Hey everyone! Terminally Nerdy here with another Indie Dev interview, this time for an upcoming First Person Sci Fi RPG called “Within the Cosmos” which will be releasing on Steam on the 1st of August! I hope you enjoy this look at the person behind the game!
So first I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with me. I wanted to start things off by asking you to introduce yourself to my readers! Tell everyone a bit about yourself.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me as well, I’m excited to do this!
Hey everyone! debdev here, developer of Within the Cosmos. I don’t know what to say about myself other than I love making and playing games! Haha, I hope you enjoy this interview!
Alright so let’s start with some background stuff. How long have you been in the GameDev world? How did you start?
So, I’ve been developing games in one way or another for about 10 years or so now… Wow, saying that makes me feel really old! I started developing games for iOS and Android initially when I was about 16-17 years old, that was how I first got into it.
Is this your first published game? Have you worked on other games or projects? If so, what are some of your previous titles and work?
Yeah, this is my first published game. I did publish some mobile games when I was about 17-18 but they were pretty much games I used to learn how to program, and do art, and things of that nature.
What would you say are your inspirations for your style of development? What sort of media inspires your ideas and stories?
My favourite games have always been role-playing games, with a good story, and choices with consequences, so that’s something that I’ve always been interested in making. Games like Deus Ex, Fallout: New Vegas, Mass Effect… those are some of the inspirations.
Are you primarily a solo dev or do you work with a team?
It’s just me, a solo dev. I wish I had a team! It would’ve made some things so much easier!
I dug the music a great deal in the trailer. What sort of musical style are you going for with this game?
Thank you, I’m glad you liked it! The musical style is very sci-fi, a lot of ambient sounds, as I think it makes the game more atmospheric. Unless you’re engaged in battle, then of course, the music ramps up.
What engine is “Within the Cosmos” being built in? Unity? Unreal? Something else? Why did you choose that engine?
It’s being built on Unreal Engine 4. I used to dabble a lot in UDK/Unreal Engine 3 when I was learning about game development, so using Unreal Engine 4 was simply more comfortable for me to use than any other engine, as I was pretty familiar with it already.
Did you build the assets and world by hand, or did you use some prebuilt assets? Did you have assistance with the art direction? It looks fantastic for an indie game in my opinion.
Thanks so much! Oh, no I had no assistance with the art direction. I spent a lot of time looking at planets in other games, paintings, films, etc, to get a rough idea of how I should design the planets in the game. The majority of the assets were created by me, but there are a couple of things in there that I used that were prebuilt.
How long has “Within the Cosmos” been in development?
Within the Cosmos has been in active development for about 4 years now! About 5 if you count when I started writing down ideas for it, but yeah, it’s been quite some time!
What are some of the unexpected challenges you have had to face while building “Within the Cosmos”?
Just about everything, to be honest! Haha. It’s so much harder than I imagined it would be, and it has taken much longer too! A big part of it is that I started with little knowledge of how it all worked. There’s just so much more to making a game than I thought. The biggest challenge I’d say was probably sticking with it for this long, because it’s been a while.
What are the specific motivations and inspirations behind “Within the Cosmos”? What sort of games and media have you drawn ideas and concepts from and why?
There have been so many things that have influenced how I’ve developed Within the Cosmos. I’ve always been in love with space-related things so I knew for my first game, that was something I was going to make. As far as inspirations, ideas, and concepts go, I’d say Star Trek had a huge influence as to why I decided to make a game like this. Not only because of the setting, but Star Trek always had moral dilemmas, things that question your ethics, and those are things that interest me, so I’d say Star Trek was the biggest influence. As far as gaming goes, New Vegas, Mass Effect, Deus Ex, those are some of my favourite games, so they’ve influenced the style of game that Within the Cosmos is.
How would you describe “Within the Cosmos”? What is your elevator pitch as it were for the game?
Within the Cosmos is a sci-fi first-person RPG. You explore multiple planets, encounter different life forms in combat or dialogue. As you search for who and what attacked you and your crew, you will make choices that will affect how the story progresses, and how the story ends. I hope that works! Haha
Watching the trailer I am reminded very much of Fallout and Mass Effect. Is this the sort of style you were aiming for? Or were you trying for something else?
Yeah, definitely! Like I mentioned earlier… New Vegas and Mass Effect are two of my favourite games. Those are two games I drew inspiration from when it comes to some aspects of the game, so I’m glad the reveal trailer was able to reflect that!
Now let’s talk about some specific stuff regarding “Within the Cosmos”. You mention you have handcrafted planets to explore. Any specifics on how many and what sort of environments each one will have?
There are 6 planets you can explore, each one with their own biome, and life forms that are unique to that specific planet. Some have different weather, and some have different levels of gravity.
How deep are the RPG mechanics going to be? I saw a bit of dialog and read a bit about “Suit Augments”. Are we talking skill trees? Skill challenges? What sort of powers and abilities can one get access to?
