Developer MercurySteam’s Most Ambitious Project Yet
Have you ever been playing a game and thought to yourself, “Damn, this could be so much better”? Of course you have! No matter how well polished or constructed a game is, we gamers still manage to think that, somehow, we could have found a way to make it more enjoyable. Well, developer MercurySteam wants to give the players the opportunity to give as much feedback to their team as possible and they promise to incorporate that feedback into the development of their new game, Raiders of the Broken Planet.
During our MercurySteam booth tour, which was smack dab in the middle of Microsoft’s insanely loud and bustling showroom floor, we were able to mingle with the head of the studio, Enric Avalrez, about his company’s ambitious upcoming title. When asked how the team intends to incorporate the players’ suggestions into their game, he said that Raiders of the Broken Planet will be an episodic game, and player input will be gathered from their forums in between each episode. Four episodic campaigns are planned to release on a monthly basis, but if all goes well, MercurySteam already has two more campaigns in the planning stages.
So how will the pricing structure work for Raiders of the Broken Planet? From what we were told at E3 the game will be surprisingly cheap, but a set price has yet to be announced. So far the game has been fully funded by MercurySteam and MercurySteam only, giving them complete creative control. This is truly a passion project that the company is putting their full support behind, and they are hoping the fans become just as passionate after experiencing the first campaign.
Raiders of the Broken Planet’s story can best be described as a Western in space. A discovery on one of Saturn’s moons leads an army of humans to a broken planet on the far reaches of the universe. A source of energy called Aleph exists there that grants ultimate power to whoever controls it. However, after becoming trapped on the planet, the humans get power hungry and split into factions. They begin to fight amongst themselves to gain control over the Aleph. This angers the planet’s peaceful inhabitants and they decide that they’re going to do something about it. A hero named Harec emerges and is determined to lead the planet back to freedom.
Harec recruits a group of rogues and outlaws from the broken planet to fight the humans and eventually rid them of their planet. Just as they begin to take the fight to the power hungry humans a new threat emerges whose intent is to destroy the entire universe and watch it burn. This threat turns out to be a Demon who has traveled from deep space and gets his kicks out of causing complete chaos. He has the ability to create antagonists who invade planets just to stir things up a bit. It’s up to the player to decide if he or she wants to fight the humans as Harec and his group, or go at it solo as one of the Demon’s creations and cause havoc for Harec.
As you can imagine, this will introduce a few different ways to play Raiders of the Broken Planet. You can decide to go at it yourself and bring the fight to the humans in single player mode, be one of a group of four to fight the humans alongside your friends and/or other online players, or go at it as the Demon’s antagonist and drop in a game unexpectedly to stir the pot a bit. What intrigues me the most is that the antagonist drop in could happen at random or not at all, keeping you and your squad on your toes in constant fear wondering if you’re being stalked. This should create some intense gameplay between players and I can’t wait to experience this for myself.
I was able to get some hands-on time with the introduction level of Raiders of the Broken Planet during our interview, and I can say it looked gorgeous playing on the Xbox One X. It was running 4K/60FPS without any hiccups or slowdown, which was pretty impressive considering I was running at full speeds around the environment while stealthily taking out a few handfuls of enemies, all while warping to different parts of the map. I embarrassingly died three times during the intro level, but Enric assured me this is normal. They are creating a game that promises not to be a cakewalk as they are tired of all the “easy” shooters that are currently on the market. They’re pulling no punches with Raiders of the Broken Planet and players should expect a very challenging shooter, something not many development teams seem to take chances on anymore.
Here are a few excerpts of our interview with MercurySteam Co-Owner Enric Alvarez, and PR representative Tom Davis, where we discuss the all of the ins-and-outs of Raiders of the Broken Planet.
HPP: Can you tell us how long do you anticipate the full game being with the 4 chapters?
Tom Davis: It’s very, very hard to tell you because every level is different. I would say that every level is about half an hour of gameplay, but the game is pretty hard. Each level has about two or three scenarios. Additionally, the game is single player, or 4 player co-op, or 4-v-1. So, putting a time on completing the game is very difficult.
HPP: Can you tell us the game’s story?
