Homefront imagines a Korean invasion of Colorado, we talk with creative director David Votypka about how it came to be
North and South Korea have reunited, the U.S. economy breaks down and erupts in civil war and, suddenly, America is occupied by Korean forces from across Asia. Sounds far-fetched, sure, but that's the premise of Homefront, a new game from Kaos Studies that seeks to imagine the world of occupied America. Here's the kicker, though: The game takes place primarily in Montrose, Colorado. Since we don't often find ourselves at the root of an underground resistance, we decided to catch up with the game's creative director, David Votypka, to chat about how this all came to be.
Westword: Colorado is kind of a strange choice for the Korean invasion -- but it was a weird choice for the Soviet occupation in Red Dawn as well. How did Homefront come to Montrose, Colorado, and what was the initial appeal?
David Votypka: There are a few reasons why we chose Montrose, actually. The first relating to the fiction of the game: Montrose is in close proximity to oil shale deposits, which are one of the reasons the Greater Korean Republic has invaded the United States in our game. Extracting oil from these deposits is extremely difficult work, but in our oil-deprived future of 2027, it is necessary.
The second reason why we chose Montrose was that it is much more emotive. Montrose is a relatively small town and surrounded by suburbs. Not only can most Americans easily relate to a setting like this, but people around the world can too. Combine nice homes, schools, shopping centers and a town square, and you get a sense of home and security. What would happen then if this security were violated by a brutal foreign occupation?
WW: What was the research like for the Montrose sections? Will people be able to recognize the city if they've been there?
DV: A lot of our research was done through Google and Google Maps looking at various towns in Colorado. We modeled off of small town Colorado environments but for gameplay reasons, not the exact town layout of Montrose.
WW: What was it like working with John Milius (Red Dawn, Apocalypse Now) on the game, and how did he end up on the project?
Some kid at Montrose Elementary is so stoked to see this right now.
DV: John Milius was introduced to the project by Danny Bilson, the EVP of Core Games at THQ. John had been Danny's writing mentor many years ago and at the onset of the project, Danny offered to introduce him to us.
Working with John was something that I can truly say I'll never forget, and was an invaluable career experience. It began with him coming down to the studio for the day to go over our goals while we worked together to write the game's storyline. My first impression was being a bit surprised on just how much time we ended up spending listening to him tell us all sorts of stories. His knowledge of military history is astounding, and he would talk at length about various historical situations ranging from Alexander the Great to Vietnam, to his experiences working on various films and with various actors and directors. At first I wondered if we might not be spending enough time speaking about the specifics of the game, but after a while I realized that all the different stories and examples eventually tied together in educating us on what John felt went into the makeup of a civilian guerilla resistance.
His main role has been contributing to and writing our single-player story outline. He's also guided us in key creative decisions such as avoiding the "save the entire country yourself" plot line, and focusing on a smaller, human story; it's so much more identifiable this way. He also contributed game ideas such as the resistance tactics.