As far as RPG mechanics go, there’s dialogue options, and suit augmentations which are basically skill trees. You can upgrade the stuff you can expect, like improve your suits shield, stamina, etc., but there’s also some abilities that can change the landscape of a fight like invisibility, time dilation. Things like that.
You mention that there will be companions and crew and a ship. Are these companions people who can come with you on your adventures or are they more support staff like a Ship Doctor. Will they have companion stories you can unlock?
There’s a mix. There are companions you have that can come with you on your journey, and depending on who you decide to take it can affect certain things in the story. There are also some who strictly stay on the ship. Your companions have their own opinions and their view of you will change based on what you do. There aren’t any companion specific stories.
How customizable will the ship be? Is it going to be static and unchangeable, more like a player home with the ability to decorate and modify it? Will there be a use beyond travel for it?
The ship, at the moment, is something you can decorate. You can only decorate the interior of the ship. I’ll show some of that in a few weeks. The ship is pretty much the home-base for the player and the players companions, you can use that time to interact with them, or you can just ignore them and continue the story. There’s no use beyond travel for the ship.
How linear is the main storyline going to be? You mention that choices will have consequences on the Steam Page which is always a good thing in an RPG. Can you give an example of an early choice and how your decisions might play out and change the outcome?
So, the story itself is altered by the actions you take, just how much it changes depends on what the actions are. You still progress through the story, and there is a definite ending that must be reached, so it’s linear in that sense, but the journey through the game can be different depending on what you decide to do and say, and of course, there are multiple endings based on the choices you’ve made.
Will there be side missions? If so, how will you find them? In town/city hubs?
Side missions will be given to you by characters you meet in the main story, people you interact with in the planets, or you can simply stumble across them as you explore the game.
You mention that the choices will affect the “end game scenarios”? How many different possible endings are we looking at here?
Yeah, any choice you make throughout any point of the game can affect end game scenarios. At the moment, there are 6 different endings. That might change by release, but that’s where it’s currently at right now.
How robust is the equipment system going to be? Everyone who plays RPGs loves the loot! How large will the variety of weapons and equipment be?
Haha, yeah! There are a large variety of weapons available that the player can use in combat. From pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, snipers, etc. to melee weapons like swords, things like that.
Can we customize our character? Or are we going to be playing a defined character a la the Witcher series?
It’s actually neither of those. There’s no character customisation. The character you play as has little backstory, with no predefined role other than being a Commander for the United Earth Space Agency. That’s by design, so the player can feel like they can make the character be whoever they want them to be when they’re role-playing.
How exactly will “leveling up” or improving our character work, in a broad sense. Levels? Equipment?
So, you get experience points for various things like exploring, using dialogue options, killing, etc. When you get a certain number of XP, you will unlock suit modules, which you can use on the skill tree to improve your suits abilities. You can also find modules laying around the world, or they can be given to you by people you do missions for.
About how long will the game be on average you think to complete? How replayable are you intending the game to be?
The game, right now, on average would probably be somewhere around 7-9 hours. It obviously depends on the type of player you are, and how much you explore, and do side missions and all that stuff. The game is certainly replayable, you can play through it in different ways, make different choices and see what the differences are in the story, compared to the choices you made last time.
The secondary game mode “SWARM”: Why did you decide to add this in? How will it affect the single player campaign, if any? Will progress carry over or is it completely disconnected from your main campaign playthrough?
SWARM is completely disconnected from the campaign, at the moment. So, it won’t affect it in any way. SWARM is simply a game mode that was created due to my love for horde modes in other games, I used to be obsessed with the zombies mode in World at War, but also Mass Effect 3’s horde mode was so addicting! I really wanted to try to make something like that, with not just surviving waves of different types of enemies, but completing objectives too. I remember when I was first making it, I was spending WAY too much time playing that instead of making the game, I was hooked! So I knew I had to keep it in there, I hope people enjoy it as much as I did.
Some people have referred to this as the indie’s answer to “The Outer Worlds”. How apt do you feel that description is?
Yeah! I’ve seen a couple of people refer to it as that, or comparing Within the Cosmos to it. I don’t know if I’d say it’s an answer to The Outer Worlds, but I can definitely understand why some people are comparing it to it. Obsidian has made some of my favourite games, so their previous work definitely inspired some aspects of Within the Cosmos. It’s very flattering to have Within the Cosmos be compared to a game made by one of my favourite developers.
Finally do you have any words of wisdom to aspiring game makers out there? Anything else you would like to say? Consider this a free space to speak your mind!
Words of wisdom? I’d probably say, if you’re going to create a game, create something that you would love to play, and make sure you’re creating something that you love making. That’s one reason why I’ve been able to stick with this for as long as I have. So make sure you love what you do, and put everything you have into it.
Since this is a free space, I’d like to thank those who have been giving the game compliments, and those who are providing feedback! This all really means a lot, and it makes me feel like all of the years of hard work was worth it!
Thank you all for reading this, and having an interest in Within the Cosmos! I hope you check it out on Steam, wishlist it, and play it when it releases on Steam on May 31!