The Dungeon Siege games, while not perfect, offered a nice twist on the fantasy RPG. It's fast gameplay and solid multiplayer experience was a hit at a few of our LAN parties. When we first heard about Space Siege we figured the folks at Gas Powered Games had just tweaked the engine and swapped swords and spells for lasers and space suits. It turns out we were dead wrong and we were fortunate enough to get a chance to talk with someone at Gas Powered Games about the game.
Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project? How long have you been in the gaming industry and what drew you to your current position?
William Harms, writer. I've been in the industry for nearly five years. Before moving into game development, I worked at PC Gamer magazine for several years.
Can you give us the 10,000 foot overview of the plot of the game and talk about the kinds of things players will be doing in the game? What are the inspirations behind the game?
The basic set-up is that an alien race called the Kerak has destroyed the Earth and only a handful of survivors manage to escape the cataclysm. Unfortunately, as the humans speed away, the Kerak attach an attack-pod to the human ship and start to attack the ship's passengers.
In terms of the inspiration, we really pulled from a lot of sources. But the kernel of the story originated with Chris Taylor, who came up with the "what does it mean to be human?" hook that the game hinges on.
In your August 4th-released developer diary video, Chris Taylor states that Space Siege is absolutely not "Dungeon Siege in space." How is the game different from the fantasy series and why did you chose to use "Siege" in the title?
Space Siege really streamlines the gameplay in a lot of ways because we wanted the player to focus on the fun stuff--mowing down alien hordes and upgrading their weapons and armor. In addition, Space Siege focuses solely on one playable character--Seth Walker--and there is no party. We chose to do that because we really wanted to explore Seth as a character and tell his story.
With two years of reflection time since the last Dungeon Siege title, what was the toughest lesson learned that you carried into Space Siege?
From my perspective, the lesson that we learned is once you leave the fantasy setting, the options really open up in terms of story delivery. Instead of having clumps of NPCs (that you only encounter every so often) delivering dialogue and nudging the story forward, we can have Seth talk to any of the other characters at any time. It really opened things up. Who knew that radios could be so awesome!
As you play through the game you have the option of upgrading yourself with cybernetic enhancements, can you talk about how that impacts the storyline of the game and how you came up with the concept? Could you get through the game without upgrading at all?
The primary hook in the game is the question of what it means to be human. If you remove your real arm and replace it with a cybernetic arm, are you still human? Of course. But what if you replace your brain? At what point does the person you once were simply fade away and get replaced by a cybernetic version of yourself?
This choice plays out both in terms of the actual gameplay, including the types of weapons you can use, and in terms of the story. Certain characters will respond to you differently if you install and use cybernetics.
As for where the concept came from, that was all Chris.
Are the Kerak the only bad guys in the game or is there more in store for players? Is there more than one ending in the game? Any plans for downloadable content or a sequel in the works?
There are multiple endings in the game, based on whether or not you choose cybernetics and how you choose to fight the Kerak. We're not discussing any other potential enemies right now because we don't want to spoil any surprises!You scrapped the party format in favor of having a single protagonist defend the universe: Seth Walker. Since you named him -- and not the players -- that name carries a lot of weight. How did you settle on that name and why did you choose to go in that direction? Are there other non-permanent improvements you can make to yourself (such as ability increasing drugs)?
We actually settled on the name pretty quickly. When you're coming up with a character and you're creating his/her life and history, your gut is the best barometer for whether or not the name fits. And when you get one that works, that process ends. There's no sense in over-thinking it.
As I mentioned earlier, we wanted to go with a single character for story-related reasons. By having a single character, you can really drill down and make the game about Seth. You can do that with multiple playable characters, but that's not the kind of game we wanted to make.
In addition to upgrading yourself with cybernetics, you can also use the parts that you find to upgrade your armor, your weapons and even HR-V, your robot sidekick. There are also skill points you can assign that unlock new abilities.
The multiplayer system in the game is based around a set of challenge missions, can you talk about the decisions to go this route rather than re-playing the single player game? How does the game ramp up the difficulty based on the number of players and the skill of the players in the game?
Multiplayer is set on a different ship, the Tachibana, and the players must work together to complete a series of objectives. After you complete a certain number of missions, the next group unlock and then you continue on. The host gets to choose which mission is selected.
The setting for multiplayer (the Tachibana) plays a significant role in the game's story, so we wanted to show the other side of the coin, so to speak. The difficulty was balanced to provide a nice challenge for the player.
Weapons and combat is the core of an RPG, what separates Space Siege from other games in the field? Do you have a favorite weapon in the game?
My favorite weapon is the Magblade. It's a wrist-mounted weapon that not only slices and dices enemies, it also has a variety of other attack styles. All of the weapons fit in with the setting, so we have a machine gun, rocket launcher, etc. In addition, you'll be able to use some of the Kerak weapons too.
Is the multiplayer using Live for Windows or your own networking components?
Space Siege uses GPGnet, our proprietary multiplayer matchmaking service.
We'd like to thank William for taking the time to talk to us and Denny at Sega for helping to coordinate the interview