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Starship Corporation Interview

By Bis18marck7025-04-2013
Leigh Cobb (editor)

The Sci-fi genre has seen many video games over the past decade. Some of these fill our hearts with delight until this very day, others are best forgotten. The Sci-fi genre was long thought dead but big budget projects like Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous proved all doubters wrong; Sci-fi still captures the imagination of many a gamer and it is here to stay. Today, we bring you another upcoming title that you might not yet, in the shadow of aforementioned titles, heard of: Starship Corporation, a game that aspires to take starship construction, management and operation to the next level. Here with me is David, the developer of Starship Corporation, and he will tell us more about his project.

Bis18marck70: Welcome everybody and joyous greetings, Bismarck here from Pixel Judge. Today’s guest is David Murent, developer of the upcoming sci-fi game - Starship Corporation. Welcome David.

David Murent: Hello.


Bis18marck70: First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your project?

David Murent: I started out in advertising and 3D animation, and then worked for some time for an Austrian gaming company and was not really happy with that. I started a Lazer-tag company in Austria, and did that for some years, but still always wanted to do my own computer game, which is what I’m doing now for the first time.


Bis18marck70: What inspired you to develop Starship Corporation, and how did you get started with the project?

David: There are a few...actually many things that inspired me, but the most important was a specific scene in the movie Aliens where the marines were getting out of their APC, and their lieutenant was watching their movements through their helmet cameras and giving them orders. I always wanted to make a game where you could be that lieutenant, and see - first person - what your crew is doing and giving them tactical information that they need, and ordering them on a very tactical level. I thought for a very long time about how I would do this, and started a prototype for this kind of game.

The other thing that was very inspiring was the experience I had playing Operation Flashpoint, it was one of the first military simulations with a huge world, and most importantly a great mission editor. My friends and I had the most fun, not playing the campaign, but with everyone making a mission for about an hour, then all playing each other’s missions. That was really exciting, and I thought about how I would make a game where being able to create levels (or modding if you like) was a part of the game, and was actually how you would want to play the game.

So I wanted to combine the ship boarding, colonial marines type game with creating a ship, because the main reason for me making this game is because I want to play it myself, and if I make all of the levels myself it would be pretty boring for me to play...actually it’s a trick to make players create levels for me.


Bis18marck70: So you’re basically drawing from a lot of different games and movies there, that’s quite nice to see. In order to get this project off the ground you received community funding by showing your game off on IndieGoGo. We were wondering why you chose them over the more commonly known Kickstarter?

David: For a very simple reason. Because I’m located in Europe, and Kickstarter needed a US account/credit card, or some connections to a US citizen at the time, so I had no choice but to use IndieGoGo. But it turned out alright.

An early sketch of the game.  The real thing is already exceeding expectations and it’s only in Alpha.

An early sketch of the game. The real thing is already exceeding expectations and it’s only in Alpha.

Bis18marck70: Alright. Now having been on IndieGoGo, how would you rate your crowdfunding experience? Given the choice if you could do it again, would you still choose to crowdfund?

David: I would. Whenever I start a new project from now on I would choose to crowdfund, not only because of the financial help I get, but mainly for marketing reasons - I can bring my ideas out and see how many people would be interested, and test whether the idea is interesting enough, and to gather ideas from other people. It’s very inspiring how many people contacted me with extremely good ideas. Because of that the game is already much better than I could ever have imagined it.


Bis18marck70: You’ve already had quite substantial contact with the potential audience about the game, which is great - it’s not what we see in a lot of games nowadays, the developer talking to and being inspired by the audience.

David: That’s very sad, because the internet has shown that there are so many people that, when connected, can create this enormous Borg Collective of creativity that you can tap into, and people are very happy to share their ideas.


Bis18marck70: In the finalised game you said you will have both a single player and a multiplayer option. Can you tell us a bit about both, and about the background story within the game?

David: The multiplayer aspect is the most important thing I want to focus on, because that’s where I’m gonna get my levels to play, and I’m very excited about people creating different ships and putting them on this open market in the game, and I’m curious about the dynamics that will develop because players will be competing with each other, and I want to enable players to experience a very dynamic market where they can strive to make either the perfectly designed ship or, on the other end of the spectrum, the most cost-effective ship. The ships that will turn out in either way successful will pop up when encountering other players in possible conflicts.


Bis18marck70: When it comes to vessel building, it seems that it’s a hardcore approach to space simulation, to make your vessel successful you have to think a lot about how you’re actually going to design it. Is the program guiding new players to prevent any drastic design mistakes, or is it more trial and error based in which experience counts for everything?

David: I hope I can make the game in such a way that the trial and error aspect is part of the game experience insofar that, when designing the ship you immediately test it afterwards in a kind of crew management simulation. You can test it as often as you like, and you get feedback from the simulator about how good the ship is, and only after you’re completely satisfied with it, then you decide to actually build it in the shipyard, which of course is very expensive and time consuming, and then you send it out on missions. So when you actually put your ship out there, you can be sure that it’s the best that it can be, and if there’s a better ship than this then you can...I think I will put something like a black box recorder in, so you can have feedback of what went wrong so you can improve your next design.

