Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nexus 2 Interview



Greetings friends!  Today I’m joined by Vincent of Most Wanted Entertainment to talk about the Nexus 2 Kickstarter.  Thank you for joining me today Vincent.

Thank you James, my pleasure. Always pleased to talk about this game that we have been wanting to make for so long.

So I guess the first question has to be “Why Kickstarter?”

That’s an easy question to answer and I think most people know the answer, publishers are just not interested in games such as Nexus. They don’t like the genre of space games and they find it all too hardcore. Apart from that, the old situation where a publisher could be convinced to fund the development for games is more or less in the past. They work with internal studio’s mostly and if they sign 3rd party games, it’s only if the developers are at least at alpha stage of development. It has always been challenging for developers to fund their own development and the risks have only gone up. This is one of the reasons why innovation in triple-A games is scarce.

That leaves only two possibilities for games like Nexus: crowd-funding or angel investors.


So tell us a bit of the story of how the First Nexus game’s development and release went?  I will be honest and admit that I never even heard of the game until it showed up on GOG.com which is a rare thing for me especially in the space genre.

Nexus had a long history already before it was published. The game was developed by Mithis, a Hungarian games development studio in Budapest. They had signed the game at the time with German publisher CDV. CDV decided that they wanted a license for the game and they acquired the license for Imperium Galactica. So, the game we know as Nexus would have been Imperium Galactica 3 as far as CDV was concerned.  Now this was controversial, because for this Nexus had to be turned into a 4X game, and it was never supposed to be anything but a tactical real-time game. But publishers are in control, so all kinds of 4X elements were built into that version of Nexus.

The relationship between the people of Mithis and CDV soured and there was a lot of difference of opinion on the direction of the game. At some point CDV put the halt to the project, which basically lead to the development time extending beyond the time for which the IG3 license was bought. So, when the product resumed development, it had to be renamed again.

In the end CDV decided that they would no longer continue with the development of this game. This is where HD stepped in. I had been showing interest in Nexus for a long time and finally HD and Mithis were able to sit down and discuss terms. In a few weeks we managed to finalise an interesting deal for both parties.

As the producer I had many long conversations with all the (lead) people of the project. Together we decided to remove all the 4X elements and brought the game back to its original gameplay idea. This collaboration lead to the release of Nexus: The Jupiter Incident in 2004.
 


So now you’re working on a sequel I heard the video we see in the Kickstarter campaign is from an earlier attempt at making this sequel?

After Nexus was finished we decided to work on another game project with Mithis, Joint Task Force. This was going to be our biggest game to date while at the same time there was a small team at Mithis dedicated to developing a new proprietary engine with the sole purpose of creating a sequel to Nexus.

Unfortunately during this time Mithis went into bankruptcy. We managed to save the JTF project and founded Most Wanted Entertainment in the process. The team that worked on the Nexus 2 prototype (the prototype movie had just been released a month before) started to work for us in the studio, but the source code was not our property so we had to start from scratch. All our resources were put into saving and finishing JTF and the sequel to Nexus was something we had to let go.

So one of the compelling things I’ve seen about the game is the fact that it makes you feel like you’re “commanding” more than “controlling” your fleet if that makes sense?  Others have called it the “Ground Control” in space.  Are these fair descriptions of both Nexus and your proposed Nexus 2?

I think those are descriptions and it’s what we have always wanted Nexus to be. There is a lot of micromanagement in terms of the loadout of your ships and such, but once on the battlefield you command your ships like a real Fleet commander. You are on the bridge of your ship(s) and you decide how your ships will maneuver and attack. The crew and infrastructure on your ships will then execute your commands. That is one of the gameplay elements that makes this game unique, so we plan to keep it the same for Nexus 2.

So what are you doing to get the word out about your project?  Do you have a facebook page and twitter account we can like and follow?  Do you have a Google+ Page with the latest information of the project?

Apart from the Kickstarter page we have a facebook group and we are present on many forums. Wargamer has started a thread on their kickstarter subforum and there are many more initiatives to spread the word. But we are a small team, so we are not always able to attend to all of them. For this we hope that a small, but very dedicated community,  is with us to help and to bring stuff to our attention when needed. So far this is has been great and we are getting a lot of support. There are still quite a few very enthusiastic fans of the original game out there.

Our facebook group can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/322566457842122/


What kind of media attention is the project gaining?  Have you looked into project Green Light on Steam for after the Kickstarter campaign completes?

We've looked into Steam's 'Green Light' but this is not really relevant for us. We need the funding to actually make the game. Getting it on Steam afterwards (which is basically what Green Light does) is not the problem. Nexus 1 has been on Steam for many years and has performed well.

