Gemini Wars is a space RTS game that we’ve been covering here at Space Sector for a long time now. It’s an RTS, in the pure sense that you can command your spaceships by selecting them to move and attack targets in real-time. But it also offers some other interesting features like ground-assault invasions, research and space stations construction. The game will release on the 8th of June, so, I got in contact with Camel 101 for an interview. Ricardo Cesteiro, Co-Owner & Producer at Camel 101 kindly agreed to reveal a bit more on GW. Here is what Ricardo had to say about his game:
SS: I understand that Camel 101 has produced other games before Gemini Wars, but this seems to be Camel 101′s biggest project. Why have you decided to develop a space RTS game now? What were the motivations both inside and outside the team to develop Gemini Wars?
Ricardo: Yes, this is our biggest project so far. Everyone in the team loves both strategy games and scifi settings, so the idea of making a space strategy game really appeared naturally. We’ve played strategy games for a long time now: me and my brother used to play games like Desert Rats, Stalingrad and Laser Squad on the old ZX-Spectrum. They were really simple, but a lot of fun. These memories stick, and even these old games inspire us to do something in the genre.
As for scifi, well, it’s my favorite theme. Star Wars, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, Warhammer 40k all have great settings from which we drew inspiration. Besides the eternal discussion between Star Wars and Star Trek between some of the team members, we all enjoy scifi and futuristic battles a lot.
SS: Your list of gameplay features includes a single player campaign. You have 3 different factions in the game. Will there be only one campaign or one for each race? What about sand-box, skirmishes or pre-defined scenarios? Will Gemini Wars features any of these?
Ricardo: The game at release will feature a full campaign playing as the United Space Federation. It’s a 16 mission story driven campaign that starts will smaller maps, but evolves to really large maps that can be quite hard to beat. We are estimating over 30 hours of gameplay on the campaign alone. Skirmish and multiplayer are planned to be released as a free DLC, which will be available on digital update after launch. The game has a lobby system which updates the players with news and updates.
SS: I read in your website that there are no diplomacy options in the game. Is that correct? And if so does that mean that Gemini Wars doesn’t qualify (for very little) as a 4X game. Or, do you disagree?
Ricardo: The campaign mode in Gemini Wars can’t be seen as a 4x game. However, a skirmish can be played as a 4x game (assuming you consider a game without diplomacy a 4x game) ; a 4x by definition is “explore, expand, exploit and exterminate”. All these apply in skirmish: imagine you start in your home system with no way out of it.
You need to explore the system and find a way out; you need to expand your empire to get more resources, build more stations and increase your unit capacity; you need to get these resources going into the right direction, research new technologies and get new engines that increase the ship’s jump range; research stargates to be able to jump to other systems, to collect more resources and exterminate the opponent. So in conclusion yes, I do believe Gemini Wars can qualify as a 4x game.
SS: What sort of planetary development can we do in Gemini Wars? What type of structures can we build in our planets and asteroids?
Ricardo: Planets can have 2 types of space stations in orbit: Military Stations and Research Stations. Once a Military Station is built, a number of additional structures can be built near it, depending on the technology level. These go from shipyards, defensive turrets and shield generators to long range artillery cannons.
Once the player has access to colony ships, he can create new colonies on the planets (or orbital colonies when the planet is a gas giant). Colonies expand automatically over time, increasing their numbers of troops and civilians. Troops are used to build troop ships – really large ships used for planetary invasions. It’s better to invade a colony than to build a new one. They’re quite expensive to build, and take a lot of time to develop. Only human colonies can be invaded though. Gark colonies can only be destroyed.
The number of colonies that the player controls is also important. Each colony supports 5 battleships, which are really powerful ships. So if the player wants to build a lot of battleships, he’ll need to get more colonies. Each colony can have its own upgrades of planetary shields and cannons.
SS: So, you included a very curious statement in your game’s features list. You mention that Gemini Wars will offer a “unique gameplay providing a refreshing twist to the RTS genre”. Could you please explain in which way will Gemini Wars provide a unique gameplay in the RTS genre? And specially what do you mean by a “refreshing twist”?
