The Spatialists: AureaSection Talk Naumachia

By Jim Rossignol on October 22nd, 2009 at 7:55 pm.


Last week we ran a video of an indie space combat game called Naumachia: Space Warfare. We got in touch with Italian developers AureaSection and Lorenzo Pasini agreed to answer some questions about the upcoming game. Some of you might already be familiar with the team’s work: they made Half-Life mod, The Specialists.

RPS: Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea of Naumachia? Are there any specific games that influence the design?

Pasini: Well, we had to evaluate what type/kind of game we could do ourselves without producing too many assets (we are three guys working on the game) and at the same time, look for a less “common” genre. Later on, space games had kept moving forward to commerce/RPG gameplay, and each time I try one of these.. well I’d say that the combat/action part really sucks, at least for someone like me that enjoyed titles named Freespace, X wing vs Tie fighter and other ones in which combat/dogfight were the focus of the game. We then had quite a good response from public, it seems that times are mature for a return of the space genre to a more “action” point of view. To completely fulfill the question, I’d like to add that we also like a lot ship/gear customization, so we can throw in a MechWarrior series style of tuning for the assets available to players (from a simple fighter to a large capital ship).

RPS: A related question – do you feel like space combat games have been neglected in the past few years?

Pasini: I’d say yes. So far I found few space titles oriented to combat/action, and even if we are adding a tactical/strategic component to the game, we don’t care much about commerce or economy issues, or at least, I’d accept such a gaming style that doesn’t punish combat with arguable control/feeling.

RPS: Will there be single-player aspects?

Pasini: You can play the game offline, trying the various scenarios as a preparation for the multiplayer part, but it will be just a “skirmish” mode, at least for our first release. If everything goes well, we do not exclude to add single-player campaign in further expansions (maybe playable also in coop with other friends).

RPS: Can you explain to us how your “free, but with a license option” payment system will work?

Pasini: You download the game, install it, register and try it free forever. However your rank during online matches, will never grow up beyond a certain limit; let’s say the maximum rank is 5, a free player won’t never go beyond 2nd. By this the players can try and enjoy the game but won’t be able to employ all the weapons/ships available to licensed users.

RPS: Tell us a bit about the team – who are you and how did you come to be making Naumachia?

Pasini: Well, we’re basically a very small team composed by 3 guys, two of which share part of the genetic code, Filippo and Michele (they are brothers of course!) From what I’m saying it’s clear that I’m the “alien” one between the two brothers. We are the same team that was behind the 2002 release of a well known Half-Life mod called The Specialists; our friendship (and collaboration) is more than ten years old.

Speaking of me, I’m a Biologist who has always been passionate for games with their design in general, and I’ve always liked modeling 3D objects in the free time, so these are my main areas of competence for Naumachia: Space Warfare, and they were basically the same at the time of TS. We are running after the desire to create a game “our way” that hopefully will meet the tastes of the public.

As you can see we were reality as a team also before starting our first stand alone project. If I have to say it all, we met during ’98, at the time playing LAN games in Michele and Filippo’s house (I remember we kept playing hours to Action Quake and/or Total Annihilation). Later on during that year I discovered Half-Life. The Specialists came almost naturally after that; we started by making a mod to be played during our lan matches and then we realized that we could polish it and release it to the public. We then had a pause (Filippo went working for Crytek some years) and I took my degree in the meantime.

RPS: What has been the biggest challenge in developing the game so far? And what do you still have left to do?

Pasini: The biggest challenge is to try to see the point in which a normal user that starts the game, has clear what to do with it (I mean controls, gameplay, interface and so on). I (we) realize that working alone on a game for so many months, might be problematic because what’s natural for us, doesn’t necessary is for someone that has never started the game. This is one of the big things left to improve.. the main one is always the same: release the game.

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53 Comments »

  1. Daniel says:

    This game looks seriously fantastic. Anticipation levels rising.

