Habitat: A Thousand Generations In Orbit is making its way to Xbox One via the power of ID@XBOX and Kickstarter. We managed to grab a quick Q&A with the game’s designer and head honcho at 4gency, Charles Cox.
Please introduce yourself. What is your role at 4gency and on Habitat?
I’m Charles Cox. I founded 4gency in late 2011, and I’m the designer of Habitat. In late 2013 I left my career in professional game development to focus totally on Habitat, and now, with a team of four others, we’re making Habitat real!
So….sell it to us. Why should gamers back Habitat on Kickstarter and then ultimately buy the game on Xbox One?
Habitat is a physics-based space strategy game about building, flying, and fighting using space stations you make out of space junk in Earth’s orbit. If the idea of crashing space stations together sounds like fun to you, then Habitat is your kind of game! What I love about having it on Xbox One is that it’s a unique experience for consoles, a kind of game that gives you creative freedom, stretches your mind, and because of the space setting, is perfect for that cinematic console experience. Funding us on Kickstarter not only helps us make the game as good as it can be, but also rewards you with the final game when it comes out on PC, Mac, Linux or Xbox One, in addition to all sorts of other goodies we’ve got at various funding levels.
Where did the idea first come from and were there any games which provided inspiration?
I’ve always been a fan of space games ever since my first 8086-XT PC and Flight Simulator 1.0, where I tried to fly straight up and punch out of the atmosphere. Didn’t work, of course, but the intent was obvious from an early age. I have pilots and aerospace engineers in my family, so we were always taking trips to museums, and one of my favorite experiences as a teen was Space Camp. Tons of space and strategy games have had a big part in my life. Spaceward Ho, Descent, Outpost, Alpha Centauri, X-Wing… flash forward a bit! After working in games at places like Sierra, Microsoft, and Zipper Interactive for ten years, everything came together during a trip to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Who can say what exactly made all the synapses fire in my mind – all I know is just an hour later I was sketching out the first vision of Habitat right there on a napkin at a pizza restaurant – and it’s never left me alone since.
How challenging is Habitat’s gameplay? How will it be made more difficult for those who like more of a challenge?
I’m a big believer in matching the challenge to the player. Habitat’s campaign mode is split into three parts with increasing challenge. Part one, you learn to build and defend against the environment of space. When you’re ready, you punch through an asteroid field and enter part two, where you start fighting other habitats as well as the nanomachines that are eating Earth (yep, we’re doing nanomachines), and then in the third part it’s the final showdown. What I love about the campaign is that the player can choose just how fast they want to progress – we’re not artificially going to hold you back. So, if you want to speedrun and take on the final showdown with your scrappiest, quickest-built station, you’ll get an increasing challenge that will test you to the limits.
The first Kickstarter funding target has been hit but what happens next? Will we see any of the stretch goals attempted even if the funding levels aren’t quite reached?
The Stretch Goals are there so we can guarantee more fun features for the community. If we hit a stretch goal, that feature will be in the game, period. Now if we can’t hit every stretch goal, those missed features could still get built, but it’ll have to be weighed in with all the other features we need to create for the game, so it may come later or it may not come at all. We’re a small team so we need to stay realistic.
Will we be seeing the exact same game released across all platforms? Other than the controller types, will there be any major differences between the versions?
Our intent is to make sure Habitat stays Habitat on all platforms. We believe all our audiences want the full range of creativity, strategy, and physics-based fun Habitat can offer, so our goal is to keep features authentic across all platforms. For Xbox One we are investigating a few extra goodies since we’ve got things like Kinect, though.
And with that in mind, will releases be simultaneous across Xbox One, PC, Mac and Linux? Any thoughts of bringing the game to Xbox 360?
Simultaneous releases across all platforms are the goal, we’ll have more information on our schedule as we move forward into Early Access for the PC, Mac and Linux versions. Right now no Xbox 360 version is planned; as a small team we need to be careful how much parallel work we subject ourselves to!
Kinect is a big deal with Xbox One. Any plans to incorporate voice or motion controls into Habitat?
I think voice controls could be a big deal! They’re the fastest way to give deep contextual commands without tons of button pushing. Like this example: Say you’ve got a space station built but you’re running out of oxygen. There’s a whole field of space junk around you but you don’t know which kind of space junk has oxygen you can use. So you say “Habitat – find oxygen!” to your Kinect, and all of a sudden the oxygen-rich junk is glowing so you can tell where it is. I can imagine how many button presses that would take – how many presses you save doing that kind of thing, and it’s mindblowing.
We’ve read you can attach pretty much any debris or junk to each other, what is the strangest looking contraption we’ll come across?
You can attach anything to anything, it’s true! My favorite contraption so far has been the double wrecking ball; a big spindly thing with grappling hooks dragging two huge asteroids. You set it spinning like a top with counter-rotating rockets and it just smashes everything. Bonus points if you can include Cyber Lady Liberty’s head!
And finally, why does Lady Liberty look like a cyborg?
Habitat is set in the year 11,000, so humanity’s had to make some modifications to Lady Liberty during that time. There were some serious wars both on the ground and in space, some statues got involved, that’s about all we can say so far. But it’s nothing compared to the nanomachines that are eating Earth whole – which is why mankind put rockets on everything and sent it all up to space! Orbit is the only safe place left, and that’s where you’ll be making a new home for humankind.
Our thanks go out to Charles for agreeing to speak to us about Habitat. We hope you agree that it looks like a rather awesome idea and should be a great addition to Xbox One.
At time of writing, there are less than 48 hours of the Kickstarter campaign left to run but that’s still plenty of time for you to get involved. $35 sees you grab an Xbox One version of the game but obviously, if you like the look of the game as much as we do, you’ll most definitely want to consider some of the other funding tiers, if only so you can play with that awesome looking double wrecking ball!