PeriAreion, the max settlement strategy game we’ve looked at previously, recently hit its humble $3,000 Kickstarter funding goal. That’s no small feat considering the being created by a team of rookies straight out of school, and launched on almost the exact same day as a much larger planet settlement strategy game. I had an opportunity to ask Erica Holcomb, PeriAreion’s producer and leader designer, some questions about the game; including what makes her team qualified to make this project, the competition, and what exactly is the deal with the title.
Cliqist : Right out of Full Sail and onto Kickstarter, that’s a bit risky isn’t it? Crowdfunding can be unforgiving to those that people don’t feel are established.
Erica Holcomb ; The reception for PeriAreion both before and during our Kickstarter campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. Even though we are not established, from reactions to the game we knew that there would be enough interest in our Kickstarter from casual observers to offset the low visibility our startup group has.
Erica Holcomb ; Our team is composed entirely of students who went through the Master’s degree production course. My degree focused on managing the production of a game rather than the technical skills needed to make it. It was much more theory-based rather than application-based. That being said, there were some design courses and learning technical skills in our off time was highly encouraged. The long hours helped prepare us for the work load in developing our own game as well. I would definitely recommend the degree for those wishing to see the production side of game making, but only if they know what they are signing up for. From my experience talking with people in the industry, a relevant Master’s degree is definitely something sought after and makes a candidate stand out when applying for a job.
Cliqist : PeriAreion launched a day after a somewhat similar game that was larger in scope and promises. Was that cause for concern?
Erica Holcomb ; I hadn’t actually known that until you mentioned it! So, to answer your second question, no, I suppose it wasn’t. Also, games like Proven Lands are firmly science-fiction: while I absolutely love that genre, our main premise for this game was to present Mars as realistically as possible, not straying too far from things we already know. It may sound incredibly nerdy, but I find Mars exciting as it is, since it’s the first alien planet we can easily explore, and it’s history has been nothing like Earth’s.
Erica Holcomb ; I’m regretting naming the in-game reference the “Periareipedia”. Try typing that a dozen times…
Cliqist : $3,000 isn’t a lot to complete a game. Can you guys make my Mars survival sim dreams come true for less than the cost of a Vespa?
Erica Holcomb ; PeriAreion was a project I started while still completing my Master’s degree. Our team was attempting to finish the game entirely through self funded measures. The low cost of our Kickstarter is due to the amount of the game that is already completed. While more money would help us hire more people, refine and include more features, $3000 was the bare minimum. Also, we didn’t want to seem greedy.
Cliqist : What are some of the inspirations behind PeriAreion?
Erica Holcomb ; All of us are complete space nerds, so that keeps the team motivated and inspired on a daily basis. As for the original inspiration, Mars is probably the best starting point for extraterrestrial colonization, and I’ve always been keen on living to set foot on another planet. After reading about Mars One’s plan for starting a colony almost exactly one year ago, I realized that it would make a really fun strategy game. I did a search for RTS games, sims, or anything set on Mars and couldn’t find anything quite as realistic as I wanted, so decided to make one instead.
Cliqist : Is there anything you’d like to include in the game that you’ve had to hold off on adding?
Erica Holcomb ; Even at this late stage we are constantly thinking up ways to improve upon the gameplay we already have. While we are focusing on the core game, most of these add-on features are added to the “really cool, hopefully can do later” bin. One of these main features is listed in our stretch goal: a free placement system for base building, which is something I’d originally wanted from the start, but which turned out to be difficult for our one programmer to do with the constraints we had a few months ago. If we hit our stretch goal, we will be able to hire a second programmer to focus on building the necessary system.
Cliqist : Any final words for anyone that might be on the fence about backing PeriAreion?
Erica Holcomb ; A copy of the game is only $10! And for backers in the UK or EU, the exchange rate makes it even more of a deal. We decided to include the game at a lower reward tier than most Kickstarters do, and so far it seems to have worked well. We don’t care if it’s a commercial success; it’s more important to us to make a quality game. Finally, we really just want to get the game out to as many people as possible for the sake of furthering our pro-Mars agenda.
Cliqist : Can you finish this up with a PeriAreion inspired haiku?
Erica Holcomb ; How’s this?
Looked at rocks too long;
now I’m running out of air!
Red dust storm rolls in.