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A real-time, class-based strategy game, set in an open world cyberpunk city, from the creator of Syndicate Wars.
A real-time, class-based strategy game, set in an open world cyberpunk city, from the creator of Syndicate Wars.
15,029 backers pledged £461,333 to help bring this project to life.

Rock Paper Shotgun Interviews Mike Diskett, and New Novella Reward!

Posted by 5 Lives Studios (Creator)

Hello again, Agents!

That 50% milestone is already in sight. If this keeps up, we'll be digging into those meaty stretch-goals in no time. But, onto the news!

First up, Mike Diskett has just had a great interview with Jim Rossignol over at Rock Paper Shotgun. You can check it out HERE for more background on Mike's work on the Syndicate series, and to hear more about some of our plans for Satellite Reign.

Second, we've been exploring a number of ways we can add extra rewards to our tiers, and today, we're pleased to announce our first addition.

All backers on the CORPORATE SOLDIER tier and higher will receive a digital Satellite Reign novella written by the award-winning auther Russell Zimmerman, known for his exceptional work on the Shadowrun series.

Cyberpunk is Russell's bread-and-butter. We're thrilled to have someone with his talent on board to help 5 Lives expand the exciting new universe of Satellite Reign.

And, an update on physical box copies of the game. We know lots of people are after this, and we're doing what we can to make this possible. We're in discussions with various distributors at the moment, and are seeing where we can fit this into our budget. More information will be arriving soon.

Thanks again!

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    1. Julien Pirou on

      Russell Zimmerman did a great job on Shadowrun. His "Neat" novella is... well... pretty neat :) Can't wait to read what he'll write for Satellite Reign.

    2. Peter Fern on

      @Matthew Popke, @Vocarin - What I was suggesting doesn't need to be explicit, with faction bars or good/bad decision trees, but as it's been explained so far, it seems like the choice is either be nice to citizens and you'll get some sort of reward, or be nasty to them and have them oppose/fight you. Which I guess is fine as far as it goes, but it seems a little two dimensional, so I was trying to suggest adding some axis, because if you gain a reputation for brutality, that could potentially be a boon in some circles (and the more variety to the people in the world the better in my book), so that reputation might net you work or tribute from like-minded groups. Likewise, rather than resistance for your acts, perhaps some citizenry would (more likely?) instead be intimidated by such a reputation. Just spit-balling, but the description from the guys as it stands sounds rather polarized and limiting. Combined with the class system, I'm just concerned about additive limitation on effective choices.

    3. Missing avatar

      Alex Hooi on

      Hi, I backed this after reading the article on RPS, Been a longtime fan of the Syndicate games, and tactical games like Jagged Alliance as well.

      There's several things about the game mechanics mentioned that worry me, however.
      First is the class-based system for the agents. While its indeed a good idea for agents to have individual aptitudes, agents with fixed class isn't a good idea.
      It was a major criticism in the Commandos series due to being restrictive, and in the context of this game, the death of an agent would mean completely losing a tactical choice which might mean an objective cannot be accomplished.

      If it was a less restrictive system however, where agents can use any weapon/equipment their team-mates can, but less effectively than the specialist, then it would be fine.
      It'd stand to reason that your agents are cross-trained and at least competent in all the skills and equipment necessary to complete a mission.

      Another issue that has been brought up is the "morality". As far as morality goes, gunning down civilians/using them as meat shields versus helping them and how they react, I hope its more shades of grey than black and white. An example would be, if you take out surveillance devices in an area, its less likely that areas around it would hear about your actions. Also, if you leave no witnesses, the same should apply.

      Better yet, make it possible to disguise your agents so people think they're corporation agents if they start blowing up stuff the city.

      This is a cyberpunk setting after all, and the 'mysterious benefactor' certainly isn't taking down the corporations out of concern for the people or some altruistic save-the-world intention.

    4. David Pietka on

      FINE, have my money. I upgraded, but only because I like Russell's work. Nice catch.

    5. Robert Dietrich on

      My Kindle is very excited about this news. :)

    6. Vocarin on


      I very much agree. Moral systems with coloured bars and alignment points were a cute idea back in the day, but I think we can move beyond that, especially in a gritty dystopian setting like this. Having the reactions of the civilians as a variable of the player's actions would feel a lot more organic than, like you say, aiming for moral perfection where there's no incentive to play it how the gamer wants, like alignment systems that grant stat bonuses for hos good or evil the character is that ignore the opportunity for neutrality.

