Colony Ship Interview
Pladio has asked Iron Tower Studio a few question about their Colony Ship RPG.
RPGWatch: Hello Vince, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. Now that your new game, Colony Ship RPG is out for Early Access, can you start by introducing the game? What type of game is it and can you introduce the setting?
Vince: Like our first game, it's a turn-based isometric RPG with plenty of dialogues, skill-checks, branching storyline, and multiple solutions. It takes place on a generation ship – a giant colony ship traveling at sub-light speed, so the journey will take centuries. Many generations will be born on the ship and will die on the ship before she reaches her destination. Your character is one of the Shipborn, chained to a fate chosen by one of your distant ancestors.
RPGWatch: Will the ship ever reach its destination?
Vince: In the tentative sequel.
RPGWatch: For people who know Iron Tower Studio, your previous games, the Age of Decadence and Dungeon Rats, had a vastly different setting to this one. What made you depart from the post-apocalyptic Roman world to a space faring setting?
Vince: We want to tell different stories and I'm sure our audience wants to 'visit' different worlds. Hopefully they'll enjoy visiting this one.
RPGWatch: But why on a space ship? If you want to do different worlds, it could also be post-apoc, western, fantasy, etc. It probably wasn't a random choice, so why space faring?
Vince: Because a generation ship is a fascinating concept that raises a lot of interesting questions. And it’s a perfect ant-farm where different societies are forced to coexist within a limited space, influencing and affecting each other’s development while fighting for that limited space, which adds “the end justifies the means” pressure.
RPGWatch: If you do want to do new settings with a new game, does this then not exclude sequels?
Vince: The main problem with sequels is that the setting and gameplay remain the same. It's nearly impossible to switch gears and offer the player something radically different. With Colony Ship, this problem is easy to solve, not because we're so clever, but because the setting itself implies its solution: we land the Ship and start the Colony.
RPGWatch: One of the main differences in gameplay between the Age of Decadence and Colony Ship RPG is the ability to recruit up to 3 party members. What made you want to change the gameplay to such an extent? Are you finding this to be much harder to balance?
Vince: We want to provide more choices, so players who favor solo can play alone, while players who prefer a more traditional party experience will have 10 companions to choose from.
As for balance, leading a party requires Charisma, so a solo fighter can focus on the physical stats instead. Plus a solo fighter would level up faster, which is another advantage.
RPGWatch: Following on from the above, does it mean that the game is more likely to be easier for people to play through when in a party of four. In other words, is playing solo hard mode. Would you say this will make your game more accessible to people who complained about the difficulty of the Age of Decadence?
Vince: Quite a few players beat the first chapter solo, so I think it's a matter of personal preference. As before, the diplomatic path is the easy mode (or story mode, if you prefer) whereas combat remains challenging regardless of the size of your party. At least that's the goal.
RPGWatch: The game has now reached Early Access. Congratulations on that milestone. Seeing as this is now the third game for Iron Tower Studio, how would you appraise the reception ? Do you believe the game has gained enough visibility ? If not, what will you do to improve on this ?
Vince: Thank you. Using AoD's Early Access launch as a benchmark (as that's all we have) I think it went well. Meaning it could have been worse but I doubt it could have gone much better. Kind of if you have a crappy weapon (a game with limited appeal) with 1-4 damage range and you roll 4. Great success!
Visibility: what we've lost in the mainstream media's support (still hitting a brick wall there), we've gained in influencers' support, which is far more important. I hope that as we add more locations and improve the overall design our visibility will grow as well.
RPGWatch: There can be several reasons to use the Early Access program. Some use it to get extra funding, some to get additional testers, others to gather statistics on how the game is being played and there probably are more reasons. What are for you the most important reasons to use the Early Access program?
Vince: Feedback is the most important reason. First, you see how people play it, analyze the builds, try different fights with player-submitted save games, etc. Second, you see what people like (and add more), what they didn't like (which can be still easily addressed this early in development), what puzzles them (which can be tweaked or explained in-game). Third, you get an avalanche of suggestions, containing some real gems of players wisdom.
I can't imagine making a complex RPG without involving players early.
RPGWatch: For those who haven’t seen all your forum/news postings, can you briefly explain the expected timeframe for the game’s release?
Vince: We're aiming for 18 months (in comparison AoD was in Early Access for 24 months) with monthly updates. The next location will be added in June.
RPGWatch: To conclude, if someone offered you a gift of $250k, which you could only use for Colony Ship RPG, what would you do with it?
Vince: That's easy, we'd spend it all on level design. To properly design a location like the Engine Room (with humongous ship engines) or the Shuttle Bay or the ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support System), we need a lot of specific concept art done by artists more or less specializing in this area, then we need to model and texture all the objects (the more complex an object is, the longer it takes).
Right now we have the bare minimum concept art done (approx. $25k), and some 3D modeling (approx. $40k). I'd say we'd probably end up spending $100k on 3D models (which is nothing for studios with real budgets), but the biggest problem is that we don't have a dedicated level designer, which is a luxury we can't afford. Even at $50k/year that's 250k over a 5 year period.
Information aboutColony Ship - A Post-Earth Role Playing Game
Developer: Iron Tower Studio
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· To be announced
· Publisher: Iron Tower Studio