Heists have become serious business in multiplayer games, as of late. But before the idea was a blip on Rockstar's radar and before EA thought about stepping into the wonderful world of larceny, Overkill Software was taking a walk on the wild side with Payday 2. The multiplayer heist gambit paid off in dividends, quickly becoming one of the developer's most successful games. Payday 2's substantial DLC lineup has also gone a long way towards helping keep the game in gamer crosshairs.
The latest DLC pack, the Big Bank Heist, is the biggest add-on to date in both size and scope, offering the game's greatest challenge to date. So the time felt right to reach out to Overkill's Almir Listo and Andreas Häll-Penninger about Payday 2, the game's ongoing development, and its future, as well as toss over some questions from the loyal Chatty community of hardened thieves.
Andreas Häll-Penninger: The design process actually started with the community. Since the release of Payday 2, they have discussed the want of a bigger, old school heist. The community liked the multi-day heists and the open layouts of Payday 2 but was missing out on the big, epic one day heists of the first game Payday: The Heist.
Almir Listo: We agreed with the community; an epic heist like that would be awesome so we started working on the Big Bank. With the improved gameplay mechanics that Payday 2 offers we knew this would be a success.
Shacknews: There was definitely a sense of ambition in the air when you first announced a two-year DLC plan for Payday 2, yet you've managed to stay on that path. Was there ever any fear that the development team would get burned out over this period, given that there's still so much to maintain in terms of bug fixes and performance optimization?
AL: You can't make great games with that kind of mind set. It sounds cheesy as hell but there's no "I" in "team" and if someone has any issues, we'll take it seriously, no matter who it is. We designed the game together and we enjoy the success of it together.
AH: As a team, we are ambitious – we want to deliver the best possible content we can. All of us work hard to make the best co-op experience out there. The Big Bank was no different; in fact, it was our most ambitious heist yet, especially if you look at the story hook with the Dentist. Working on and improving upon Payday 2 excites us as much as it excites our players playing it.
Shacknews: You recently announced next-gen console versions of Payday 2 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. What do you hope to feature in these versions and will they contain any of the game's DLC?
AL: We were thrilled to announce that we're going next-gen with Payday 2. Our ambition is to give the players what they want – the ultimate bank robbing experience.
AH: Exactly what that means in regards to content, however, isn't set in stone yet.
Shacknews: The console versions of Payday 2 are just starting to catch up to their PC counterpart, in terms of DLC content. Do you see the console versions catching up to PC anytime soon?
AL: We released another PS3 patch recently and are currently working on the Xbox 360 patch. Our ambition is to give the console guys as much content as possible. Updating games on consoles, however, can be... challenging.
AH: It's like a spelling contest with a monthly retry. Not awesome.
After answering our questions, Listo and Häll-Penninger took some questions from the Chatty community.
fadetofunk asks: How do you plan to make the game friendlier to newer players that may be discovering Payday 2 for the first time after the Steam Summer Sale?
AH: We plan to introduce a more diverse tutorial aspect of Payday 2. In the near future, we'll ask the community to collaborate with us in order to make a series of videos that explain how the game works. The community members themselves will be able to feature their own character and their own name as they show people how to rob banks in the best way. All of this will then be voiced by the in-game character Bain.
Sailor of Fortune asks: In the wake of competing heist experiences beginning to surface, have you given thought to adding a Cops vs. Robbers mode and allowing players to control police characters?
AL: We want to make the best co-op experience out there. Ask yourself this, would a versus mode add to the co-op experience? We welcome the competition and wish them the best of luck. There are many things that can go wrong in a heist.
MercFox1 asks: How deep do you plan to take the Infamy tree?
AH: We have some cool stuff lined up with the Infamy tree. We know there are a lot of hardcore heisters who have hundreds, even thousands, of hours into the game. There are threads in our community forums on Steam where people discuss what they’d like to see. We lurk these threads and discuss them internally. When the next free Infamy update arrives, we think they'll be pleased.
OutlawSundown asks: Are there plans for future destruction missions, like Mallcrasher?
AL: You never know with Vlad, he'll probably want you to destroy something else down the line. We're trying different things; Shadow Raid is all about "stealth only," for example. If the community would crave another "destroy everything" heist, then we'd look into it, but they would rather break out Old Hoxton from jail if you ask me. Maybe do a break-out heist with Old Hoxton where you destroy everything? Could work...
Smoochy666 asks: Has any consideration been given to teammate cameras, so that players can see what they're up to during a heist?
AH: That's a great idea! We'll talk to Gage and see what he says.
AL: Talk to Gage? Andreas, you know he doesn't exist in real life, right?
AH: Really? So who gave me all my shotguns?
-JLN- asks: Are there any plans to shrink the insanely vast XP/money reward gap between the easier and harder missions? Currently once you hit roughly level 50-60, most jobs payouts are so low that it feels like they aren't worth doing, even on the higher difficulties.
AH: Cash truly is king, am I right? We know this, as well as our players, and we're looking into rebalancing this.
ArtilleryMarker asks: The masks customization is great, but customizing weapons, armors and suits with paint and decals would really help us connect to our heist artist. Is there any possibility of adding such features?
AL: It's great that you brought this up because we'd love to add more features like this. Designing your own mask is cool, but what if you actually could create the mask model yourself? We're looking into implementing the Steam Workshop functionality in our game. It could make modding the game much easier, something that we already support. Adding new stuff to modify like suits, weapons and so on are all great ideas that we’d love to see happen.
ArtilleryMarker also asks: Is hideout customization still in the works?
AH: Just as Bain says in the safe house, this is still a feature that we're working on. We never stopped working on it, rather, we've been discussing for a long time how to implement it in a satisfying way. We don't just want you to be able to change where your sofa is. There are other games that let you do that. We want it to be something more.
MercFox1 asks: Have you gotten any inspiration from the real world for any of the game's heists?
AH: Every time I step into a bank I think about it.
Sailor of Fortune asks: Whose idea was it to bring on Giancarlo Esposito for the cutscenes for the Big Bank DLC? How did the conversation go if there was one?
AL: No, it was mine.
AH: We – not just me and Almir, haha – discussed what actor would fit best to play the character of the Dentist. In the end, we agreed that Giancarlo Esposito would fit the role perfectly and we were thrilled when he said yes. We flew over Overkill's Cinematic Director Tor Helmstein to Hollywood to direct the stuff and the rest is history.
AL: The Dentist is cool because he gives the Payday gang another level of planning by leading them through the new Preplanning feature. Using his smarts and the "can-do" attitude of the Payday gang, you as a player can look forward to more advanced heists than ever before.
Nighteyes asks: There's been criticism about the game's AI in certain areas of the game. In particular, AI aren't so good at carrying bags, they often get clumsy and run around during gunfights, and cops are often too easy to pick off to the point that it turns into a war of attrition with dozens upon dozens of cops spawning in endlessly. Is there a plan to improve the game's AI in any of these areas in a future patch or update?
AL: We want people to play with each other. If there are two features that we could work on where one would benefit people playing together while the other would benefit AI, we'd improve the experience of people playing together seven days a week. However, that doesn't mean we aren't working on or are excluding improvements for AI.
AH: Exactly. So far we've updated the game's AI dozens of times. We want the AI to be dynamic and keep on working to improve it. We could do scripted AI and make it look intelligent, but it wouldn't play the same.
AL: Yeah. At the end of the day, we want people to rob banks together with their friends.
Payday 2 is available now on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Versions of the game are also slated to come to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in the future, though (as indicated here) the features for those specific versions have not yet been revealed.