State of Wonder interview's Jumpdrive Studios
Inspired by sci-fi works such as Battlestar Galactica, The Lost Fleet series, and games like FTL, our strategy game will test your skills as a leader in times of great need.
You are the captain of the last remaining battleship in the fleet. A relentless, overwhelming enemy has emerged to abduct your people. There's no time to colonize planets, negotiate with alien races, or build an empire. You're outnumbered, out-gunned, and low on resources. Knowing when it's time to fight or flee will be the key to saving the human race.
Commanding your fleet and managing resources is only part of your job. You'll also need to lead a variety of personalities as you gather and protect a flock of civilian ships. Who you choose to elect onto your council will affect the entire fleet and alter the options available to you. Your leadership will either inspire loyalty and sacrifice, or drive your people to treachery and sabotage...
XO is a single player game. Newtonian physics govern starship movement in a 2D plane. The game unfolds in real-time but you can pause the action and issue commands. Most of the gameplay is procedurally generated, including events, weapons, star systems, and personalities. These rogue-like elements ensure XO will be replayable and unique during each session.
- Emerge from jumpspace near a planet where you will begin rescuing ships, gathering resources, and defending against ever-stronger waves of enemies until you judge it is time to evacuate the fleet.
- Navigate a complex political system as the war brings out the best and worst in people. Promote the finest in your fleet to your council. Heed their advice or face the consequences.
- Choose the next planet to jump to based on limited intel, taking into account the resources you need, reported enemy strength, and refugees at each possible destination. Spin up the fleet's jump drives and lead your able ships to the temporary safety of jumpspace.
- In jumpspace, use your resources to upgrade ships, manufacture weapons, and make critical repairs.
- Continue this cycle until you amass enough firepower to defeat the enemy mothership and escape with as many people as possible.
Stretch Goals and Backer Missions
[Note: our backer missions are now closed, thank you for your support!]
One of the best ways you can help XO succeed is by sharing the Kickstarter campaign with your friends. By leaving comments on Facebook, YouTube, and of course inside Kickstarter, you’re directly increasing XO’s visibility. Posts and pages with more comments are driven to the top of searches, so let’s keep the conversation going!
Each mission counts as one point, and there are 50 missions in all. Several will scale as you and your fellow backers fulfill the achievements. Once unlocked, these extras will be available to all backers!
They're not talking. They're not negotiating. They're not even showing their faces. Hell, they might not even have faces. Your enemy has only one goal: mass abduction of the human race.
Because of that, the enemy is not destroying your ships. They're disabling them, to be extracted by a fearsomely powerful ship called a Harvester. Your people are being carried off... to an unknown fate.
And as gruesome as it may sound, you may be able to use disabled ships to your advantage...
You won't be able to save everyone. As fleet commander, it's your job to make the call: do you save the damaged military destroyer to add more firepower to your fleet, the tanker that will extend the fleet's range, or rescue a freighter loaded with enough food to keep your people alive?
At the heart of the game are procedural events – the things that happen to you every time you jump in to an area. You'll encounter ships under distress, desperate refugees, greedy merchants, wreckage and caches to loot, shipyards and stations, enemy traps... and much more. We have about a hundred different basic event types that we hope to have in the game, each of which will have variations. Most of our event system is already finished.
Combat and Weapons
To initiate combat, your ships need only move within range of an enemy ship. There are several types of weapons at your disposal, including flak cannons, point-defense cannons, lasers, missiles, and a unique defensive tool called the sandcaster - which forms a cloud of particles that blocks laser fire and damages ships that blunder into it.
Movement, Flanking and Formations
To keep things simple, ships fly on a 2D plane, but real physics like inertia and thrust keep the tactical action realistic and intense.
Plotting a course works by selecting one or more ships, then choosing one or more waypoints. Each course line is visualized with an Estimated Time to Arrival (ETA). Waypoints are draggable and course lines are adjusted in real time displaying the actual course that is possible for the ship to fly given its thrust, rotational capability and current vector. Your navigational computer will also automatically display different course options to assist you in tactical planning.
We then give you the power to adjust the time it takes for each ship (or formation of ships) to arrive at their endpoint with an ETA slider. As you drag the ETA slider you’ll see course lines change in real-time, allowing you to experiment and make adjustments on the fly as befits the situation. This allows you to coordinate multiple groups to arrive at the same time at a particular location. Hover your pointer over a ship to assign tactics like flank, intercept, attack, follow, lag behind, or protect another friendly ship.
Under the strain of battle, some will crack under pressure while others will rise to greatness. Each situation will require thoughtful leadership. Demands, urgent calls for help, and interesting opportunities will present themselves, often at your most trying moments. You must decide what is best: do you reassign that annoying complainer to damage control, throw them in the brig, or abandon them to their own fate? Do you risk the safety of the fleet to pursue a sudden opportunity?
Some people will actively work against you. The Sympathizer will try to convince ships to surrender. The Politician will seek to undermine your authority and break away with as many ships as possible. We want to add several more unique dissenters to the fleet. With your support, we can add even more dramatic scenarios!
