Eric Lucas Discusses Open Galaxy Space Adventure, Empyrion
with Julie Morley
Eleon Games Studio has a space survival adventure game in the works, Empyrion, that they will launch on Kickstarter in the near future. I was fortunate to interview Eric “Luke” Lucas, the co-founder of Eleon Games Studio for more information about Empyrion and what separates it from other space simulation games. Here is what he had to say.
Cliqist : For our readers who are unfamiliar with Empyrion, could you tell us a little bit about it?
Luke : Empyrion is an upcoming 3D open world, space survival adventure in which you can fly across space and land on planets. The game will feature space & planetary exploration, building & construction, mining & resource gathering, survival, crafting, terrain deformation, as well as space & land combats. It takes place in a vast procedurally generated galaxy that includes hundreds of different solar systems. Each solar system contains several planets with their own characteristics.
In Empyrion, you can build everything out of blocks and building parts like in Minecraft: large starships, small spaceships, space and planetary stations, as well as facilities such as mining robots and solar panels. Your mobile home base is a self-created starship (your mothership) that is able to fly from planet to planet and warp between solar systems. To access and explore a planet, you build one or several, small spaceships that can enter the planet’s orbit and land on the planet’s surface.
For building and construction, you must gather and mine resources. You will find these resources on planets and asteroids. Empyrion features several planet types such as desert, ice, lava, barren, oceanic, temperate and gas planets. Each of them is different and has its own characteristics and potentially unforgiving conditions. To survive, you have to adapt to a planet’s unique environment.
Initially, you face an uncharted universe with only basic information about the planets, their resources, and (potentially dangerous) life forms. Before your first landing on a planet, you will not know exactly what awaits you – be prepared for any surprise.
Cliqist : According to the “About Us” page on the Empyrion website, part of what sparked an interest in creating Empyrion is a lacking of certain features in both Space Simulators and Ego-Shooters/FPS. What features really stood out that were missing?
Luke : The majority of space simulations do not offer the possibility to land on planets and freely walk around on their surface. We were always frustrated that in these games you can see planets and you can approach them but you are not able to actually enter their orbit, fly over their surface and eventually land on them to freely walk around. If you are lucky, Ego-Shooters/FPS allow you to freely explore a planet in an open world style but you cannot get on a spaceship, leave the planet and freely explore a vast procedurally generated galaxy.
In Empyrion, we got rid of these two major limitations described above: Imagine that while you’re flying through space you see a planet in the distance. As you get closer, you can see there are mountains on it. Well, the really cool thing is that you can actually keep flying towards the planet, enter its atmosphere and eventually land on these mountains. Then you can get off your ship and freely explore your surroundings. Likewise, if you walk around on the planet and see a moon on the horizon, you can take your spaceship and fly to this moon and land on it. So, as you can see, unlike many other games, Empyrion offers a true free-roaming experience.
Cliqist : In addition to the previous question, what about survival and world editing games like Minecraft have that stirred interest in merging the genres?
Luke : Absolutely. The development of Empyrion is strongly inspired by world editing games. Specifically, we love the freedom of open world / free roaming games like Minecraft where you can build everything out of blocks and building parts. These types of games stimulate creativity in each player. In addition, we think that elements from recent survival games like Rust or the upcoming H1Z1 add a level of realism to the gameplay that makes it addictive. In Empyrion, every decision you make will have an impact on the course of the game and eventually decide whether you succeed…or not. This implies that you will have to constantly evaluate the situation, your own strength and estimate the risks before making a decision as the wrong one could lead to death.
Cliqist : If not explained in the previous questions, what inspired the background story for Empyrion?
Luke : The background story is inspired by the never-ending hunt for paradise. The word “Emyprion” is derived from the Medieval Latin empyreus and describes the place in the highest heaven beyond the firmament, which in ancient cosmologies was supposed to be occupied by celestial beings made of pure light that are the source of creation.
With humanity on verge of extinction, the “United Council of Humanity” decided to focus the remaining resources on Earth and the newly discovered alien technology to build a fleet of starships with the aim of establishing contact with the mysterious aliens and finding Empyrion. Space travel of this distance was only possible through hyperdrive technology recovered from within the ancient starship. Players assume the role of the first commander of the frigate “Helios”, on the mission to find Empyrion. But not everything turns out as expected…
Cliqist : How will multiplayer work out – what are the different multiplayer modes? Is this a feature Eleon Game Studios will implement regardless of how the crowdfunded campaign goes or will it be a stretch goal?
