I’m Jerk Gustafsson, Executive Producer at MachineGames.

I like to build stuff. I skipped school to work as a bricklayer when I was 15, and when I was 25 I bought my first computer and with that, the computer game masterpiece from id Software, Quake. I only played single player - over and over again - until I bought a modem, got connected to the Internet and discovered Worldcraft, a tool which allowed me to build my own levels. For me, this was the most amazing thing ever and I didn’t stop building levels for Quake until I joined a company called Starbreeze in 1998. There I continued to build levels for games like The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and The Darkness. During production of The Darkness, I took over the Lead Design role and building levels pretty much came to an end – I let the younger, super talented folks take care of that now, with the exception of some to some block-out for one of the levels in the game we just released, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

When not making games I commute (I live in a small Swedish town about an hour north of Uppsala where MachineGames offices are located) and sleep and a few times per week I practice and play a very popular sport here in Sweden called Floorball, where you play in a team with a stick and a ball on a floor.

Anyway - yesterday we were pleased to release our first digital title, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a prequel to MachineGames first game, released just shy of the one-year anniversary for Wolfenstein: The New Order.

My proof: http://cdnstatic.bethsoft.com/bethblog/2015/05/jerk_ama1.jpg

I am here - let's get started!

Thank you all for your questions! I will run to the train now, but will have another look for more questions when back home!

Thanks again for your questions. Time to go to bed for me now. Good night!

Comments: 128 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

cheechnya23 karma

Hello Gustafsson, I really enjoyed the New Order. I found Machine Games crafted the some of the best gunplay ever designed in an FPS. But, I had a big complaint with the New Order. Gun fights had a tendency to be relatively small, and a little spread out for my taste. I feel this damaged the pacing of your excellent game.

However I just finished The Old Blood, and oh my God, it was fucking awesome. It completely fixed the problems I had with the New Orders pacing. You guys improved on TNO COMPLETELY in my eyes.

So my question is: Was The Old Blood designed with a conscious effort to include more combat engagements along with lengthening the time of combat engagements (i.e. more enemies)? Or was The Old Blood simply made using the same design philosophies of TNO?

Either way, TNO was a great first game from Machine Games. The Old Blood, in my eyes, was a fucking master piece. Love your company and can’t wait to see what else you guys make in the future.

Jerk_MachineGames19 karma

Thank you! Yes, we did work a lot with our combat scenarios - especially in terms of making the areas larger and provide players with more options when it comes to navigating the area. This naturally also made several of the scenarios longer - while still keeping the pacing and the intensity intact.

Arsenic1317 karma

How does BJ stay buff while in a coma for so many years? Is he essentially Captain America? What's his secret?

When it came to giving an established character so much pathos for TNO, how did you approach this without treading on what fans of BJ thought he should act and sound like?

Jerk_MachineGames27 karma

Hello! That's because Anya took really good care of him.

masterchiefs10 karma

Hello Mr. Gustafsson, I was 14 when I first played Chronicles of Riddick (yep I know that game was rated M but I really didn't care, haha). That game was a part of my childhood and I've been a big fan of you guys until today. Wolfenstein: The New Order was AMAZING and I'm having a blast with The Old Blood right now.

What really amazed me was how brave MachineGames and Bethesda were for making Wolfenstein TNO, I mean it was 2014, most people ask for multiplayer for a 60 dollar FPS game or else they won't buy it, but no, you guys decided to take a risk and made a freaking triumphant! Did you guys expect Wolfenstein TNO to be successful after taking that risky move? Also will Neumond Recordings' songs appear in the next Wolf games? :D

Jerk_MachineGames18 karma

Thank you! We have always been a single player focused team and it's truly amazing to work with Bethesda, who always encourage us to do what we want to do and feel really strong about - story driven first person action adventure experiences. I'm very happy that a lot of people enjoyed The New Order - it shows that there's still a market for the type of games we love to create.

nickm94796 karma

What are your plans for the future?

Jerk_MachineGames8 karma

Hi - unfortunately I'm not quite ready to talk about what we have planned for the future. We are just one day after launch!

JocLayton5 karma

So first off, I wanted to thank you and the team for giving us both The New Order and The Old Blood, as well as all the great games you guys made at Starbreeze. I have a number of questions, so just answer as many or few as you want.

  1. What is the canon status of the series? With TNO it was assumed that at least Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein 2009, and TNO were all one continuity, with Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny also possibly being connected. But The Old Blood's first part seems to be at somewhat of a re-imagining or retelling of the beginning of RtCW.

