[Please note that development on the game engine for Hullbreach Uncloaked began on January 5, 2014. While they already look quite promising, all screenshots are from very early builds.]
Hullbreach Studios has long been a provider of innovative games and creation tools on Nintendo hardware. Hullbreach Online was their seminal MMORPG on the Wii and DS, provided free of cost to the Nintendo community at large. A massive community grew around Hullbreach and this inspired its creators to dream even larger – with the dream of becoming licensed Wii U developers and creating a 3D space shooter MMORPG of epic proportions. They want nothing more than to satisfy the fantasies of Wii U owners and deliver a sweeping sci-fi online game of depth, atmosphere, and exploration.
Hullbreach Studio has been teasing the reveal of their game and we\’re very thankful they approached us with the opportunity of hosting their esteemed reveal. What makes this all the more exciting is that they have their eye on our \’Meet the Game Developers\’ sub-forum, which will allow them to connect with the fans who can provide feedback and shape the actual development of their game.
There are currently 3 core developers working on Hullbreach Uncloaked and 2 additional contributors. The three core members are:
Daniel Gump – Business Administration, Programmer, Server Infrastructure, 3D/2D Graphics Director, HBU Lead Developer
Robert Gump – Network Programmer, Online Infrastructure, Server maintenance, Gameplay Mechanics, 3D Environment Engineering
Randy Freer – 3D/2D Art, Storyline and Character Design, Public Relations and Media Representation
For the first proper unveiling of their game we interviewed Danny, Robert, and Randy for the complete rundown on their game.
Interview with Hullbreach Studios
Menashe: Can you tell us what kind of gameplay Hullbreach Uncloaked will have?
Danny: You can expect single-player explorative RPG sandbox/mission-based with multiplayer interaction and commodity markets.
Robert: I\’d call it a 3rd person space shooter RPG, with sandbox exploration and mission leetness.
Randy: More specifically, ships can be outfitted with secondary and primary weapon options which will create an action oriented competitive atmosphere. Regarding physics, there is, of course, collision detection, but also environment forces – like gravity – that can influence the matter surrounding the players activities. You\’ll really feel the speed of the warp when you see planets distort around you.
Menashe: What games would you compare it to and what games have influenced it?
Danny: Escape Velocity (1-player concepts), EVE Online (online concepts), and Entropia Universe (the experience system.)
Robert: Yes, the market system seems to be close to the EVE Online market, or even kind of like the WoW AH. It is player-driven and results are based on your location. This will also allow for multiple hubs which players will have to check for the best prices.
Randy: Building on the strong elements of what made those games work so well, while taking advantage of opportunity to expand the HullBreach series using the Wii U gamepad, really allows us to innovate the way the genre is experienced.
Menashe: How will it be different and unique from those games you mentioned. What makes it stand out in the genre?
Danny: It will combine the best aspects of each game and apply them to the unique play mechanics possible on the Wii U.
Robert: We hold public focus groups to get lists of what the majority of people would like to see swell..
Randy: I think player progression is really dynamic in HullBreach, It makes for a really pleasant adventure. The social aspect online and offline discovering things with people around the world really brings the core experience together even when players are doing different things. There’s nothing like HullBreach Uncloaked available on Wii U, so we naturally have the freedom to really make the genre our own.
Menashe. How far along is development?
Danny: We\’re in the early planning and content design. Our game engine is just taking form.
Randy: We started evaluating the opportunity to develop a new installment on Nintendo hardware following GDC13. Nintendo has really supported independent studios with their new licence model, so it was really about that time we started preparing plans for its design.. Since then we have organized our business operations and have successfully created an assembly line bringing our content to life. Its getting really exciting that’s for sure
Menashe. How long until you\’re ready for release? What’s your estimated development time?
Danny: It’s too early to tell.
Randy: Yeah, unfortunately, it is too early to even guess. We\’ve only just began the process for the Nintendo Licence. How quickly we can leap forward depends on them to a degree
Menashe: Will there be single player and/or multiplayer? Which is the focus of the experience?
Danny: The core game will be single player, but space-docks and planets will have multiplayer aspects, like commodity trading, shipyards, hailing other ships, etc.
Robert: There will also be multiplayer \”fleet missions\”, which you must embark upon with a fleet.
Randy: The balance between the 2 is key. HullBreach Uncloaked isn\’t either an on or off-line experience, its both! Specific social aspects that bring content between the modes really compel players to get the most out of everything HullBreach will offer on Nintendo’s Wii U.
Menashe: Is online multiplayer integral to the type of game you\’re making? How are you going to handle that? And what about things like leaderboards?
Danny: The game will have offline play support, but the full experience requires online access. There will be achievement and social aspects that can only be realized through an Internet connection.
Robert: The achievement system should have special items open up for big achievements. Just receiving an achievement is never as rewarding as receiving maybe a new ship color or new laser color as reward for your hard work.
Randy: Agreed. The online should really motivate the players in ambitious ways to uncover everything under the hood. HullBreach Uncloaked’s online will have features that allow you to configure who shows up in the game online. You can be connected to take advantage of specific content, with the world turned off, so in that regard the online isn\’t as integral to HullBreach Uncloaked as it was in past with HullBreach Online.
Menashe: Is it purely action/shooting and upgrading or is there some other element like exploration or plot?
Danny: All of the above!