  2. Scroll says:

    I’ve been following this game for a while, and It looks like my perfect dream for a Space combat game. It seems pretty ambitious for three people though, I hope they have all the luck they need.

    And I know I will be pay for this title whenever it’s released, No more economy BS the X games drown you in.

    • OgunBadbooks says:

      excellent from what’s been shown so far, can’t wait to buy it – hopefully the controls won’t be too complex (doesn’t look that way so far). never been a fan of learning dozens of buttons just to play a video game. there are very few space games that pull off the right balance between straight-up dogfighting and nerdish twiddlery.

  3. Crimsoneer says:

    I’m excited! The Specialists was a hugely polished mod. If this is half as good, and it looks sexay, it will be great news.

  4. Serenegoose says:

    Wow. no proper single player mode. I’m no longer interested.

    • Magnus says:

      Same for me.

      I’m not one for online gaming these days, I would have liked a fleshed-out single player experience.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, skirmishes and multiplayer are no substitute for a campaign mode.

    • Vinraith says:

      Same. No SP (or watered down SP) = no sale.

    • Caiman says:

      I’ll gladly put the money I was going to use for Modern Warfare 2 into this game, single player or no, because I’d rather support a developer that’s trying to do something positive in my favorite neglected genre, rather than a developer that is giving PC gamers the middle finger.

  5. westyfield says:

    Wait, so is this license a subscription-based system or is it a one-off payment? That worries me.

    Also, apparently Naumachia is Latin for naval combat, trivia fans!

  6. Jason Moyer says:

    Game itself looks incredible. That might be the worst HUD I’ve ever seen in my life, though.

    • Sparvy says:

      Interestingly I have read a ton of comments on various sites that seem to be gushing over the minimalist HUD.

  7. Waltorious says:

    I’m glad to see them shout out to Freespace and the X-wing series… I hope that means this will have decent joystick support, and won’t be a “mouse flyer” like a lot of recent commercial games have been. I’m also disappointed by the lack of any real single player mode, but I’ll definitely still check it out, especially if I can do so for free. If the flight model is good I’ll probably end up purchasing it.

    • Wisq says:

      Given the movement speed in the game, I doubt it’ll be a joystick game. That definitely looks like rapid mouse movement, unless the video’s been artificially sped up.

  8. Drakkheim says:

    Man I hope they include a team based mode like Allegiance I might just cry a bit while I play. ( http://www.freeallegiance.org/ )

    • Heliocentric says:

      Allegiance was epic, never could get it to run properly even on modern hardware.

      This game could be great, for space fighter games where you can strafe in any right angle to forwards in a full circle you have 4 axis of motion and 3 axis of rotation. I never could manage all that, but my counting says a 360 pad can manage that, not even counting face buttons or the dpad.

      I might need to revisit the x series games with a
      printed out walkthrough.

      As for this game? It looks bloody lovely. Lets see that demo/free version.

    • Torgen says:

      I *so* loved Allegiance. People are actually still playing it?

    • Arathain says:

      Anybody who has experience with Allegiance: I started a thread in the forum. I’d love to know if I should try playing this. It sounds like both my cup of tea, and rather intimidating for a new player.

  9. The Unshaven says:

    Pretty!

  10. goodgimp says:

    Gimme gimme gimme!

  11. Fede says:

    I think I read about Naumachia on the old forum the first time. The project is interesting, I hope their business model works.

    Btw, it’s nice to read on RPS of games being made in my country, for a change. :P

  12. GammaRay says:

    The Specialists was one of my favorite HL mods. I bound keys to manipulate slo-mo on the server side; nothing beats shooting four guys with a shotgun in mid-air, then returning to full speed as you hit the ground.

    Having said that, I’m not much into online play. But….. maybe this will change my mind?

  13. jackflash says:

    This game looks so ridiculously awesome, I can’t wait. Will gladly pay.