  2. If the canon has been re-imagined, would there ever be a possibility of the return of Robo-Hitler, or some other form of him, or would you prefer to go forward?

  3. The Wolfenstein games are interesting in that they feature an extremely limited health regeneration in favor of an old-school health/armor system, which is rare in modern shooters. Was this just for the sake of capturing the Wolfenstein feel, or can we expect classic mechanics in future non-Wolfenstein games from you guys?

  4. With modern Wolfenstein games, it's kind of been a series where a developer puts out one great game and then passes the torch to the next developer, allowing them to give their own take on the franchise. I feel like this is part of what gives the series its charm, since no two games are the same and it keeps each game having a fresh perspective. Do you intend to keep going with the series, or is TNO/TOB your contribution? I wouldn't mind seeing more Wolfenstein from you guys since your current games are amazing, but I'd hate to see Wolfenstein become "The Machine Games series" or for you guys to become "The Wolfenstein developers".

  5. If/When you do decide to move on from Wolfenstein, what would you like to be next? Is there any hope of returning to previous franchises like Riddick, The Darkness, or Syndicate?

  6. Are you guys "set in stone" with id Tech 5, or are you open to other engines in games not published by Bethesda? Is there a chance of a successor to the Starbreeze Engine?

  7. Wyatt or Fergus?

Jerk_MachineGames6 karma

Hello JocLayton! You're quite right, The Old Blood is very much inspired by RtCW (one of my favorite Wolfenstein games) - especially by the first two episodes. I definitely would want to see the return of Robo-Hitler some day - who wouldn't? I really wanted a health system that involved the classic 100 health/100 armor, but at the same time gave the player some possibility of regeneration. Basically to avoid situations where players just stand behind a cover and wait for the health to regenerate and instead encourage players to move around more, while still not ending up stuck with extremely low health - we had a similar system in Riddick (but with cubes) and it's a system that, I think, works very well with the combat we want to have in our games. I'm not yet ready to talk about what we have planned for the future, but I am very happy with what we have accomplished with both The New Order and The Old Blood. Wyatt - mainly because I love J so much.

brian-johnson784 karma

Hello Mr Gustasfsson!

First and foremost thank you and your awesome team from MachineGames for resurrecting this proud franchise!! I'm from a suburb in Dallas, Texas, which isn't too far from ID software's headquarters! but anyway for my question, Will there be a continuation from the new order story line? I'm really curious to see what happen to anya and caroline decker and the rest of the resistance? the resistance in the US? Thank you from all the id head's in the world

-Brian Johnson

Jerk_MachineGames3 karma

Thank you for your kind words brian-johnson78! As you probably already noticed, we're unfortunately not yet ready to talk about our plans for the future, but hopefully we will continue creating games that you enjoy!

starboard4 karma

I want to say thank you for making a wonderfully crafted singleplayer FPS. It seriously could be my most recent favorite story shooter experience since the original Call of Duty or Half-Life 2. I especially appreciated the immersion provided during gameplay, such as hearing dialog above the sewers I was crouching in etc.

As a fellow game developer, my question is what do you think needs to happen to encourage other publishers/developers to pursue story driven shooters again? I feel like we might already be getting glimpses due to the lackluster player populations of recent AAA multiplayer shooters, but I would like to hear your thoughts on it.

Jerk_MachineGames5 karma

Thank you starboard, for your very kind words. I would love to see more story-driven shooters, and I do belive there's a market big enough. But I don't have a good answer on what needs to happen to encourage publishers/developers. I only hope that these type of games will continue to be developed and that they will be succesful enough for others to follow. MachineGames will definitely continue developing story-driven shooters.

XKV223 karma

Hi Jerk! Just want to start off by saying I love the work you and the rest of Machine Games are doing with the Wolfenstein! What other kinds of games can we expect from you guys in the future?

Jerk_MachineGames3 karma

Thank you XKV22! The only thing I can say for sure is that you can expect games with a lot of action and heavy weapons!

Mato873 karma

Hello Jerk, first of all I want you to congratulate on how well you and your team of extremely talented game developers managed to make such an awesome game wolfenstein new order I was so hooked up on the game that I finished it over 10 times, bought the lovely artbook too. I would like to tell you that old blood is, and this is quite extraordinary, even better than the previous game in every single aspect. Ok now my questions are if I may. What would you consider to be your best achievement in game developing? How did you become a game developer yourself, what lead you to become one of the best in the business? And the third and final question do you like football and if yes which team/club do you support? Thank You and godspeed Jerk, you're the best !

