Interviewee: Krzysztof Krawczyk, Co-founder of Rebelmind
Before we start can you please introduce yourself and what you do?
Krzysztof Krawczyk, I am responsible for "Space Hack" production.
Graphically Space Hack looks impressive, what’s powering it?
The graphics are indeed a strong point of our game. It is powered by the engine, which is entirely ours. We develop this engine with each consecutive project. At the very beginning it was created for the purposes of game called "Grom". With the passing of time it evolved to the form that is used in "Space Hack". Practically it doesn’t resemble what it was before.
We put a lot of effort to produce the editor used for game creation. It let us be more free while creating levels and gave us more time to prepare graphically complex objects.
Does the engine provide any special features; perhaps lighting effects, or some physics?
From the beginning our aim was to create such engine, which would successfully work on weaker computers. That is why our lead programmer works on the slowest machine in the office (Celeron 800 MHz + GeForce2 MX) – thanks to that we can be sure, that the game would work efficiently on such a set.
But don’t worry, our engine has everything a modern "battlefield" requires: detailed, realistic shadows thrown by characters, static and dynamic lighting, terrain generation, various atmospherical effects, multi-layered, animated textures, optimized collision detection and pathfinding, etc.
What is the story behind Space Hack, what will the player be doing in the game?
The game begins when huge Maximus-class cargo ship carrying penal biospheres gets sucked in by the Black Nebula. Enormous cosmic predator sucks in everything that crosses its way and keeps it in its guts. Inside, it turns out that people are not alone there. They get attacked by the aliens, who mercilessly exterminate them. The only rescue is to find the way to the "Mother" module, which is able to get through the Black Nebula’s gravitational shell and rescue this handful of people. The "Mother" module is Maximus’s command centre and the driver of the whole giant at the same time.
The hero is, like all, a prisoner. From these who survived, he is the only "machine" trained for "fight". He undertakes the difficult task of finding the entrance to the "Mother" module. The path leads through biospheres full of aliens. He has to hack his way through fifteen biospheres.
Developing the character and mortal combat are player’s main tasks.
When does this game take place? Does this time period add to the story?
We set the game’s action in the distant future, when the Earth suffers from monstrous overpopulation and severe dictatorship. Both these elements were the cause, why sending prisoners into space became the necessity. They were to start colonies on other planets. Everyone could become a prisoner. Even for the smallest offence you could end up in penal biosphere. Inhabitants of these closed worlds were left all alone, what caused many conflicts. The will to survive made them start domestic production of weapon. Some of them used it for protection and some for plunders. They only united, when they faced the terrible danger caused by aliens. However their strength soon proved to be insufficient.
There were two reasons why we set the action in the distant future. Firstly, because this topic isn’t used in RPG/action games and sci-fi worlds are equally reach and they offer their creators many possibilities. Secondly, we wanted to show helplessness of people, who on one hand are equipped with all modern technologies, but on the other they have to use their primitive strength and simple tools to survive.
Is the game open ended and does it offer a lot of freedom?
The hero must get through fifteen biospheres, in order to reach the goal. This is his path, which leaves a lot of freedom anyway. We have a dozen or so quests to perform, which we can complete whenever we want. We don’t have to do them in the given order. Player may move freely between all visited locations. It gives freedom and opportunity of choice. You may leave an especially dangerous enemy behind and go back to face him when you are stronger.
The net of long distance teleports enables us getting to any working teleport and thanks to that we can travel to and fro through biospheres.
The game has only one ending and it is... You will see for yourselves!
What special characteristics can the player add or change about his main character?
There are four features, which player can modify directly - strength, knowledge, dexterity, vitality. Having reached the appropriate level of experience, player gets some points, which he can divide between these features. Other statistics are developed automatically and they result directly from the development path chosen by the player.
In order to diversify the gameplay we introduced "biochips" - super technology that let us modify our character depending on our needs. We have a few kinds of them and additionally we have biochips of special purpose, which enable us to exchange values of particular features. With such device we are no longer limited to one development path. If we develop our character as a typical warrior, who likes direct fights, we can easily, with just one biochip, exchange the values and become e.g. master of archery. It gives us a chance to try most of weapons used in the game without the necessity to start the game from the very beginning and developing other feature of our hero.
What kind of races and such will the player get to choose from, anything that stands out from the norm?
