Home Features Interviews MachineGames' Jens Matthies discusses Wolfenstein II's alternate history

MachineGames’ Jens Matthies discusses Wolfenstein II’s alternate history

How it's incorporated and how it can be done in a respectful manner.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’ alternate history was the subject of a recent discussion between Stevivor and MachineGames’ Jens Matthies.

Matthies told Stevivor that MachineGames spends quite a bit of time developing the alternate history and, in turn, the world in which protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz finds himself in.

“This is what we love to do,” Matthies said. “Everyone on the team and the stuff that they’re working on, they’re so incredibly passionate about that; they just love making things as rich as they can.”

According to Matthies, MachineGames is “always looking for those opportunities to deepen” the lore surrounding the Wolfenstein franchise.

“Me and Tommy [Tordsson Björk, co-writer] — when we’re writing stuff, we can go through many revisions, and we talk about it and we change things,” Matthies continued. “We try to reach the highest level of perfection that we can, and that goes for everybody on the team. So I think if you have a team that’s full of passionate people then that just happens organically. Of course, that takes a vast amount of time, but it’s also what we love to do.”

Matthies continued to say that MachineGames is always looking for clever ways to expand the Wolfenstein universe, and detailed an Australian connection in that process.

“We started talking [expansion] from the story side – ‘Well, it would be cool if the Nazis were like they had this date where everybody had to switch to German, where that would be like the official language of the US will be German.’,” he explained. “That’s never something we had in the story, and then we talked to marketing about the game, and they came up with the idea of, ‘Yeah, let’s do a ‘German… or Else!’ game show and get this Americana of those game shows of the 60s, and it would have this incredibly sinister undertone of forcing German on the American people.’ And then that comes back to the game now, so then we can make a poster for that TV show and put it into the game.

“And then Mick Gordon, our Australian composer, he — because we have this fake band called Die Kafer in the first game — he made a song for them called ‘Mond, Mond, Ja, Ja’. And in this game, he has made the song then for Changeover Day, which is just the most catchy pop song you’ve ever heard,” he said with a laugh.

“Once you hear it, it’s impossible to get it out of your head. So there’s a lot of those sort of cross pollination happening, but it all sort of assumes that the channels of communication are open and everybody’s talking to each other. If you have that, then that sort of rises somehow out of just the creative climate.”

Matthies said things like the pop song allow for a small break from the serious situation of Nazis invading America.

“It [makes things] lighter but it’s with a sinister undertone,” he said. “I think that kind of gallows humour, that’s such a human thing. Regardless of how dire your circumstances, you will find a way — the humour becomes a coping mechanism for that.

“You need to find those moments,” Matthies continued.  “And I think that’s something that goes for the relationships, as well, especially between B.J. and Anya, where we have this idea of their relationship sort of existing in the stolen moments. Where they have this enormous project that they’re both trying to accomplish in terms of ending the Nazi rule, but still they have to be human and live, and they have to steal these moments where they can be together.”

Sweet but sad, right?

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will be available from 27 October on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4. Stay locked to Stevivor for more with Matthies and read our latest preview of the game here.


Steve Wrighthttps://www.stevivor.com
Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.