Developer Interview: Muse Games Talks “Guns of Icarus Online” for PS4, Cross-Platform Play, Adventure Mode and More

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Back at Sony’s Gamescom Conference, many indies were mentioned that would be coming to the PlayStation 4. One in particular that hit PC and Mac via Steam back in October 2012 called “Guns of Icarus Online” will be gracing Sony’s highly-anticipated console. I reached out to developer Muse Games to discuss the details and excitement they’re going through about bringing their big title to the PS4. I got to speak with Howard Tsao, the Founder and CEO of Muse Games, as well as Eric Chung, the Lead Designer of GoIO, about what fans and newcomers can expect to see in the PS4 edition of their game.

Marcello: First off, thanks for taking the time to provide us an interview for your upcoming PS4 title, Guns of Icarus Online. Can you describe a bit of what the game is about and how the project all started?

Howard Tsao: Not a problem! In Guns of Icarus Online you and your crew slip into specific roles to steer the ship in and out of combat, hop on big guns to take out enemies, and make desperate repairs in hopes you survive another encounter with airships that approach you from beyond the horizon.

We wanted to take the thrilling moments of using the big mounted turret guns, which were always fleeting in games, and make it the core of the game. We wanted to create the thrill of blowing stuff up with mammoth artillery. To complement the offensive element, we wanted to reference time management games to create a frantic and intense repair, defensive component.
To make teamwork really work, we decided to place players as a crew in an enclosed space, so the crew triumph and perish together as a single entity. The crew as the unit of combat needs to coordinate which guns to man, what needs repairs, with all hell breaking loose on deck as other ships are torn apart

Marcello: Guns of Icarus Online has been out since late October for the PC and Mac, and most recently Linux through Steam. However, the PS4 edition will mark not only the game’s console debut, but for you guys (the developer) as well. How does it feel knowing that you’re bringing a title to a highly-anticipated console?

Eric Chung: We’re super excited. It’s a huge milestone for us as a team, but it also presents us with new opportunities and challenges that we’re going to tackle head on. Since we use Unity3D, we’re hoping that porting to the PS4 will be relatively quicker. However, we’ll need to do a lot of work in terms of the UI and in-match voice communications. As a designer, I’m personally interested in how we can play with the PS4 DualShock controller. In general, it’s an awesome feeling knowing that we’ll hit consoles with the big boys.

Marcello: Guns of Icarus Online is a unique team-based competitive game. However, there was talk of adding an Adventure Mode into the Steam version. What are the odds we may see that coming to the PS4 edition? Also, will there be any specific additions brought to the PS4 version?

Eric Chung: Adventure Mode will still be a team-based game, doing everything through your airship still. What’s been really amazing with working with Sony so far is that it seems that it integrates well with Steam’s account system, and PSN will be able to support our own servers. The servers are important, since we handle all our physics calculations on them when you play the game, but in the future we’ll also be keeping track of all the economic and political changes in Adventure Mode there too. These servers could be the same between desktop and PS4 players. We can optimize player experience without segmenting player base. As for PS4 additions or features, if the thing to keep in mind is to have desktop and PS4 sky pirates playing together and to make sure that things are as balanced as possible; however, we will be looking to do something special for PS4 players as well.

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Marcello: What comparisons can you make between developing for the PC and the PS4? Has it been fairly easy to grasp development on the PS4? Are there any noticeable differences to developing on the PS4?

Howard Tsao: With PS4, we are just getting started, but between Unity and PS4’s architecture, the porting work should be pretty straight forward. The controller support, UI, and in game voice support work will require more time and effort, but we’ll get there.

Marcello: I reached out to the community asking them what they would like to know about Guns of Icarus Online, as well as PS4 development. A Twitter user Dan (@_dotero) asked this: “How many GB of RAM can you use for game development?”

Eric Chung: Right now on desktop, we target fairly low powered machines while still having the game look great on them. You will be able to run our game with lower settings on a machine with 2gb of RAM 256mb of VRAM (graphics card) and that’s a very old machine we’re talking about. The PS4 has 8gbs, which opens the door to a lot of pretty things. However, being an indie developer it’s going to be even harder to take advantage of that having a small team. What we can say that when we release GoIO on the PS4, it will melt through frames on max settings.

Marcello: How many players will Guns of Icarus Online support on the PS4? Will there be cross-platform play with Steam users?

Howard Tsao: We’ll have to make sure we scale with more players in game overall. While having cross platform in game voice communications will be a challenge, we are committed in making cross-platform play happen between Steam and PS3 players.

Marcello: Roughly how many maps, ships and modes can players look forward to venturing through?

Eric Chung: For Adventure Mode, that’s still TBD. I want to say a lot because we’re working on advanced tools to help us generate a lot of maps dynamically so our artists don’t have to hand decorate everything like they do now. Ships will still be handcrafted but might be in a more modular fashion to get more variety. For game modes, we’ll also have a good variety. You’ll get a glimpse of these modes when we release Co-op DLC in the near future, probably some time before we land on the PS4. Currently, for the Skirmish pvp game, there are already over 20 maps and 4 distinct game modes. With the Co-op and Adventure Mode DLCs, there will be many more.

Marcello: Now here’s the big question, what’s the target release date as to when PS4 owners can look forward to getting Guns of Icarus Online?

Howard Tsao: Right now, I can only say some time in 2014. There are a few things, such as Unity PS4 license, cross platform in game voice comm, PS4 QA testing, ESRB filing, etc., that we are wading into for the first time, so it’ll take us a bit before we can give better estimates on scope of work and release target.

Marcello: Thanks again for the interview Howard and Eric. We look forward to hearing and seeing more about Guns of Icarus Online!

There’s no denying that the indie momentum is strong for the PS4 and it’s excellent to see indie developers getting their shot at bringing their games to consoles. Are you excited for Guns of Icarus Online? Already a fan? Sound off your thoughts in the comments below!