Luke : In Empyrion, you can play with or against your friends – it is up to you. For example, you can team up with your friends in cooperative gameplay: Invite them to join you on your mothership to operate the turrets while you pilot the ship. You can also form a wolf pack with several spaceships and attack pirate space stations or other enemies. Besides co-op gameplay, you will also be able to fight against each other in PvP.
We try our best to implement these multiplayer features regardless of the outcome of the crowd funding campaign. However, our big vision and a stretch goal in the campaign will be development of a multiplayer infrastructure that allows connecting a huge number of servers with each other. Each server will simulate a certain part of the galaxy and together they constitute the galaxy in which everybody plays.
Cliqist : How does multiplayer work with the background story – if at all?
Luke : It works quite well because the “United Council of Humanity” built not just one starship but a whole fleet of starships that were equipped with an alien energy cell to power their experimental hyperdrives – a technology never used before. Apparently, something is wrong with this energy cell because when the starships activate the hyperdrive, something goes wrong…(either humanity is not able to control this technology or the aliens want to lure the fleet into a trap – it is up to the player to find it out).
Subsequent to reappearance from hyperdrive, every player experiences the same situation: your ship is disabled and drifts in the orbit of an unknown planet somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy far away from the destination that was indicated by the map. You have lost contact with all other ships of the fleet. Gravity pulls your disabled ship towards the surface where it crashes. The impact completely destroys the ship and kills the crew. You are the only survivor. So, you have to find a way to leave this hostile planet and uncover the mysteries of Empyrion.
Cliqist : Part of Empyrion’s gameplay includes world exploration and inhabitation. Naturally, upon landing there may be certain hostile alien races. Do we learn more about the alien races along the way? Like keeping log of the different races, territories, etc.
Luke : We are not yet sure regarding the importance of the role of the different creatures that the player can encounter on the planets. We have to examine the dynamics while alpha testing the game. We think the AI should not play a too dominant role in the game because the player-vs-player interaction is what makes most games compelling.
Cliqist : Aside from planetary exploration and resource mining, will there be other ways for our players to support themselves? (I.e. bounty/space pirate hunting, trading)
Luke : Yes, we would like to integrate a trading system between players or a market place (by the way, trading will also be one of the stretch goals in the crowd funding campaign). A trading system will allow that a player can specialize on certain tasks like mining a rare resource that is difficult and dangerous to obtain. This player can then sell it to other players and in exchange buy other commodities, i.e., we would like to simulate a small market economy.
Cliqist : What will Empyrion be released on (PC, Mac, Linux, etc.)? Any handhelds or next gen consoles?
Luke : In the beginning, we are focusing on releasing the game on Windows PC (at least the alpha version) and the dedicated servers for Linux. Given that we develop on Unity 3d – a cross-platform game creation system which allows to publish to over 10 platforms (Mac, Linux, PlayStation, Xbox etc.) – we don’t exclude the possibility that later the game will be available on other platforms as well.
Cliqist : Right now there is a major rush of space simulation and exploration games getting crowdfunded at the moment, each with their own unique twist. What is the feature that separates Empyrion from the rest?
Luke : What distinguishes our game from other space simulation and exploration games is the fact that in Empyrion you can freely fly across space AND land on planets (on which you then can freely walk around). In addition, you are able to build your own spaceships and craft your own equipment. We are not aware of a published game that combines all of these features.
Cliqist : To conclude our interview, If you could sum up Empyrion in five words, what would they be?
Luke : Explore, build, fight and survive!
Thanks to Luke for taking the time to speak with us! You can over to the official Empyrion website for more info. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Empyrion Kickstarter in the coming weeks!
[Google][pinterest][follow id=”Cliqist” size=”large” count=”true” ]
[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/julie.jpg” ]Julie Morley is a freelance writer and comic artist from Spring, Texas. She attended the Academy of Art University for two years, studying Animation and Illustration. Whilst here, she learned about writing comic scripts, storyboards, and general storytelling. Since leaving college, she has been working on personal comic projects, stories, and illustrations. She aspires to release a self published comic within two years. For the majority of her life, she has been playing console games, typically being third-person shooters and sandboxes. Her favorite game of existence is Dark Cloud II (Dark Chronicle) and her favorite Indie game is Gone Home.[/author]