Jerk_MachineGames2 karma

Thank you so much for all the kind words! When it comes to achievements there are many things I'm proud of over the years, but i must say that starting MachineGames and building the amazing team we have here today is by far the greatest. Creating games is a true team effort and there's nothing more important than the hard-working, dedicated and very talented game developers you have by your side when going through an always so challenging development period.

Yes - I love football - and as I grew up watching English football and followed Swedish players like Glenn Hysen and Anders Limpar in Arsenal - I'm still a big gunners fan!

thefryboy3 karma

Hello! I am a huge fan of The New Order (easily my GOTY last year) and just started The Old Blood and am loving it so far.

My question to you is this: Who's idea was it to add in the German versions of the songs(House of the Rising Sun, etc) in The New Order? Because that was absolutely genius. It was a large reason why I bought the game, because of the trailers playing those songs

Jerk_MachineGames3 karma

Hello! Behind the German versions of the songs are the geniuses of Bethesda marketing department.

Jyncks3 karma

Thank you so much for your time in bringing back Wolfenstein to the main stream. I thought The Old Blood was incredible and just couldn't stop pinching myself going back to Castle Wolfenstein. How much joy and pressure did you and and your team feel with such a monumental task? My first Reddit post btw.

Jerk_MachineGames2 karma

Thank you Jyncks! A lot of joy and a lot of pressure, but having Bethesda and id Software by your side certainly removes some of the pressure - and adds a lot more joy! Personally, being a huge id-fan, it was a dream come true to work with such a legendary ip.

GamerToons3 karma

Is that your real name?

If so it is pretty awesome.

Jerk_MachineGames6 karma

Yes it is! I was born in 1971 and times were a bit different back then. My mother came from a region in Sweden called Dalarna where the name Jerk at that time was, not very, but fairly common. It's a variation of the name Erik and my mother and father thought it was nice to use a name from my mothers region. And what it meant in english wasn't even something that anyone would think about at that time. I would lie if i would say that it hasn't bother me from time to time - of course it has, especially when i was younger and travelling to US or UK I was always embarrassed to show my passport or id. But I have never thought about changing it - I'm quite fine with it nowadays.

xh2oox2 karma

First of all thanks for bringing back all those amazing memories from RTCW to The Old Blood. I am so happy to see it once again and being able to replay story, funny because i wrote to bethesda if you guys consider to relase some kind of RTCW remake (we still play RTCW). Game is awesome. Please tell me if you are going to keep on doing great work and if you have got already plans for future connected with Wolfenstein? Also will you add some new products to bethesda store? Cant wait to get them all!

Jerk_MachineGames2 karma

You're welcome! I'm also, as you may understand, a big fan of Return to Castle Wolfenstein - its a great game. I'm pretty sure there will be more stuff coming to the store and while i'm sorry to say i dont have any solid informtion on whats coming I'm very happy to hear you want to get them all! Thank you!

Regygamer2 karma

What do you think is the best way to get into games programming? and what do you think are essential skills to develop for programmers and designers?

Jerk_MachineGames4 karma

Hi Regygamer - nowadays, at least here in Sweden, we have really good schools that are specialized in game developing educations. This is usually what I recommend when young people ask me how to best get into the business. It was a lot different when I started. We didnt have these types of educations back then.

lnlsl2 karma

The Old Blood is bloody awesome as The New Order, thank you! Could you please give any ETA on The Old Blood soundtrack release? I'm really desperate to purchase it.

Jerk_MachineGames1 karma

Thank You! I love the music as well. Mick Gordon is fantastic. The cover of The Partisan is so amazingly good. Unfortunately I dont have any information on a soundtrack release today.

dtmanini2 karma

RTCW is my favorite game of all time and The New Order, in my opinion, had some of the best story and gameplay of any game I've played since then. Really loved that old-school feel to it. I haven't yet completed The Old Blood, but look forward to finishing it this week.

I wanted to thank you and the rest of the team at MachineGames for carrying on the Wolfenstein legacy with TNO and TOB and bringing me so much joy as I play through them.

I was wondering about the creative process you went through for some of the things like the weapons and other gadgets in the game. Where do you pull your inspiration from and how difficult is it to narrow down exactly what you want? The guns you guys included are badass and really give you the feeling that you can kill and destroy everything rambo style. Do you have just one or two people design all that or does a good majority of the team get together to brainstorm how the weapons will look and function.

Thanks for your time. Looking forward to whatever MachineGames does in the future.

