
The Gaming Ground
GAB: @ColaPoweredGamer

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