Ricardo: We tried to create a system that had something unique on it. Ships on Gemini Wars can’t just move freely through space. To jump between two points of interest, ships must perform hyperdrive jumps; then when the ship reaches its destination, it must recharge the hyperdrive. This means that if the player sends his units right to the middle of the enemy ships, he can’t retreat until his ships’ hyperdrives are recharged.
This also means that some jump points are really important because of their connections to strategic planets or asteroids. Adding to this, the later missions feature multiple star system maps, where the action is happening in different star systems at once. This can lead to really large space battles. Ship crews also gain experience making the ships more powerful, so it’s wise to retreat and repair instead of sending everyone crashing against the enemy units. The whole gameplay mechanic has a completely different system from what’s usually seen in other games.
SS: What about research? You mention that there will be a “research tree leading to powerful units and upgrades”. Will there be a tech tree for each race? By the way, are all 3 races playable? And if so, what will be special and different in Gemini Wars techs trees?
Ricardo: Each race will have its own tech tree. In the campaign, there is only the United Space Federation’s tech tree though. During the campaign, there are some situations where the player controls Alliance of Free Worlds’ ships, but the faction isn’t really playable. In skirmish and multiplayer, all the factions are playable. The differences are mostly in the bonuses that are researched for the ships, and the special abilities that can be unlocked for some ships.
SS: Will space combat be fought in 3D or 2D? You mention a “cinematic battle camera” feature. I understand it will be some way to see war through the different ships “eyes”, correct? Will we be able to control ships in those camera shots by any chance?
Ricardo: Space combat is fought in 3d, but ships only move in the X and Y axis. The cinematic battle camera moves around the ships engaged in action, showing some interesting and different views of the battle. Ships can’t be controlled in the battle camera. The camera can follow a selected ship though.
SS: You mention multiplayer in your website. What sort of multiplayer options will be available?
Ricardo: Indie games don’t usually invest much in multiplayer, because the fan base is not that big. We didn’t want to leave it out though. While we were working on the campaign, it really was asking to be played in multiplayer. We’ll start with player vs player skirmishes, and if there’s a demand (if the community asks) we’ll see where we’ll go next.
SS: Please tell us a bit how colonization and planetary invasion work. And, are there any exploration and discovery features in the game? (planet survey, planet’s specials, derelicts, events)
Colonization is quite simple. Once the player is able to build colony ships, they can be sent to a planet and establish a new colony there. The ship will be scrapped, and the colony built. Planetary invasion is not so simple. If the colony has shields and weapons, they must be destroyed from space first. Only then can the troop ships send the ground forces for the planetary assault. When the ground assault begins, the player is updated on the progress of the battle through a video feed, which also shows the number of troops as the battle progresses.
SS: Gemini Wars release date is set for the 8th of June 2012. Where will the game be sold and how much will it cost? Will the PC and Mac versions be released in the same day? When will pre-orders be available?
Ricardo: The game will be sold both on retail and online channels. PC and Mac versions will be released on the same day, yes. Pre-orders should be available in all channels soon.
SS: Can you tell us some of your lessons learned in developing Gemini Wars? Successes, failures and doubts you have bumped into, so that other people may benefit from your experience in developing even greater space strategy games in the future?
Ricardo: Well, this has been a long ride (2 years) since the beginning of the game. It started as a simple RTS game, and evolved to something different. We had some cool ideas that we tried to implement during the development, and some of them worked really great. We also heard what folks had to say on the forum, and we get some really good ideas from there too. Hearing the community is really important. Of course that implementing unplanned things led to some delays, but it was worth it.
I would like to thank to the Camel 101 Team, and particularly Ricardo Cesteiro, the Co-Owner & Producer of Gemini Wars, for taking the time out of their busy days to do this interview. You can check out the official Gemini Wars website for more info. You have a bunch of screenshots here.Subscribe RSS
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