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Two Point Campus Interview – Ben Huskins and Jo Koehler

Two Point Studios won the hearts of sim fans everywhere when it launched Two Point Hospital in 2018, the spiritual successor to 1997’s beloved Theme Hospital. The studio is now looking to break new ground with Hospital’s successor, and rather than rely on sim-favourites such as a theme park or zoo for the setting, the studio will be taking us back to school with the launch of Two Point Campus.

“We wanted to do something that we felt was a bit different, and maybe not what people might have expected that we were going to do,” Two Point Campus design director Ben Huskins tells me. “We spent a lot of time during the development of Hospital thinking about potential next games and one of the things that we started to push with Hospital was thinking about the little people in the world and giving them a bit of personality, then having interesting character traits and things like that.”

With Two Point Campus, you’ll once again be building a thriving business, but this time around, you’ll also be getting to know the people milling around your screen, rather than just fixing them up and shipping them back out as fast as you can. As well as a focus on actively engaging with your students, Campus offers more in-depth customisation options for those wanting to dive into both building mechanics and sim management.

“We knew we wanted to do something that was focused on these little people and spending more time with them, and it felt like an education setting was a really good opportunity to do that,” says Huskins. “In Hospital, a patient comes in, they get diagnosed, they get treated, and your incentive as a player is to get them through the system as fast as possible. Whereas with an education setting, these students are on this course for three years — assuming they don’t drop out or fail — and it's all about how can you get the best out of them in their limited time at university, how can you give them the best time socially as well as academically. It felt like a really great setting for us to go to. We could make the game feel different to other games out there and we also felt like it's a relatable topic.”

Two Point Campus is putting the spotlight on the classroom and encouraging us to relive our best days of partying, making friends, and attempting to scrape through it all with a qualification. Fortunately, Two Point Campus is going to make it a lot easier to get your degree than it would be in the real world.

“A lot of sim games are really complicated and we've tried to make customisation accessible and easy, so anyone can do it and enjoy it and not get frustrated by it,” senior producer Jo Koehler explains. “We really tried to evolve what we did on Hospital. We're shipping with copy and pasting, templates, wall customisation, floor customisations, and staff outfit customisations at launch as well as item customisation.”

Unlike Hospital, customisation in Two Point Campus isn’t limited to just building interiors . You can create whole courtyards and gardens for your universities, using a comprehensive range of new options that are brand new to Campus.

“You've [also] got hedges and fences and building, which is a massive step up for Campus,” Koeler confirms. “We're really excited to see what people do with that, because you can basically make your campus look completely unique, which is really exciting.”

Players will be able to customise their campuses to suit their needs and add their own personal flair. Both inside and out of the buildings, you can curate everything from wallpaper and items to paths and fences. You can also renovate buildings and rooms, so even if you don’t want to get stuck into building everything from scratch, you can just tweak existing templates to personalise them.

“I'm certainly really looking forward to seeing how people use these creative tools that we're giving them and seeing streams, videos, and screenshots of the more unique campuses that people make,” Huskins says. “I think that will take it a step beyond Hospital. Obviously, there's a certain amount that you could do with experimenting with your layouts in Hospital, but you're always working within those buildings, whereas in Campus, there are so many different layouts that you can experiment with and all the decorative tools as well.”

While Campus is teaching players some new tricks when it comes to building elements, you don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty of becoming a master designer if you don’t want to. If you’re simply looking for another management sim that will captivate you while making you smile with its silly comedy, you can still play the game the way you want.

“It's great for people that like playing around with decorating and making the most beautiful campus grounds but also for players who are just focused on playing super optimal. There's a lot to think about in terms of how you lay out your campus, so it works for those people as well.” Huskins tells me. “We've also spent a lot of time thinking about supporting different playstyles. For people that don't want to dive headfirst into having to think about all of the nuances of how I should construct a building, we give them a bit of a helping hand. You can buy a plot of land that comes with a building on it, but you also have the option of buying that plot of land and just bulldozing it because you want to do it your way. We support both styles of play and we imagine that as people progress into the game, they might start playing like they played Hospital like ‘Yeah, I'll start with that building pre-built for me.’ But then they'll just start getting tempted to noodle around.”

Of course, with the ability to handcraft campuses, it’s only natural that players will want to share their creations with others. For those of us that don’t have the patience to create breathtakingly detailed areas, it would be far simpler for us to download someone else’s design.

“That's definitely something that I think we'll look into,” Huskins answered when asked whether Campus will support the sharing of blueprints with others. “We want to still be updating the game once it's out there. We're already thinking about quality of life updates. We've got the room template system in already — that we added to Hospital post-launch — and we've got copying rooms. We're starting to think about what kinds of things people might want to share. I think that's definitely the sort of thing that we'll elaborate on as we get closer to the launch.”

While many of us are familiar with the idea of university life, our perception of what that entails changes depending on where we live. In the UK, a staple of uni is Freshers’ week, but when it comes to America, you might instead think of sorority houses. Even though Two Point Studios is UK-based, the team aimed to make the game universally understandable.

“We did talk a lot about things like frat houses and sorority houses,” Huskins says. “And we've tried to give people the ability to build an accommodation building and they can use their dorms and their lounges to create something that could be a frat house or sorority house. We've given you little settings that you can play with as well to try and tailor it.”

Huskins goes on to explain more about the setting, telling me, “Two Point County itself, although it starts off in that kind of rural British countryside location, as you progress through the county, you go to all sorts of different places that take their influences from places all around the world. And you get different styles of buildings that you can build there. We also spent a lot of time thinking about things like grading systems for the students. Every country uses slightly different systems, but we wanted it to at least be understandable to a lot of people so we've got things like the letter grades, which we felt was relatively universal within the world of education, even if it's not necessarily something you come out of university with, it felt like that's a fairly universally understood concept.”

“The artists took inspiration from all different kinds of buildings and things for the accommodation blocks,” Koehler adds. “And they did look at inspiration from American style buildings as well for various different levels. We have kept it quite British as that’s Two Point’s humour, but we do make sure it's transferable to different areas.”

A big part of Two Point games is the quirky humour, much of which is quite British, but there are plenty of jokes to go around, so there’s sure to be something to tickle your funny bone. “It's a bit of a mix,” Huskins explains. “There's definitely stuff in there where not everyone's gonna get all the references, that was the case in Hospital as well. We bounce around a few ideas and if it gels with other people on the team, then we feel like this is probably good. We sometimes do that kind of litmus test of if our kids were playing this game, what would they make of that? Some of it's just meant to be intentionally a bit quirky, so we can get away quite a lot just by leaning into that.”

Get ready to enroll when Two Point Campus launches on August 9, 2022 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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