      If anything, I hope that 5 Lives uses a system similar to The Witcher, where decisions can be made whole chapters in advance of the outcomes, and the results aren't portrayed as good or evil, but as different ways to achieve the end goal. Choices and consequences instead of good and evil. Also, it would be interesting if 5 Lives had choices that seem like they'd benefit the citizens, but end up not helping them because the actions are twisted along the way. Like an option to divert funding to a citizen relief fund or to get an innocent man out of prison, but the result is the corporations investigating the money trail and bringing their boot down on the citizens and making things worse, or that act of charity being spun against you, or the man you've released going crazy and killing someone. Decisions that have to be made as they are, probably without all the information and the ability to see all the consequences, would add, I think, even more grit and realism to the setting, since while the intentions might be good, the results can always backfire.

      All in all, I'm looking very forward to the game when it's funded. And I say 'when' because I don't think there's any doubt that it will at this rate. I think it would be nice if they could add in another tier between the $35USD and $55 USD options though, given that the $45 tier is sold out. Might be people who want to contribute, but can't find something that works for their budget.

    7. Matthew Popke on


      Adding arbitrary incentives to playing a "bad guy" does not add depth to the game. It robs it of that depth. The depth of the gameplay is in the interaction with a set of interlinked and complex systems, not in having a BS moral choice system, the kind of BS moral choice system that only rewards players for either being perfect little angels or total sociopaths, and might as well be part of the character creation process since once you choose which way you're going you will always make either the good choice or bad choice for the rest of the game, making it really not much of a choice at all.

      The citizenry's reaction to the player's actions is a constraint on the player's actions, but it is one that (if handled well) will give players greater creative freedom rather than less. Having to include the citizenry's reaction in your list of ever-present concerns adds another tactical element to the gameplay. It's something you will likely be forced to compromise at some point to achieve your goals, but deciding when and how to do so with the least amount of damage is the tricky part. And using the citizens' good will to your advantage doesn't always have to make you a "good guy" (just like in the real world).

      Just deciding to not play a "good guy" role really isn't a compelling gameplay decision. It's a decision you make at the beginning of the game, once. Just like in every Bioware RPG or adventure game with a bullshit moral choice system hastily tacked on. It's not a meaningful form of interaction during the actual game. You could simply say at character creation, "Make all of the evil (or good) choices for me so I don't have to click the button in every conversation," and the end result would be exactly the same from both a story and gameplay perspective.

      But modeling the results of your actions in a complex behavioral system adds real depth. When it's finally time to overthrow the old order and replace it with your new one, will the citizens welcome you with open arms? Will they resist? Will they cower in fear? You don't even know yet how their fear actually effects the possible outcome. Maybe the lack of an effective anti-You resistance movement is the benefit of scaring the life out the people.

      Whatever you do 5 Lives, don't add a bullshit moral choice system. This is dystopian cyberpunk. It's not about good vs. evil. It's about the ends and the means.

    8. suppafoxe on

      Great interview! I like the new ideas for the game.
      BTW I still would like to be able to play as four ruthless tanks when I see fit :p

    9. Missing avatar

      Thomas Boys on

      I have a question for the development team.

      I don't know if you saw PC Gamer this morning but apparently the Double Fine Adventure has run into financial trouble due to exceeding the $3.3 million dollars it received from Kickstarter. How confident are you guys that the budget will be enough to see Satellite Reign through to completion?

      I loved Syndicate and I'm quite prepared to up my pledge but after seeing the biggest game based Kickstarter to date run into trouble, I'm understandably worried. =/

    10. Xaviz on

      great stuff as usual. can't wait for whatever you end up adding as a physical reward tier!

    11. TanC on

      Thanks for the explanation 5 Lives. Definitely want to see it in action. Does that mean the world map interface would be removed? I can understand if it were removed due to the budget.

    12. 5 Lives Studios Creator on

      Researching, upgrading and customising your agents will still be a very important part of the game. By saying there's not "drop in and out between missions," we simply mean that your progression through the world will be seamless. All of your objectives are there to be pursued at your own discretion, rather than following a rigid mission-structure.

    13. TanC on

      I am not sure how I feel about the following: "With the open world, though, you don’t drop in and out between missions, there’s no dropping back to the overview screen. Instead, you stay in that world and head back to the safehouse."

      So no more going back to your HQ, outfitting agents, selecting research, choosing where to attack next? Just going from one grid of a map to the next? I actually like the overview screen; it gives me some sense of being back at HQ and managing the team. Please let me know if I am interpreting this wrong.

    14. WeiMi - Nellies pirated Bard from Oz on

      @Crosmando - Oh yes. William Gibson. The Neuromancer-series were the initial fix to
      get me into Cyberpunk ;)
      Just brilliant

    15. WeiMi - Nellies pirated Bard from Oz on

      From interview: ' make the game more tactical, and less of a shooter, than the original. It’s an improvement.' Yes, agreed. It would be an improvement to me as I'm with Tobi:
      Being an big admirer of turn-based strategy I'd really like the game more tactical.
      Cheering at the news that Starbreeze will develop a new Syndicate I've been devastated realizing
      it'll be a Shooter :(
      Now I'm praising 5Lives doing it "the right way" .

