Meestal als we het over actie games hebben spelen we een held, al dan niet binnen een team, die op aarde al het gespuis uit de weg helpt. Gelukkig toont Ascaron dat ook de lucht zich prima leent voor dit soort actie.
In een interview verteld Daniel Dumont, lead designer van het spel, meer over de game. Wat was bijvoorbeeld de motivatie voor dit spel en wat kunnen we zoal doen in de demo? In het interview kom je alles te weten.
Hello Daniel. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Let's start right off. What motivated you to make Darkstar One?
We wanted to address the international market more after "Port Royale 2" so we decided to head in the direction of action games. At the same time, however, we wanted to utilize our vast experience in trade simulations as well as the simulation of a working world. Since a lot of us are fans of titles such as "Elite", "Wing Commander" and "Freelancer" the decision to make a space shooter came naturally. We decided to create a "simulated" civilization in space that we then connected with a compelling story and a lot of action.
You made a decision not to include multiplayer into Darkstar One. What was the basis for this decision and what are the chances that we might see it in the future? Perhaps an Addon?
Epic worlds and multiplayer don't always come together well. An atmospheric story that has a wave of plot twists and tension moments would not work as effectively in multiplayer. Beside that, the world inside Darkstar One is very, very big. It would be pure chance for one player to meet another in it.
We still have the opportunity to add multiplayer in a type of MOD in which players can fight, either against each other or cooperatively in pre-defined scenarios. However, we wanted to create an atmospheric single player experience. We will have to see if the outcry is large enough for a multiplayer mode, and this is a decision that can only be made by the market itself.
Complexity and User-friendliness. These two aspects of game design don't always fit well together yet you seem to have done a fantastic job. How ever did you manage it?
DSO has an incredible depth of gameplay. To save frustration for the player we don't offer all options from the get-go. We concentrated on easing the player into the game, a step at a time. For instance, certain weapons and AI manoeuvres will only appear after prolonged gameplay or specific discoveries. Missions are easier at the beginning and follow simple outlines. As you progress their complexity increases, as does their difficulty level. The actual secret though is the world running in the background; the player gets to decide how he wants to earn money, what he wants to do next and what he wants to experiment with. With this kind of system it is up to the user on how complex he wants the game to be.
You made sure that both the Joystick and Mouse community will get a run for their money in Darkstar One. What about the gamepad? How will that be integrated?
There is no "real" gamepad control system as you would still require keyboard shortcuts. Using the cockpit buttons still requires the use of the mouse unless you wish to use the keyboard shortcuts. Generally speaking, all gamepads are supported and through the complete customizable control functions you can choose what you want to use and how.
You made a decision not to be able to land on planets. Instead you provide a number of planet-based missions. Why did you decide not to include planet-side landings?
We wanted to concentrate on space battles. If we had decided to integrate planet surfaces then a lot of gamers would want extra features to be added. This is to be expected (and required, in order to enhance the realism and not simply appear as an "afterthought"), although doing this would have required a stunning amount of additional work. The AI would have to be dealt with differently as would the flight dynamics. Battles would be very different and the interface and gameplay in general would have to be adjusted. It makes for a much deeper game but at the same time it also decreases user-friendliness. To name an example: even the procedure to land on planets and walking on its surface or orientating your way around the surface would require a lot of time to integrate, time that would have had to be cut from existing sections, such as space action.
What was the most difficult challenge you had so far during the production of Darkstar One and how did you work to solve it?
That would have to be the technology. Space, 3D, latest shader technology, etc. was new ground for us. We needed to experiment a lot before everything looked good. And since nice graphics should not always be limited to the very high-spec gaming systems, we learned to adapt the compatibility of our shaders so it looks just as good on lower graphic cards. That was a daunting but ultimately very rewarding task.
Mod-ability is one of the key aspects for a games long life. How much moddability can we expect in DSO?
The release version of the game will not support MODs. Depending on the success of Darkstar One and user-requests we can offer tools for download. These might include tools required for mission design and space objects like ships and stations.
Claudia Kern is a well known German Sci-Fi author who has worked on the Perry Rodham series. How did you manage to convince her to participate in the project and what has she brought to the project?
She did not need any convincing at all. She loves playing games and when we confronted her with the idea and in what direction we wanted to head she jumped right aboard.
What will we find in the demo that 's has been released?
You can expect the first 1-2 hours of the game with the option of upgrading your ship a little farther than you would normally be allowed at this stage in the release version. The gamers will have the opportunity to play everything from battles, piracy, missions, trade, smuggling, escort, mining and bounty hunting. In addition you will also get to meet our beloved co-pilot who doesn't actually make an appearance until a little later in the game.
You have made your name in Germany with titles such as Patrician and Port Royale. Internationally these games have witnessed an increased amount of attention and so we have to ask, what are the chances of Patrician 4 or Port Royale 3?
Trade simulations do not seem to be as popular worldwide as they are in Germany. Given the large scale previously established in Patrician 3, we would only begin a project like Patrician 4 when we have the concept to do it justice. Expanding the gameplay over the previous version would be a huge task in itself, especially alongside the graphics improvements required. Who knows, maybe in the future the opportunity would present itself, I would certainly enjoy doing it.
How about consoles? Have you ever wanted to make a console game and if so which type of game would you most like to get your teeth into?
Darkstar One was originally planned to be released as a console game parallel to the PC-DVDROM version. That is why we have the type of hyper-drive jump system that we employ, it gives the console the opportunity to load the next batch of textures it needs. Entering into the console market is a very hard thing to do, however, so once we have a suitable idea we will dive right into it. Who knows, DSO might yet make an appearance on a console, and I would quite like to see that.
Thanks Daniel for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Is there anything you wish to add?
It's been a long time (especially since "Freelancer") since a decent space action game has been released. So we will all wait with a great deal of anticipation for the market response to Darkstar One. We are looking forward to Darkstar One relighting the excitement in science fiction action games...