The Most Hated Game: Interview with Creative Director of HATRED – Jarosław Zieliński

After the release of the Hatred trailer APGNation reached out to the game’s developers for an interview. We managed to finally land an email interview with Jarosław Zieliński, the Creative Director, and one of the minds (among many) behind Hatred. However, since sending off our questions and getting a response a few controversies have risen surrounding Hatred and its development team. 

The first being that Jarosław Zieliński was accused of being some sort of racist reactionary extremist based solely off a single “like” on Facebook to a somewhat controversial group “Polska Liga Obrony” (Polish Defense League) described by some as an “Islamophobic, anti-immigration hate group.” I’m not familiar with Poland’s political scene but as a Liberal myself, I’ve heard the Republican Party here in the states described in very much the same terms. Eschewing the whole Left vs Right debate though, I hardly think a like on Facebook constitutes endorsing a particular group. Mostly this controversy seems to stem from the fact that ethnic groups other than just white people were shown being brutally murdered in the Hatred gameplay trailer.

This brings us right along to our second controversy. Zack Keosian started a petition on Change.org that accuses the Hatred development team of being racists as well as sexist. His goal with the petition seems to have been to either shame Destructive Creations into canceling the project or making them a pariah in the industry because of the content matter of their game.

Despite all these controversies we are very excited to bring you this interview today and I personally hopes it sheds some light on just why a game like Hatred is being made. So, without further ado, the interview:

Interview with Hatred Creative Director Jarosław Zieliński

APGNation: What would you like to tell our readers about Destructive Creations and why it was decided to
focus on Hatred as its debut game?

Jarosław Zieliński: Hi! We’re a team made of people who have worked together before in another company, but decided to make something on their own as an independent developers. Hatred is simply just a project that we can afford and are able to make with our budget and with the team’s size. It didn’t require a lot of funds for marketing also, as you might notice. 🙂

APG: Given that the likes of Jack Thompson were put to bed ages ago, at least here in America, did you expect the reaction you got? Many sites condemned and even called the game disgusting, some from within Games Media itself.

J. Z: We were ready for this kind of controversy and all the negativity we’ve got. We’re aware that our game concerns some touchy subjects, so all those voices of disapproval aren’t any kind of surprise for us. We didn’t expect the whole thing to get so enormous, but I suppose it’s something good for us. Thanks for all that media attention, we have pretty nice crowd of fans who seem to be our die-hard supporters.

APG: It’s obvious that this is an effective marketing strategy, as you’re a small developer and have already had multiple articles written about you on most gaming sites and even on sites outside the games media. Everyone knows what Hatred is at this point, and you’ve only released the first trailer. This sort of coverage is what many indie developers would love, given how constrained their marketing budget is. Was this the intent with Hatred, or just a happy turn of events, and do you worry that this could comeback to bite you at launch?

J. Z: Well, first of all we just want to do a good job with the game. You know, creating a game of decent quality is our first-priority task. All that controversy stuff is kind of an addition which, as you noticed, helped us spread the news about the title around the world and make people aware of its existence. If the game itself won’t be good, it will just fall down into a void of games with “sick, low-quality, pathetic stuff for a very specific audience” tag. I don’t see how it would bite us while we’ll be launching the game, I hope when people will put their hands on Hatred, it’ll get an opinion of a decent game, but definitely not for everyone.

APG: Judging from the release trailer, you went for a more realistic art style and aesthetic rather than something more surreal like Hotline Miami or even something less grounded in reality. Was a less realistic art style ever considered for the game, and why was something far more realistic chosen over it?

J. Z: Because we as a team feel better in making realistic environments and overall graphics, rather than stylized ones. Obviously, there’s some sort of specific art direction here; we do all the textures black and white, giving the color only to special effects and some lights, but all the assets are made of photo references, not of concept arts. I never saw any other possibility as this game simply should have a realistic feeling. It stays true for all its components: graphics, story, gameplay and sound effects. That approach is making a better impression and everything that happens on the screen seems to cause much more impact on the player.

APG: Developers of this sort of shocking game in the past have had a hard time getting their game distributed. Are there any concerns that you may not be able to get online retailers to carry your game? Have you been in contact with Steam, GOG, etc and do you expect any problems from them?

