As many of our regular readers will already know, we have been covering Contact Vector a bit lately. That is both because it looks like it could be a really great RTS space fleet management game, and because I for one am quite excited about it (yeah I know…a bit biased…so sue me!).
Well, Stephen Moorhouse, the man behind Contact Vector, was kind enough to take some time out of his very busy schedule and answer some questions for us via email. Check out our Q&A with him below, and don’t forget to visit the Contact Vector website and the Contact Vector Kickstarter page! You can also follow Contact Vector on Twitter and check out the Contact Vector Facebook page to get all of the latest Contact Vector News.
Also, don’t forget to download and try out the prototype demo of the game (PC and Mac only so far)!
To start, could you give everyone an overview of Contact Vector for those that haven’t heard about it?
Contact Vector is an RTS set in space. Where a ruthless and invidious force is setting out to destroy humanity and you have to use all your military guile and cunning to stop them.
What were your inspirations for Contact Vector? Are there any previous RTS games that helped shape your vision for the game?
There are a few memorable space RTS games, Homeworld is obviously one, Nexus another, sins of a solar empire and even some of the more hard core 4x games like space empires and Galactic Civ. The thing that always disappointed us with those games, perhaps with the exception of Nexus is that they all have a fairly simple combat system where ships approach and then fire at each other till destroyed. We wanted something more tactical.
I for one loved Nexus: the Jupiter Incident and how battles in that game were slower space operas where fleet management and orders were critical rather than twitch micromanagement. How will Contact Vector compare to that type of gameplay?
We really like Nexus, the slower combat allows time for you to plan ahead and make small incremental changes that tip the battle. Our combat system is designed around the idea that you will slowly whittle down the enemy force, nipping away rather than looking to annihilate in seconds. Ships will often be crippled rather than destroyed leading to reorganisation of your fleets. Choosing your targets and the kind of weapons will be really important as will setting up the right kind of defence.
[Cyber’s note: it warms my heart to hear that CV will attempt to capture some of the magic of Nexus!]
You recently rejigged the Contact Vector concept from being multiplayer only to a more single player experience. Why the change?
It seemed that people were less interested in a multiplayer from the outset. Our first kickstarter did appallingly, and we thought that was a major factor. So we took that kickstarter down, went back to the drawing board and started another kickstarter with a single player focus. I’m glad we did that because we kept the multiplayer as a stretch goal anyway, but the game seems more interesting to me too this way.
What types of fleet missions can players expect to see in Contact Vector? Mostly combat focused missions, or something else?
There will be some campaign missions that are about evacuations and intelligence gathering, but they’ll play a lesser role to the combat as the campaign moves on, but those roles will likely become a standard part of your ship operations as time moves on.
Can you tell us a bit about the story and how it will affect the campaign in Contact Vector?
The story is very important to me to get right as a story, and it will have a bearing on the campaign. Most of the campaign story will be driven by events, so that some things will happen differently depending on how the game is played. The core objective will be the same each time: achieve victory, save humanity, and save your allies. But how this plays out though will be just as much based on what you do as the AI. Your choices will generate events which will steer the war in different directions.
How long will the story campaign be, and how replayable do you expect the single player experience to be in Contact Vector?
The story will have a minimum length, in that there are some core events that would have to be played through, but feasibly a very skilled player could get through it relatively quickly. And replayability would be partly a function of wanting to see bits of the story you didn’t encounter first time round combined with our procedural maps creating differing strategic situations.
The Kickstarter page talks a bit about the random star maps. How will those play into the story campaign?
We’ll have some set pieces, things that are always there that carry the mandatory events in the story. For example one of the set pieces we’re talking about is a soon to be decommissioned military installation, if it makes the final cut it will be something that you’ll see in most games. But strategic variety and some novelty story items will come from the procedural generators. So the maps won’t be the same for different games, even though the key elements will still be there for you.
Will there be a sandbox or skirmish mode (or something similar) where players can try to conquer and defend areas of the starmap without worrying about the story?
Yes, definitely. It falls out of the need to be able to generate stuff for the game. It’s effectively a free feature for us, so it would definitely get into the release.
You mention that the game will be playable via real-time or turn-based modes. Can you give any further details about how turn-based mode can be layered onto a real-time game?
It’s really a simultaneous turn system where a player turn freezes game time, they can decide what the ships are about to do and when they commit to those orders they see a short section of time play out, then the game automatically freezes time again for the next set of orders.
Can you elaborate on how ship and fleet positioning will be crucial during fleet combat?
Ship to ship combat features a layering of defensive systems, and different ships can specialise depending on how they’re kitted out. For example you could have two destroyers fitted out just to take down incoming ordnance guarding a battleship whose job it is just to spew out tons of missiles. Without the destroyers, despite the intimidating launch capability of the battleship it would be very vulnerable to missiles itself, a glass cannon.Ships are also armoured in a particular way that means they are extremely vulnerable fore and aft. You can mitigate this a little bit by careful placement of defensive drones and not allowing your opponent to cross your T similar to old naval tactics.
How extensive will ship customization be in the game?
The hulls are standard, but what their load out is and what systems they have aboard will be changeable. As the game progresses you’ll gain access to new technologies and over time you’ll figure out what the various trade offs, strengths and weaknesses are of various configurations.
How important will logistics be in the game?
Ships have limited magazines for missiles, you’ll need to be able to get your ships to harbours where they can be resupplied. You will also have ships whose sole purpose is to carry ordnance for other vessels. These can be used to resupply in and out of battles.
How important will diverse fleet composition be in Contact Vector? Can players succeed with all battleships or will they need a mix?
Players will likely want to mix their fleets up a bit, an all battleships fleet would be very fragile to a lot of fast and agile destroyers fitted with long range stand off weapons like the laser head missiles. In a situation like that the battleship captains will wish someone had the presence of mind to commission a few heavy cruisers. But it also depends as much on how platforms are kitted out as the platforms themselves.
Are there any plans for PvP modes in the future? How might PvP work with the real-time versus turn-based mechanics?
Yes, PvP is in our stretch goals, in principle it will all work the same way as the campaign from the player perspective. We also want to add co-op so people can complete the campaign together.
Are there any other details you would like our readers to know about?
It Steve’s birthday on Saturday! Oh, and we’ll shortly be putting out Mac and Linux builds of the demo.
There you have it! Be sure to check out the Contact Vector Kickstarter page and help support the game! And remember to say “Happy Birthday” to Steve on Saturday 🙂