Miner Wars 2081 Developer Interview

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Armed with a few short questions from the community, I approuched the developers of the upcoming Miner Wars 2081 games -- yes there are various versions in the works! After seeing how close they've worked with their community to create some of the content available in the game, we figured it'd be a great idea to contact them and ask some questions about how they go about creating a game like this.

Do you currently have or plan to have any sort of modding capabilities to allow your community to change how the game looks, behaves, or sounds after the game is released?

We plan to concentrate more on the modding support after the initial release of Miner Wars 2081. Currently, our community has the possibility to submit graphic assets, music, texts and levels, which (after consideration) can be put into the main game itself. We call this possibility Miner Wars Frontline Developer program. And – of course – there is the in-game editor, which is available to all customers who bought the game and enables players to create custom maps (space sectors inhabited with stations, asteroids, ships etc.).

-- Frontline Ranks --

What are your thoughts on steams workshop arrangement? Would/are you considering something similar where community feedback results in new additions to the game?

We are trying to be open to the community feedback as much as we can. Recently, we made a survey about what our first DLC package should be (to be developed after the game is released). We offered three choices to the community: Rise of the Reich (a storyline campaign focusing on Fourth Reich, with special missions, ships and equipment specific for the faction), Order of New Sunrise (storyline campaign focusing on fanatical religious order) and Factions & Freelancers (sandbox DLC with more open world options, mining, constructing, trade etc.).

What sort of tools, plugins and other misc software did you use to create Miner Wars? Were there any other alternative tools that you tested and decided not to use?

The game is made primarily with C# and XNA 4.0 with SlimDX for some additional features. The sound is created with Steinberg Cubase and implemented (packed, organized and adjusted) with Xact. Graphics is done in 3DS Max and Photoshop. Programming is done in Microsoft Visual Studio. For levels we use our own in-game editor and the same applies for particle effects (stand-alone in-house particle editor).

For co-op play, would gamers be able to create ‘server-plugins’ to change up the game mechanics/rules for custom gametypes? A play on the ‘zombie’ theme seems to find it’s way into everything somehow.

Not in the close future, however, if there are community voices asking for the modding support of multiplayer gameplay, we are open to the possibility.

Are you creating the game with PC gamers in mind first and then re-working content later for an Xbox release or vice versa?

We target the game for the PC, however, we simultaneously check the controls for Xbox, so the game should be well playable on both the platforms.

Will your engine be available after the game release as a platform for others to create more 6DoF games outside of the Miner Wars universe?

We intent to, however, it is more a matter of months or years, not weeks from the initial release.

One of our members is also curious if you drew some inspiration from the old Aquanox games in creating Miner Wars?

We have taken inspiration from many games alike – whether it is underwater game like Aquanox or the older Archimedean Dynasty (great game, btw!) – or of course the classical space or interior shooters / simulations such as Freelancer. The main inspiration was definitely Descent, then Forsaken, Terminal Velocity and Tunneler.

Will more advanced/detailed editing options become available within the level editor to create more custom/detailed objects outside the prefab library? Importing 3DSMax geometry for example?

It is already possible to import models from 3DSMax via a special convertor program. You can check our 3D Art Contribution page (http://www.minerwars.com/Models3D.aspx) for more detailed description. In future, we definitely plan to widen the capabilities of the editor and give more power to the community as to level creation and modding.

Can gamers create their own storylines/campaigns for the 2081 version of Miner Wars? Or will it be stock missions from your studio only?

At the current moment, players can create space sectors, but it is not possible to connect them into a whole storyline campaign. We will focus on this feature (together with more community/modding support) once the MW 2081 is released.

Designing levels around 6DoF gameplay sounds like it would be complicated, do you start out with a plan ahead of time or create something spur-of-the-moment?

Our levels are based on the storyline. And again storyline was created with level design and engine possibilities in mind. We always conceive levels with the story and artistic idea in mind and elaborate on it (concept art, drafts, brainstorming) to figure out what would be the best way to put the idea (= some specific space sector, homebase of some important faction etc.) to get that sector playable and make an interesting level in it. Once the level is crafted in our in-game editor, we iterate it several times, adjusting it from the gameplay point of view (distances, enemies, difficulty, objectives etc.).

Do you take a different approach in designing levels for the different versions of Miner Wars (MMO vs Singleplayer)?

At the moment, we design levels for storyline campaign and for multiplayer death-matches. The approach is different: while storyline levels need to take much more care as to the immersion into the universe of the game (factions, history, important places, peculiarities of some locations, personalities and factions) and from this start point we move onto the gameplay and level design itself… the multiplayer maps are created simply to give as much challenge, fun and tactical opportunities to player.

In other words, storyline maps need to be logical and create a living universe (each station has to have electricity sources, habitats, docks, engineering level, communication arrays etc.), while with multiplayer maps we start with simple corridors and rooms, playtest them and iterate them to create the best possible experience for fast multiplayer deathmatch. MMO will be a combination of both approaches and will be developed after 2081 is released.

What's your typical workflow from concept to finished game asset (such as the ship models)?

We take the concept or some sources of inspiration (such as 3D art galleries or sci-fi art galleries), then we do some basic sketch (basic 3D model), then we consult it with our Creative Director, whether it is according to the original idea and specifications. And lastly, we finalize it – all the details, vents, wires, lights etc.

With so many normal map generators out there (nDo2, crazybump, nvidia's etc), do you prefer any particular program or paint them by hand?

We use Crazybump .

Do you find a lot of modelling is done in SubD and then baked down for performance? Or is much of your work still traditional modelling?

Most of the models are done in the traditional way, just some of them (part of the spaceships) are done in SubD.

Are there many different shaders/textures being used on Miner Wars assets? or just the standard industry set of specular, normal etc

We mostly use the industry standard, that is specular and normal shaders for assets. However, we have tons of shaders for the rendering in general, but that is a question related more to programming and rendering than 3D Art.

Have more questions for the developers? Ask below and we'll see about getting them answered!



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