Thursday, 17 September 2015

Exclusinterview: Travis Baldree (Double Damage Games)

In case you haven't heard, space games are all the rage these days - the huge funding of Star Citizen, the accurate physics of Kerbal Space Program and the infinite majesty of No Man's Sky have all shown that this is one of the best genres in gaming. Another developer hoping to break into that market is Double Damage Games, who are currently developing Rebel Galaxy, a sandbox space adventure with exploration, combat, trading and much more. However, don't let me convince you: I let Travis Baldree take the floor and tell us why Rebel Galaxy is worth your money:

So there are a lot of space games at the moment - Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen among others - so what makes Rebel Galaxy different to those? What does it offer that other space games don't?

Rebel Galaxy is different from most other currently in-development space games in a few key ways. The first is that it isn't a classic fighter cockpit sim - it's focused on larger vessels with a naval combat basis, similar to Assassin's Creed: Black Flag. But with turrets, lasers, and fighters.  The second is that it doesn't focus on accurate simulation, or even pretend to it - our distances are deliberately abstracted so that space is filled with 'stuff', much more so than the vast empty distances of 'real' space. That doesn't mean we don't have interesting and complex systems - a functioning economy, factions with variable alliances, and a conversation system that threads through that - but we don't make any claims to 'realism'.

The world (Or universe) of Rebel Galaxy is randomly-generated - does it go on forever? Was there any trouble in making sure that it generated working galaxies?

It doesn't - each new game of Rebel Galaxy takes place across approximately 14 or 15 solar systems, chained together with jumpgates. As mentioned above, our space is abstracted, so we weren't worried about having each solar system feel 'correct' per se. Just cool!

In Rebel Galaxy you play as a huge destroyer, which has plenty of weaponry and features. How does it control, and how have you made sure that it isn't overwhelming or complicated?

Refining the controls and making it understandable has been one of the key things we've spent a lot of time on. You have a certain amount of choice in how complex you want the game to be - turrets that you aren't currently controlling can be set to different AI priorites, for instance, and you can hire mercenaries to help out - but we think it's a unique and fun take on space combat. You take direct control of your ship, so if you're playing with a gamepad, you'll 'steer' it like a naval vessel, using boosters, warp, and retro rockets to maneuver. Your ship has stations which you can rapidly switch between - either for broadside combat, or individual turret groupings, as well as secondary weapons that you can deploy.

How have you made sure that the in-game universe feels like it's an actual organic universe? What can you do other than engaging in battles?

Rebel Galaxy has an economy that changes over time. Events constantly occur in the universe (famines, wars, mining strikes) that spawn events (like relief vessels, treaty delegations, and treasure ships), which you can interact with to influence those events. If a famine is going on, food prices are high! If you take out that relief vessel before it arrives and steal the relief supplies, you can sell them for a tidy profit to the starving masses, and the famine persists longer. 
Space is also filled with traders, militia, and pirates, who you can often contact and engage in conversations with - which affects your faction standing. You can pirate, trade, or assist, and this has an effect on how their faction responds to you. 

Is there are story, or is it more of an open-ended game?

There is a primary story which you can follow to 'finish' the game, however there are loads of side missions and you could avoid the story entirely if you want to free-form it in the galactic sandbox. So, both!

Last of all, if you could pilot any ship in a sci-fi game, TV series or movie, which would you choose?

Millenium Falcon. No contest!

Rebel Galaxy launches for PC on October 20th 

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