Lightspeed Frontier Q&A – Funny, Story-Based Bullet Sandbox
Hey friends, a little while back I got an email from a fellow named Phillip talking about his newly Kickstarting space adventure and building game, Lightspeed Frontier. After reading the pitch and watching the video, I OF COURSE had to back it (I put my money where my mouth is y’all), but I kinda felt bad. Our podcast schedule is full up to the point where we couldn’t have had them on while the campaign rolled on, so I asked, why not do a textual Q&A? I should be doing more of these anyway! ;) The answers below are from Vid Rijavec (lead designer and developer, founded Crowdwork Studios after graduating high school in order to release Lightspeed Frontier) and Philip Devine (Producer on the project, owner of Riveted Games), and they’re damned enlightening. I hope y’all enjoy ’em.
Brian: Thanks for taking the time to answer these. First off, where did the idea/inspiration for this game come from, and how long have you been working on it?
Vid: Thanks for having us! I wrote the first lines of code for what eventually became the game at the end of February 2015. At first it was just messing around with 3D graphics as I was learning the process but eventually a theme developed. The most prominent influences on the game are two other games, mainly TerraTech and Rebel Galaxy. The first had a very well implemented vehicle construction mechanic that I thought could really use some space, in fact, a setting and universe close to the one in Rebel Galaxy.
Brian: What is the primary objective for the game, or is it a complete sandbox in which you make your own objectives, ultimately?
Philip: The game is a unique mix of Sandbox and Story, due to the nature of the quest system (which we will go into more detail on down below). Because players are running into clues about quests all the time, and deciding which ones they want to investigate further or pursue, even following a particular quest still has a Sandbox feel. And of course, players can choose to do no quests at all and just fight other ships, steal their parts, and become a roaming, aimless, dreadnaught out for blood.
Brian: When you start a game, do you have to join one of the different factions, or are you independent? Can you work for or against them as well?
Vid: We’re putting a lot of emphasis the player’s choice so you will be able to choose almost anything you please. Be it traversing space on your own, becoming a member of a government task force or join rogue pirates on their quest for wealth. Some factions won’t be very friendly to certain others so you can be sure to see some faction wars as well.
Brian: The video said you have your own space station. Could you expand upon that, such as how you come about getting it, what it can do, and so on?
Vid: Like ships, space stations are also made out of standardized sections which can be assembled together to form any number of interesting configurations. At first you’ll most likely just visit other existing stations, but later on when you’ve already amassed a small fortune you’ll be able to spend it on constructing one of your own to your heart’s content as well. We’re not completely sure yet about all of the features that will be included in station building so the community should have a large say about it.
Brian: If you don’t want to build ships, will there be pre-made designs one can just stick to?
Philip: Definitely. While the Demo allows you to just load up any ship you want, we will soon be introducing blueprints which allows you to feed in the plans for a ship (be it designed by you, the community, or packaged with the game), and it will build it for you as long as you have the materials.
Brian: Could you please explain how your quest system works? I love how just so novel it sounds.
Vid: The basic idea revolves around the player receiving quests from various sources ranging from galactic news and billboards to npc ships and random artefacts you’ll be able to find. Unlike the traditional way of getting quests by talking to characters and looking at job listings in “taverns” these will be more subtle and will attempt to mirror the world around you. We’re trying to design quests with the ‘therefore, but’ method which places you in an already started chain of events that may not end as you expect it to.
Brian: What kind of physics will the game support? Will it have Newtonian physics, for example, or be more of a turn and burn affair?
Vid: The physics engine we’re using (Bullet) supports Newtonian physics and controls all small object movement like ships, asteroids and floating modules. Those should be expected to perform realistically as one might expect. Flying ships in the combat mode is slightly different and bends physics to a degree in order to make it more fun (and easier to use). It’s always a fine line, treading between fun gameplay and realism. I try to stick to the latter as much as possible, even as far as implementing some parts of general relativity but eventually a lot of it is lost to make the game more accessible.
Brian: Besides quests and combat, what else can one do in the game? Trade, for example?
Philip: There is a big exploration piece to the game, where you can choose to warp through a wormhole into a whole different part of the galaxy, and just check out what’s there. There might be a space station with some rare modules for sale, an asteroid belt you can mine for some precious resources, or just check out one of the generated black holes, planets, nebulas, or if you’re lucky a combination of all of them! One of the cool things about space is just how many interesting things you can find out there. That’s one feeling we want players to experience when they’re warping around.
Brian: Tell us about the universes that will be generated please. Will there be both lawful and lawless areas, for example, or areas of interest like debris fields and the like?
Vid: Currently the generated star systems appear very homogeneous, with a mix of everything. I suppose you could classify space station space as a lawful areas since you’re safe there and everything is a lawless wild frontier. Asteroid fields are already a place of interest and we’ll be sure to include some debris fields in the future as well.
Brian: The UI that I can see looks fairly clean, could you tell us more about it, including ship design and management please?
Vid: The plan is to have a minimalistic and easy to use interfaces. The drag and drop building mechanics goes along with that and the GUI is designed to be minimalistic while providing the crucial information.
That said, we’re adding a chat app part soon which will be designed to cover all of the player’s comms with other ships and track your quests. The current design we’re going for is not unlike the mobile Facebook messenger with chat bubbles and each one will represent a quest, a comm line with a certain ship or both. This is another system that is still in the concept stage but we’re all excited by it ourselves.
Brian: Is the game planned to be single player only, or might multiplayer be added? I prefer single player my own self.
Vid: The game was always designed to be single player only, yet we’ve received a number of (expected) requests for local and online multiplayer. Right now we’re focused on bringing you the full singleplayer game first and later we’ll look more into local multiplayer. If that goes according to plan you can expect online multiplayer as well.
Yay singleplayer! Thanks to Vid and Phillip for taking the time to answer these, and don’t forget to head over to Kickstarter to back the game, and vote for ’em on Greenlight. Thanks for reading my friends!