Farflame talked to the Insomnia devs about their third Kickstarter and the development of the game.
RPGWatch: Your first Kickstarter was canceled, the second one raised $92K (of an asked $70K) and for this third one, you are asking GBP 55K. What happened that you underestimated the funds needed to complete this project, that make you go back to Kickstarter again?
Yes, this is exactly how it all happened. We've never hidden the fact that we are a young and fundamentally inexperienced team. The $92K we raised just wasn't enough to complete the development and we have invested our own money into the project to get it to the stage of development we're at now. However, while we were in the process of implementing of what we planned for the game, we faced the fact that our vision of quality for project doesn't correlate with what we've already done, according to initial plan. It soon became obvious that we needed to add more options into the dialogues, more NPCs, and that we should expand locations, add details here and there etc. The main storyline stayed the same though, but the amount of details changed quite significantly. We had to transition from a customized variation of Ogre 3D, to UE4, simply because our modified engine couldn't cope with the vision we had for the game.
RPGWatch: You originally planned to have the game finished by the end of 2015, you now think it will be finished by the end of November. How sure are you about this release date?
To be brutally honest, it all depends on our financial status. This is our new plan that we are heading towards, and of course I can't be 100% sure we won't postpone release again for some period of time, in order to deliver the product to the high standards we've set. However, what I do know is that we will continue our daily work, spend nights in the studio, push development further on weekends and holidays, till we will finish what we have promised. Sure our intention is to meet the deadlines but as said before, we're a young team working on our first project. We're learning as we go, making mistakes and growing in experience because of this and moving forward at a fantastic pace.
RPGWatch: You have a prologue to show for the money that has been invested up to this point (over $200K) and you also claim that still many things of this prologue will change in the future. Given that, your KS goal (GBP 55K) doesnt look to be enough to complete the game. Can you elaborate on why do you think this amount is enough?
Yes, we still have a lot of work to do. We've received a great amount of experience whilst working with UE4 engine already, and we have a very good understanding of all the time frames that we need to finish things. Our current development cycle moves as fast and effective as never before. Something that we needed 3 months to implement, now takes just one week. So much of the game's fundamental elements are complete and we're absolutely confident that we can deliver an awesome gaming experience for all of the RPG lovers out there.
RPGWatch: You have a lot to do - story, quests, dialogues, complex choices, generated mini-quests + events, level design, combat, companions, enemies, items + crafting (most items can be disassembled), traits (obtained according to players actions), polishing of gfx + animations, optional co-op etc. Could you tell us which elements are almost finished, which ones are the most important to finish and which ones are less important and could be eventually cut or simplified? I understand that you want to make the best game, but I think that some people would like to see that you can be realistic and can release finished playable game. If Insomnia is succesfull, you can improve it after release or make the next game better.
Yes, work wise you are absolutely right. Currently we focus on the three main aspects; which are story/dialogues, hardcore combat system and the exploration of beautiful and atmospheric locations. Everything else will be slightly simplified or cut, serving as an addition to those main elements. Our main goal now is making a polished, well tested and balanced combat system that involves interesting enemies to fight with; a fully branched story with quality dialogues and vivid characters + atmospheric surroundings. Actually, when it comes to surroundings, this is one of the aspects we feel very comfortable about already. Combat system is nearly there too, but it will be tweaked and continually improved as long as we can afford to do so. Work with the storyline and texts seems like a rather big one, as we are talking not only about writing and then translating, but also implementing the finished dialogues within the locations and game mechanics, and all the fixing, polishing and tweaking that comes with it. Lastly, we shouldn't forget about the optimization and debugging of the game as well.
RPGWatch: How much is the combat dependent on player's skills and how much on hero's skills and stats? Because your initial pitch was about RTwP combat with companions and special morale system. Now it seems its a little more action oriented with real physics (cover can be broken etc.). So I wonder what was changed in combat design and why?
