When you hear about a game set in outer space, you think of fast action, shooting enemies, exploration and... a rogue-like? That’s the vision of the German developer ROCKFISH Games for their upcoming title EVERSPACE.
ROCKFISH Games is a Hamburg-based games studio formed by the creators of the mobile space shooter game Galaxy On Fire. Between them, Michael Schade and Christian Lohr, have over 20 years of experience in the gaming industry, and are set to pick up where they left off after the success of the Galaxy On Fire titles.
I had the opportunity to meet up with Michael Schade during the last day of E3, in what one could say was an unforeseen event. I was having a couple of drinks while waiting for my cab at the lobby of the hotel that sits right across the LA Convention Center. Out of nowhere a couple of guys sit at the table next to mine and start talking about their experience at the show, somehow I got entangled in that conversation. A couple of minutes later more people joined the table, amongst them Michael Schade. We talked about TV shows, cures for hangover, the LA weather and of course, video games.
Of all the members sitting at the table, Michael was the only one who didn’t have the dejected look of a person who just survived a three day marathon of non-stop madness, actually he was brimming with joy. The conversation quickly turns to him as he explains that the project he’s been working on for the last six months was well-received during the trade show. He was cryptic about the details, but the little info he was able to share with us caught my attention.
Last week, I contacted Michael to ask if he was free to share some information about his project. He gladly accepted to answer some questions before he departed to Gamescom.
First of all what is Everspace?
EVERSPACE is A rogue-like 3D space shooter with non-linear storytelling.
EVERSPACE is a unique take on the rogue-like genre, could you tell us what makes the game different?
Typical roguelike games have a rather weak narrative element: They set you up with some plausible background and throw you right into it. In EVERSPACE we have a very sophisticated background-story which slowly unfolds as you progress throughout the course of the game all the while you’ll almost never visit a place twice or live through the exact same situation at hand. Even in dying there will be advancement as it is an integral part of our story. Also, most modern roguelike titles are 2D retro-games that are not exactly renowned for their high-end graphics and sound.
You previously worked on the Galaxy On Fire series for mobile and later PC. EVERSPACE feels like it is the spiritual sequel to these games, is there a reason behind this?
I’m glad you asked! EVERSPACE is just the game we want to play ourselves. It is easy to pick and play. No hassle connecting to a server or grinding for days before you can enter intense space battles. Just fire up your engine, buckle up and delve right into action. So I am honoured to have our fans accepting it as spiritual successor to GOF. We as ROCKFISH will take all we’ve learned from making games for mobile and bring it to the PC where we will have even better graphics and more power to make awesome games.
Galaxy on Fire was a huge success for you and your previous studio, Fishlabs Studios, what did you learn from the experience on working for the mobile platform?
Actually we did learn a lot! When designing for mobile it is imperative that you have a game concept and controls that are easy-to-pickup. There is no reason to not apply this to PC based games as well. So in EVERSPACE we will focus on an easy-to-pickup gameplay as well as platform-specific controls - we will support other platforms if our Kickstarter stretch goals will be reached - to maximize play experience for everyone.
Could you spare some details regarding the gameplay of EVERSPACE? What about the story? Scope of the game?
I’d say the scope of the game is wide. Very wide. We thought of a new way to combine an ever changing universe with a solid story that will unfold as you progress through the game. As an EVERSPACE pilot you’ll have your ship and a mysterious order but lack crucial information about your origins and objectives. So it is up to you to shed light on your own story while going on runs for third parties or while you follow the main storyline. You always have to make decisions which will affect the course of your journey. In addition you can upgrade your ship to the play style you like best in order to advance to the next sector.
Let’s say you’ll enter a new system and in the distance you’ll have a blip on your radar … while at the same moment you realize there are a lot of resources to be mined in a nearby orbit - but you can only go for one option. The radar contact will surely be lost if you don’t investigate while there is no knowing if you could come back after an encounter with an unknown contact (SPOILER: no, you can’t).
