May 12, 2014 2:50 PM | Staff
When Australian indie dev Jarrad Woods (a.k.a. Farbs) first released Captain Forever back in 2009, it was just the start of a long and winding phase of experimentation. In 2014, we'll be seeing more results of that experimentation.
For those who missed the boat, the Captain series sees players floating around space, attacking enemy ships, then plucking parts from the wreckages and attaching them to your own vessel, eventually building your own behemoth battlestar.
Earlier this month, Farbs announced not only that he was working on a brand new game based around the original Captain Forever concept, but that his old Irrational Games buddy Dean Tate is working on Captain Forever Remix, a re-envisioning of the original release.
"Card Hunter was fun and all, but I never intended for it to eat up three and a half years of my life," Farbs tells me. "It's good to be back."
Let's talk about the Remix first. When artist Dean Tate and designer Brian Chan, both triple-A industry veterans, decided to join up and start Pixelsaurus Games, they had plenty of risk to deal with from the get-go.
Tate was in the process of rediscovering his art-driven side, while the pair were learning Unity, and coming up with the concept for their first game. That's when Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan Games suggested that Tate approach Farbs about making a HD remake of Captain Forever.
"Dean and I had worked together at Irrational, so I know that Dean is great, and that I can trust him with my game," says Farbs. "We got to talking, and we realized that this project would be way more fun as a remix rather than a bland HD remake."
"Brian and I approached him about making this remix for a couple main reasons," adds Tate. "To let us stretch out and develop some new skills (art for me, code for Brian, though we both have light backgrounds in those areas) and also because it makes a lot of sense given my history with and love of the game. I played the crap out of Forever and Successor when they came out, so I'm really psyched that Farbs liked the idea."
Captain Forever Remix came from the idea of remixing songs. Tate and Chan asked themselves, if music can do it, why can't games? And thus the idea of taking work from a peet and remixing it with their own designs was born, along with a soundtrack from Super Meat Boy's Danny Baranowsky.
"Card Hunter was fun and all, but I never intended for it to eat up three and a half years of my life. It's good to be back."
"You can see already from Dean's art that they're having fun and taking this in their own direction," Farbs says. "I'm really excited to see how it evolves."
More information on Captain Forever Remix can be found on the official blog -- but what of Farbs' own efforts? Having finished up on Card Hunter, Woods is now putting all his efforts into making his own next step for the Captain series.
Back in 2011, Farbs released the first alpha build of Captain Jameson -- an RPG take on the original Captain Forever. He's now picked up the concept again, giving it a new lease of life as The Dawn Star.
This new approach once again explores space after the fall of civilization -- however this time around, you're the last person alive, and it's an experience based around exploration and solitude.
"Previously it was called Captain Jameson, and it didn't really know what it wanted to be," he says. "As the name suggests I started out trying to make 'Elite-In-Captain-Forever,' but the world always felt empty, and that felt right."
When Farbs came back to the Captain series after his time with Card Hunter, the Captain Forever legacy was weighing down on him -- so he decided to start anew, and make this new project its own game.
"It'll be set in the Captain Forever universe," he notes, "but unlike the other games it'll be a downloadable title, it'll use detailed 3D models rather than neon wireframe abstraction, and it'll break some of the rules about acknowledging that it is in fact a video game."
For Farbs, this latest development is the realization of a work he started nearly five years ago -- the coming of age of the Captain Forever concept.
"I rarely know what I'm building when I start to make something, and the Captain Forever series is no different," he laughs. "I always felt there was some larger game that ought to fit around Captain Forever, and Captain Jameson was my first attempt to find it."
"I tried a lot of things in Captain Jameson, followed many false epiphanies about how to magically fix the game, and eventually found something that I like but which doesn't fit my preconceptions about what the game would be. The Dawn Star is Captain Jameson remade this new gameplay and the feelings it evokes. I can't say I'm sure that this is the true path for the game, but it seems like a good idea right now."
If you're a Captain Forever supporter, you already have access to weekly builds and dev videos for The Dawn Star. You can find more information on the official website.
[Mike Rose wrote this article for sister site Gamasutra]