Interview: Team Jolly Roger Talks Interplanetary

Posted on by Ryan

I’ve been on a kick lately to play something space related, but I didn’t really want to play anything RPG like. When I stumbled upon Interplanetary I was instantly impressed. The idea of being able to build your own planet and fight other planets instead of just other groups on your home planet sounded amazing. It made me want to put on Darth Vader helmet and blow other planets to smithereens. Plus when I found out that it was being made by Team Jolly Roger, I just had to know more. I had the chance to chat with the team about Interplanetary earlier this week.

Gaming Conviction:What was the inspiration behind the game?
Team Jolly Roger: The idea for Interplanetary began to form back in 2010. Most of us were still studying game development at Kajaani University of Applied Sciences. By that time, an early version of Team Jolly Roger had already formed to work on group assignments. After finishing a traditional artillery game for a C++ class, Interplanetary started to take form in a coffee table conversation: “How cool would it be if it was possible to shoot all the way to another side of a planet?”, “What if there were two planets and you could use gravity wells to snipe the enemy?” The idea brewed for a few years. In 2013, we had a chance to start working on our first big commercial game and the honor went to Interplanetary.

GC: What made you decide to create a turn-based strategy game rather than an RPG like other space themed games like EVE Online and Star Wars?
TJR: The very core idea was to make an artillery game with a gravitational twist. Most artillery games are traditionally turn-based and we agreed that that would make most sense with Interplanetary, since we didn’t want it to feel like a light arcade experience. The strategy elements, such as base building, came very naturally when we wanted to expand the game to something more complex. We wanted Interplanetary to have a bit of a hard scifi flavor and make it feel like you were managing an actual planet.

GC: How far are you into development at this time?
TJR: Interplanetary was released out of Early Access on May 12th 2015. The version released back then basically had all the features that we originally determined for the version 1.0. A bit more, actually. We still intend to continue updating the game with new features as we are able. During the development and especially during our stay on Early Access, a lot of new features and ideas kept popping up, some of which are quite viable to still be added, but couldn’t make it to the actual release itself.

GC: You have previous experience in game development, but all of them have been Mobile based. How difficult was the transition from going to Mobile games to PC?
TJR: Technically, it was a pretty natural transition. All of us had been working on PC games before, even though Team Jolly Roger’s previous releases were mostly for mobile. The big challenge was the scale of the project. This was something much bigger than any of us had worked on before and it required a completely new kind of project management.

GC: What kind of things have you overcome as a team while developing Interplanetary so far?
TJR: Wow, so many things… It’s been a real learning experience. As I said, this was the biggest project so far, and as a result, the team was quite a bit bigger than anyone was used to working with. The bigger the team, the more difficult it is to manage and we learned a lot about communication in general. Pretty basic things for a new studio, I think, but we also had to deal with the actual founding of the company, while knee deep in the development of Interplanetary. When we started the game, we were still working from school, but eventually had to spread our wings and move away. Still, perhaps the biggest setback we had to manage was when one of our programmers had to quit mid project. We didn’t get a replacement, so another programmer took over his duties on top of his own. This slowed down development pretty considerably.

GC: Interplanetary won the Indie Sensation Award at this year’s Nordic Game Awards. What was your reactions like when you found out you had won?
TJR: I didn’t actually attend the event myself, but there were couple of Jolly Rogers there to accept the award. I don’t think any of us expected it – I sure didn’t! I was just starting a relaxing game night when suddenly Skype and Twitter go crazy and there they are on the stream, standing on a stage! It was a very pleasant surprise and also kind of revitalizing after the then recent crunch to get the game finished. Kind of wish I had been there in person, though.

GC: Since Sasu (the Game’s Designer) is a huge Star Wars fan and Interplanetary takes place in space, does that mean we’ll see some Star Wars related Easter Eggs?
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JR: Well, of course! Nothing very big, even though people have been asking to have an actual playable Death Star! I’ve been hiding all kinds of weird references in the names of the cities. Though some of them are kind of ridiculously obscure and basically just for my own entertainment, there’s plenty of Star Wars in there too!

GC: Players will be able to research futuristic tech as they progress through the game. Can you tell us about some of them?
TJR: As the game progresses, players are able to use a tech tree to research technologies, which unlock new buildings, upgrades or city projects. We tried to somewhat ground the technologies to reality and come up with relatively plausible ways to wage interplanetary warfare. A lot of the technologies are things that are expected to be a reality in the coming years, such as Vertical Farming or based on hypothesis, such as the Octaazacubane, a hypothetical explosive chemical compound. Ultrasonic Projection is a particularly interesting one – Interplanetary allows you to build shield generators on your planet, but we wanted to come up with a bit more believable technology than a scifi force field. It had to block both projectiles and lasers but not be too far out there. We figured that sound waves might work, and what do you know, that technology did already exist as an idea!

GC: What kind of infrastructures are players allowed to build?
TJR: The players are able to unlock a bunch of different buildings, from railguns to offshore mines. They can be built anywhere around the planet, but to keep them functional, they must be a part of an active power grid of buildings. This gives the possibility of building in many different ways, as long as the buildings are connected to power properly. You may want to spread them out, concentrate them on a small area under some defenses… Many players have their favored building strategies.

GC: Where can all of our readers find out more about Interplanetary?
TJR: The main Interplanetary hub with all the relevant links is found at interplanetarygame.com. You can also find the game on Steam here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/278910/. If you want to follow our development and participate by giving feedback, you may also want to check out our Twitter: https://twitter.com/teamjollyroger, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teamjollyroger and Tumblr: http://teamjollyroger.tumblr.com/