      Appreciate your efforts to provide us physical-boxes.

    16. Missing avatar

      Jordan Blanch on

      Can you please please please look at making it in an old school game box format, like how doom and diablo were released? Flip open cover, cardboard and embossed front? Man, I miss that.

    17. Bryce Undy

      I'm familar with his work with Shadowrun and I have to say, this is a massive bonus to the project. If I hadn't already backed it, this would have pushed me over the line.

    18. Crosmando on

      Mr Zimmerman seems like a great author, good to see this project isn't neglecting writing.

      In my dreams however William Gibson would be writing for the game :P

    19. Felix on

      I am thrilled to hear you are considering a boxed edition, please also consider offering T-Shirts as add ons! Again I LOVE the look of the T Shirt, but I cant afford an extra 45 dollars for one..

    20. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      btw, I love the interview and most of the other features that were discussed. I just hope that getting back to the safehouse after a (successful) mission doesn't take too much time, like "meh, now i have to walk back to the safehouse for 10 minutes.."

    21. Peter Fern on

      Oh, and on classes: rather than fixed classes, it would be amazing if you start out instead with some slight specialization so you can get a feel for the suggested classes, but instead of having them fixed, allow people to specialize via the augmentations they select. This allows people to tank their way through if that's their preference (a-la the original), or do some other crazy stuff, like a ninja stealth assassin hit squad, or politician-party of persuasive hackers ;-)

      Maybe this makes mission design a little more challenging, but with all the talk of systems over scripting, this concept seems like a great match, and it lets people really own their agents and playstyle, rather than being locked to what they're given.

    22. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      @Peter - one could argue that the "reward" for using civilians as meat shields is that you get meat shields. and that it's easier to waltz through the streets and blowing everything up instead of protecting/sparing the civilians.

    23. Peter Fern on

      In the interview, and the vlog from the other day, there's a little talk about choice in how you interact with civilians. To quote the RPS interview:
      "You can play the game not caring about civilians and use them as a meat shields. But if you do that, then they realise that the government propaganda about you is true, and that you are evil. This can go as far as them fleeing from you or attacking you, rather than ignoring you. If you’ve been good to them, however, and you’ve stopped them being strongarmed by corporations, you will see a reward." - Mike Diskett

      It seems like there is little to no incentive to being harsh on the citizenry, and numerous incentives to play in the other direction. This feels like it'll box the player into basically being 'a good guy', or facing the consequences, which is pretty much the opposite of the inherent ruthlessness of the original Syndicate.

      I'd love it if you considered some reward (beyond the meager financial one) for being brutal, like gaining influence with underworld figures for example (obviously corporations are the big boys on the block, but I'd assume there are still underworld figures who wield some lesser power). Asking the player to choose between play styles that have mutually exclusive advantages (like trading influence with one group for another), and moral implications, would add significant impact and depth IMHO. Not to mention that grit is a critical Cyberpunk trait ;-)

    24. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      * "in the interview" not "in a interview" - sorry

    25. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      I would like to comment on something… in a RPS-interview Mr. Diskett said: “One weakness of design in both Syndicate and Syndicate Wars was that people tended to band all four agents together and use them as one single awesome tank-like gun-toting super agent“. For me that wasn’t a weakness, it was AWESOME! You see I normally don’t play RTS games because it is much too hectic for me to keep track of many units on the map in real time. for me it’s either real time with pause or turn based strategy. what would put me off considerably would be this hectic jumping-around-the-map like in “normal” RTS-games. far be it for me to ask the designers to change one of their core mechanics, but when designing the game and forcing us to split up the squad pleeeeaaaase keep in mind that not all players are starcraft-otaku whizkids that love frantic unit-chasing and map juming. (yeah I know you can’t really compare Satellite Reign to starcraft because it’s only 4 units, but I guess you get my point).

    26. Stavros Tsiakalos on

      I haven't read anything by Mr. Zimmerman, but novellas are always welcome. Great news!

    27. Stewart "Zoot" Wymer

      Looks like I'll be checking out Mr Zimmerman's work when I get Shadowrun Returns soon. While not all Shadowrun authors are created equal, while I have not heard much about him, I haven't heard anything bad either! So that's a good thing :P Of course, this just means I may need to up my pledge to Corporate Soldier ...

    28. Richard Flooks on

      love the updates, keep em coming!

    29. Dablue

      Cool guys, way to go!