VoidExpanse Q&A: Asymmetric Ships, Dynamic Universes
If you’ve been coming to this site for more than a few days now, you know that VoidExpanse is a new game I’ve been enamored with since I discovered it a few weeks ago. It’s a really fun mix of dynamic content generation, real-time action combat and RPG elements that I’ve been having a great time with, so of course I wanted to learn more. I therefore reached out to the folks at AtamicTorch to learn more about the game, and was able to do a Q&A with one of the developers of the game, Valentin Gukov. The resulting Q&A with my questions and his answers is below the cut, and I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for reading! :)
Brian Rubin: First off, could you please describe VoidExpanse to folks who might not be familiar with it?
Valentin Gukov: VoidExpanse is an open-world, science fiction action-RPG set in space.
BR: The game is quite beautiful and the ships look awesome too! Could you tell us about the engine you’re using to make the game and what it’s capabilities are?
VG: We are actually using Unity Engine for the client. Although it is mostly used for rendering, everything else is our special implementation. As for the server – it is written from scratch to allow us complete freedom of what we want to implement in the game.
BR: I have to say I love the asymmetric design of many of the ships in the game such as the new Orca cruiser. The ships also have a great amount of detail to them. Could you describe your process for designing the ships in the game both aesthetically and functionally?
VG: Sure. We start with several pencil drawn sketches. Then we decide which one of them looks the most interesting. Of course we have to take into account the type of ship we want to make, its class, amount of weapon hard-points, etc. So, when we are done deciding on a particular design our artist starts modeling the actual in-game ship.
BR: How are the universes in the game generated, and how large can the universes be? So far I’ve seen about eighty systems, but of course I want more. ;)
VG: Well, we could technically make a universe with thousands of stars. But really, there is not much point to it to be honest. I think it is better to have smaller galaxy, but where each system counts! For example average number of star systems in VoidExpanse is around 100. Each star system has a type, different stations, different kind of asteroid fields, different inhabitants, it may belong to a faction, there may also be unique NPC giving quests, etc. As you can see it creates a lot of diversity too.
BR: What can you tell us about the universe in which the player finds themselves in, such as its background, the differing factions and the like?
VG: Well, I could tell you about history of the world of VoidExpanse, but what fun would it be? It would be much more interesting to learn it through play! As for factions – we have six, three of which the player can join. Order is a militaristic faction of former Federation military personnel. Freedom is mostly comprised of traders and people from planets of this region of space. And Fanatics…they have an interesting story to how they came to be, but it is tightly linked to the story of the game and I don’t want to spoil the fun!
BR: Speaking of factions, so far I’ve been able to join one, but it looks like there will be around half a dozen or so. What are the benefits of joining a faction, and how does the factional gameplay work in the game?
VG: To progress a game story you need to join one of the factions. They all have different agendas and depending on your preferences you might decide to help one of them. This will push the plot of the game forward. Depending on your choice of faction the story of the game will be completely different.
BR: What type of missions is the player able to acquire in their careers? So far I’ve taken transport missions and seek and destroy missions, but will there be a wider variety?
VG: Oh, these are just repeatable tasks. And we actually completely rewritten this system in the new version. Now there is clear separation between story quests and missions you can acquire from station commanders. There is also much more variety to what you can expect in the quests. These would be similar to Morrowind, Skyrim, Fallout and other big RPG games.
BR: I have to say, your game is fun to play, especially the combat, which is very hands on. How did you come up with the real-time combat system that can change based simply based on the ship you’re flying (which I loved, by the way)?
VG: When creating combat system we took inspiration from a lot of old-school games starting from shooters on NES, Genesis and Dos games to some examples of more recent releases. But it seems the most fun and diverse kinds of mechanics come from old games where gameplay was truly hardcore and challenged the player in a lot of ways. It seems recently most of the developers decide to go with more simplistic approach, but unfortunately it takes away from the diversity of game mechanics by oversimplifying a lot of things. But we really enjoyed this kind of excitement and we tried to recreate it in our game while of course making the game accessible to new players.
VG: We have certainly got A LOT of valuable feedback which we would not have gotten otherwise. And that was the main reason why we decided to go with early access. So far it is working great for the game!
BR: How far along is the game now, and what still needs to be put in place? It felt like a fairly complete experience to me already.
VG: It is only the beginning! We haven’t even started implementing most of the game systems. But as you can see even in this early state the game is a lot of fun to play! Basically we want to implement a living and breathing world with infinite possibilities and choices. Who knows how long it will take, but hopefully we can continue developing this game for a long time! And hopefully people will support us.
BR: The game will also have persistent multiplayer support. How does that work (i.e. will it be only players, or a mix of AI, for example)? Will players be able to run their own servers?
Actually the game has that possibility already. You can create your own custom server and invite other people to play on there. You can make that experience even more unique by creating or installing some custom mods to change the gameplay.