Mutiny and Civilians
Your fleet is comprised of both military and civilian ships. As long as you have sufficient air, food, and water your military ships will maintain a high level of duty. The civilian ships, however, are not used to being bossed around (even when it’s clearly for their own good). Keep an eye on morale and watch out for deserters and mutineers; humanity needs all the force you can muster.
We have many things we are hoping to add to the game: abandoning ship to lifeboats, booby-trapped ships that self-destruct, and rogue human warships to name a few. We'd like to add more ship types, both friendly and enemy. And we want to dedicate a great deal of time to polishing and balancing the experience.
Select the best in your fleet to join your trusted group of advisors. Each member gives you special options as events unfold. For example, a Counselor will give you negotiation options, while a Marine will give you more... direct choices – like boarding parties. Having both gives you more flexibility, but if you ignore the recommendations of a council member too many times, they will turn on you. We hope to add many types: Intelligence Agent, Newscaster, Assassin, each giving you unique tools for your journey. We even envision a Prophet – a sage leader who will calm your people but whose guidance will be the most perilous of all to avoid.
Your exodus will take you to many worlds. As in the real universe, you'll come across gas giants, airless rocks, frozen wastelands, hellish molten planets and rarest of all, habitable worlds.
With your help, we can add more features like scout ships. These units will gather vital information about a destination, giving you advance warning before committing your fleet into unknown dangers. We'd also like to add rival factions, pirates, and other mysteries to a larger starmap - and you can help us achieve these goals by completing the backer missions listed below!
Resources are plentiful; time, however, is not. In order to keep your fleet going, you'll need food, water, air, fuel, and raw materials. You can find these resources at space stations, depots, abandoned starships, and nearby planets. The time it takes to collect what you need may require the sacrifice of hundreds of brave souls.
- Air: Helps your people, you know, breathe. Runs out the fastest, but easy to find.
- Water: Humans are also fond of drinking now and then.
- Food: Lasts a long time, but much harder to find.
- Fuel: Easiest to find. Used for nearly everything too, from weapons and drives to repairs.
- Raw Materials: Blocks of rock, mineral and ice laser-hewn from asteroids or planets and used for repairs and upgrades. Storing them takes up a lot of space.
While exploring star systems, you'll come across parts and schematics from various places, such as space stations and abandoned ships. If you have enough resources you can manufacture weapons and upgrade your ships.
You'll have access to the replicator during your time in jumpspace. You'll be limited on what you're able to create not only by the resources available, but also by time.
Jumpdrive Studios is a small, dedicated team of game developers based in Portland, Oregon.
"They operate out of a chic Eastside office building, in a single room that might be mistaken for a utility closet were it not for the clusters of computer monitors and a giant whiteboard filled with mathematical formulas." - Ben Coleman, The Portland Mercury
As of the Kickstarter launch, we've been working full time on the game for six and a half months. We've all agreed to take meager salaries (or none at all) and forego other projects to bring this game to life. The trailer represents actual gameplay, but we are a long way from the finished, polished game we all want. The extra funds raised by Kickstarter will go towards the features we don't yet have in the game: additional sound design, a fully realized soundtrack, more events, more starships, more characters, more things to do. With your help, we can make XO the best game it can possibly be!
Square Enix Collective
Earlier this year, we announced XO on Square Enix Collective: a curated platform that enables creators to post ideas, and gamers to judge whether those ideas should become reality or not. The community voted in our favor, and now the Collective has decided to support us during our Kickstarter - while allowing us to retain our IP and full creative control.
To be clear: we're not getting money from Square Enix.
The Collective is good for us because we’re a small team with limited resources. They’ve provided guidance on XO’s production, and helped us refine our marketing strategy.
The Collective is good for you because they put us through a detailed assessment review. You can rest assured knowing that Square Enix is confident in our abilities, and that we're putting your money to good use!
Portland Indie Game Squad
PIGSquad is a group of indie game developers and video game enthusiasts located in the Portland area. It's been a constant source of education, opportunities, and inspiration. We've attended everything from game jams, drink n' draws, and talent talks - a few of us even met for the first time at these events!
Risks and challenges
Game development is challenging, but three of the five people on the team have game industry experience – over 20 games in total. Brian Jamison has run several successful software companies over the last 20 years, and designed many games including Underlight, one of the first MMOs. Corey Warning worked in the music industry for 10 years, and ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011. Brian Davis previously worked with Bungie on Halo 2, Atari/Midway on the arcade racing classic San Francisco Rush 2049, and Hellgate: London with Flagship Studios.
We are a small team, so sickness or loss of a team member could cause substantial delay. Games get pushed back all the time, but we've been working on XO full time for over six months, and at this point we believe we have identified all of the technical risks. Our strategy has been to attack what we think are the most challenging parts of the game first.
Balancing a procedural game is also a major hurdle. We made sure to get an early start on this via game demos and play testing, and we'll continue to balance throughout development with alpha and beta test groups.
We have a large community of people supporting XO, and if there's a problem we can't solve, we know where to turn.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)