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Wow, the YouTube video was released in November. How have I never seen it before? I've probably watched it three times in the past hour. It's an absolutely amazing production. What was the budget for this?
Everspace has launched on Kickstarter a little over a week ago. The game tries to combine elements of roguelike and space sim in an impressive package, powered by Unreal Engine 4. This project is being developed by former mobile gurus from Galaxy on Fire team. They are incredibly passionate about high quality 3D visuals and are incredibly excited to bring their expertise and knowledge to PC. We’ve talked with Michael Schade from Rockfish Studios and discussed the technology behind Everspace.
Fleeing from F2P
Well, incredible 3D visuals have always been one of our specialties. Even back when we were doing Java mobile games we were pushing everything to the max. When people saw the graphics they could hardly believe that these were mobile games. One of the reasons we switched to PC is that the mobile market is mostly Free 2 Play nowadays and we were struggling to adapt to that business model. It’s not really in our DNA so we’re happy to be developing for PC now, where micro-transactions don’t play such a major part.
Mobile VS PC
Obviously mobile market is very different from PC. Apart from the mobile market’s immense amount of Free 2 Play titles, the design choices are quite different, too. You can’t use the same controls on PC and mobile and average session lengths for mobile are a lot shorter. Although it also helps on PC that you can get to the action right away, which we are going for with our new title, EVERSPACE. So a lot of rules apply to both worlds. In regards to the level of detail we did not have to change a lot, thanks to Unreal Engine 4 our artists can now go absolutely crazy as there are hardly any restrictions.
The first incarnation of Galaxy On Fire came out in 2005, so we have been doing space games for more than 10 years, now! But this time we did not want to just deliver more of the same but try something totally new: combining rogue-like elements with top-notch visuals & audio and non-linear storytelling. We have been playing a lot of rogue-like titles in the last few years and have become really fond of the genre. Rogue-likes always offer something new and have a very high replay value. Although most of these games are smaller indie titles with 2D retro graphics we believe that this genre does not only appeal to a small niche but when done right will reach a much bigger audience.
Figuring out The Visual Style
As there are a lot of space games out there – many of them going for realism – we’re trying to set us apart with this very distinct art style that portrays space as something vibrant and colorful. Since this is a rogue-like title and the orbits are procedurally generated there’s always a chance that you enter a location and will see a whole new space environment that is absolutely stunning. Whereas in reality space is just very dark, empty and bleak. One of the more recent influences are the space scenes of the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, they too are quite colorful and have that hyper-real edge to it.
About Unreal Engine 4
Unreal Engine’s built-in Blueprint system is very easy to use and understand. Even people that aren’t experienced coders can use it to write their own shaders and effects. In combination with the Unreal Editor it is the perfect means for prototyping and tweaking. Currently the random generation of the environment – meaning sky, lighting, planets and other background objects – is down via Blueprints that just need a seed for the random generator to work. Although the engine is far from complete it just gets better and better with each update and the team absolutely loves working with it. It’s a good thing we have NVIDIA PhysX integrated in UE4. It can easily be tweaked within the editor. Saves us a lot of time so we can focus on other things.
Optimization is very important, especially since we not only want to support various machines but also support VR, which requires a much higher frame rate. There’s also the PS4 and Xbox One versions that we have as a stretch goal. Unreal Engine thankfully offers a lot of console commands that make the hunt for performance killers a lot easier. As the game code constantly changes and evolves, these performance tests have to be done on a regular basis.
Working With VR
We’re in talks witch various manufacturers and have yet to see which devices will be supported in the end. As we’re currently only in the prototyping phase with VR it’s a little early to tell. Obviously the player will be able to freely look around in the cockpit and follow ships that fly past him with his very own eyes. We don’t know for sure just yet how it will influence gameplay, but the player might have the advantage of additional info that he can see directly on screens that are on the left and right-hand side of the cockpit.
We started the Kickstarter campaign on August 6th and after just ten days reached two thirds of the funding goal of 225k EUR (approximately 250k USD) which makes us more than happy. It’s still a little ways down the road, but the reception has been overtly positive, so there’s certainly high demand for EVERSPACE.
We will be publishing the game via Steam and Good Old Games and plan on launching the game in October 2016.