Starship Battles Interview With Empty Flask's Pierre Roux
At the end of last month we reviewed Starship Battles, a game where players take command of a powerful spacecraft, and fight to the death against an endless waves of enemies. We gave the game a score of 4 out of 5 in our review, and have since sat down with Empty Flask Games' Pierre Roux to talk about the inspiration for the game, and what we can expect from future updates.
Can you tell us a little bit about your development background, and how you can to work on Starship Battles?
I've been playing games since I was 5 years old kid (which was about 35 years ago...) and I always had a passion for writing games story and making art. So, when I had the opportunity to start my career as an artist 18 years ago, I jumped on it.
I started as a 3D/2D artist, then moved to other disciplines - design, production - as I worked with many developers and publishers. In December 2011, I finally decided to open my own development studio, Empty Flask Games.
Starship Battles in my second game within Empty Flask and the idea was to create a casual game - on that's pick up and play, and taps into well known game principles - while offering sharp and beautiful visuals for the target devices.
What games influenced the design of Starship Battles?
Starship Battles was heavily influenced by the old Missile Command, and also by StickWars and Tesla Wars - for their very quick tap and play mechanic - with endless increasing difficulty. Graphically, Starship Battles draws its inspiration from the latest Star Trek movies.
Were there any mechanics for the game that you experimented with, but didn't make it into the final game? How did you go about iterating on the core design?
Yes, unfortunately, there were some mechanics that I had to remove from the final game. Originally, I wanted to have the other Capital Ships fire large guns at your ship. The player was supposed to focus all of their firepower on the capital ship before it could fire, as these shots would be quite devastating. With the endless waves of smaller ships though, it was making the game a bit too difficult for the target audience.
There was also the idea to have a harvesting drone that would fly from your ship to collect the minerals. The player was supposed to protect it from other ships and enemies drones, but this required many secondary elements to add that I unfortunately could not get into. Now that the game is released, I am considering spending some time on this, and pushing it possibly in a future update.
Finally, the enemy Capital Ships also had shields before, but they became redundant and taxing on performance, so I removed them.
Development for Starship Battles was however very fluid. It was very easy to play and test while working on the game, so tweaking the mechanics was done quite quickly. Tweaking the weapons was actually the most time-consuming part. Missiles went from being very slow, to very fast, to what they are now. They also went through many, many visual iterations to ensure an appealing look.
Have game sales met your expectations since launch? What are the biggest challenges developers face in standing out on the App Store?
While the game has received fair coverage and decent ratings, sales are unfortunately not so good. The App Store is all about exposure, and as soon as an app drops from the front pages, sales drastically drop as well.
Will the title be updated? If so, can you share any details about what's in the works with Modojo readers?
An update has already been pushed and should be released imminently. This update fixes a few small issues (text cut off in the tutorial, Facebook/Twitter integration), but also brings a new Alien spaceship, featuring yet another original design, which fires a Proton Torpedo instead of launching fighters.
The update also rewards gamers playing at Commander (Hard) difficulty with better mineral amounts, when compared to the Ensign (Easy) difficulty.
There will be more updates - new ships/skins for the player, new enemies, and possibly the harvesting drone mentioned above.
Do you have any tips you can share with our readers for beating the game?
Fire your Torpedo when you know you will get a kill. As the torpedoes use a lot of energy on the early ship, firing one when a Capital ship is ready to warp out might become devastating for your shield.
During the early waves, destroying Capital Ships with missiles will help conserve energy, but remember that bigger ships will take more missiles. Trying to kill a Destroyer with missiles is going to take a while, and in the meantime, use your Nuke Blast to blow up incoming small fighters. Play with your headset and listen carefully for the danger hint.
Remember that your nuke also has a slight damage-over-time effect - this is helpful if you want to stop some fast incoming fighters.
Save your minerals, and purchase tougher ships as soon as you can. The battleship is incredibly powerful, and is the key to a high score.