By Josh Speer / September 2nd, 2014
One of the many interviews I had at this year’s PAX Prime was with Arthur Danskin, developer of Reassembly. Slated for a Kickstarter campaign very soon, it is a unique space faring game where you can compose complex ships of virtually any permutation, and blast off into adventure. It features modular spaceship building, as well as a delightful emergent ecosystem. I played it a bit to get an idea of how it is, and though it’s very early on, it was already quite impressive. It still needs some polish, but I can see it shaping up into a great game. The following is a transcription of my interview with Arthur, with my questions in bold.
How do you feel your previous experience at Nvidia may have prepared you for Reassembly?
It helps with the technical aspect of the game. At Nvidia I worked at two different teams, hardware and architecture. Basically designing simulators that modeled hardware. And I worked on the DirectX driver. The DirectX driver is very much like a game. It has all the same technical issues, it has to run in real time. It has extremely high performance. So I totally understood how the video cards worked. And I totally understood all the technical aspects. How to write good C++ programs that ran really fast and all that stuff. It didn’t help very much with the game design aspect, though. But it’s been super fun to learn. My experience at Nvidia also really affected me aesthetically. We’re always running these graphics tests, and just draw some brightly colored triangles, or something like that. They’re not designed to be pretty. But I found that aesthetically beautiful.
What new features do you think the game might showcase when it launches on Kickstarter? Any plans to put it on consoles?
I’ll answer the feature question first. The main features that we’re going to be working on for the Kickstarter are mainly polish. There’s a huge amount of work that just goes into making a game, so that you can play it immediately, it’s easy to understand and completely bug free. We’re also looking at adding a asynchronous building feature. The idea is that, when you build spaceships in the game, those spaceships will be uploaded to a server. They’ll be downloaded into other peoples games. So you can fight against them. Kind of a community thing, but it’s also designed to keep the game creative. People put themselves into their designs, and I really want to value that. All this energy and creative input. I want to showcase it.
If Sony was willing to put Reassembly on consoles, I would totally support it. But it’s kind of a PC game. It approaches the PC audience. The mouse and keyboard are really the best interface for designing ships, I find.
So I read there were no plot concepts in the game yet. Any desire to?
I don’t think it’s gonna have a story. What I found is the players create their own stories. You can name your ship and give yourself a name, but what I really want to do is create this sandbox environment where people can really create their own stories. There’s a little narrative structure, like who are you and what are you doing, but beyond that I can only hope the community members create their own.
Will most of the game be scavenging and fighting off small drones? Or will you fight boss ships, for lack of a better word?
Oh yeah, there are definitely boss ships that you fight against. There are ships that are composed of like 5,000 blocks, and they have 20 or 30 giant battleship cannons and hundreds of missile launchers and spawn smaller ships. There are some seriously large battleships.
Will the game explore various solar systems? Will you travel world to world? Or is it planned to stay open, like it is?
I think it’s going to stay the same continuous open world. I think it adds a tangibility to the world.
This is probably a no, but is there going to be any ground based combat?
Well, there are buildings. Some of the asteroids have buildings attached to them. The player can’t currently build space buildings. It may be possible eventually. But I don’t think we’ll have cars or anything like that.
On Kickstarter, any ideas for initial stretch goals?
Some of the things we have set out are more music. I have a really talented musician Peter Brown, working on the game. He’s already composed about an hour and forty five minutes of music. It’s really good. So we want to make a little more music. I think that’s the first stretch goal. I think gamepad support is one of the stretch goals. That’s something that would be cool. Another thing is having (sic) block expansion packs, so I can add some new types of weapons. We currently have lasers and turret type weapons. There’s a big variety. But there are a few more things I wanted to add, like directional shields, different kinds of armor blocks. Maybe blocks that prismatically refract lasers.
How will players unlock upgrade options for their ship? How large can they make their ships?
Pretty large. I think there’s a cap of about 2,000 or 1,000 blocks. Something like that. The way the upgrade system works is you fly right into the world ecosystem and there are two resources. The R and the C. R represents matter of the world. And they come ultimately from plants. Plants kind of bloom and release these seeds. Some of the seeds will land on asteroids. These become your ship parts. The idea is like machine life, some kind of meta technology. I’m definitely looking at a lot of biological things for inspiration. C works kind of like credits. You get it when you help your faction. You collect R when you destroy enemy ships, and you can bring it to ally stations. Any kind of mothership that has a factory attached. They will take your resources and use them to build more ships. You can also collect credits by spawning stations and deploying them. So you take those two resources and you unlock blocks.
That’s all I had for questions, unless there’s anything else you want to add?
Nothing springs to mind (laughs).
Okay, thanks for your time!
Feel free to check out the Kickstarter now that it has launched!
Arthur DanskinKickstarterLinuxMacPAX Prime 2014Reassembly