Lords of the Black Sun25 Jun 2014 0
Firstly thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions; I?m sure our readers will appreciate it.
The pleasure is all mine!
1. OK, first up I think we should give you a chance to explain what the game is all about as I?m sure some of our readers will not be aware of it other than, maybe, that it is a Sci-Fi 4X game. So over to you to give us the low down.
To sum things up, Lords of the Black Sun is a space 4X game with a strong focus on the diplomatic, political and economic side of things, in which you build your empire; developing relations and strong economic ties with other empires while resorting to all sort of honest and not so honest tactics, so that your empire rules over the entire galaxy.
2. What inspired you to develop this game, and in particular why this theme?
Well, first off I?ve always been a Sci-Fi fan, as well as fan of games like Civilization, Master of Orion and Galactic Civilizations, so I always wanted to work on a game like this. I started jotting down notes and ideas during a year or two before we actually started so after we wrapped up the previous game we were working on, the decision to start Lords of the Black Sun came naturally.
3. There are lots of 4X games out there with various themes, what would you say is the reason that potential players should but your game when it is released rather than a competing product? What makes Lords of the Black Sun different?
Lords of the Black Sun is a more diplomacy and economy driven than other games in the same genre. Just like in the real world, both are deeply connected, and when you mix politics, espionage and backstabbing into the mix it makes for very interesting gameplay mechanics that haven?t been explored in strategy games.
Here?s an example of a chain reaction that could happen in Lords of the Black Sun: you have an ally who really seems to like you and has a couple of very profitable trade routes with you, but at the same time you know that empire is getting stronger so you need to weaken them somehow, preferably without them knowing.
You decide to offer a significant amount of money to one of their enemies so that they have better chances of winning their war against them, or at the very least weaken them.
However, it so happens that your ally didn?t really trust you all that much, and had a spy monitor your diplomatic activities. That spy discovers what you did, seriously tensing up your relations between your empires, and having them cancel their trade routes with you, deeply affecting your economy and throwing your empire into financial difficulties, making your empire unable to maintain a strong military and opening opportunities for other empires to bully and attack you.
4. Alien races ? what were the challenges in creating them to make them different and interesting?
Having a good balance between familiarity and having races that look alien and original was probably the biggest one. Visually, we tried to take ideas and references from outside what you usually see in other space 4x games and Sci-Fi lore, and look into other settings such as high fantasy and steampunk for instance, as well as real world tribes and cultures. From there, building their lore and how their background ties to the main plot came naturally.
All in all we?re pretty happy with how things turned out, and we have some pretty interesting stuff to show in the coming builds of the game.
5. Whilst the game is still in development, do you have any thoughts as to where it will go after it is finished? Are there any expansions or similar planned?
At this point our main concern is getting the game done the way we want it to be. After release we plan on providing post release support, including patches and small content additions if necessary. As far as expansions and/or DLC we don?t have any plans at this point as all the features we wanted to include are already in the game or will be in the final version, and we definitely don?t want to leave anything out so we can release later on as DLC.
Of course expanding and adding new features is always possible, so releasing DLC or expansions later on is definitely a possibility.
6. Many of our readers are modders; what sort of support and opportunities does the game have for modding?
At this point you can already mod the game so as turn it into a Star Wars themed 4X game for instance, but we plan on further expanding on the modding side by allowing modders to easily edit or add technologies, ship parts and whatnot.
7. The game is being developed by Arkavi Studios and published by Iceberg Interactive; what led you to this partnership with Iceberg, and did you consider self-publishing at all?
Initially the plan was to self publish, but the possibility to sign with Iceberg came up and having an history of publishing successful 4X games such as Endless Space and Star Drive for instance they looked like a very good fit. So far we couldn?t be happier.
8. The game is currently available on Steam Early Access; however, there have been some recent examples where Early Access has not worked, so why did you choose to go down this route?
Early Access was a logical choice for us and we still think it was the best one to make as the feedback of the community has been very important and definitely helped shape the game and find important issues early on. Of course, some people may have abused the system in the past but I don?t think that?s enough to tarnish what is a great concept and one that works very well, at least in our case.
Developers get early feedback directly from the players themselves and a more accurate idea of what they want, while players get to have their say and help shape the game while it?s in development, and if everything is done correctly, assuring they get a better game in the end.
As far as I?m concerned, I?m 100% certain Lords of the Black Sun wouldn?t be as good as it is today and will be in its final form if we had decided to skip Early Access.
9. Following on from this, some games seem to stay as Early Access for ever. Have you a (rough) date for the final release version of Lords of the Black Sun in mind yet?
We are always relying on the community?s feedback and we will only release it once we are absolutely confident the game is in the state we want it to be so this is always subject to change, but we plan on releasing the game by the 3rd Quarter of this year.
10. Finally, this would be a good opportunity to give the development team a name check; so who has been involved and what did they do?
The team involved in the development of the game is made up of 9 people total, with me being producer, lead designer and programmer. Then we have Edgar Ferreira who is our 3D artist, André Simões, Pedro André, Jorge Oliveira, Gonçalo Antunes and David Oliveira are our 2D artists and João Mexia our sound guy and composer. Last but not least, our only non-Portuguese member, John Stevenson who is in charge of writing and spell checking.
The game?s website can be found here.
Steam early access can be found here.