Enric Alvarez: Background of the story? Do you have two or three hours time? (laughs) I’m going to do something better. Make sure to visit www.RaidersoftheBrokenPlanet.com and find the developer diary that we just released about the story. You’re going to have images and a much better description. The story is quite complex and my english is quite rubbish. (laughs). Are you familiar with Dune and the Spice? Aleph is exactly the same thing as the Spice. Aleph only exists on this planet and that’s why the humans went there. As soon as they arrived they started to fight between themselves for control and this is how the different factions (in the game) were born. So who are you? You are Herec, which is a local that is sick of humans and wants to expel them back to Earth or kill them all. Of course he doesn’t have the resources of the human army so he has to fight guerrilla style along with a number of mercenaries.
Tom Davis: Scum (laughs). They don’t care who they fight for. All they care about is, “OK, let’s do it” (laughs). So Harec creates the Raiders and recruits all of these people. In and amongst all of this happening, there is this deep space demon who just loves chaos. So what he does, just for shits and giggles, he starts creating these antagonists that come in and fuck with you.
HPP: And are these antagonists those players who can come into your game and raise hell?
Tom Davis: Exactly. So that means if you are playing co-op, you can get resources and in-game currency to share within your co-op team to upgrade weapons or purchase perks. If you play as the antagonist, you get a different reward system that we are not talking about yet, but there will be an antagonists leader board as well. So it’s high risk, high reward when you are the antagonist.
HPP: So, when you’re playing with others players, do they fill the role of the mercenaries you mentioned that support Harec?
Tom Davis: Exactly. So every character is one of these Raiders. What’s cool is that when you introduce new characters into the game it’s often from a narrative standpoint. So this mission (mission that was being played on one of the demo stations) is called Lyka’s Recsue and that’s part of the game’s story. Once you rescue Lyka, you can then use him. So, the plan for us is to have between 20-30 characters. 4 of those characters will be based on campaigns.
HPP: Are there microtransactions involved in the game?
Tom Davis: There’s only microtransactions for one thing. For the skins. The skins are purely aesthetic, but they’re fucking awesome. The team spent 3 months on every single skin, and every skin has a story behind it, and it completely changes the look of the character.
HPP: The game look gorgeous. The art direction is top-notch.
Tom Davis: This is the same team that made Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and they’re (currently) making Metroid: Samus Returns on the 3DS. This is a triple-A team even though it’s an indie game. They’ve (MercurySteam) actually spent a triple A budget on the game. Everything is done themselves. This is a dream for most studios. To be able to say that they can put the same amount of money into a game where they have someone telling them how it’s supposed to be. They’re in control, and we have the budget, and we are taking the risk on it. This is a true passion project. They’re now in control of their own destiny, and that is exciting.
HPP: What is the entire window that we’re looking at to have all 4 chapters released?
Tom Davis: The plan right now is that once we start producing, we want to have 1 campaign every month/month and a half, maybe two months. As fast as we can because we want to get them out. If the game does well after the 4 campaigns, we’ve already started preliminary work on the next two.
HPP: Can you tell us anything about boss encounters?
Tom Davis: (grins) Oh, yeah! Let’s say that in the first campaign, you’re going to see something pretty fucking awesome! It’s a big, big boss. In fact maybe there’s more than one boss.
HPP: What is the financing model for this? Are you getting any outside support?
Enric Alvarez: We have our own resources.
HPP: No crowd funding?
Enric Alvarez: Long story short: we look for the money outside the game industry.
HPP: Kidney Market? (laughs)
Enric Alvarez: (laughs) We’re not getting into details. (laughs)
Enric Alvarez: (after HPP was finished playing the demo) It’s not easy!
HPP: No! I died 4 times!
Enric Alvarez: It’s a serious challenge. We like it this way. We are getting sick of ultra easy shooters!
HPP: Is there going to be a penalty system for players who back out of matches when an antagonist jumps in?
Enric Alvarez: Absolutely. We’re going to be very strict. We want a healthy community as much as possible. For example, if you abandon your teammates, you can’t start playing until that match has finished. If you try to get online again, the game will tell you that “You abandoned these guys. Can you join them?”. If you say no, you can’t play. The third time you do it, we are going to ban you.
HPP: It looks fantastic! We’re excited to see where it goes. Thanks for taking the time for showing us the game!
Enric & Tom: Thanks for checking out Raiders of the Broken Planet!
MercurySteam is laying all their cards on the table with Raiders of the Broken Planet. This is truly a passion project and I’m hoping that they gain the fanbase they need to grow the game. If you want to get an early preview of Raiders of the Broken Planet you can sign up for game’s beta now by clicking here.