Interview

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Developer Talks Player Choice in a “Significantly Larger” Universe

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Rebel Galaxy Outlaw

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is one of those projects that exploded out of nowhere and became a welcomed and exciting surprise full of detailed customisation and rich environments. 

Outlaw explores more of the universe introduced in Rebel Galaxy back in 2015. The new game is set roughly 30 years prior to its predecessor and follows the first game’s protagonist’s aunt, Juno. As one of the more prominent characters in Rebel Galaxy, Juno acted as a quest giver and featured throughout much of the story.

Speaking with the co-founder of Double Damage, Travis Baldree, OnlySP had the chance to learn more about the intriguing history and development of Rebel Galaxy Outlaw.

OnlySP: Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is set some 30 or so years before the first game with the player taking control of Juno. What was special about this time period that the team really wanted to explore?

Baldree: We wanted you to play as a specific character, and Juno was the one who made the most sense, both in terms of the type of person she is, the voice actress we wanted to use (the always wonderful Lani Minella), and the fact that she’s one of the few available recognizable characters from the previous game. Setting the game earlier lets us see her background, and at the same time lets us alter our art style to take advantage of Howard Day’s killer spaceship art.

OnlySP: The first game had a no-name protagonist with Juno as their aunt. Why did the team decide to have a more character-focused story this time and why choose Juno?

Baldree: The goal has always been to make the games relatable in some sort of human way, which is why a conversation system featured in the last game. We wanted to take that much farther, and to try to give you a stronger sense of place, and to allow you to have active dialogue and banter with other characters, again to make things more relatable. We think it’s always a challenge with space-sims to have them feel grounded in some way. Wing Commander was excellent at this—but since then, very few games in the genre have gone that route.

OnlySP: Why did the team decide to switch from the randomly generated environment, from the previous title, to a handcrafted one? And how does the overall size of what there is to explore compare between the two?

Baldree: Mostly nobody noticed the last one was randomly generated, and we didn’t think it added anything to the experience—quite the opposite. Handcrafting the world lets us have recognizable landmarks and again gives everything a greater sense of place. The size is significantly larger this time around—39 solar systems vs the 7 or so in Rebel Galaxy.

OnlySP: Aside from gambling at space bars, what other side activities can players hope to find while wandering the galaxy?

Baldree: 8-ball and an arcade game complement the dice poker and slot machines. Additionally, you can buy some equipment and do some prospecting, get rumoured locations from bartenders and do some treasure hunting, or track down and eliminate pirate lords passing through. You can join guilds and field their own specific mission sets, or just pick up random jobs from the jobs board. You’ll also stumble across events in progress that you can engage in—or ignore.

OnlySP: The ship customisation in the game looks incredibly detailed. Were the design mechanics an integral inclusion for the team?

Baldree: I built the 3D painting tool for a previous prototype game and just couldn’t let it go to waste, so I jammed it in. 😊

OnlySP: Will there be a way to share the design with the community or friends and possibly download player created paint jobs?

Baldree: The paint tool is pretty full featured—you can save and import layers at will to common image formats. It’s as easy as downloading one, and clicking ‘import’.

OnlySP: Players can also upload images as stencils to customise their ship with. Are there any limits to what players can upload in terms of profanity or absurdity?

Baldree: Since our game is single player, we don’t really have to worry about this—there’s no way for us to see what you’re doing, so it isn’t any more limiting in terms of content than, say, Photoshop.

OnlySP: Because of how detailed the ship customisation is, essentially acting as a video game version of Photoshop, how well will the customisation feature translate over to PlayStation 4 and Switch?

Baldree: Unfortunately, there won’t be a paint tool on PS4 or Switch. The interface and memory/file management demands are far outside of our scope for those devices. We’re investigating having premade paintjobs available to select.

OnlySP: Possibly one of my favourite features of the game is the ability to submit a custom paint job and have a miniature model created and shipped. Will this feature be available in all countries and will the pricing be affected by which ship is chosen or how complex the paint job is?

Baldree: The company that prints these is re-launching their site right now and I don’t know whether there are international limitations at present—the pricing is affected by the amount of material used. When you select a size, it should show you the cost based on how much material is required to print it. Its volume, basically.

OnlySP: There are currently seven radio stations in the game with over 21 hours of content, are there any plans to add more stations/songs or the option for players to create a custom playlist from the existing songs?

Baldree: You can create both a mixtape channel, as well as context-sensitive dynamic soundtrack for when the radio is turned off. We’re considering adding some more songs after release, but the soundtrack is already pretty hefty!

OnlySP: There is a large amount of complexity to the piloting as players will be moving around a 3D space, often in combat. How accessible is the game for players who may not have played a space or flight simulator before?

Baldree: It’s historically a big problem for accessibility. Our solution is the Autopursuit trigger (or button, if you’re on a mouse). Holding it down assists you in tracking your target and managing your throttle, while still allowing you to fly. Think of it like tethering yourself to a target. We think it makes the game a lot more fun, and a lot more approachable.

OnlySP: Will power allocation between shields, weapons, and engines play a massive role in combat and navigation? And how will these attributes change between different ships? For example would a ship that has impressive firepower be able to sacrifice more energy towards shields?

Baldree: It definitely plays a role if you put yourself in high-risk situations. You have the ability to both change your allocation, and also to perform old-school X-Wing style power dumps from powerplant to shields and back. Because your weaponry, shields, subsystems, and boosters are all tied into a central power system, it is an interplay between those components. Ships have very different baseline stats, and some are limited in the size of components that they can install. Choosing your weapons and gear wisely and then knowing how your power will be consumed is key. Fortunately, there’s a handy readout in the Equipment Bay that gives you a nice overview.

OnlySP: Juno can emote within the ship and possibly intimidate enemies into backing off over the commlink. Will the player’s ship have an effect on how NPCs react to Juno and how successful she is in intimidating foes?

Baldree: The relative loadout of your ship does have an effect on your response—if you’re armed to the teeth, they can tell. They also take into account how many of their own buddies are nearby to even the odds.

OnlySP: Will there be any repercussions for player choices? For example, could a player be banned from certain landing zones due to focusing on piracy?  

Baldree: If you go full pirate, you’ll be banned from Commonwealth stations, and limited to Independent or Pirate stations. There’s also a wanted system, so even if you aren’t fully pirate, committing crimes can make certain regions dicey until your wanted level elapses.

OnlySP: Defeated ships can drop various valuable goodies, but it can also eject the pilot. Are players able to rescue or even kidnap defeated enemies or NPCs?

Baldree: You can do both. You can rescue and be rewarded for saving captured civilians, receive bounties for turning in criminals, or kidnap people if you’re playing dirty.

OnlySP: Players can eventually buy and outfit their own space stations. How will having a homebase benefit the player due to the explorative nature of the game?

Baldree: The home base opens up some passive revenue streams, unlocks an entire set of separate purchasable ships, and also makes a separate, higher-capacity set of weapons available as you upgrade it.

OnlySP: There is an autopilot feature that works as a form of fast travel. Can the player opt to watch the entire journey to a destination when in autopilot mode?

Baldree: There are two forms of fast travel—Autopilot and Sublight. Autopilot is instantaneous, but Sublight keeps you in world if you want to watch the scenery go by and drop out at will.

OnlySP: Are there currently any plans for a VR version of the game?

Baldree: At present there are no plans (and I wouldn’t hold out too much hope either). A lot of the game systems aren’t conducive to VR at all.

OnlySP: And finally is there anything else you would like readers to know such as a release window? Or is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Baldree: We’re working on wrapping up right now, and we hope you get a kick out of it! 😊

For more news on Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, be sure to follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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