Satellite Reign won't be a simple remake of Syndicate Wars: Interview with the developers
The indie dev team of 5 Lives Studios, located in Brisbane, Australia, not only consists of developer veterans who worked on games like Syndicate Wars, GTA IV, Darksiders II and L.A. Noire, they currently also try to convince the Kickstarter community to spend their budgets on Satellite Reign, a spritual successor of Syndicate Wars. We had the chance to chat with Chris The Beard Conte and Mike Diskett.
PCGH: First of all: Congrats for the start! 36% percent after 3,5 days is not bad at all. What expectations did you have for the first days, minimum and optimistic?
Chris: Thanks. We really were not expecting everything to kickoff the way it did. We were constantly up and then down about what was going to happen. As we hit the Launch button I was expecting us to sit there for a few hours hitting F5 and see no change, but as soon as we launched Mike tried to logon to Kickstarter with his phone and before he got there we already had our first pledge! We were very excited to say the least.
PCGH: Syndicate Wars was published in 1996 – almost 20 years ago. Satellite Reign obviously stands in the tradition of this classic game. So why do you think that a "remake" is necessary nowadays?
Chris: Satellite Reign won't be a simple "remake". It will be its own take on the genre that was defined by the Syndicate series. There really has been nothing like them in the 20 years since, the strategy genre has evolved and changed. There's a whole audience out there that has never heard of or played those games that doesn't know what they're missing. Digital distribution and crowdfunding now let smaller developers, like ourselves, make the games that the big publishers ignore.
PCGH: Have you talked to traditional publishers before Kickstarter?
Chris: No. We have all worked in the traditional publisher model for the majority of our careers. Kickstarter gives us the chance to break free from the big publishers. Using Kickstarter also gives us a direct connection to the fans that will play the game. They will be able to talk directly with the developers and give feedback as the game is developed. Which is something that you will not get when working for a big publisher.
PCGH: Do you already have a playable prototype? How long do you already work on the game?
Chris: We are very early in pre production at the moment. After our initial discussions about what the game would be, we focused most of our energy on getting everything ready for Kickstarter. We really wanted people to see the world we had in our minds.
MikeD: It took about 3 months between the 5 of us to create the footage seen in the video. At the same time as making a white box gameplay world that we will use as part of prototyping.
PCGH: One of the Artworks says "In Engine Visualization". So does this mean that's actual in game graphics?
Chris: We are currently in early pre-production on the project and these are some of our early visualisation and gameplay tests. They were made totally in-engine and are there for us to show everyone what we expect the final game to look like (if not better :D).
PCGH: Your Kickstarter video shows some impressive Sci Fi footage and it seems that one can even see ingame footage. Right or wrong? Can you share some details on the source and the making of the video?
Chris: Everything we did for the trailer and pitch video were done in Unity. We went through the same processes that we would when making the final game. From making the models, rigging, animating and texturing.
PCGH: The unity engine is quite strong with Kickstarter projects. Can you tell us why so many big projects relies on this game engine?
Chris: We have worked with many different engines in our careers, but Unity gives us such a quick turn around when working that its really hard to pass up. Most developers know that iteration is the key word when making a good game into a great game. Unity will give us the tools to do just that.
MikeD: As a programmer on a small team, we don't have time to make tek from scratch, fortunately unity is a really mature platform and with version 4.0 it's delivering professional quality games.
PCGH: You mentioned versus and cooperative multiplayer as an stretch goal option in one of your updates. Is the game generally ready for MP? Or do you have to change a lot within the game concept?
Chris: We are still early days on PvP multiplayer design discussions but we think co-op multiplayer would seamlessly fit into the existing design.
MikeD: In terms of programming we are building Satellite Reign from the ground up with Multiplayer in mind. This basically means abstracting away the input so it can come from a local machine or a server/peer in a multiplayer scenario.
PCGH: One of the options that people are missing are boxed versions. As you're situated in Australia, is there any chance to see delivery to Germany, for instance?
Chris: We have just announced the boxed copy of the game and are happy to say we can deliver it world wide.
PCGH: Could you summarize in a few sentences for all the German Syndicate fans why Satellite Reign will be a noteworthy game and why this game should be realized?
Chris: Satellite Reign will take the core essence from the Syndicate series and expand and explore it. It will give you a simulated cyberpunk, dystopian city to discover and a squad of deadly agents to do it with.
MikeD: For me it's the city simulation side and the emergent gameplay, really making the city and its inhabitants react to what you are doing, and making the enemies intelligent rather than just following scripted commands is what makes this game unique.
PCGH: Thanks a lot for the interview!
If you're interested in supporting the game, please check the Kickstarter page of Satellite Reign.