- 2 Interview The Ship with Chris Peck
- Vossey.com : Could you explain why players who play CS or DoD will enjoy your game ?
Chris Peck - Outerlight : Well, I can’t guarantee they will like The Ship, but as I was a big fan of CS in particular, I hope they will like The Ship too. For me the attraction of games like CS is that they move away from simple deathmatching, and offer more rewards for tactics or thoughtful play, or in other words, the gameplay is deeper than deathmatch. The Ship similarly offers something different, where like CS, the onus is not on shooting anything that moves, and indeed a lot of kills on board The Ship are made by melee weapons rather than projectile weapons. The Ship is more stealthy and more paranoia inducing than any of the other FPS’s, and it’s also got a strong comedy element, and I hope that both are refreshing for people looking for something a little different. The needs system, the ships security, and the money for kills table also all add extra layers to the game.
- Vossey.com : The Ship is a standalone that anybody can buy via Steam. The retail game will be available in few weeks. What is your point of view about Steam (platform of distribution) for developers?
Chris Peck - Outerlight : Actually, the retail is available now in the UK and France :). I think the Steam platform has a lot of potential. I think the best part is the percentage developers get back from the sales of their game. Probably the worst part is the fact that people need steam, which puts an extra interface in front of your game, and only a small proportion of gamers either have or are willing to use steam. That said, these are mostly the type of gamers we would appeal to, and I expect the user base on steam to keep growing (as there are more and more titles appearing on steam, and its early wrinkles were ironed out long ago). I certainly can’t thank Valve enough for giving us the opportunity to distribute on steam, it allowed us to forget the publisher run around, and focus on delivering the game we wanted to deliver.
- Vossey.com : Do you have some figures about the game ?
Chris Peck - Outerlight : If you mean sales figures, then no, I’m afraid they are confidential! I can say initial steam sales were good, and we are waiting for the first feedback from the retail release.
- Vossey.com : Like Counter-strike or Dod, do you think that the community will have a free week end to try the game ?
Chris Peck - Outerlight : Very much so. It’s something we haven’t had time to arrange yet, but it strikes me as a great way for people to take a look at a game they are interested in buying. I think we should have had a demo for people to play prior to our release; it’s something I will aim to do differently next time round! I hope we will have a free weekend sometime during October.
- Vossey.com : An important update has been released : maps were added, a lot of bugs fixed (http://forum.theshiponline.com/showthread.php?t=2493) but now, what is the next of The Ship ? Are you planning to add new features, add-ons or episodes for The Ship ?
Chris Peck - Outerlight : Yep, we were pleased with that update, as we had always planned to support the game post release, but our contractual obligations with our publisher meant we had to put most of the team onto the Single Player Story Mode post the online release, so the patches weren’t as fast and furious as we would have liked. Internally we work quickly with iterative cycles, and it would be nice for our fans to benefit from that. However, being online means any bugs can be very damaging to our reputation and community, so we are taking more time testing before we release patches than we used to! We intend to add visual effects for the weapons (these have been done & are looking great!), more maps, more costumes, more weapons, and some more gameplay features. The Ship as you see it now is perhaps 30-50% of the original design we had in mind, but budgets and manpower forced us to make cuts. We’d like to take The Ship to being closer to how we imagined it.
- Vossey.com : The Ship 2 will be the future for Outerlight. Could you give us some details about the new game ?
Chris Peck - Outerlight : Well, as I said, we are continuing to support the Ship 1 to get it more like we wanted it. However, I think some aspects of the game will need a revisit from the ground up. The Ship 2 will offer us the opportunity to improve on some core aspects of the game, again, to take it closer to how I imagined it. One example would be how you interact with other passengers and players, we’d like to make the hunt for your quarry more investigative. Another example is the role of guards. We’d like to add the role for playing as guards, preventing crimes rather than causing them. We had a lot of ideas along these lines, from straight up guards, to the head of police (prioritising cases to be solved, and assigning them to guards) and undercover guards (plain clothes cops). Depending how much makes it into The Ship 1 will probably determine the path of The Ship 2. Then there are some other funky ideas, like making the sequel set on an Island, perhaps using ships to travel between the islands. We’re certainly not short of ideas!
- Vossey.com : Do you want to say a word/some advices for all modders ?
Chris Peck - Outerlight : Ah, someone smart in my team pointed out you may mean modders for The Ship, whereas I assumed you meant modders in general. I’m not sure which you mean, so here’s one asnwer for each?!
In general, I think that modding is potentially a good way to break into the industry. When we interview applicants, espescially coders, we want them to have been through the production cycle, as this kind of hands on experience is vital, turning theoretical knowledge into practical solutions. Anyone with games experience will always be viewed more favourably than someone with none, and modding shows a passion and enthusiasm for games which is vital if you want to work in the industry. I also think that modding may be a good source of future game ideas, as the professional industry becomes more and more big budget, and the freedom for experimentation in full budget releases diminishes.
In terms of The Ship, we’re looking into producing some kind of SDK to allow more people to mod the game, and we’re creating some mapping tutorials, as Ship levels are pretty damn complex! I would like to add that the Funky French Mod which runs their own mod of the Ship is really cool, as they have modded the costumes (afro’s & colourful suits), the music (well...it’s french & it’s funky!), as well as some of the hud elements. I think it looks really good!