We've talked to Juggernaut games about their game StarCrawlers, who are currently seeking funds on Kickstarter.
RPGWatch: Let me get started by saying thanks Juggernaut Games for agreeing to do this short interview. So to get started can you tell us a little about your company and game StarCrawlers?
Juggernaut: Thanks! Juggernaut is a small indie team of seven located in San Diego, California. We’ve been working together for 3 years doing contract work and making content for Sony Computer Entertainment. StarCrawlers is our first opportunity to work together on our own original game project. As a team, we decided we wanted to make a dungeon crawler, but not in an ARPG or 2d platformer style.
We wanted to focus on rpg story elements with a strong feeling of player choice and consequences and then add some random elements into the mix with what we’re calling the “narrative AI” and procedurally generated dungeons. It’s really important to the whole team that we create an experience that is as enjoyable to replay as it is to experience the first time. Procedurally generated content also goes hand in hand with building out complex structures on the fly, and lends itself to indie efforts where you don’t have a massive team to build content.
RPGWatch: I noticed that dungeon crawl games seem to be on the rise with indie developers. Was there a reason on why you guys choose to make one?
Juggernaut: We grew up playing games like Dungeon Master, Ultima Underworld, Unlimited Adventures, and more recently Etrian Odyssey and Legend of Grimrock, so those are obvious influences for us creating a dungeon crawler. We knew from the beginning we wanted to do a party-based RPG with a Diablo 2 style emphasis on character specs and loot, giving you virtually endless potential for developing and improving your crew. Plus we just really like dungeon crawling.
RPGWatch: In your game description you mention mention the game will be randomly generated. Can you go into more details on how it will work, and how the story will tie into it?
Juggernaut: Our procedural content generation is something we’ve gotten a lot of questions about, and more than a few raised eyebrows, which we welcome. The obvious question is “how can you tell a compelling story if your content is completely randomly generated?”. Well, you can’t - if we’re just slapping rooms together and sprinkling in random mobs and items, then the player is telling the story with their actions and we’ve got something more roguelike. While that’s awesome and can be fun to play, that’s not what we’re trying with StarCrawlers.
On the mission level, we’re focusing on content generation that is based off a specific story. The Narrative AI system looks at the scenario of the mission you’re on and creates appropriate content, with randomized elements, that match the story. For example: you accept a job to infiltrate Titan Metallurgy and extract one of their employees for another corporation to interrogate. The employee in question is being transported in cryo to one of Titan’s remote facilities, so you’re going to sneak aboard the transport ship and extract them before arrival. Given that scenario, the Narrative AI has a lot of factors to work with when building out the mission level: your reputation with Titan, the corp offering the job, your difficulty settings, your reputation for being bloodthirsty or professional, and so on. This all can be factored into random variables in the level: where the employee is and how much info you have going in, how they’ll react if you accidently wake them, how long until the ship reaches it’s destination, the security detail of the ship, etc.
The goal with our procedural content is to tell a fresh take on the story with successive playthroughs, and we’re excited by the possibilities!
RPGWatch: I talked with a few other developers about turn based combat in games, and RPGs before. Since your game uses it do you think it has a place with modern gaming?
Juggernaut: We definitely feel that turn-based combat has a place in modern gaming and we’re hoping to convince a few naysayers along the way by delivering a fun and challenging experience in StarCrawlers. Our integrated turn-based battle system creates strategic depth with a turn manipulation mechanic that allows you to take command of the battle timeline and turn it to your advantage. We have also created a crew of characters that are very distinct and have a lot of different choices to make before and during combat. The ability modding system will allow you to get up close and personal with your characters skills and modify them according to your battle preferences, whether that’s reckless slash-and-burn style combat or a calculated, control to destroy approach.
Once you’re engaged in battle, you’ll need to carefully consider which abilities to use and when - balancing attacks with varying degrees of power, time unit costs and risk to give yourself the advantage. Attacks that slow enemy actions, speed up your own attacks, and stun enemies are a great opportunity for you to turn the tide and ensure your victory. You’ll have to be careful, because enemies will also coordinate their attacks to try to take down your Crawler’s shields and whittle down their hit points. There are no healing classes in StarCrawlers, so a major loss in hitpoints in any battle is a serious event you’ll want to avoid as much as possible.
RPGWatch: Alright lets talk about the the Kickstarter. What made you guys decide to use crowd funding instead of a publisher?
Juggernaut: We felt like Kickstarter was the best place to take a project like StarCrawlers. However much we may love the game and the idea, it IS a niche genre, so finding a publisher willing to take the risk would be extremely difficult. Beyond that, we like the way Kickstarter can energize a community around a game - the back and forth between backers and developers can be especially helpful for a small indie team like us. We are always excited to get new eyes on StarCrawlers and with Kickstarter we already have over 2,000 new pairs to help us out!
RPGWatch: Looking at the project you decided to ask for $65,000. Is it enough to fund the game, and how did you decide the final amount?
Juggernaut: We’ve already invested about twice that much in the development of StarCrawlers, and what we asked for is enough to take the game to the finish line, at least the base version. We’d love to get into some of the stretch goals as well so we can expand our selection of character classes, add hero class enemies and elite mini-bosses as well.
RPGWatch: I see the game is already half funded as I write the questions so I wish you guys success. Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?
Juggernaut: We’re really excited to finish up strong and get all our attention back to the business of making StarCrawlers. Please come over and check out our Kickstarter page and let us know if you have any other questions - we’re having a great time reading people’s comments and ideas.
Developer: Juggernaut Games
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· To be announced
· Publisher: Juggernaut Games