Jerk_MachineGames6 karma

Hello! Very nice to hear you like our guns and old-school feel. Personally i draw a lot of inspiration from the old id shooters like Quake, Doom and Wolfenstein. In general we have a pretty clear idea on what weapons we want to include very early in production, but we are also very open to and encourage members of the team to contribute and come up with ideas and suggestions - which they always do. We also have a very talented team that we call the "Through the gun"-team who handles player movement and a lot of the core weapon mechanics. They are of course also big contributors to the design of our weapons.

drunkill1 karma

Hi there,

I just finished The Old Blood an hour ago, what a great expansion pack you guys have produced. I'm glad we've gotten to go back to this updated Wolfenstein universe, which was elaborately crafted and includes some amazing worldbuilding.

Are you hopeful for a fully fledged sequel (or prequel) to TNO/TOB?

I'd love if some sort of multiplayer component existed too, either co-op, online multiplayer or even a HD remake of RTCW: Enemy Territory-like gameplay.

I hope there is more on the way in the future, I look forward to whatever you've got cooking.

Jerk_MachineGames3 karma

Hello! Very happy you enjoyed the game! As I've previously mentioned, we're not yet ready to talk about the future, but it has been really great to work with the Wolfenstein universe and I'm truly proud of the result of both The New Order and The Old Blood.

zeppelinsw1 karma

Would you like to make a Wolfenstein game in another genre than the FPS? Which one? Platform, TPS, even a strategy game??

Jerk_MachineGames5 karma

Hi zeppelinsw! I think I always will prefer first person. Whatever game we're developing. Its a great genre that allows you to truly be the character you play. This is and always will be extremely appealing to me.

boomsticktron1 karma

I really enjoyed the New Order what floored me was the great acting went so well with the gameplay. so i was wondering what was the decision to bring that great acting to a over the top action game ?

Jerk_MachineGames2 karma

Thank you for your kind words! We feel that it's our responsibility to bring the best possible story to any game we develop. We are fortunate to work with amazing actors for both The New Order and The Old Blood.

illage21 karma

How did you come about adding in the Nightmare levels in the Old Blood? Was there any challenges getting the old levels to run on the new engine?

Jerk_MachineGames3 karma

Hi! The first Nightmare level that we added to The New Order was not planned from the beginning - it was something that our team did for fun during development and when they got it working we of course wanted to include it. We have a truly amazing and very creative team here at Machine Games.

mrbonesisone1 karma

how easy was it for you to break into the games industry and how easy do you think it would be to do so today?... im currently doing a digital design major and i want to aim for a career in developing games

Jerk_MachineGames2 karma

I never planned for it myself. I just loved bulding levels for Quake and eventually I was approached by Jens Matthies (who I've been working side by side with my entire career) and Starbreeze. I think this still happens today - especially when it comes to getting into the business as an artist.

Design is a bit harder I think - mainly because companies usually require a lot of experience with a few titles in the portfolio. As I mentioned in a previous answer - i think the best approach nowadays is to go through a game development focused education and through school get an internship. We have some truly great schools here in Sweden and for a lot of the students that have done their internship at MachineGames - it has resulted in a full time employment.

bl1y1 karma

Hi Jerk,

Any advice for people hoping to get into the writing side (either creative or technical) of game development? I just finished an MFA in fiction writing and am now an adjunct professor. I'm hoping to find something to fill out the rest of my schedule (adjuncting barely pays the rent) other than SAT tutoring.

-goobers alt shift backspace

Jerk_MachineGames2 karma

Yes - make sure you're lines of dialogue are short!

Truthseeker1321 karma

Hello Sir Gustafsson!

I am a huge fan of your work. Every single one of your games are on my fav games list! So, I guess you are one of my game idols?

Anyways, two questions:

  1. If I want to become a game designer/director, what is the best and most effective way, without the involvement of direct programming skills, to show my ideas to.. lets say.. you guys?

  2. Are you guys satisfied with the ID Tech 5 engine? Us gamers, especially on PC, look at the engine as a living nightmare, especially since it's coming from Carmack :(. Barely any modding capabilities, terrible optimization (60 fps cap? really?) and texture pop-ins, baked lighting techniques... etc. What are some future plans for this engine and if given opportunity, what engine would you like to use instead?

Jerk_MachineGames3 karma

Hello Sir! Very nice to hear you like our games! I would recommend to keep a look out for open game design positions at developers that are of interest to you and then submit an application with your ideas. Yes, I'm very satisfied with id tech. Whatever technology you're working with there will always be challenges, but considering that we now have delivered two games running at 60 fps/1080p - I'm definitely satisfied.

I_smell_awesome1 karma

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Jerk_MachineGames3 karma

Minced meat, egg and Tabasco!