The initial concept remained the same. We always wanted to have a realistic close and distanced combat system. The only thing that did change is the role of companions - now it's less prominent and we pay more attention to main the character's gameplay. When we first implemented the basics of the combat system, we had blocking mechanics, punches and covers. We started to test it and realized that the player won't have time to take control over his companions as well. However, you will still have an ability to pause the game and give orders to your NPCs, such as "take cover" and to "perform a distant attack", or "rush into the battle" to give yourself more time. Mostly the effectiveness of any battle will be determined by skills of the player himself, and not the level of his character.
RPGWatch: The game generates new interactive objects, mini-quests and unique events. Is this generated content simple and universal or does it logically complement story, quests and player's actions? For example if you kill most bandits in some area, you wont get the next generated quest to kill dozens of dangerous bandits in the same area?
It's more a question of tuning, as the system won't generate similar events for the same zone. So basically after meeting bandits, a counter will turn on to exclude the possibility for you to encounter them again too soon. The next time you will probably meet a military squad who are checking for documents, or a travelling merchant. Some of the events will be connected with the storyline, so in say you destroyed one of the criminal groups, you won't encounter them anymore.
RPGWatch: You said that some people awake from cryo to maintain station systems while the rest sleep in cryo. So I wonder why are there so many ppl around, why they create fractions and live like on Earth? Is it because many cryo pods have malfunctioned, so these people cant go to sleep again?
The Great Sleep system works within the Urb, which is a kind of a governmental citadel. This is a place of totalitarian control and discipline. Players will wake up there, but staying there for long is not something that will happen. You will be sent to the close radius of Urb, which is a completely different place. It's a home for many of the people who reside within reservations, and work for external production facilities of Urb. The crime level's very high there, along with low medical supplies and social support level. People live their regular lives there, no one is a subject of the Great Sleep, which makes survival their daily routine. Military types are trying to keep the order around the citadel. Basically cryogenic sleep is a technology, but one of which that's available only for quite a small group of space metropolis dwellers.
RPGWatch: Do you have some design habit(s) or principle(s) that you try to adhere to while creating quests or dialogues? Something you try to achieve or something you avoid?
We try to avoid patterns such as making player to choose between 100% good and evil. We want to increase the amount of dramatic situations and the ways you're able to solve them, the price you have to pay if you decide to kill some NPCs. We want to introduce ways to complete the game with minimum amounts of confrontation as well, and maintain a proper level of humour, drama and story in general.
RPGWatch: If I'm correct, developers from many countries work or have worked on Insomnia. Could you briefly describe the organisation of your team? How do you resolve issues when different developers or groups argue about some game element?
The core of our team's based in a small studio in Russia. We solve most of the problems here, as we can handle the game content, 3D, music, concepts, illustrations, graphic design. When it comes to freelancers, we deal with them individually. They don't have the more complex tasks, except the animator and sound designer - who are experienced professionals we implicitly trust. We have many discussions within the studio when separate parts of the game come together; such as level design, game design, scenario scripts, dialogues, the placement of interactive objects, the relationship tuning between them and so on. At times like these, we have the core team sitting next to one monitor, with everyone giving their comments and making notes.
RPGWatch: Can you tell us in few sentences what do you consider as the best element(s) of Insomnia? Why people should pledge to your Kickstarter?
Our RPG will have an atmospheric and original visual style, unique game universe and interesting, complex plot with multiple endings. We were heavily influenced from various movies - such as A Man and His Dog, Metropolis, and Dead Man's Stories and video games like the original Fallout (and 2) and Planescape Torment.
RPGWatch: Lets finish with a lighter question. Do you remember some funny story from development or funny bug, crazy idea...?
One of the latest funny bugs we faced popped-up within the Prologue, at the very start when Typer finds himself sitting in the armchair and sipping booze. The first time he had a sip from his booze bottle, he started to float above the location, moved to space and all the stars surrounding him. However the very second you tried to stop this interaction Typer would quit drinking and crash back down to the level screaming like a child. In a strange, but very appropriate demonstration, it's what can happen to a person with alcohol addiction in his background story :).
Information aboutINSOMNIA: The Ark
Developer: Studio Mono
SP/MP: Single + MP
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2018-09-27
· Publisher: Herocraft