Interview: Chatting Edge of Space with lead designer Jacob Crane
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GZ: What’s the enemy variety like, and can we expect to see some formidable bosses?
JC: At this moment, we are not doing any kind of “random” generation of creature types. Though there might be some slight variable behavior, each creature is being created by hand to have its own unique behavior. We want to have as much variety as we can get in there! You can expect to see some formidable bosses, and some will require a bit of awareness while you’re fighting. Not all bosses can just be killed by applying the most damage possible to them.
GZ: What level of challenge are we looking at with Edge of Space?
JC: For core release, we want it to be fair paced. With how we want to handle progression, a player who is playing alone might take longer to get to the point that a challenge is not impossible, but with a group it would be possible earlier. The harder you push yourself to encounter things before you are properly equipped will increase the challenge, but if you are properly equipped (barring you bring 100 players in your server) it should keep you on your toes. Later down the line we would like to create a "hardcore" mode for those players that just love the challenge.
GZ: Edge of Space will feature multiplayer so folks can team up and explore together. How much focus is there on this aspect of the game? How different is the experience if a player chooses to team up with some friends or go it alone?
JC: We have built the game from the ground up with multiplayer in mind. Notch actually spoke about this in his current development. Instead of building the game single player into multiplayer, you start multiplayer and architecturally engineer it so that playing single player operates the same as the multiplayer setup but through almost an “emulation” of the network within the computer. This is really important because as a small team we don't want to get caught having to create proprietary code for single player versus multiplayer. So technologically, once we have everything working multiplayer we just port it into the single player mode. This also ensures that the most complicated part, multiplayer, is very stable.
We have always felt games are better when they can be played with friends, so I think the experience will always be much better when you’re working together. It is hard to really tangibly describe how much different it might be. Some tasks and challenges will become considerably easier with more people helping you.
GZ: Visually, Edge of Space features an appealing graphical style that’s full of color. How did you ultimately decide on this visual direction?
JC: One of our artists, who sadly had to go back to school, took our original concepts and really pushed it all to the next level. I would say he really set the overall core style of Edge of Space. There were two big factors when we were figuring out the style. One, we wanted it to be strikingly different from Terraria and other “lower bit” styles. We really love those styles, but we wanted Edge of Space to be strikingly different. Two, we really loved the 2D PS2 age of graphics and we wanted to be somewhere around that level of detail. Games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night come to mind as an example.
GZ: Can you share some of your biggest influences as far as games or developers are concerned?
JC: When it comes to game developers, I think we are really influenced by all the indies that are getting out there more. It is not an easy task to do something like this, and it is very inspiring to see a ton of indies really rising up and becoming more prominent in the industry.
After polling the core team, Archimedian Dynasty, pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies, Castlevania, Metroid, Panzer Dragoon, Full Throttle, Quest for Glory, Mass Effect, Total War, Ultima, The Legend of Zelda, Diablo 2, and Bubble Bobble round out the games that have influenced us.
As you can see we have a pretty diverse gaming background to draw from, but that's one of the great things about being an indie. Everyone on the team has a much greater impact on the game as a whole.
GZ: What have you been having the most fun with during the development of Edge of Space?
JC: Personally, I have the most fun when I am working on a new creature or figuring out how to create systems that have meaningful impact within the game. Not just coming up with the idea, but following through with the execution. Secretly, I enjoy toiling over things like resource generation, making sure the jetpack feels right, making sure the sound of the laser pick is not annoying but distinctive, etc.
GZ: Does the dev team of Handyman Studios have any free time to play games on the side? If so, what are you currently playing?
JC: Some more than others. Every other week I am a single dad on top of everything so it can make it challenging to get the game time in I would like. The games I have recently leaned into playing are ones that allow me to jump in and out quickly or I can pause at any time while I'm playing. So I tend to be doing a lot of dabbling. I would say the major thing I have been playing with some consistency lately is X-COM: Enemy Unknown and FTL: Faster Than Light. Paul and I will play Borderlands 2, Guild Wars 2, or Saints Row: The Third sometimes for quick lunch breaks. Generally spend much more time working on Edge of Space than time playing other games at the moment.
GZ: Last, can you explain that crazy awesome shark with the laser cannons? That thing is way too rad!
JC: The “Laser Shark” is an experiment that went just a bit too well — isn’t science grand! I have actually spent a good deal of time thinking through exactly how this encounter will play out, but I can tell you this: When you hear its roar, no matter at what stage of the game you are in, you should fear it. It will be one of the roaming bosses moving about, and not one to be taken lightly at all.
The idea actually started as just a laser shark, then it moved to laser shark with rockets, then a cybernetic rocket powered laser shark. It was very much a group effort. It really kind of sets a great deal of the tone of Edge of Space. We like it to be a bit darker but not take ourselves too seriously. I mean, really, we have penguins in space suits toting rocket launchers. Edge of Space is not all foreboding and deadly, but I wouldn't say that it is a "run around smelling the roses" kind of game. At least not until you secure a location and terraform it.
I would like to personally thank Jacob for taking the time to answer my questions regarding Edge of Space. It definitely looks like there's a lot for players to mess around with in the game, as well as a vast world to explore. Also, laser sharks. (Also, rocket launcher penguins!)
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.