In regarding media attention, there has been very little. We've reached out to a large number of gaming sites and sent press releases but it hasn't been picked up as widely as we would have hoped.

So your FAQ states the game will be for Windows PCs only right now but the possibility exists for other ports.  Are you hoping to do both Mac and Linux if you do go multi-platform or just OS X?

In one of our first updates we have committed ourselves to include Mac/OSX in our development plans. We are looking at using Unreal tech and porting that from Windows to OSX seems doable. Linux is a completely different matter, and a Linux port is unlikely. No matter how much we would want to support our fans on Linux as well we are unsure if it will pay out. But it is on our stretch goal list, so I am not saying we’re not doing it.


One of the problems folks have had with the first Nexus is the user interface, what are you doing to improve on this aspect in the sequel?  Will there be a better waypoint system to improve “empty space” driving.  (I.e. approaching a waypoint is easy but making a waypoint doesn’t seem to be)

We are aware of the shortcoming of the original. Every game has a few flaws or problems, no matter how good it is. During the development of Nexus 2 we will look extensively into these matters, but it is very difficult to go into details here.

As it always goes with game development, we have good ideas and we will try them out, then refine them and finally pick what works best. We will be prototyping several user interface ideas that we have before we can tell you more about this specific issue. The nice thing of a community product – such as Nexus 2 will be – is that we will inform the community during the development about our findings. The community is our boss! :)
 




There were plenty of mods to make the game fit famous sci-fi shows and one that seemed a perfect fit was Babylon 5, was there ever any thought to actually trying to get a licence for the show and make a licenced Babylon 5 wars type game?  Or did you not want to be locked into someone else's creative vision?

For the original it was never something we looked into, and we made a fine game, haven’t we? Now we have our own universe, a great story and all the creative freedom to do whatever we want to do with it. Why would we limit ourselves in someone else’s creative vision as you say? Why would we increase development time and costs? I think Nexus is a great universe and we will build on that. We will let the mod community do their thing. That way everyone does what they do best.

Will you continue to be mod friendly in the sequel?

We are planning on giving the modding community better tools and easier access than before. This is one of the reasons why we want to use the Unreal tech as it is easy to modify.  Also we will make many more elements of the game ‘moddable’. In our visions people will be able to create complete new single- and multiplayer game experiences with very little to no limitations.

So how difficult was it preparing and launching your Kickstarter campaign?  

In order to launch a campaign with Kickstarter you have to have an office registered in the US, with all the necessary formal papers, bank-accounts, representatives etc. That was the biggest pain in setting this campaign up. The design ideas of Nexus just had to be put back on paper and some had to be rethought, but that was easy.
And – honesty demands me to say that – post-launch PR is tough. We only have a small team and everybody is also working on other projects, so we are making long days in order to keep up.

Are you getting enough data from Kickstarter to help adjust your campaign in mid stream?  Are you using Kicktraq at all?

We are checking Kicktraq on a regular basis, but one really doesn’t need a college degree in economics to figure these things out.

How difficult do you think your post campaign will be?  Getting all the physical goods shipped while working on the sequel doesn’t sound fun!

When you go out with your friends you may have a headache the next day, but does it ever prevent you from having fun and drinks? This is really not that much different. We’ll be ecstatic when we reach our funding goal and we’ll appreciate the headache as much as the rest! :)

What is the plan if, heaven forbid, you fail to hit your $650,000 goal?  Is this the last we’ll ever hear of Nexus?  

If you are asking, will you guys give up? Then I can tell you we won’t.

We will be looking into other/new opportunities to get this game made.

If you are asking, do we have concrete other options at the moment? Then I have to admit we don’t, but ….

How can we, the fans and backers support your project outside of pledging?

Spread the word, actively promote the project, but most of all, be – and stay – positive. We do get a lot of feedback on the KS page and on the facebook page. And of course we’re not perfect, so some of the feedback tells us to where we can improve our campaign. What some people may not realize is that being negative in the KS comments or in the facebook group actually scares other people away. So, stay positive, even when you criticize.
 
What updates do you have in store to keep attention and enthusiasm high in the campaign?

We have some ideas, which I currently cannot share with you. On top of that we’re checking the comments. There were many request for a higher all digital Tier, so we made one. Interaction is the most typical thing for a crowdfunding project, so we’re dynamically adjusting our ideas and goals.

It has been a pleasure to speak with you today, is there anything you’d like to leave our readers with in closing?

Well, we owe a lot of thanks to a very dedicated groups individuals who have been with us for years now. Though we have never met most of these people, we feel related to them. All the work they have done for us, it’s amazing.
Game communities are a unique phenomenon! Let’s try to make this work and we’ll get ourselves into the history book! :)

Thanks again for your time and I look forward to playing Nexus 2 in the future!