Starlight Inception Interview

Escape Hatch Entertainment introduces Starlight Inception as a first and third person tactical space combat game that offers you the opportunity to assume the role of a young space fighter pilot during World War IV. Starlight Inception is slated to be available for digital distribution on PC and PS Vita in August 2013. Following their successful Kickstarter, we sat down with the developers to talk about expectations and their fresh approach to the genre.

I saw your description of Starlight Inception as the “rebellious stepchild” of other popular space combat games. How rebellious are we in for?

We want to do a game that is relevant to a modern gamer - those games that share the genre with Starlight Inception were great, but our intention is to take the experience to a new and different level of immersion and experience, while updating some of the tactics and mechanics of the genre.

How close is it to other space combat games out there? And how does it differ?

You'll recognize some of the same fun you had with XvT, Wing Commander or Freespace2, but Starlight Inception will feel like something fresh, new and real, with modern characters, storylines and situations.

We want to both make a simpler, more accessible gameplay mode than those classics, but also a deeper, more hardcore gameplay mode, packaged together under one game.  We plan to appeal to the casual player with a game that has few configuration choices, very little micro-management in missions, and lots of space fighting and tactics.  For the hardcore player, we plan on giving really deep configuration and power management options on the line of something like Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo, where the spacefighters become analogous to the cars that fill your garage in those games.  You can swap out parts, test the ships in simulators, grow attached to different fighters, bombers, etc. In addition, you fight in our star system, a hundred years from tomorrow, over real planets, moons and asteroids.  You are embroiled in a political situation and campaign that has humans fighting humans from Earth - it's a World War, but set both on Earth and its many colonies thoughout the Solar System.  We plan on having military liaisons advising us on this game from both the Navy and the Air Force.  We think that this and other concepts we are planning will keep this game feeling new, while still existing in the same genre.

What major element of this game have you enjoyed making thus far?

We're still pretty early, but for me, the gestalt is the most enjoyable - seeing the different components and elements of the game come together.  But at its heart, Starlight Inception is about flying spacefighters, and so that's the first thing that we are working on - it's already fun to fly an interceptor around your mothership, fly in all three dimensions in space, controlling your speed and attitude and squeezing off shots from the plasma cannon.

With the storyline mode, it sounds like a variant of tower defense games but with a first person view. What influenced you to go with the first person view overall?

Actually, that isn't completely true - the default view in the game is 3rd person, tethered behind the spaceship you're flying.  However, we also have the ability to switch perspective to first person / cockpit and first person / no cockpit view as well.  Our philosophy on this is that different players have different play styles and preferences for views and we don't want to get in the way of their experience - we want to support our players' choices every way we can.

What kind of ship customizations can we expect to see and will upgrades be available throughout each of the modes?

The hangar deck is a sort of garage, ala Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport.  You will have the ability to collect space fighters, bombers transports, cargo ships throughout the game and to access them to take on missions. The ships in the hangar will be very customizable.  You can swap our powerplants, weapons, equipment (think shield generators and stealth cloak generators, etc.), but also tune acceleration, handling, and other "under the hood" values.

With the multiplayer, could we take our customized ships into battle with us?

That is the plan, but we are still very early in development.  More on that as it develops...

I saw on kickstarter that the multiplayer was a bit arcade like in earlier versions, is it still more arcade like or has it slightly been changed? Any simulator elements?

The multiplayer mode will include team based or coop play, as well as deathmatch, capture the flag, protect the capital ship modes, but the ability to tweak your ship's power systems and internal functions will remain on the multiplayer side.

Since it’s going to be available on the PS Vita as well, will we see a major difference between that and the full PC version?

Both versions will be developed jointly and share the same codebase.  The major differences will be in exploiting platform-specific hardware and control schemes.  There also might be an optimization of 3d models as we move forward to accommodate higher frame rates.

We'll exploit everything the hardware has to offer on the Playstation Vita - the twin analog joysticks will control ship heading, pitch and roll, twin touchscreens will allow control of wingman (swipes on the rear touchpad) and dynamic selection of missiles and other equipment through an adaptive UI.  We'll also support the gyroscope, the mic, and the front facing camera.  We might even support the rear facing camera for a fun sort of AR combat experience.

The PC is incredible for glorious big graphics and lots of control options, and a real joystick. We don't intend to minimize the importance of either platform - both have their strengths.

Will there be some collaboration with the PSN network and Steam as they have done in the past with other games like Portal 2? Would you like to see that available for this game?

I would love to see that available for this game.  Because Steam doesn't typically get involved with a game until it is near completion, we are hopeful that there will be collaboration, but not counting on it.  We are much more comfortable with the Sony side - we've been in active talks with them, and they are very supportive of this game.

I also saw you did an AMA on Reddit. Would you consider doing that with your future games?

I loved doing the AMA.  The Reddit community was very kind, and we got some awesome questions.  I would definitely do again in the future.