Independent game developer Kerberos Productions joined the list of growing space strategy games with their first title in 2006, Sword of the Stars. Now the developer is close to releasing the expansion pack for the game, Sword of the Stars: Born in Blood which among other things adds a new playable alien race to the game. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with Kerberos Productions CEO Martin Cirulis to find out more about their plans for Sword of the Stars: Born in Blood:
FiringSquad: First, were you pleased with how Sword of the Stars was received by fans and critics?
Martin Cirulis: Well I was certainly most happy with the fan’s response as they were who the game was intended for; the people who were looking for something a little different in their 4X experience. Of course the downside to that is that often can put some people off if they only have a short period of time to spend with a game. In general though, the reviews were about what a small game coming out of left field throwing curve balls can expect. As long as the facts in a report are right, we are pretty happy because that is really what will catch someone’s eye if they are interested in what we are making.
FiringSquad: When the time came to develop the expansion what were the team's main goals?
Martin Cirulis: The main goal for the team on Born of Blood was to evolve the game universe a few decades in terms of starting point while sill maintaining the enjoyment level and a consistent level of detail. New weapons, new tech and new gameplay capabilities are great but we didn’t want to lose track of what made SotS unique in the first place. We also wanted to keep the game approachable to new comers so care has been taken to make sure the new elements work smoothly with the old. The game and GUI are more intuitive than ever and even the manual has undergone a full overhaul. And finally, we wanted to incorporate as much of the great fan input as possible, because, in the end, any expansion is really for the folks who have supported the game already with their incredible enthusiasm.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the new playable race that's introduced in Born of Blood?
Martin Cirulis: The new race is the Zuul. Players of SotS will recognize them from their ships as the “Slavers” who have been showing up as raider events in the game and growing and evolving in their presence with the updates to SotS we have been releasing over the past 6 months or so.
The Zuul, themselves, are a violent, telepathic pack hunter race that have been genetically modified for war by beings they only know as the “Great Masters”. They are slavers and scavengers and their ships are rough, random things made of chunks of other race’s ships and technology. They are masters of back engineering and can learn much from the ships they destroy and the slaves they capture.
Not everything is known about the Zuul yet but it is clear they think the galaxy has slid into disorder and it is their task to set things right. The other 4 races of the galaxy can either serve them or die. While “evil” races are hardly new for space 4X games, I think players will enjoy the novel twists and original gameplay innovations to reflect them that have become the Kerberos hallmark in creating alien races. The Zuul are not just bad, they are downright disturbing at times!
FiringSquad: Each race in Sword of the Stars has different ways to move in space with their ships. What is the method that the Zuul use and how does it affect gameplay?
Martin Cirulis: The Zuul use something known as a Tunnel Drive to tear through the fabric of space-time and down into the nodespace flow between stars. Where humans use their node drive to access node space through natural fractures, the Zuul tear apart space-time to get what they want when they want it. Once a tunnel has been “dug” by a special tunnelship, any Zuul vessel can access the artificial node line to travel at speeds rivaling human ships. The down side to this drive system is that artificial node lines tend to decay over time and with usage so the Zuul player will have to keep an eye on his FTL network. And if a node line collapses with a fleet traveling down it. That fleet is utterly destroyed. And yes, though the humans and he Zuul use 2 different techs to access nodespace, they are both moving through and hence can intercept each other there. BoB will bring battles in Nodespace to SotS and not everything that lives there is thrilled with chunks of steel screaming and spraying deadly energies around the sub-dimension. So expect party crashers.