  14. Stuk says:

    Wow, looks lovely already. I’m always up for more coop though…

  15. Pl4t0 says:

    the gameplay looks very solid, the HUD is shaping up to be great, and the graphics are amazing.

  16. 12kill4 says:

    anyone know where I can get a new pair of pants?

  17. Shadowcat says:

    Sad to hear there’s no single player campaign (which takes it off my radar), but understandable if they’re trying to focus on doing a small number of things well, on a limited budget. Good luck to ‘em. If I liked multiplayer games much, I’d definitely be interested :)

  18. Trithemius says:

    Maybe someone can mod an SP campaign, complete with economic systems? A commodities trading UI wouldn’t be graphically intensive, it’d just require lots of nerdy balancing and economy-engine building. If I could code my way out of a paper bag I’d have a go (although I *could* maybe manage the economic modelling stuff? Maybe?).

    This does assume that the team is happy to let modders in, but given their heritage I assume that they would. Is this a bad assumption on my part RPS?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      If you’re going to do that then just play X3 Terran Conflict which is better in that regard than anything anyone else could come up with.

  19. user@example.com says:

    Ooh, a cockpit view. Unfortunately, that trailer makes me want to play the final version of the BSG mod for freespace 2 slightly more than it does this. Raptors <3

  20. user@example.com says:

    “Q: Are Joysticks and other peripherals supported?
    A: Yes, we’ll add support for joysticks or other controllers, maybe TrackIR too. The game due to its nature however is developed around keyboard&mouse interface.”
    TrackIR <3

    • Warth0g says:

      ooh TrackIR in a sapce sim… nice…if this recaptures in any way the FreeSpace 2 vibe, you can count me in…

  21. Splatterpope says:

    It’s three people who so far have managed to cobble together something that looks professional enough to be a full commercial release, and they’ve as much as confirmed that some singleplayer aspect will be avaliable in the future.

  22. Jeremy says:

    This would be interesting, if not just for mucking about with, had I not left my joystick on another continent.

    I wonder about space sims sometimes. I’d like to see one that plays like the Vipers in BSG. Or perhaps they all do, and I just never noticed. Haven’t played any since x-wing or so.

    • CMaster says:

      Jeremy – be a little hard, as the physics applying to the Vipers in the new BSG changes throughout a single fight. Sometimes they fly atmospheric, sometimes “Newtonian”, sometimes half way between the two, etc.

    • Surgeon says:

      You should take a look at Jumpgate Evolution Jeremy.
      They’re going for a semi Newtonian flight model, based on their DANCER engine from the original Jumpgate.
      http://www.jumpgateevolution.com

  23. trdbglr says:

    Oh yes. Specialists was, for those not in the know, the greatest multiplayer FPS ever, demanding massively fast reflexes and high-speed creative multitasking. This game looks to operate on similar principles. I just wanna do some hull-hugging with a hulking dreadnought while jackin' it to techno, blasting blokes into little space-bits.

  24. Wisq says:

    There seems to be a surprising amount of air in outer space, judging from the crazy manoeuvres in that video… That, or an insane amount of lateral thrust. :)

    Those who are interested in multiplayer outer-space shootiness sooner rather than later might be interested in the “Eternal Silence” mod for Half-Life 2. Hybrid space/infantry game where your main goal is to blow up the opposing capital ship, and your means include attacking directly in bombers, flying fighters to take out enemy bombers, blowing up inbound enemy nukes, and/or landing on their ship and taking out ship systems on foot such as weapons and shields.

    Rather fun, though sadly underpopulated these days.

  25. GameOverMan says:

    About the HUD in space games… I think that they detract from the atmosphere IMHO, unless we are talking about a hardcore simulation. If the game is more or less arcadey I don't like a screen cluttered with boxes, triangles and circles over the actual ship/weapon/object models and sometimes even some coloured bars to show their shield and/or damage level. For me, it's like playing a Sinclair Spectrum game over a gorgeous changing backdrop, because I end up trying to hit those basic shapes ignoring the shader heavy graphics that lie underneath.