EVERSPACE will feature an in-depth upgrade and damage system which will motivate you to do as many extra runs as possible because you’ll need all the support you can get to finish the game, eventually. Damage is not just damage. Your ship will not just be destroyed - instead weapons fire and collisions literally have an impact on your ship’s systems. So if for example your hyperdrive gets damaged your ship is still fully operational but you can’t leave the system until you gather the needed resources for the repairs at hand. If your weapons are failing you can still cloak -if you have one- your ship and flee. So damage is also dealt directly to different ship’s systems and affects these only.
On Steam Greenlight a discussion on VR-support sprung up almost immediately after we announced EVERSPACE. We’re totally excited about VR and already discussed this prior to submitting to Greenlight.
How was the reception on Steam Greenlight?
It’s just awesome! Seven hours after launch we reached the TOP 10. On the 2nd day we made it to the TOP 3 out of approximately 1,500 projects on Greenlight! And today we just reached the TOP2. We are also very excited about the feedback ratio. Whereas other projects have about 43% positive feedback (YES) on average we’re at a staggering 86% throughout our Greenlight time.
But it is not just numbers that made and continue to make the Steam experience as awesome as it is. We have received literally tons of feedback from fans all over the world. This was a huge relief to us as we ran silent for the last couple of years or so. Now we are back and with a bang! Some wishes and hopes resulting directly from Greenlight found their way into our Kickstarter campaign as well and had a profound effect on our stretch goals.
[Update: EVERSPACE has been Greenlit by the Steam community]
The Kickstarter for the game started on August 6, what can you tell us about the campaign?
Yes, you are correct about the starting date. We are very excited about our Kickstarter and put a lot of effort and manpower into this. As this is our first campaign on Kickstarter ever we also had a lot of support from our friends and partners in the industry and beyond.
All in all we think we wrapped some pretty nice packages for our backers. As EVERSPACE will be a new breed of game we have lots of options for you to choose from. Diversity is one of the keys to a successful Kickstarter campaign (as is activation of the community prior to launch, see Steam Greenlight) - this is why we have more than a dozen reward tiers set up for our backers.
Listening to what our fans would like to experience in a game like EVERSPACE we took the feedback from Greenlight and modified our campaign to better fit the hopes and wishes of or backers. Some of our tiers will allow backers to have a more or less profound impact on story elements (like notes written by them that will turn up as log files in derelict ships…). We also modified the stretch goals to better serve the backers, so expect additional platform support, even more story elements, support for different controls and much more in our stretch goals.
Nintendo, Sega and Konami amongst many others, are making the jump to the mobile platform. On the other hand we have you guys, who were pioneers in the early days of the mobile gaming, going to PC/Console. Why make the jump now? And do you ever plan on going back to mobile?
One obvious answer would be that because so many big players are now jumping the bandwagon it is the best time to do the opposite.
Mobile games were a fantastic learning opportunity and an important milestone in what we want to achieve. Now we want to bring our experiences from mobile to a new environment. And the PC platform in combination with Unreal Engine 4 seems to be the best fit when discussing GPU power and overall system performance. So this transition from mobile to PC (and beyond) for us is an almost logical consequence and just the next step in our evolution as a gaming studio.
The kind of games that we are most excited about are games that you pay for once and can play happily ever after. So we decided to go on STEAM as this is the best way to release premium games nowadays.
Is there anything else you would like to say about EVERSPACE?
You know, even amongst our team there used to be some reluctance towards playing rogue-like titles, because we’re all so used to high-end graphics. But once everyone tried playing a few, we all became very big fans of the genre.
We’re sure that rogue-likes are not a small niche for hardcore-retro-gamers, but will also appeal to a wider audience once the ice is broken by gorgeous visuals and a wider scope topped with a captivating story. We’re absolutely sure that with EVERSPACE we will achieve that feeling of “Just… One… More… Go“ and keep players on the edge of their seat for hours and hours!
You can find the Kickstarter for EVERSPACE here, stay tuned for more information regarding their campaign. If you’d like to follow Michael and his teams progress you can follow him here or the official EVERSPACE account.
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