Robert: Action, shooting, exploration, strategy, adventure, etc. Lots of explosions and lots of breached hulls!
Randy: (Laughs) The scope of HB is quite overwhelming. For people trying to get all items or experience every ship in the game for example, online exploration and player connectivity are inherent. You have to either find a certain parts dealer, or mine a certain location, or locate other players in space selling any inventory. How far you expand your reach into the content and secrets really depends on the player.
Menashe: You\’ve mentioned that the entire universe will encompass 576 sectors. How did you decide how many sectors to create in space? And what will make each sector unique?
Danny: The original HullBreach Online used a grid of Greek letters for sections making coordinates 24×24, equaling 576 total star systems. HullBreach: Uncloaked will considerably expand on that to allow more exploration. Some sectors will have populated star systems; others will have small outposts; still, others will be empty, aside from asteroids or other locales perfect for mining resources.
Randy: There’s a great deal of planning that Pilots will have to evaluate when navigating the 576 sectors of the game. You might decide to instead venture away to hustle enough money and upgrade your Hull. Upgrading your vessel may allow players to branch off in another direction by penetrating a sector polluted with debris safely for example.
Menashe: How will you handle the in-game camera?
Danny: It will be 3D on the TV as third-person and cockpit view and 2D overhead on the GamePad for the map. Playing without the TV will display 3D with a map toggle.
Robert: I don\’t know how easy/demanding a 2D overhead will be in addition to the 3D. We really need to be able to test stuff on a Wii U before we even can guarantee stuff like that.
Menashe: What will be the control scheme with the GamePad?
Danny: To be decided but probably configurable
Menashe: What will be on the GamePad and what will be on the TV?
Danny: 3D view on TV and 2.5D on GamePad 3D on GamePad with map toggle.
Robert: Definitely a cockpit view on the GamePad that has the map and a few other goodies. I have been thinking it would be cool having the cockpit view outside windshields, too. But once again, I have no clue how demanding something like that would be on the hardware. I really want to try to get 1080p 60fps without costing features.
Randy: We aim to satisfy as many control mapping options we think could benefit HullBreach Uncloaked. Apart from button mapping, what is really interesting are techniques that use 100% of Nintendo Wii U’s built in functionality on the GamePad, like Motion and Touchscreen and the plethora of controller compatibility with the Nintendo Wii U system.
Menashe: How much of the game will you make first and then how much is being reserved for DLC?
Danny: Only vanity content downloadable.
Robert: New storylines can be DLC, but as free DLC. The only DLC that could possibly cost anything will be for new ship/weapon packages, only if successfully balanced and not pay-to-win.
Randy: I would like to release a graphic novel set in the realm of HullBreach and support the HB Uncloaked community digitally through DLC,
Menashe: What are the different classes of ships for?
Danny: They will have strengths and weaknesses for speed, cargo capacity, crew capacity, firepower, warp drives, handling, sensor equipment, shields, and more. Different mission types will require different features.
Menashe: Is it also possible to be played on a regular browser or just on Wii U?
Danny: Just the Wii U.
Menashe: Will you look to crowd-sourcing for funding or will you be able to cover the costs of the entire development yourselves?
Danny: Undecided at this point. It really comes down to publishing costs and if we decide to actually incorporate a 3DS installment of HullBreach.
Randy: Yeah a lot of fans have been urging us for a 3DS game, but it just can\’t be realized at this time.
Menashe: What is the unique form of crowd-interaction and community feedback you\’re looking to incorporate for your game? How will this make you approach development different than other developers?
Danny: We are gamers who are developing for gamers, so feedback is an important part of the development process. Obviously, we can\’t make everyone happy, but we will do what we can to make HullBreach Uncloaked a game worth playing, keep playing and not lose interest.
Randy: We are looking through outlets for any possible Community Sourced Development incorporation. Surprisingly, a week ago another Developer had informed me about the Meet The Developer Sub Forum here at Nintendo Enthusiast, I think our studio will click really well with the community here from what I\’ve been reading. Maybe holding a focus group here has been our fate all along Mr Menashe! We really like fans\’ dreams coming true when possible. That’s what its all about. If you look at post release reception to shape your games, it’s just one missed opportunity after the next. Collaborating with the gamers without spoiling the game during development is the best tool, we think.
Another perspective; looking how we operate in a world of professional critics, and misinformation, from that perspective compared to other studios and designers in the industry, (indie or not) we stand out. Having grown up on Nintendo hardware educated us well enough to realize the industry is being twisted. Success shouldn\’t be about hardware sales, or power figures. What makes a developer successful is the ability to achieve goals of bringing their content to life in new compelling ways nobody experienced before. That is what makes a game great, if you approach development otherwise you admittedly hold yourself back. In that context we have a unique approach to our development process.
Menashe: Is Hullbreach Uncloaked meant to be a 3d realized version of Hullbreach Online or is it a completely different type of game?
Danny: It’s a sequel set about two generations after HullBreach Online. Although there will be some similarities, this is not going to be just a 3D port, by any stretch.
Randy: The core mechanics of HBU have evolved and changed the way we approach HullBreach Uncloaked. The addition to Weapon Capabilities, Story, Music, Social Connectivity, Economy Implementation, and Full fledged Single Player really expand what HullBreach Online achieved on Wii. We hope everybody love it on Wii U!