Starlight Inception: The First Interview

April 5, 2012Written by Nick Michetti

Why choose PlayStation Vita as a console platform, with its relatively small install base? Wouldn’t PS3 & Vita download or PSN for PS3 and Xbox Live for Xbox 360 be easier choices? Does Vita allow for more flexibility in terms of publishing?

We think that the opportunity that the Vita provides us (new handheld, limited releases, great technical specifications, contained experience) is unique and special. And I think that the device is spectacular –- the amount of polygons we can push as well as the graphics capabilities are astounding, in addition to twin joysticks.

What advantages does Vita provide as a platform for your game? Will there be touch controls, traditional dual analog controls or both?

Absolutely, we will take advantage of the Vita platform for our game. Touch menu interface, rear touch control of drones and wingmen, twin analog joystick control of your fighter and the attached camera. And some sort of AR integration — we have lots of ideas about how to make use of this.

Garry’s passion for space combat is well communicated in the Kickstarter video. Why choose a project of this kind, though? Wouldn’t it be easier to choose a more mass market-friendly genre and come back to something like Starlight Inception?

I used to play the crap out of Wing Commander and X-Wing vs. Tie when I was younger, as well as watching any science fiction film with a spaceship in it. It may have been easier to do something else but it wouldn’t have been my passion. I’ve been dreaming of doing a game like Starlight Inception for years, mostly because I really want to play it.

Publishers in the industry have become risk averse due to rising budgets, but Starlight Inception seems like a game that might be able to find a home as a digital-only release. Why were publishers not willing to release a game like this that seems to be able to exist on such a small budget? Is the difficulty in finding a publisher specifically related to the genre?

The publishers we’ve discussed this game with have been unwilling to fund the title because they feel that it is a dead genre of games. However, Sony has been very helpful in setting us up as a Sony developer. And we disagree about the dead genre thing, of course…

What happens to Escape Hatch Entertainment and/or the project if Starlight Inception isn’t funded or generates less money than expected? Is it vital for the studio that the game be funded? Conversely, what happens if more than the expected money is generated — does the game grow in scale, features, etc.?

If we generate less money than expected, there are several ways to interpret the result –- is this truly a game that people don’t want or did we not do a good enough job getting the word out, or other reasons we may not even be aware of right now. Since it may be hard to know, we would need to figure out the reasons to determine how we move forward. It is not vital to our studio’s survival that the game be made, but it would be a huge disappointment if it didn’t happen.

If we generate more money than we asked for, it would go directly to making a better game. It would allow us to ramp up and improve every facet of the final production (i.e. voice work, music, amount of cinematics, amount of art assets, etc.)

After the incredible success of Double Fine on Kickstarter, there’s been a huge surge of gaming projects on the crowd-funding site. Do you see this as the future, or a bubble?

I hope it’s the future, because it’s a great way to judge the merits of your project and provides the opportunity to fund a project that publishers won’t fund. I know that I’ve backed several projects on Kickstarter and will continue to do so.

To fans of the genre who may have an interest in the game: What’s your message to them? Why should they reach out and fund this game? What kind of experience will they receive from Starlight Inception that they haven’t had in previous games in the genre?

We’re sincere and passionate about this genre and are working toward creating a great experience. We have a design that I believe is solid and are doing some things that will (hopefully) make old school fans happy as well as gamers who’ve never seen this kind of game before. We are also doing things that will push the genre forward, like the non-linear modes and Vita features. We have a lot of cred in building games, having done it for the better part of twenty years, and we’re excited to prove the Kickstarter model works. But we need their help. We can’t do it without them.

If you like the sound of the game, be sure to help make it a reality by contributing to the title’s Kickstarter campaign.

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