Interview: Chris and Dean on contractors, randomization, vehicles, guns and more!

I contacted the 5 Lives Studio team this week with a couple of interview questions, and I’m very happy that Chris and Dean took the time to answer them. So here is the interview:

1. Have you gotten the fast internet connection set up in your new office? Does the legal stuff (founding the company) still keep you busy?

[Dean] We do have our studio setup, including a nice fast internet connection finally.
Balancing the business side of the studio is an important part of all of our jobs now however we’ve not found it has impacted our productivity as much as it did early when we were first setting up so it’s all gun blazing for us on development now. :)

2. How far are you into the design/concept phase? What are you currently working on?

[Dean] We are currently in the pre-production phase of our development.
This is where we do all of our testing and prototyping to work out and lock down our systems/pipelines and the final scope of production.

Mitch recently released a video showing this process for what he is doing with animation pipelines.
Brent and I are in the middle of determining our pipelines, workflows and all the foundation work for Environments and characters respectively.
Chris is busy with the game-play systems, making sure everything we set out to do is achievable and awesome.
And like all coders, Mike is hard at work fixing all of our art and design bugs… @__@
I jest, Mike is very busy with all our path-finding, AI and much more programming wizardry which my crayon-wielding art brain is in awe of.

We are aiming to hit the full production phase in approx. a month however this phase of development is critical to us doing things once so if extensions means time saved during production then we will adjust.

3. Are you bringing on any more people besides what you have now? Which type of work are you giving out to contractors?

[Dean] Yes, we are actually working with a number of very talented people outside of the core team.
Our initial stretch goal was to get Russell Shaw, he will be creating all the audio for the title which is fantastic. Russell Zimmerman, will be creating the Novella as well as working with Chris on the canon behind the titles. We also have Jeremy Love creating more of the great concept art you saw during our campaign.

Outside of these 3 talented individuals we do have plans for further contracting however they will all be finalized based on our end results of the pre-production.

4. What hardware specs are you aiming at? Will we need the latest enthusiast gamer system or will it run on older PCs, too?

[Chris] We don’t have specs yet but we don’t want people to have to buy supercomputers to run the game. We have built quite a few console games in our careers so we are quite used to wedging as much content as we can and using as little of the computers resources as we can. We want to bring that ethos across to Satellite Reigns production.

5. Satellite Reign is going to be on Steam, and it will also run on Linux. Does that mean it will run on Valve’s upcoming Steam Machines?

[Chris] Valves new Steam Machines are something that we haven’t really looked into yet (its news to us too ;D). As far as I know the Steam Machines should in theory run our Linux version of the game, but we will have to investigate later in production.

6. Is there going to be a publisher involved at some point (besides Steam/GOG)?

[Chris] We want to keep as independent as possible. With the help of all our Kickstarter backers we are able to keep creative control of the project. The biggest advantage of that is that we get to make the game we all want to play. Rather than watering down the experience to appeal to the mass market.

7. Is the city going to be fully static (like in GTA) or will it be randomized to some degree?

[Chris] We are building the base city to be static like GTA. However, we do have plans to put in some randomization within the base city. As you play through the game, Mike’s AI systems will let the corporations adapt and make changes to the world. A path that you take one day may be safe and quiet, but after stealing some tech the corporations may decide to ramp up security in the area and have put down security checks that you either need to find your way around or find a way through.

8. Are we allowed to access the entire city right away or will some areas need to be unlocked?

[Chris] We are splitting the city into a few main chunks. While it will be possible for you get to [all the] areas of the game from the start, it is more likely that you will get all your agents killed within seconds if you try (I am looking forward to see how far people can actually get though :D).

9. What kind of vehicles are we going to see? Are there going to be trains, subways or the like?

[Chris] At the moment we are sticking to road based vehicles. While trains and other types of vehicles would be cool, we have to make sure we keep within the bounds of our budget. This is something we are very conscious of, and we are constantly making calls based on what we really need to get into the game and what would just be a cool addition.

10. Seeing that the Assassin has a Katana in the concept art, does it mean there will be melee combat or is it still going to be a shooter mostly?

[Chris] The game is most definitely about guns… lots of guns. Having said that, to give the player the option of keeping their Assassin up the front where all the action is, we are going to give the Assassin an instant take-down ability that uses the sword. It means you need to get the Assassin up close and take out an enemy very quickly, but it will be at great risk as he will then be exposed to enemy gunfire. We will be playing around with similar types of abilities for the other classes too but nothing is set in stone yet.

11. Sadly, the “Disconnected” Enemy Faction stretch goal has not been reached. Is there any chance we might still see that, perhaps in an expansion?

[Dean] Reaching the Disconnected stretch goal doesn’t look likely at this stage however we are very close to reaching our next stretch goal which adds the Eternals and the Red Mafia Factions.

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