  26. Narwolf says:

    You could always try Ace of Angels which uses a Newtonian flight model. Of course that turns out to just be rather unpleasant, but I suppose it’s a matter of taste.

  27. Crush says:

    Looks cool but without a SP campaign I’ve no interest. Fun “space combat” games are dead largely because it was two primary factors that buried them.

    1) PC only genre – never made the leap to consoles despite the long running Ace Combat series which is still popular [featuring planes but the same basic game].

    The huge costs of current day games means no-one is going to bet on a “space combat” title unless they are amateur or indie devs especially if its PC only.

    2) Only 3 developers ever really mastered it and didn’t pass on the skills to others or for other devs get the opportunity to learn from them
    Lucasarts – X-Wing/Tie Fighter crew left and set up Totally Games which went nowhere.

    Volition – Freespace devs are part of THQ and have pretty much implied Freespace is dead, they’ll never work on it again.

    Origin – Wing Commander, everyone knows what happened to them, Digital Anvil sprung up around some of the original WC devs but after two lancer games they died out. There was a third in development for the Xbox 360 but Microsoft canned it.

    The best I can hope for is that someone does a special edition of those old games and puts them up on PSN/XBLA/Steam to try and breathe some life and interest into the genre again.

  28. Chaz says:

    I think the Babylon 5 project mod thingill going, which I think was based on the Freespace engine, but its a stand alone download. I tried playing it a while back and found it to be rather good. However I got stumped by this bit where you had to navigate down this worm hole type thing, and couldn’t get any further. Worth a look anyway, even though its been out for a while now.

    http://ifh.babylonfive.ru/

  29. Chaz says:

    What I meant to say “I think the Babylon 5 project mod thing is still going”.

  30. The Sombrero Kid says:

    if it had a good strong campaign i’d be sold.

  31. The Sombrero Kid says:

    xwings physics was completely Newtonian,

  32. innociv says:

    Can’t wait to buy it.

    I love multiplayer-only game developers.

    Multiplayer-only games tend to be so great if that’s your thing, because that’s what the devs wanted to make.

  33. Aubrey says:

    “Later on, space games had kept moving forward to commerce/RPG gameplay, and each time I try one of these.. well I’d say that the combat/action part really sucks, at least for someone like me that enjoyed titles named Freespace, X wing vs Tie fighter and other ones in which combat/dogfight were the focus of the game.”

    Complete agreement. Been wanting something with really lovely combat for a long time. Even tried making my own for a TIGSource competition, but only had a couple of months spare time to work on it. Will be watching this one with great anticipation.

  34. zornbringer says:

    jesus. this looks so good. the graphical style reminds me a bit to freespace2, just better.

    i always find though that freelancer had the best mouse movement in the space shooter genre. freespace is more like a pain in the ass with mouth, but its playable.

    looking very much forward to this game. gimme beta client now. :)

  35. Johnny Go-Time says:

    Agreed with TotalBiscuit…I really hated X3 for the first 2 weeks or so, but after printing about 50 pages of reference material, and hammering my head at it the whole time…something clicked and it became wonderful. Fantastic, living economy…I played it intensely for about 2 months and loved it…then real life intruded…and now I am afraid to ever try it again and realize that I’d have to go thru all the effort again just to become functional…

    • Johnny Go-Time says:

      Sorry my previous was trying to respond to Trithemius and TotalBiscuit, at which point “X3″ was the conversation at hand…

      Anyway Naumachia – holy crap! What an awesome feeling of motion, speed, exhilaration…It feels like the first time I saw Battlestar Galatica spaceship combat, the shaky cams and speed…looks great…

  36. trdbglr says:

    Oh yeah. Multiplayer only games all the way. That way there's no bloody compromising between the sp and mp.

    TS FTFW!

  37. trdbglr says:

    Looks like Wipeout in space w/ guns

    i.e. sick