But I don’t like the idea of the player producing hundreds and thousands of ships that just get blown up and you just build another hundred, I want each ship to be very special and very expensive. There will also be things like insurance so ships don’t get blown up or lost that easily.

A truly ambitions project which is slowly being realised. 

A truly ambitions project which is slowly being realised.

Bis18marck70: The whole game basically takes place looking inside your ship, and there isn’t really an outside perspective even when fighting is going on, and that’s quite new, something drastically different from the usual. Why did you take this design choice?

David: Exactly because of that. Most games focus on the outside, and that’s great to look at, but I was wondering what’s going on inside those ships - especially with things like boarding, or docking with another ship. I agree that it would be great to also have an outside perspective in Starship Corporation, and I’m kind of looking for a solution for that, but I have to focus on what the game does best, so I want to focus on this new kind of perspective.


Bis18marck70: Do you ever fear that players might be put off your game because of this design choice, because it’s simply not what they’re used to?

David: No, it’s exactly the opposite. I think people and players are very mature, and they are always looking for new perspectives. I’m focusing on the, I think, very mature kind of player, who have seen a lot of games and want to try something new.


Bis18marck70: No game until now has allowed you to design a spaceship in the same way that Starship Corporation will. When you think about your design choices, do you think that they have potential for other companies to take up the idea and expand on it in their own way?

David: I very much hope so. If there was already a game out there that fulfilled this need of mine to construct a ship level by level, and send people through it, I would probably be playing that too much to be making this. I hope that there are many companies that take on this idea and maybe even make something better than I could think of.


Bis18marck70: When the player is designing his/her starship, we saw in the Alpha build that there are lots of different modules needed for their ship to function at even the most basic efficiency which for newer players obviously this means trying over and over again. Do you plan to make it easier for more advanced players by unlocking more and improved modules, or is the starting selection what everybody gets?

David: What I’m presenting in the Alpha is basically everything I’ve created now, and I can see that seems to be overwhelming for those who have just started the game, but I don’t want to hold back at the moment. When the game is ready there will first of all be a good tutorial, and the game will slowly unlock new and better rooms, so that the learning curve won’t be too steep.

The game will incorporate not only design and building but also testing and combat. 

The game will incorporate not only design and building but also testing and combat.

Bis18marck70: We’ve previously talked about you aiming for a more mature audience, and the German speaking market is home to a lot of companies known for producing niche titles that cater to small but passionate communities. Do you see Starship Corporation breaking out of this bubble, or are you specifically targeting this audience and want to remain within this audience?

David: I don’t know, I initially thought that it’s a very niche product, I don’t know if it still is - having a small budget and being a small game - but I hope that, just like Minecraft, if you make it very simple to start there will be lots of people beginning to play it and then most of them keep playing it. I’m very curious to see how it will develop, I’m happy if it ends up being just a niche product - as a game for starship geeks - but maybe it’s more.


Bis18marck70: That’s good to hear because at first when we saw the product we weren’t sure whether your focus lied solely on the German market or not, and it’s good to hear that you’re also trying to get an international audience.

David: Yeah, I’d like to make it as international as possible because that’s what I think, just like in Star Trek, it’s a global thing, humans from all over the world would spread throughout the galaxy but their roots would still be noticeable.


Bis18marck70: When the game launches do you plan to enable mod support so that the community can build new ship layouts, modules, missions and so forth?

David: I’m trying the best that I can to, it’s not easy but the basic idea is this whole create your own levels and so forth, and I want to make it as moddable as possible - not only so that the game will then grow after its release, but because it’s interesting to me to see what people will do with it.


Bis18marck70: When we tried the Alpha build we were really pleased with the soundtrack and we thought that it fit the game quite well. Can you tell us a bit about your choice of music and why you took this kind of mystical tune?

David: Actually a great musician contacted me and wanted to take part in the project. He offered to make the music and I’m very lucky that he is such a genius.

You can cut corners...just like a real corp. 

You can cut corners...just like a real corp.

Bis18marck70: When you release your game do you have any plans to release it on Steam through the Greenlight feature it has?

David: It’s already on Greenlight, and I hope that it’s gonna work, but at the moment I need to work on getting the exposure on Greenlight. It’s still some time until release, but I think it would be great if Starship Corporation was on Steam.


Bis18marck70: I can see why, Steam being the biggest digital distribution service it would be great for you. Well, on behalf of Pixel Judge I’d like to thank you for talking with us, and I wish you the best of luck with the development of Starship Corporation. I must say that, personally, it looks very promising, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the full release version.

David: Thanks.


Bis18marck70:Right, that’s it folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed our chat, and that it has answered any questions you had about the game. We’ll keep our eyes out for this title, and so should you. Auf wiedersehen.


If this interview has awoken some interest, check out the official site, Greenlight the game and tell us what you think.

Comments (3)
You must be to post a comment.
Posts: 1548

I wish this game was developed faster...

Posts: 233

Aye, it's pretty good

Posts: 1548

Everyone who has at least a slight interest should try the alpha. Its a real alpha but it is awesome never the less.