What Never Was: Chapter 2 Confirmed! An interview with Acke Hallgren

What Never Was: Chapter 2 Confirmed! An interview with Acke Hallgren

A lot of people these days don’t have all the time in the world to play. If you’re looking for a game that will take about an hour, maximum of your life, then look no further than What Never Was. It’s a free, puzzle-adventure game released last January 11 by solo developer Acke Hallgren.

Those who have played it sing praises. It’s the kind of game that will leave you wanting for more. SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers so if you have not played the game, get it now or watch our gameplay video of it.

Raine of whatoplay talks to Acke Hallgren about his brainchild, What Never Was.

Raine: You mentioned in the website that this project started out as nothing more than a 3D-environment exercise. Would you like to tell us the story of how the exercise became What Never Was?

Acke: As I studied game art, I realized that I was more interested in whatever it took to make the game itself, then just the art. This landed me a level design internship at Ubisoft Massive, which would later turn into my full-time job. This meant that I had no real reason to work with environment art anymore, and since I still enjoy that a lot and still wanted to keep my 3D-skills somewhat current, I came up with what I wanted to be an old fashioned point-and-click game in the style of The Longest Journey or Monkey Island that would start in a dead relatives attic with lots of knick-knacks and inspectable items, like in the introduction of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. The broad strokes of the full story followed.

However, since I had no idea of how to make a game from scratch, I instead chose to just make the environment and put it into the Unreal 3 engine. I found the basic first person game mode setup, and saw how simple it was for me to make what little I had of the attic back then, a place you could walk around in. I thought it’d be cool if you could at least open a drawer, found a tutorial for that, and then it snowballed into what exists today.

Raine: You wrote about it, the name says it all, and the game’s ending suggest that What Never Was is actually the first level of a game which is never meant to be. The question now is, will it actually come to be or are you working on other games right now?

Acke: While I was planning to make something different, the overwhelming response made me truly excited to continue on this story and I am now currently working on Chapter II, which will begin right after the first one ends.

Raine: If you are working on the next levels of What Never Was, are the hidden achievements (about the pig, the cross, and the telescope) going to have a role to play?

Acke: Haha, no not really. Those achievements were mostly added as a reward for people who take the time to inspect most if not everything in there. Although I’m not sure we’ve seen the last of Mr. Piggles. We’ll see I suppose.

Raine: What Never Was has been received so well by the gamers. Do you have other projects going on at the moment? What should we expect next from Acke Hallgren?

Acke: I’ve been a level designer on the development of Avalanche’s and Id Software's RAGE 2 which releases in May, and like I mentioned, I have started working on What Never Was: Chapter II.

Raine: In behalf of whatoplay, thank you so much, Acke for taking the time to answer this interview. We are excited to see more from you in the future, and once again, congratulations on your first solo release!