Chris Wightman is a designer at Tethys Interactive Studio and has years of experience with all aspects of game design. The studio is working on a smooth voxel sandbox fantasy RPG game named Astral Terra and looking to fund it through Kickstarter. The project already has a very good description, but I was curious about few more things.
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Astral Terra game is innovative with its unique engine which makes game’s world fully editable. Chris answered my question about the engine and few more about a game itself.
RX6: Can you introduce yourself and tell us what is Astral Terra?
Hi all! My name is Chris Wightman with Tethys Interactive. I am the creative and project lead for our upcoming title Astral Terra. Astral Terra is a Procedurally Generated and Fully Editable Sandbox Fantasy RPG that will release initially on PC, Mac, and Linux.
RX6: Which games inspired you to develop a sandbox fantasy RPG game?
Quite a few games we love from past and present have inspired our game such as: The Baulders Gate series, Champions of Norath, The Elder Scrolls series, Minecraft, Terraria and others. Besides games, another inspiration has been fantasy books. I have been an avid fantasy reader as well as a pen and paper D&D player and DM since my early years.
RX6: Lots of players seem to not understand difference between a sandbox and an open-world game. Why did you go for a sandbox game?
We wanted to go with a sandbox game because of the options it gives the players. As gamers ourselves, we have grown tired of playing games "on rails" where the story is already written for you. We wanted to create a world where the player can decide how they want to play the game and create their own story.
RX6: Can you tell us something about voxel world concept?
Many players are familiar with blocky voxels in games such as Minecraft, Terraria and Cube World, but there are also smooth voxels which have a completely different look. We use some of the same technology as Minecraft. Using a MarchingCubes algorithm, we just interpret the code differently so that instead of getting a blocky terrain, you get a smooth looking terrain generated.
RX6: I understand you have a unique game engine for Astral Terra, how does it differ from other engines?
Astral Terra is being developed using the Unity Pro Game Engine. Unity Pro is cross platform so we can develop once, deploy as many times as we have platforms for. Currently we are set to release on PC, Mac and Linux. However, we are also trying to get approved through the Xbox One Indie program and have just started the Sony signup process for PS4 as well. Unity Engine has all the modern and next gen amenities that other modern game engines(Unreal 4 and Frostbite 2) have but has a very low barrier to entry due to a free version and a low cost pro version. Combine that with the Asset store and the awesome huge Unity community and you have a recipe for creativity.
RX6: Why Kickstarter? What made you choose to open a project on Kickstarter?
After months of research, we decided on kickstarter mostly for the exposure and the success rate for games in general. We have already learned so much as well as met a lot of other great kickstarter game teams willing to cross promote with us. These relationships will carryon to later crowdfunding efforts and other ways to help each other out down the road. Indie game devs need to stick together as we all face similar challenges.
RX6: When you say that Astral Terra is fully editable, what does it means exactly?
Fully editable means you can edit the terrain around you at will. This includes removing and adding ground as well as many other options like using different textures(stone, wood, gold, etc)prefabricated buildings, adding plants, water and more!
RX6: what is the biggest challenge when you create a game as complex as Astral Terra?
Our biggest challenge lies with being a very small indie studio that to date funds our own projects. Resources have to be carefully managed and because of that development goes much slower than we would like. With funding, we would be able to secure a full time programmer as well as other needed positions like marketing. Right now, our small team wears many hats.
RX6: Terraforming - will all environments be editable? Do we first create an environment then terraform it, or do we get a pre-designed one?
Each time a player starts a new game, they are given the chance to enter a seed or to just play without a seed. The environment is dynamically generated each new game. All environments are editable and can be modified with a variety of options. We have new building tools in development that we mentioned in our last Kickstarter update. Our quick terraforming tool is great for on the fly terrain editing, and our build mode works well for environment sculpting but still needed a more refined tools for voxel building. The new tool set in development will allow players to use a multitude of voxel shapes, allow for saving of structures, scaling, auto leveling of the ground as well as many other tools that will make the voxel construction mode much more intuitive and fun for players.
RX6: there are three races in a game, will each race have their own story and how will the story merge with those of other players who choose different race?
Each race has a different home world due to the sundering - which both separate and connects all races as they have all been displaced in some sort. However, each race is connected through the overall game story arc. The characters stories are connected because they all have the same story - find the artifacts spread throughout the planes to bring the world back together and make the world whole.
RX6: What will happen if the project doesn't reach the goal on kickstarter? Do you have a backup plan?
Looking at the project now with less than 2 weeks to go, it doesn't look like we will meet our goal. However, that could change with more exposure in the right places (something we have struggled with to this point).
We definitely have multiple back up plans in place and will keep all Kickstarter backers and other followers up to date on our latest efforts. One plan we have is to make a few changes to our campaign and relaunch on Indiegogo in the new year. Time will tell.
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