The combat system in Starfarer hearkens back to classics like... well, really, there's a long chain of top-down-space-combat games, from Spacewar! on, to hearken back to. (For me personally, Star Control I and II are a major inspiration. Too bad they never made a third one.)
So, you use WASD to pilot the ship, and the mouse to pan around and fire/use shields. The core concept is "flux" - weapons fire and shields generate it, and your ship has a maximum capacity, beyond which it will overload and become defenseless. ...
THE MAKING OF FROZEN SYNAPSE: Red
As old-school PC gamers, we used to love the box-product mentality of the "expansion pack" - a big load of diverse (sometimes fairly wacky) content which transformed the base game. The modern DLC drip-feed approach can work really well in certain games, and there's obviously nothing wrong with it fundamentally, but FS was always about delivering a huge payload of stuff in one go ...
THE MAKING OF FROZEN SYNAPSE
We started out making Frozen Synapse because Ian Hardingham, our lead designer and coder, had got really into Laser Squad Nemesis at one point and wanted to try something in that style. Strategy seemed to have ossified into very dry hardcore turn-based games, or super-fast overly-complex RTS's; there didn't seem to be any middle ground. By creating a simultaneous turn-based game, we thought we'd get the best of both worlds: a direct interaction with your opponent, but all the freedom of thought and planning that an unimpeded turn allows. ...
SMTG: First of all, tell me about Magi, where did you get the idea for the game and how would you describe it?
TG: A kid at school told me about a new game people play in Japan, in which you train monsters and battle other people. I loved the idea, so I came back home and starter making something like that using the good ol' Klik & Play. I soon learned that I can't draw monsters for shit, so I switched to wizards. The game was horrible, of course, but the idea somehow stuck. Several years later, when I had way too much time during my university studies, I finally made it into a proper game. And what's it about? Well, it's basically a dueling mage simulator. You create a character, build your stats and battle against others, using various spells and strategies....
SMTG: Given the style of game you make, and the topic, do you run into problems with people outside of gaming not taking what you do seriously?
CR: Early on we ran into some of this. You have to remember back in 2002-2003, most people had never heard of serious games, and the idea that games could be used to teach was pretty radical. It's much more widely accepted now. We currently have projects underway with partners such as McGraw-Hill, Middlebury Interactive Languages, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and others who have come to us precisely because they ARE outside the gaming industry and are interested in making games using our technology. ...
SMTG: So is this similar to the 'choose your own adventure books" from the 1980s?
CR: Some of my games are indeed very similar to those books, others also mix other gameplay genres. In Flower Shop I have mixed a farming simulation, in Bionic Heart there are some interactive scenes where you have to pick the right actions like in the old Legend Entertainment Games, in Vera Blanc I have some minigames like the mind reading one. In each game I try to add to the main story-based gameplay other kind of gameplay to add variety and hopefully make the games more fun to play. ...
Hegemony RTS games
SMTG: So Hegemony Gold isn't an expansion pack? this is an expanded and upgraded version of the original Hegemony game right?
RY: Yep. We originally planned for it to be a straight-forward expansion, with just a couple new campaigns, but we tend to be really bad at limiting our ambitions. After a while we added diplomacy, a sandbox mode, new tactical buffs, and rewrote the population system, in addition to improving some of the more overlooked aspects, like AI and ship combat. After a while it became clear that this was more than just an expansion, and that it was actually...
The man behind Evochron: Mercenary
SMTG: Lets say I'm new to your games, I've played some Homeworld, some Freespace at some point. Which Evochron game should I start with?
S: Evochron Mercenary is probably the best choice. With this latest game, I've spent a lot more time working on guiding new players, many of whom are more familiar with following a required chain of events in a story. Although still very much a freeform game, Mercenary does offer some predefined objectives in the form of a quest to help introduce players to the concepts and options of gameplay. And in addition to expanded instructions and in-game training, the game's site also provides several training videos that go into much more detail.
An interview with Mousechief Games
Dangerous High School
SMTG: Pretend I haven't heard of 'Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble' and assume it's maybe a dodgy teen movie. What kind of a game is it?
KN: DHSGiT is a lite RPG. You recruit a gang of girls, explore, encounter enemies, combat them, gain experience points, level up... Your gang of girls are all strong-willed, clever, and resourceful. They're out to save their home town, by turning it upside down. Their enemies are conservative townsfolk who make Sarah Palin look like Phil Donahue. Their allies are stout-hearted boyfriends willing to take a fall for them. Combat presents various gameplay. In every conflict the player chooses a mini-game: Taunt, Flirt, Fib, against their opponent. The larger game is the RPG narrative. It's long, about 15-20 hours. The humor is light and quick, until the end sequence. Your girls are hunting after something bad in town, something that should scare women worse than dragons. It's utterly despicable.
TALKING WITH PUPPIES
Revenge Of The Titans
SMTG: How would you describe revenge of the titans, to someone who has never even seen a screenshot before?
CP:It's a mash-up between a real-time strategy game, a tower defense, game and a time management game. That is, it is none of those things, but has elements from each. So we've got these giant monsters trundling towards a base in the middle of the screen, and in the meantime you're trying to harvest crystals to make money, place turrets approximately along their expected path to defend the base and other buildings they might walk into, and all the while you're being distracted by having to reload turrets that have run out of ammo, or empty refineries that are full of crystal, or collect powerups that appear here and there.