With the recent announcement that the 4X Galactic Inheritors — that name alone is nifty, isn’t it? — was coming to Steam Early Access soon, I wanted to learn more about this latest entry in what is becoming a more and more crowded game space. I therefore reached out to their PR folks and they put me in touch with Chris King, one of the founders Crispon Games and formerly a developer at Paradox (so you KNOW they know their stuff with grand strategy games)! I then sent Chris a bunch of questions via email about the game, stuff that I would wanna know more about, so hopefully you would too. ;) The results are below, and they give some awesome insight into what is looking to be a pretty unique entry in the 4X arena. Check out our questions and answers after the break, and thanks for reading! Enjoy!
Brian Rubin: First off, since you have been in game development a while, could you please give us some background as to your involvement with gaming development for those who might already be aware?
Chris King: For seven years I (Chris) was at Paradox Development Studio, working on a number of grand strategy titles. Working at Paradox was where I met Pontus, the other half of Crispon Games. Pontus moved on to work outside the industry for a while, but we were friends and used to regularly meet for beers. Then, one day while talking, we decided that it was time to branch out on our own and make our own game at our own studio.
BR: Getting into the game, could you give us a brief rundown of both what makes this game special and how it differs from other 4X games?
CK: I have been a lifelong fan of science fiction and it is the one thing I really wanted to bring to the game. With each feature we not only asked the obvious questions pertaining to game making, like: “Do we think it’s fun? “ “Could we implement this?” “What will the player experience?” – but we added an additional question that we felt was missing in most of the other Sci-Fi 4X games: “How would it work in real life? How would the “Science” part of science-fiction work?” And that is what we’ve been trying to implement in Galactic Inheritors: a sense of reality, of relation to the real life science in a fun and entertaining way within the confines of a video game.
BR: Could you give us some details on the five races we’ll be able to choose from in the game?
CK: One of the main reasons we went for only five races rather than your usual seven is that we wanted to give each race a really unique back story and bonuses. Each racial bonus aims to fit that race and their backstory.
The Xylenth (insectoids) have a higher growth rate than other species.
The Cawlar (birdlike), who are evolved from an avian species, get ship bonuses as they think better in three dimensions.
The Melowar (feline) are fervent holy warriors that keep their males in slavery and thus build ships quicker because they don’t have to worry much about the rights of their slave workers.
The Ribetars (amphibian) are a corporate oligarchy, and they can build ships more inexpensively through economic efficiency, but also experience higher levels of corruption.
Of course, no game would be complete without Humans…their pioneering spirit means they can build colony ships faster but they have a low birth rate.
BR: From what I’ve been able to read about the game, it looks like there will be a good variety of victory conditions, could you elaborate on these?
CK: We have aimed for two clear victory conditions: conquest and technological mastery. The conquest victory is pretty straightforward. The technology victory requires players to research a number of technologies and then build special buildings to bring peace and order to the galaxy. Over time we will implement additional victory conditions, but we wanted the feedback from the community before we implemented other categories of victories. We want to make sure they are fun and original instead of only based on our initial ideas, with victories being based on media power, economic might or diplomatic unity.
BR: One thing that caught my eye in the fact sheet for game is that a viable strategy is “preparing their people for war through the power of the media.” I don’t recall another game with this kind of option, so could you elaborate on this please?
CK: This is one of those features where we really wanted to make sure we incorporate our thoughts about how a future society would work, with omnipresent media and pervasive communication channels.
We began by assuming that your citizens are not there to die for your ambition as a leader. However, they will fight to the death to defend their way of life if it becomes threatened. On the face of it, this makes attacking people offensively rather difficult. Through the power of the media, however, you can sell to your citizens the notion that your neighbor is a clear and present danger to your very way of life, and if you do not strike first they will.
The key thing is that these media campaigns are public knowledge, so your target will see you coming. You also get to see which direction your neighbors are going with their media manipulation. This adds a unique layer to the strategy of the game, by seeing advanced indications of who is preparing for war, and with whom. It also means that if you pay the right kind of attention – and not everyone will – you will much less likely to be caught off guard by a declaration of war. You’ll also have to strategically think about how to prepare your followers if you plan to wage a war. It’s not about simply initiating hostilities, expecting your forces to mindlessly follow.
BR: Could you elaborate on what it means when the trailer for your game says “Look for the Opportunities” please?
CK: With movement via a jump network there are stars you can colonize that will cut off the other races from expanding into that area of space. If you can do this effectively, you then have a whole host of stars that you can colonize at your leisure without any alien interference – at least for a little while.
This is about a spatial understanding of the galaxy and recognizing that, on a battleground, some place are more critical to obtaining a strategic advantage, regardless of the financial or resource output of that solar system. You’re better off owning a critically placed star unit with poor resources instead of a rich star system on the outskirts.
BR: Much of the game’s materials mention “chokepoints” specifically. What is the significance of chokepoints in the game, and how can they help the player win?
CK: It’s a similar idea as in the previous point.
A chokepoint is a place where your single star is bordering several hostile stars. This is a very strong position from which to defend from. You are allowed the luxury of concentrating a significant part of your entire fleet in a single location while the enemy needs to spread their own to cover several locations. This allows you to concentrate your fleet and hold your territory with less effort, freeing you up to concentrate on expansion, etc. Again, it is about prioritizing and having a strategic military plan and not just colonizing anything that comes around just because it exists.
BR: What kinds of options are available to the player when it comes to enhancing and building up their planets and solar systems?
CK: We work on the assumption that you’re a space-faring species so you are happy being in space. You don’t settle a planet but an entire solar system, and this forms a single economic unit.
We also decided to change the impact of building. You don’t just build productive buildings, but a piece of a large-scale orbital infrastructure that expands the capacity of the whole solar system. Then your solar system may need to grow more to fully take advantage of the infrastructure you have built. Not only do we think this system is realistic, but it also challenges you to build the infrastructure your solar system actually needs and can most effectively employ.
BR: How is ship combat handled? Is there a tactical mode, for example, or is it hands-off?
CK: It is very much hands-off. Our starting point is that, as the leader of your species, you are sitting there on your capital world directing your forces across your empire. From the position you are in, you simply wouldn’t be able to effectively control the fleets so granularly, so you leave combat to the trusted commanders at the scene.
BR: Are the tech trees different for each race, or are they randomized at all? What are some of the most fun or coolest technologies you can research?
CK: No, we decided to go for a very orthodox technology tree with similar technologies for all races.
As mentioned, we wanted the game to reflect on science and how things would actually work, thus we assumed that all races were equal in the eyes of the laws of physics and would develop very similar technologies. Coming up for ideas for technologies was one of those tasks I really enjoyed.
A personal favorite is the integrated mass drive complex. Essentially, it is all about moving goods around the solar system, instead of moving them around in ships – load them into containers and fire them across the solar system in a mass driver. A bit of physics to work out exactly where you should shoot and then all you have to do is catch them at the other side. Once you have completed the research you can then build it in your solar systems, increasing their productive potential.
BR: Finally, what has you most excited about this game that you would share with potential fans?
CK: I have to say it is a feature that you have already asked me about: the media system. We think it is cool and unique and adds so much to the game. It really creates a different layer of strategic thinking that is different and much more realistic.
Speaking about the fans, there is another element. As you see, the game already has a lot of depth and options (and we intend to implement a lot more in the month to come) but we also want the fans to interact with us after release, give us feedback and tell us how the existing features and the new features we want to implement will evolve!
BR: Thanks for your time!!!