Tired of buying games that don't satisfy your need for a brand new adventure? Thinking about going on a vacation to a city (or a planet) you've never been to before, but struggling to raise the needed funds? Well, look no further, future explorer! The ambitious teams of KnapNok Games and Nifflas' Games have developed the answer to all your problems! Introducing, Affordable Space Adventures! A thrilling puzzle solving adventure game where you, the dashing explorer, must embark on the adventure of a lifetime! Discover the secrets of an uncharted world named, Spectaculon! Many heart-stopping encounters await as you must utilize your Small Craft's dual-engine systems to avoid countless dangers, and discover secrets beyond your wildest imagination. Experience this and more, all from the comfort of your Wii U gaming system.
But wait! You say you’ve already discovered every secret hidden within this game? Good news for you, intrepid space explorer! After this summer, five new stages will be released for those who want a little more out of Affordable Space Adventures. Creative Director, Lau Korsgaard promises extreme challenges ahead for those brave enough to take on the challenge. Included in this new update are bug patches, and the promise of future downloadable content. What does this mean for you, the players? It means the world of Spectaculon and the shoddy business tactics of Uexplore will be expanding.
After surviving a couple tours on Affordable Space Adventures, I felt the need to reach out to the developers to ask some burning questions about this brilliantly designed game. I spoke with CEO Dajana Dimovska, Creative Director Lau Korsgaard and Game Director Nicklas Nygren. Don't worry, no spoilers for those who've yet to play the game.
What was the biggest inspiration for Affordable Space Adventures' look, and gameplay?
A: You could say that Affordable Space Adventures takes heavy inspiration from Steel Batallion, an Xbox game that came with a ridiculously complex customized controller. But since we are an indie studio, we simply do not have the capacity to produce our own controller and ship it around the world. That's where the Wii U Gamepad comes in: with its touch screen we were able to simulate our own customized controller and come up with a UI that would allow players to control all of the Small Craft's systems.
I'm curious to know who came up with the idea of having the game's narrative told as if it were an infomercial?
A: The entire infomercial concept came from the Game Director, Nicklas Nygren, sitting down with the Lead Artist Simon Nielsen, as they were working on a first teaser trailer of the game. They wanted to show off the Small Craft's capabilities and different systems, and the whole advertisement style felt like a fun way to tell what this was about.
Many developers these days steer clear from the Wii U's hardware in favor of the more powerful PS4 and Xbox One. What challenges did the development team face in developing ASA for the Wii U?
A: Well, if you consider AAA multiplatform games, of course developers are going to shy away from the Wii U. It happened with the original Wii already: a game would come out on Xbox 360 and PS3, and perhaps a different version or dumbed down port would show up on the Wii. The results were usually a much lower purchase rate on the Wii. But while the Wii U might not be the most technically advanced console on the market, there is quite a lot that can be done art-wise on it to make a game stand out. You just have to look at the sheer beauty of games like Mario Kart 8 or Yoshi's Woolly World.
Were there any segments of the game that didn't make it into the final version? If so, why?
A: Of course! There were several levels that never made it into the final game, either for a lack of overall polish or because we didn't want to overstay the game's welcome. Some of these levels also had different enemies. One of these was a cannon that shot smaller ball-like enemies at you. When these little enemies attached to you, they would increase your ship's mass, thus making it harder to fly around. To get them off you would have to tweak your ship's systems so they would not be able to detect you, and you could actually make them drop on places like elevators to force them to go down, thus solving puzzles. The problem is that this was a bit confusing for the players, especially since the small enemies had the same detection range of the cannon, but you couldn't scan them.
As we all know games aren't developed overnight. A lot of time and dedication is devoted into the creation of any game. My question to the devs: What part/aspect of ASA was your favorite to work on, and why?
A: Probably coming up with the different systems of the spaceship and figuring out how these could be used in the game for solving puzzles. Imagine the brainstorming sessions for that and you'll get an idea.
In a game that doesn't have direct dialogue coming from the controllable character, there are parts of the game that can be left to the player's interpretation. What challenges appeared in having players pick up on the urgency of escaping the alien space craft, and escaping the planet's harsh ecosystem at the end of the game?
A: We really wanted to leave a lot out for players to interpret on their own. After all, the game is more about your personal story as you make it through the planet rather than a plot. But the infomercial style videos and the search for a rescue pod worked very well to give the game some pacing. Testers were always looking forward to the next moment when the game would cut to another Uexplore promotional video and having fun with the Windows-95-like screen prompts of the distress signal posts.
I'm curious to know, were the loading screens pre-rendered images to show off the Wii U's hardware capabilities?
A: Actually the loading screens were carefully crafted by our talented 2D artist Jonas Haxø in Photoshop. The original idea for the manual pages came from the digital manual that is mandatory for all Wii U games. We wanted to do something original with it, making it look like it was a real manual for the spaceship, so we made a full, printed copy of this manual. It looked so cool that we felt like we needed to show this in more places. Thus the loading screens became the perfect choice for it.
Are there any plans for ASA to be released on any other platforms such as the PS4, Xbox One, or the PC/Mac?
A: That's very tricky, because Affordable Space Adventures was created with the Wii U in mind. Like, the whole concept for the game came from looking at the Wii U's first announcement. It would be very difficult and near impossible to provide the same experience in another platform. You will always be missing something hardware-wise, like the gyroscope or the touch-screen, and it would be a compromise to the overall quality of the game.
9) Few people realize what it means to be an 'independent game developer'. What's the biggest difference in developing an independent game through smaller publishers, versus developing a game such as ASA if you were under the direction of a larger game company?
A: Technically we are our own publisher for this game, so we didn't have to work with another publisher to get the game out there, other than collaborating with Nintendo to place the game on the eShop. But obviously if this game had been produced under a AAA studio then we would have had access to a bigger budget. This could have meant more levels perhaps or an overall layer of extra polish.
10) Finally, the question we all are thinking: Is there any chance there's going to be a sequel?
A: A sequel? It could be interesting. There's certainly a lot of stuff to tell about Uexplore and Spectaculon, as well as a lot of systems that could have been part of the ship's controls. So far we have nothing like that in our plans, but you never know...
Big thanks to the developers, Dajana Dimovska, Lau Korsgaard, and Nicklas Nygren, for taking the time to talk with us. Check back with Fanpup for more coverage of all things independent and geeky, and don't miss the wonderfully quirky game Affordable Space Adventures.