Dying Light 2 Stay Human has been out for a while, after years of being in development. Although the game has received favorable reception from across the gaming space, its development is far from over, with Techland promising support for the game for a minimum of five years, and constantly patching and fixing it post-release.
But what went into making a game of this scale? How were things put into motion and decided on while creating them, better yet, how does the team address the player's concerns? That's what I set out to find out. After all, grilling developers with questions is something I do to quench my curiosity.
Tymon Smektała, the lead designer of Dying Light 2 Stay Human on the game's development
After a few back-and-forths with the PR who helped me connect with the team (a huge thanks to the person and the firm, without whom this may not have been possible) via email, I got to question the lead designer of Dying Light 2 Stay Human, Tymon Smektała.
Q) First up, congratulations on such a successful launch of the game. After years of being in development, how does it feel that the game is finally in the hands of the fans for them to enjoy their stay in Villedor?
[Smektała]: It’s an amazing feeling. Finally, it’s here! The launch was a moment of great tension and uncertainty for the members of the team, but now we have released all of it—the game is liked, loved even, and we receive a lot of support from those who matter most, the gamers.
Of course, as with every big launch, there were some unexpected challenges, but I think we’ve crossed through them and now we can focus on adding to the game after launch. Remember, we promised 5 years of support!
Q) During its development, the unfortunate pandemic happened which made everyone adjust to a new life of working from home. Given the grand scale of Dying Light 2 and the sheer size of the game, filled with activities, how much did that affect its development during that time? Tell us a little bit about how the team adapted to the situation.
[Smektała]: It’s a good moment to praise people who usually don’t get praise when talking about game development—our company’s administration, IT, HR. All of those teams worked hard to make sure we could start working effectively in the “home office,” and not lose our minds and motivation when isolated.
Of course it was harder in terms of creativity—Techland is this great melting pot where ideas coming from different people clash, merge, and explode, and it’s easier where you have your friends close to you.
But I think Dying Light 2 gave us a common goal we could all unite on working toward. This carried us through those difficult times.
Q) One of the key features of Dying Light 2 is that no story in the game is the same for every individual, and minor changes keep on happening depending on the choices of the players. While the idea was always there ever since the official reveal back in 2018, how much did that whole system evolve throughout the development, and up until its release?
[Smektała]: This was definitely the intention we had since the start of the project. Dying Light is a game about freedom—freedom of traversal, freedom to express yourself in combat situations. We wanted to give players a similar amount of freedom in the narrative.
Of course, some of the ideas have evolved or changed over the course of production, but that’s normal in game development. What’s important is that we kept the direction we decided on early, and after a long trip, we’ve reached the port we wanted to reach.
Q) Parkour has been the heart and soul of the series ever since the first game. While many have claimed that they felt the new parkour to be a bit odd and floaty from the previous game, I enjoyed it. What were the ideas and reasons behind the parkour system of Dying Light 2?
[Smektała]: The big idea was to create an “ultimate parkour game,” the best possible representation of this beautiful form of movement. We spent resources on animations (we have twice as many as in the first game) and other elements that improve immersion and the general “flow” of parkour.
We collaborated with David Belle, the inventor of parkour, and some of the new wolves that carry his torch. It was an honor to work with a group of parkour specialists called Storror, who did a great real-life parkour video for us. Their praise really meant a lot to us.
Q) Following on from the parkour question, David Belle, who is considered to be the father of modern-day Parkour,was consulted for Dying Light 1, and even for this game. Compared to the first one, how much was Belle involved during the development of the parkour system of Dying Light 2?
[Smektała]: David is a busy man, so we tried to squeeze as much as we could in our time with him. He became one of the characters in our game, we mocapped his movement, we used his GoPro first-person recordings, and we learned a lot about various parkour tricks. He’s an amazing, passionate person and we were lucky to have him on board.
Q) Another cool feature in the game that players have noticed is its dynamic music system. As the player continues to run and perform more complex parkour stunts in the game, the music keeps on unraveling and even becomes intense. How did the team approach the idea when tying the music up to parkour?
[Smektała]: We just hired the best man for the job *laughs*! Another person who graced us with his greatness was Olivier Deriviere, one of the best music composers for games currently.
His uniqueness is that he understands the medium—he’s not just “composing the score,” he works closely with programmers and designers to make sure his music complements the biggest advantage of video games: interactivity.
Q) In Dying Light 1, there were a total of three skill trees that players could upgrade and a fourth one that unlocked once a particular skill tree was fully upgraded, which players could keep upgrading after the end-game. In Dying Light 2, instead, we have only two separate skill trees for combat and parkour. What was the reason behind that shift, and ditching the Legend Skill Tree system from the previous game?
[Smektała]: Remember, some of the things you mentioned were added at a later date, and this is exactly the plan we have right now. Dying Light 2 will be supported for many years after the release, so expect a lot of returning and new ideas!
Q) One of the most surprising feats the developers have achieved with this game is making it run on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. Given how certain games have fumbled to make their last generation ports run properly on the above-mentioned consoles and the scale of this game, how did the developers manage to run it on the last generation?
[Smektała]: I can’t say much about it as I’m not a tech person—I lack a single technical bone in my body and it’s all just magic to me. But thankfully, we have quite a few smart people on our team—amazing engineers who used all the tricks in their books to make the game work seamlessly and look beautiful.
What’s important is that we also want to keep tinkering with the engine and the visuals, increasing optimization and graphical quality in the coming months.
Q) Continuing on with the console question, Dying Light 2 is planned to receive a cloud-based Nintendo Switch version, which was announced to be getting delayed. Any news on what is up with that for Nintendo Switch fans?
[Smektała]: Nothing to report at this time, but please expect official news soon. Stay tuned!
Q) Dying Light 2 has had many bugs throughout the launch week, which the team has been swiftly taking care of with timely patches, and I am sure a lot more of them are being worked on. How is the whole process done? Furthermore, how does the team decide what problem to focus their attention on while fixing the problems of the game?
[Smektała]: We’re in the phase where most of the important ones have been ironed out. No game is perfect at launch, and to be honest, there weren’t that many that we faced, but unfortunately, some of those few were rather nasty.
Thankfully it’s all behind us right now and we’re moving towards adding more stuff to the game—more gameplay content, more gameplay gadgets, more great customization stuff.
Q) To wrap up the interview, Dying Light 1 had a standalone story expansion called “The Following” which added in a whole new map and more activities to do. Given that it is very early to ask this, in the future, are there any plans from the team to make a standalone expansion for Dying Light 2? Or is every future story expansion going to be based in and around the Dying Light 2 map of Villedor?
[Smektała]: For sure we’ll keep returning to the game and expanding it for a very long time. I can’t say much, but some of the ideas we currently have already in production or are considering for a later date are really fantastic.
You could say I should be bored of the game, having spent more than 5,000 hours in it, but knowing about what’s coming makes me genuinely excited about getting back to it and spending even more time in the world we’ve created.
To check what Tymon is up to, head to his Twitter account, where he actively engages with the Dying Light community about various topics related to the game. A big thanks to Kyle Prahl of StridePR who helped us send our questions to Tymon and the team. Without him, this piece probably would not have been possible.
It would be interesting to see what the future for the game holds, for now, as I finish writing this piece, you will probably find me running around with my playable character in the city of Villedor.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human is currently out on PC via Steam, Epic Games Store, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.