Maximus-class spaceships transported only people, so we don’t have other races apart from the aliens, but they have different goals than ours.
We cannot choose the character. Space Hack is our hero and we can choose a proper development path for him. At the beginning of the game we receive from our companions one piece of each weapon. A bow, a sword and an energy gun. We can try them all and decide which one we want to train in. Hero may become super strong, ruthless warrior using swords, axes and clubs. If we want, we can make him clever and adroit archer using bows, slings and crossbows. Considering that knowledge is a key to the success, we can invest in this feature and make our hero the man, who knows all arcana of modern technology and at the same time get an incredible ability of using all kinds of energy weapon. Guns, machine-guns and flare pistols wouldn’t have any secrets from us.
What kind of scenarios will the player be put in? What kind of worlds and areas will the player be exploring?
The biospheres transported by Maximus are the closed worlds, in which people were to best adapt to the conditions pervading on the target planet. They are also the base for the colonists. It is here where they start their expansion in the new, strange world. Despite the regime on the Earth, the biosphere’s landscape was adapted in such a way that the side effects of long-lasting imprisonment were as little for their inhabitants as possible. It was done not to please the prisoners, but because of purely economical factors. Sane prisoner is more efficient, what may bring better results in the future. Water-supply systems were turned into streams and lakes. Trees and bushes were planted. And the hills contain the soil needed for the first cultivations on the new planets.
We can divide the biospheres into several cathegories: standard, desert, marshy, snowy and mechanical. The most of biospheres are standard. They give the best results in colonisation.
These closed worlds were also much changed by aliens, who are adapting the terrain to their needs. We will meet a lot of strange flora as well as the eggs and larvas of aliens.
The biospheres vary graphically, so the player wouldn’t complain about the monotony of the gameplay.
Will there be special weapons, armor, and other items since it is an RPG? If so, this leads me to my next question.
As I mentioned earlier, there will be the whole set of biochips, which strongly influence hero’s development. But I already described them. Apart from them, there will be a group of special purpose devices. During the game we will have access to the whole group of hi-tech items. These are small, portable devices, which enable us e.g. short distance teleportation. We can also create hero’s hologram, what will focus aliens’ attention on it. Hack may become invisible and he can also cure himself during the fight. They are incredibly useful and they will make the fight more colourful and enable us more strategic attitude to aliens’ elimination.
Will there be any multiplayer in this game? If so what kind? And how will the economy handle these special items?
In the current version, the game doesn’t have multiplayer mode. Our company’s plans anticipate creating a special addition, which would include this option and also especially created locations adapted to multiplayer as well as additional options. But you have to wait for that a little.
How is the AI in this game? Do they communicate? Do they work together as a team, perhaps ambush the player or do any other trickery to destroy him?
AI is a very complicated part of the game. There is a very thin line between such monsters’ behaviour, which make the game pleasant and the one that starts to complicate it. We generally assumed, that everything should be simplified, but it doesn’t mean that AI is poor. Monsters search for enemies on their own. When threatened, they call others and attack. Beasts that shoot, try to find the best position for shooting. Commanders often attack under strong escort of soldiers. We tried to choose AI parameters in such a way to prevent it from disturbing the player in a fascinating gameplay.
How long is the game going to be? Does this estimate include any side quests? If not how long would it take, approximately, with side quests?
The total time of the game with quests should be about 50 hours.
With a market so full of RPGs, what made you want to join the fray? And what makes your game stand out from the rest?
It’s a fact that the market is full of RPGs of any kind, but it didn’t scare us away. It isn’t the most important factor while deciding about production. The fact that we like RPG/action games was crucial. Creating something that we are not indifferent to gives much better results than working on a thing that would sell better, but none of us really likes it.
Space Hack has several trumps, which make it a promising game.
The scene of the action is the distant future, what gives a fresh breath of air in this genre. The games of this kind are the most often set in a fantasy world. It became a little tiring. There is a need of something that would brake this rule.
Very tasteful graphic that shows other, not yet depicted worlds.
Simple and not impeded gameplay which provides a good fun even for beginners and at the same time giving satisfaction to these more demanding.
50 hours of intense mortal combat.
Thank you for your time, what would you like to add before we finish?
Thank you for the conversation and I wish everybody many nice hours spent on cleaning the biospheres of Maximus XV off cosmic beasts.