Talking Spacelords (Part 1) With MercurySteam Co-Owner & Game Director Enric Álvarez
Chatting to Enric Álvarez - cross-platform, pay to win or pay to progress - and more
Chris: But how is it different to Raiders?
Enric: One of the big things is that people will see is an entirely new campaign, the fourth one. But let’s say you install the game on the 23rd of August and you play. You’ll be welcomed and start playing the first level of any campaign. You don’t choose it, it’s chosen for you. Once you beat the first mission, you’re entitled to play the next one and so on.
Once you’ve completed a campaign, you can choose your next campaign. From the second campaign onwards, we will require you to have a certain level as well. Each campaign has an independent storyline so it all makes sense. But we will not fragment the community by letting people join up to play any campaign with each other.
One thing is that every 24 hours we reset the rewards of each mission. We also have special rewards attached to the specific mission but only for 24 hours. The next 24 hours, that will change. We also have what we call a training – solo – mode. You can play the levels you unlock in solo mode for you to try the mission, a new character or weapon but not under the pressure of co-op. You acquire this by getting stars. Each time you play a mission in co-op, you get a star. When you get five stars, that mission is yours. This has different intensities, light, medium, intense and insane, each one of them with different rewards.
Chris: You’ve got an original community of course, will this impact them in any way?
Enric: The quick answer is that nothing bad will happen. We’re going to keep everything, so if you’re playing and you have a certain level or gold, you’ll keep it all. We also want to give a big thank you to those who supported us by buying campaigns. What we’re going to do is give them unique, exclusive, in-game content. This is to everybody who supported raiders by buying a campaign.
Chris: You’ve mentioned that within the solo mode, you’ll get rewards. Is there a limit to stop people from grinding the training mode to overpower themselves?
Enric: It’s not going to happen, don’t worry. It’s not going to happen. When you later interview the senior (Joan Amat) responsible for the progression and advancements system, you’ll be able to ask him this question. He’ll be able to specifically answer you that.
Chris: So how are you keeping the community together, is Spacelords cross-platform?
Enric: At launch last September, our worst performing platform is Steam. Why? Well, the confusion among people when the game was released. Part of the game was under the free to play label with another part under the premium label. To download Raiders of the Broken Planet it’s under free to play games but the first thing you see is a price attached to every campaign – a paywall.
If you look at Steam and review the negativity about the game and pretty much 95% is about what I’ve said. There are a lot of striking comments that say “Great game but a shitty business model, not interested”. This didn’t happen to that extent on consoles. The number of players on Steam has maybe 50 to 200 concurrent players. With consoles, this raises to 2500 or even 3000.
Chris: But how does the cross-platform actually work for Spacelords? Knowing the recent news about PlayStation with Fortnite and cross-platform play.
Enric: PC players can either cross platform with Xbox players or PC with PlayStation players. PlayStation with Xbox players is forbidden. We would love it if this was also allowed. I have little doubt that eventually, this will happen, people will demand it.
Being in third person and with some actions taking time, it has a consequence gameplay wise. This is that there’s not much difference between playing with a gamepad or a keyboard and mouse. So far, we haven’t had any complaints from people playing together and the difference between a PC and console.
Chris: So what are you eventual aims with Spacelords?
Enric: If you look at PlayStation 4, for example, the opinion of people is 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s the same game, but from a social aspect, Steam users are different from PlayStation users. So what we really want is to remove all concerns people have about the business model and just let the game shine by itself.
We already know what will happen because it’s already happening on consoles. People will enjoy the game.
Chris: So how are you going to monetise the game?
Enric: In-game monetisation structures. We are selling skins which you buy with Mercury Points. To get the Mercury Points you go to the store and buy them. You can turn these points into gold or you can spend them on skins or experience boosters. These boosters will let you move faster through the experience bar.
Chris: Being able to buy experience and gold, used to upgrade weapons, is there something in place to stop it becoming pay to win?
Enric: All weapons are equal in damage but have different abilities. This is something you’ll be able to ask about more in your interview Joan later and he’ll be able to answer in full. Spacelords will be pay to progress, not pay to win. Experience is used to unlock new characters but also to progress through the levels.
Chris: Have you considered bringing Spacelords out onto the Switch?
Enric: We would love to have Spacelords on the Switch but it’s not possible yet. Spacelords is self-financed so when we looked at adding Spacelords to Switch, we thought it would be a great idea but it was too much for us.
Chris: Will you re-look at releasing a switch version if the relaunch is successful?
Enric: Yeah, of course. Spacelords would be great on the Switch. It’s something we would look at again in the future.
Chris: Thank you for your time.