Space adventure games are nothing new as gamers have been flying through space fighting bad guys and trading goods since Elite hit PC’s in the early eighties. The genre has evolved since then with the Wing Commander and Freespace franchise taking things to a new level. Ascaron is putting their own twist on the genre with DarkStar One which is set to hit stores this week. We got a chance to talk to Alan Wild from Ascaron about what will they are doing to make DarkStar One unique.
GamingNexus: What was the inspiration behind the game? What is the back story for the game?
Alan Wild: We wanted to create an action game with a strong story basis, and we were keen on producing a space game. The space action genre is often overlooked, and it was our aim to fill that gap.
In terms of story, you take up the persona of Kayron Jarvis, a supremely talented young fighter pilot. The game begins with you receiving the DarkStar One, an awesome ship developed around core segments of alien technology. This ship is the life’s work of your father. Following his recent murder, the DarkStar One is all that remains of his legacy. During the course of the game, Kayron will discover clues surrounding his father’s murder. These clues lead Kayron on a hunt for vengeance… but, of course, that’s not all Kayron discovers! As you would expect, the story is not as clear cut as the original outline may seem.
GamingNexus: The space combat genre has had some great games such as the Wing Commander Series, the Freespace games, and more recently Freelancer, what things did you learn from those games and how is DarkStar One different than the games that came before it.
Alan Wild: There is a lot to learn from many games which have previously been released. DarkStar One differs predominantly through the ship design, the story and the combat. Futuristic shooters tend not to concentrate on the actual “character” you play, but instead offer a variety of ships for you to purchase along the way. Quite often it is absolutely necessary to purchase specific ships to achieve specific objectives. What we wanted to achieve was a more dynamic character structure, and we achieved this through the DarkStar One space ship. Being able to upgrade according to your own preferences allows the player to effectively build their own ship which suits their own play style, and thus prevents the player being forced down particular upgrade paths.
The combat system is much more accessible than many competitors. The control mechanisms are superbly responsive, and the addition of gamepad/joystick control was a must for us. In addition, the feel of the combat is great, and you get a genuine feel of reward and progress with the feedback through combat. Introducing a range of intelligent and technical tactics for the enemy ships adds a new dimension to combat. Rather than battles being simply target-shoot-destroy there is an exciting edge and an increased challenge. It was very important that we integrated something a bit different here, and that’s what we’ve done.
GamingNexus: A demo was released a month or so back, how was the reaction to the demo? Did you get any feedback on the demo that you incorporated into the final game?
Alan Wild: Feedback for the demo has been incredible. We’re extremely happy with the response we have received, and we have taken some of those comments on board for the final version. The majority of the bugs which were identified in the demo had already been fixed in a revised build, so we’re pleased with the stability and reliability of the game.
The next stage is to look at potential for MODding DarkStar One.
GamingNexus: Was there ever any thought of making the game multiplayer or not?
Alan Wild: Yes, and we gave it great consideration. For DarkStar One it was decided that the overall gameplay did not lend itself immediately to a multiplayer version. The focus had to be on the main story, the ship upgrades and the action and exploration. I should say this only ruled multiplayer out of the final version – we have not completely ruled out multiplayer in the future.
GamingNexus: Most gamers are used to upgrading to different ships as they progress through the game (each more powerful than the last). In DarkStar One you only have one game which you upgrade over time, how do you keep the gamer interested in having the same ship over time? Will the cockpit change at all as you upgrade or is it the same throughout the game?
Alan Wild: Having more ships and less upgrade options wasn’t an option for us that we felt would fit well within DarkStar One. In an RPG you play one character, and you gain an affinity to that character. This is the feeling we wanted to convey in DarkStar One. Therefore, as the game progresses and the ship becomes more and more powerful, there are more and more items and options for creating the ship that you want to control.
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