We previously had a chance to talk to James Mayo, the president of 8 Circuit Studios, about the company, this time we get to talk about Project Genesis.
The previous interview focused on the studio itself and the direction they’re going in. Now, after taking part in the playtest, we talk about the game itself, what we can expect from it, past experiences and plans looking forward.
GameBuz - First of all, in the previous interview you mentioned that Project Genesis began as a "3D rogue-like space game". Could you elaborate a bit on that and tell us more about it, and do you think you'll ever come back to that game?
James Mayo - Certainly! We originally wanted a game that we could iterate on quickly with a small number of people. We thought it might be fun to make a space roguelike and focus more on frenetic action, as well as make interior environments fully 3D. FTL served as a great deal of inspiration.
However, these kinds of games are not our primary expertise, so we were spending a lot of time exploring gameplay. In the end, we decided to play to our strengths, which is mostly in FPS and space combat/flight sims. Once we made that change, we started making some good progress.
We might come back to it. Now that the team is bigger, it seems like our capabilities and iterative design approach would make the exploration process more efficient.
GameBuz - It’s nice to hear that you’re considering going back to it, it sounded interesting to us. When it comes to the current project, Project Genesis, what monetization models are you considering for it when it launches?
James Mayo - Currently, we're thinking Project Genesis should be F2P with cosmetic microtransactions. So we have built a pretty heavy back end system to support F2P live games.
GameBuz: Gamers are usually wary of F2P games, have you already put some consideration in on that topic? How do you plan on keeping it fair and balanced, while still making the microtransactions alluring?
James Mayo - Yes, that is presumably because of "pay to win"? Right. I think we've learned a lot of lessons watching other teams find their way in F2P models. Our community has been pretty emphatic that if we go F2P that we should have the microtransactions be cosmetic only.
GameBuz - And based on what I've seen from the game so far, I'm guessing the cosmetics will be skins for ships, avatars and weapons?
James Mayo - Yes, that is the best place to start, we think. We have some plans for other customization and skin-based options, but we're keeping those secret until we can polish up our gameplay experience a bit more.
GameBuz - It’s really good to hear that microtransactions aren’t the main focus considering the state of the industry. Have you considered a season and battle pass system for Project Genesis maybe?
James Mayo - We have indeed. It seems like a natural fit. There's some discussion around a single player campaign, and so that work will play a part in how we prioritize our efforts moving forward. More single player, or more season and battle pass? We have a little more work to do on that front before determining which production plan to lock into place first.
GameBuz - Considering the single player campaign you just mentioned and the different game modes that were talked about during the playtest, do you still feel comfortable about the late 2020 release date with so many things planned, and who would you consider your target audience for Project Genesis?
James Mayo - Yes, that does seem a bit tight, doesn't it? Actually, with live game development, and our open production model (encouraging the community to join us on the journey of building a game), release dates become a bit more fluid.
This is because you can continue to iterate on a game after its initial release. So for 2020, we are planning on having a very short "featurette" story which consists of 3 levels that teach the player how to play.
We anticipate having a solid primary game mode, but adding more depending on how quickly we can get the first mode locked in. The season's pass, is something that we would want to release in "General Access" in late 2020, but the single player campaign would likely come after our intended release date.
GameBuz - Could you tell me more about blockchains and Project Genesis, I still don't understand quite clearly what the idea is. All that comes to mind on the topic is Bitcoin, but it does sound interesting.
James Mayo - In sort of an overly simplistic way of explaining it, the blockchain operates kind of like a public database, more technically, a public ledger.
Most people know about Bitcoin, but there's a lot of blockchains out there. We use Ethereum which has a special property that allows for some additional flexibility. So we want to use the Ethereum blockchain to create characters, and other things, that can live forever.
Why is this so special? Well, in our longer term vision, we see a time when a character you create, evolve, and invest time in, can be used in multiple games. Project Genesis is where this concept will begin, so to speak.
GameBuz - That does make things a lot clearer. Now that the first part of the playtest for this build has passed, what are your impressions, how do you feel about it? And for those who wish to join the next playtest, when will it be happening?
James Mayo - We're pretty stoked. Terry, our Producer, remains only cautiously optimistic about the results. We name our major playtest builds, this one was called Babylon. The next one will be called Cassiopeia.
Each playtest is designed to test our ability to achieve milestones in the development life cycle. We'll continue to run playtests on Babylon for another couple weeks because we're still seeing if our servers can handle more users.
That means we'll be inviting more and more people to participate. Check your emails if you've already signed up to participate in our pre-alpha playtests.
For Cassiopeia, we're hoping to let even more players participate - we're shooting for sometime in December for that playtest.
If you haven't signed up yet, you can apply to participate in playtests on our website. We're also inviting people to join our Pilot Program too, to get even earlier access to insider builds.
GameBuz - Finally, is there something you would like to say about/to the community behind Project Genesis and the team working on it?
James Mayo - We're all pretty excited to be a part of an amazing community, and I feel very fortunate to have such a great team to work with. It can be scary to put one's creative works out into people's hands because we all want them to have a great experience.
However, our friendly and supportive community has been with us every step of the way - so I suppose I want to thank them.
And if anyone thinks a space combat game where you can also fight in FPS mode is a game they'd be interested in, we'd love to invite them into our Discord to join us along for the ride.
Thank you so much Nick! Great questions!
GameBuz - Thank you for your time. That was great and I’m glad we had a chance to talk. I wish you and the rest of the team the best of luck with Project Genesis.
Project Genesis seems like an amazing game, make sure to check out our very, very early impressions of the game.