Interview: Developer Jorge Pacheco

Not many games dominate their genres in quite the way Homeworld has for space RTS games. Many have tried to break into the genre by creating gimmicks that, more often than not, don’t bring much depth to their games. For Jorge Pacheco, developing as the one man team Autarca Studio, the answer was to instead draw more heavily from the source of RTS greatness while incorporating some newer proven mechanics to create something of his own. I was lucky enough to ask him a bit about himself, his experience with developing a game without the help of a team, and his entry into professional game development, Nomad Fleet.

Q: Who are you, and what brought you into game development?

I’m a 33 years old programmer living in Santiago de Chile. I have around 14 years of experience working in typical corporate companies (and bored to death of it) but I’ve always wanted to make games. During the last years I’ve been learning during my free time and making small projects but finally this year I felt confident enough to start a bigger commercial project.

Q: What inspired you to make Nomad Fleet?

Mostly Homeworld, I’m a longtime fan of the series and I always thought that its 3D movement mechanics are underutilized in the space RTS market.

Q: What other sources do you draw from that influence your design of ships, gameplay, and overall story?

There’s also a bit of inspiration from FTL  in the campaign design, basically I like the idea of a non linear campaing with random encounters.

Q: What difficulties do you face as a one man development studio?

I faced many difficulties but they were mostly for being a new developer without known games  rather than being a one man dev. For a start I couldn’t secure any kind of funding so I had to cut a lot of original features of the game (modding, multiplayer, customization, etc). Also it wasn’t my plan to make the game alone, I tried to attract talented and committed people but if you don’t have games to show then they’ll just treat you as another “idea guy”. I had a teammate for writing but he lasted like two weeks.

At the end, I decided that I had to risk it and make a game with my current resources and skill instead of waiting for some help to fall from the sky, the current product is far from being the one I had in mind when I started but making it is a necessary step in order to enter the industry… who knows, if the game does fine in Steam then I may be able to add some of the original features I had planned.

Q: Does the Galactic Map route (As seen in the screenshot) change on each play through, or is it always the same?

For the moment the layout of the map is static, what changes are the content of the sectors and their order. If the players are interested in a procedural map I’ll research it and implement it.

Q: The Galactic Map looks pretty large. How long do you expect a single play through to take?

Actually the current galactic map is not that large. Most encounters are pretty short so for a new player it should take around 5-6 hours to visit all the sectors.

I hope to increase the size of the map during Early Access though.

Q: What features or aspects do you think make Nomad Fleet stand out from other Space RTS games?

Well, the combination of a non linear campaign and 3D movement is pretty rare in my opinion.

Q: The ability to move in three dimensions is surprisingly rarely used, even in space games. How does this factor into the gameplay? Are players, or the AI, able to attack from above or below to inflict increased damage?

At this moment there’s no increased damage if you attack a ship from a flank or the rear, what changes is that most turrets in capital ships have limited arcs so attacking them from a different angle than the front could save you from receiving extra damage. The A.I.  doesn’t really know about flanks so it will assign ships to targets based on their type and function rather than position or rotation.

Q: How large a fleet can a player build?

At this moment you can have around 10 capital ships, around 30 corvettes and around 40 fighters (the fighters and corvettes cap is increased every time you get a new carrier). I hope to increase this limit and the ship variety but first I want to see how the player manages with the current number.

Q: How far can players customize their ships? How do they create different types of ships?

There’s no plans for specific ship customization at the moment. There’s a limited set of ships designs, you start with a few and get the rest by trading (I hope to include some reverse engineering scenarios too).

Q: What sorts of resources can be harvested from asteroids and ships? Will different ships need different combinations and amounts of resources?

No, there’s only a single resource type: RU.

Q: How complex is the ship upgrade aspect? What parts of the ships can be upgraded?

For now, you can only research passive upgrades (+damage, +armor, etc) but I hope to include buyable upgrades for every ship during Early Access. For example, you can decide to install a missile launcher in a destroyer for additional defense against bombers or you can decide to add a torpedo launcher for increased anti-capital damage.

Overall, Nomad Fleet is shaping up to be an interesting title, blending aspects of Homeworld and FTL, promising quite a bit of replay value. The battles will require some thinking, with utilizing the 3D field to maneuver around turret fire. Autarca Studio has worked hard to bring Nomad Fleet to PC, Mac, and Linux, and is working on language localization as well. Ultimately an ambitious title from this new developer, and with Nomad Fleet launching on Steam Early Access on July 14th, I can’t wait to test it out myself, and lead my fleet across the Galaxy.

Check out Nomad Fleet on Steam, available through Early Access on July 14th!

Learn more about the game, its creator, and catch the alpha build demo at its official website!

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Dimitri Jordan is a freelance writer and editor, pursuing a Master's in Applied Sociology and a PhD in Gerontology. When he's not in class he enjoys looking up at the night sky, imagining who would win between the Geth and the Borg, and wishing he could become a xenoanthropologist.

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