J.Z: It’s certain from the very beginning, that Hatred will be banned in Germany and Australia. I feel bad for all our fans from these countries who are supporting us, even if they’re aware there will be a problem for them to obtain a copy. As for Steam and GOG, we don’t know, we haven’t contacted them yet. I hope it won’t be a problem for them, all in all there is Postal series in their offer, isn’t it? And let’s not forget, it’s a game like many others and unless we break any laws with its content, it would be inappropriate to censor it this way in my opinion. Come on, you kill people in so many games, and what makes Hatred so unique are, in fact, the reasons behind it.

Hared has a unique aesthetic

Hatred has a unique gray scale aesthetic that is only given color by special sources.

APG: The antagonist of your game sounds like an angsty teenager on Tumblr in his opening speech. Will you be doing any sort of ARG or viral marketing for Hatred? Possibly a tumblr that gives us a glimpse into the twisted mind of your antagonist?

J. Z: I don’t follow Tumblr, so I don’t know if it’s a compliment or not. We were thinking about making a fictional account of The Antagonist on Facebook and some things like you’re suggesting, including his in-game “selfies” made with dead bodies. But I’m not convinced that we really need more marketing stuff right now. But never say no.

APG: How do you expect someone who plays your game to come away feeling? I may have fun in the experience of mowing down police and innocent people. I know I do in Payday 2, but I can’t imagine it would be the same if the people were begging for their life.

J. Z: That depends on you, every person is different. But what we expect is the evil grin on your face in some situations you’ll experience in Hatred, that’s for sure. We want the player to feel like an ultimately evil weapon of mass destruction, a cold-blooded eliminator of all! And after quitting the game, to be a normal, nice person, just as he was before.

APG: Was Hatred the most controversial idea you came up with? If not, what were some of the other
ideas you had, but ended up discarding in favor of Hatred?

J. Z: Actually that’s the only controversial idea I’ve ever had. You can expect next games from Destructive Creations to be something totally different. Of course, we will have to earn enough money from sales to produce more games. But our first job will be to make a free DLC for Hatred, to expand it with multiplayer and some more single-player scenarios, that’s for sure.

APG: Is the choice of a trench coat over something like tactical military surplus gear a purposeful allusion to the Columbine gunmen? Do you intend for there to be any sort of character customization?

J. Z: There won’t be any character customization. I thought about making the skin tone switchable, just to shut up all those who are accusing this game of being racist, but shortly after I thought that I shouldn’t worry about some people’s stupidity and threw away this idea. [The] Main characters outfit isn’t allusion to anyone from real life, to be honest. I’ve never seen how Columbine gunmen look like and I simply don’t know much about those events. I’m just aware that something like this has happened. You know, we’re from the another side of the globe, we have our own problems to deal with and mass-shootings are not one of them.

APG: What sort of victory condition does Hatred have? In the trailer the antagonist states that he intends to die, that he doesn’t want to live anymore and that this is his way of taking his hatred out on the world and leaving it at the same time. Can Hatred be beaten or is the victory screen the same as the “You died” screen?

J. Z:  You have a normal line of levels, story that bounds them together and so on. The Antagonist wants to die, but as he realizes his power and abilities (not supernatural ones!), he quickly decides to go further and further with his art of destruction (it’s not a big spoiler, cause you learn this on the first level), trying to survive fighting with law enforcement and to hunt down more innocent ones.

APGNation and I personally thank Jarosław Zieliński for taking the time to answer our questions. We also hope that you enjoyed this interview. I’m looking forward to Hatred personally, I’m not certain if I will likely as I tend to be a story over gameplay kind of guy and I question just how interesting a story a game such as Hatred could have. That said though, I’ve always enjoyed these sort of shock games.

Remember for more great interviews, game news and reviews be sure to follow us @APGNation on Twitter and or what ever your preferred social media is.

Jeremy Effinger
Written by
I am 26, a bibliophile, an amateur chef, and a gamer. I've gamed on the NES, SNES, PS1 and PS2 platforms, before switching to PC as my primary gaming platform. These days I tend to fill my gaming time playing Dota 2, and various RPGs of the WRPG or CRPG variety. I also enjoy the occasional shooter, open world game, 4x strategy games, stealth, and turn based games. I'm also an avid table top gamer and have been playing the same campaign weekly for the last four years.

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