Stuart Ryall on Surviving The Frozen Wasteland of Impact Winter
with Ahmad Khan
Impact Winter is a post-apocalyptic survival RPG in the vein of Fallout that tasks players with surviving a frozen hellscape that’s overcome much of the planet thanks to a stray asteroid. Unlike its classic brethren, survival in Impact Winter isn’t a solitary affair, there’s a group of other survivors to consider as well. The combination of role playing, survival, and group dynamics makes Impact Winter one of the most exciting Kickstarter campaigns of the season. To learn more about we spoke Impact Winters’ designer, Stuart Ryall.
Cliqist : Tell us a little about yourself?
Stuart Ryall : My name’s Stuart Ryall and I’m the designer (and one of the co-founders) here at Mojo Bones. Being a small team, my role covers everything from working-up new ideas and concept, to getting hands-on with level design and tweaking gameplay.
Cliqist : Tell us a little about Mojo Bones Game-Studio? What’s the story behind the name?
Stuart Ryall : Ahh, always the name 🙂 It actually came from a restaurant menu. The ribs were called ‘Mojo Bones’ and the name just stuck with us. It sounded fun and unique (and we LOVE ribs). I think there’s also a ‘Voodoo Lady from Monkey Island’ thing going on too – hence the very purple, cartoon-voodoo office we inhabit.
Cliqist : Mojo Bones has a number of games under its belt, but Impact Winter appears to be much bigger than anything the company has done before. What drove the team to tackle such a big project?
Stuart Ryall : It’s been a natural progression for us. We work on a lot of prototypes and ideas in-between projects and Impact Winter is something that we’ve been building up to over time.
We have experience working on larger projects, but it’s always a case of timing. Impact Winter is now at the stage where we have a fully-formed concept, and truthfully, that’s one of the biggest steps towards developing a strong game.
Cliqist : Please explain in your own words what kind of game is Impact Winter?
Stuart Ryall : Impact Winter takes a lot of our influences and combines them into something that’s hopefully unique. Its part RPG (story events), part sandbox (open-planned game design) part adventure (decision making), part survival (crafting upgrades and balancing stats). Ok, so I know that’s not a completely straightforward explanation, but we’ve always seen the strength in the concept being the sum of its parts.
Cliqist : What video-game, film, literature or artwork do you believe influenced Impact Winter?
Stuart Ryall : Lots of influences. Art-wise we love a lot of the old matte artists like Ralph Mcquarrie and Albert Whitlock. Obviously John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ is a big influence too. Game-wise there are lots of little nods and winks. For example: the inventory system is inspired by Resident Evil 4 (I loved arranging the items you collect into a restricted space).
Cliqist : Can you give a general break down on how the funds collected from the Kickstarter would be used?
Stuart Ryall : The majority of funds (50%) will go towards staffing costs – just generally getting our heads down and developing the game over the next 12 months. The other half is split between office costs, licenses, Kickstarter fees, audio and backer rewards. The company is also financially investing into the project.
Cliqist : What made you decide to launch a Kickstarter project for Impact Winter at this time?
Stuart Ryall : Although funding is the primary focus for a Kickstarter project, there’s also the huge benefit of building a fan base that joins you throughout development. For a small team, building an audience can be a big challenge. Kickstarter offers these two huge benefits: providing funding and attracting a loyal following. We often have a shortlist of game ideas, and Impact Winter is something we’ve be discussing for a while now. When we decided to move forward with it, Kickstarter felt like a nice fit – visually, and also in terms of the subject matter.
Cliqist : So far the Kickstarter game is off to a sluggish start. What are the plans to kick things into high gear?
Stuart Ryall : Being a small team we’ve got to try and juggle the job of reaching out to the press and giving our backers meaningful updates. This last couple of days has involved talking to various publications and trying to spread the word…
As always we’re happy to take feedback on-board and if there’s anything that our backers (or potential backers) would like to see, drop us a line at email@example.com
We’d also like to ask anyone who’s supporting the game to Tweet, Facebook, poke, smoke-signal – whatever they can do – to help spread the news.
Cliqist : For Impact Winter you choose the Unity Game Engine, any particular reason you picked this one over the likes of Gamestart or Shiva?
Stuart Ryall : Unity is something we’ve been experimenting with and we’ve found it to be a great fit for our projects. Support is also key when you’re choosing a game engine, as you will undoubtedly run into problems. I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from investigating other engines: it’s really a case of looking at each one and making sure if provides what you need as a team.
Cliqist : What kind of difficulty level can gamers expect in Impact Winter, would there be settings for both casual and hardcore gamers?
Stuart Ryall : Good question. We’re investigating options re: the game’s difficulty and a lot of this will rely on feedback throughout dev (stat balancing, player feedback etc.). There’s no doubt the game falls more into the ‘hardcore’ bracket – as it is a game about survival after all. Difficulty modes are very likely, as they will offer players an experience that suits their needs. For example, some players really dig the idea of perma-death and we’d hate to not include it.
Cliqist : What kind of game length(hours of gameplay) has Mojo Bones planned for Impact Winter?
Stuart Ryall : We’re looking at a 10-15 hour game time.
Cliqist : Would you be offering DRM-Free copies as pledge/add-on for backers that might request them?
Stuart Ryall : Yes. Steam and DRM-free will be a choice.
Cliqist : Apart from PC ,MAC and Linux what other platforms are you planning to bring Impact Winter to?
Stuart Ryall : We have an extended goal for console release. Obviously our priority is PC/Mac/Linux at the moment, but we’d love to bring it to consoles if given the opportunity.
Cliqist : Is Impact Winter a scam or unattainable dream? What assurances do backers have that Mojo Bones can, and will, deliver the promised product?
Stuart Ryall : Hey! What kind of questions are these? On a serious note: we’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the concept and hopefully the pitch itself shows how seriously we take our work. You can only give so much reassurance before it starts to sound like you’re nervously defending yourself 😉
But the bottom line is: if Impact Winter gets funded, we promise to make the best game possible and ultimately, deliver on the vision that you see on the Kickstarter page right now. We’re committed to our work, and genuinely excited at the prospect of creating something that we feel is fresh and unique.
Cliqist : For those people who are unable or unwilling to pledge through Kickstarter, would you be offering alternative means of donating to the Impact Winter Project?
Stuart Ryall : It’s Kickstarter-only at the moment, but it’s something we’re discussing.
Thanks to Stuart for taking the time to answer our questions! You can learn more about Impact Winter by heading over to its Kickstarter page. You can also track its funding progress via our Campaign Calendar.