Questions by Shannon Doyle (Leliah), European News Editor
Answers by Nick Talmers Nieuwoudt, CEO Taitale Games
Leliah: Hello! Please introduce yourself, explain your role in Novus AEterno, and tell us what your favorite RTS is. (Other than your own of course. ;) )
Nick: That’s a hard one to narrow to just one. I have been playing RTS games since I was 7, starting with Command & Conquer. At the moment, though, the RTS that I end up playing the most is either Men of War: Assault Squad or Hearts of Iron 3. But at least once a week, I hop on a classic RTS with my friends; when it’s classics night, my vote is always Red Alert: Aftermath!
Leliah: For those who haven’t been lucky enough to see it and play it, what would you tell them about Novus AEterno?
Nick: My first response to this question is always to reference the following Douglas Adams quote:
“Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.”
Novus Aeterno is a RTS on a MASSIVE scale; huge in scope without sacrificing anything that we would expect in a RTS like full base-building, resource collection, unit production, fog of war, research, etc… And it includes a lot of new elements not often seen, such as Dynamic non-techtree-based research and full unit design.
We combine all of that with what gamers expect from a true MMO: thousands and thousands of players playing together; total persistency; no-borders completely open MASSIVE galaxies; alliances; coalitions; play run economy with no centralized market; even NPC factions with which players can interact and help support, or wipe them out of the game completely!
Leliah: What makes Novus AEterno unique to others in the RTS market today?
Nick: Novus Aeterno really is about expanding the whole style of RTS games. Something which has really stuck with me was, at PAX Prime 2011, our Strategy adviser, Jim Hunt, (Major General USAF, retired), went walking around the show floor and, upon his return, said “Technically, most of these strategy games are not actually ‘Strategy’; they are ‘Tactics’.. Tactics is how you win a battle; Strategy is how you win a war and expand an empire”. In essence, I think that’s what Novus Aeterno is all about – not just one battle, but about month-long wars, diplomatic alliances and the collapse of coalitions bringing the galaxy’s delicate political structure down like a flaming blimp... only for new phoenixes to rise up and lead.
Leliah: Its said in the video for Kickstarter that you were unhappy with what was available on the RTS market, and that was what got Novus AEterno started. What was it you were looking for that they didn’t provide? And how does Novus AEterno do those things?
Nick: It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy those other RTS games, many of which are great, but I was frustrated by the limitations of the shorter play cycles. I was searching for a game that let me play on a deeper, more massive (thousands vs. thousands) scale. I wanted a game where my strategic decisions had greater impact and consequences beyond that 30 or 40-minute session. Essentially, I wanted to fight a war and build an empire; not just fight a battle. I also thought there was an opportunity to build a game that enabled players to shine, no matter how they wanted to play the game - diplomatically; with a focus on intelligence and research; militaristic; or with a focus on trade and economy. We’ve worked hard to place equal emphasis on all of those areas of the game, and ultimately encourage players to build strong alliances.
Leliah: What have been some of your inspirations while making Novus AEterno?
Nick: There are pieces of every single game I have ever played in Novus AEterno, from Masters of Orion to Men of War: Assault Squad. In all honesty, though, the greatest inspiration came from an episode of Stargate: Atlantis, where some of the characters find a set of consoles that appear to be a game allowing the user to customize, control, and manage every element of an empire; a few weeks later, they find out that it was not a game at all, and that they were actually real empires controlled by and destroyed following direction from the ‘player’. That’s what sparked the idea of a true empire-building MMORTS in my mind, and started the drive to find this kind of game seven years ago.
Leliah: From the looks of things development is a ways in, what will the funds from the Kickstarter be used for?
Nick: Yes, we are near complete on the core features we wanted in the game, but we need the funds to help cover the last few months of development to the finish line. We underestimated the time and dollars needed to make this game when I first conceived it seven years – of course, the scope grew considerably, as well. The project has been funded by friends and angel investors thus far, and with sacrifices by the team, but now we need just a little bit more to finish the game for the first release. And, if we exceed our funding goal, we can expedite the expansion and some features we’re hoping to add in the future.
Leliah: What will happen if you don’t reach your goal of $200,000?
Nick: Of course, we hope that doesn’t happen. But, after seven long years, this dedicated team is more determined than ever to make this game, even if we don’t reach our funding goal. It would just take longer and initially lack some of the cool expansion features we’re anxious to add. But we think the gaming community and our fans are as anxious to see this game realized as we are, so we need everyone to help spread the word and support us any way they can.
Leliah: Will Novus AEterno be difficult for someone without RTS experience to jump into? Is there a very big learning curve?
Nick: The learning curve for Novus AEterno is actually not very steep at all. One of the core play mechanics and differentiators of Novus is it allows you to focus on your strengths as a gamer. When it comes to unit control, we are finishing up development on our AI system that allows the player to ‘customize’ his/her AI for their ships in great detail. This means if you are less experienced or still learning the tricks of micromanagement, you can ‘program’ your AI ahead of time to do all the basics; and you can worry more about the high level strategy, not the detailed tactics. As the player gets better at the game, they can start taking over more and more of what they let the AI handle early on.
Leliah: One of the big trends in the market right now is to have an in game cash shop. Will Novus AEterno have one? And if yes, what kinds of things will be in it?
Nick: We’re still working some of the details of that out, so we aren’t quite ready to announce anything yet. That said, we have a bunch of things we wish to add to the game as we go – new races, new and collectible ships, so there will of course be some form of in-game marketplace.
Leliah: What has been your personal favorite part of the development so far?
Nick: Wow, there have been so many highlights – from working with Jim Hunt on the D.I.M.E. integration, to our first PAX where we got to see people’s reactions to what we were building for the first time. Or maybe when we garnered our first awards a year later at PAX Prime 2012. Within the last year, I’ve met and shown Novus to several industry luminaries who built the games that made me become a gamer - Louis Castle of C&C fame; Alex Gardner, who created Homeworld. I guess if I had to pick just one moment, it would be the outpouring of support from our fans.
Leliah: Once Novus AEterno goes live, what expansion plans and updates are you aiming for?
Nick: We’ve already announced our first stretch goal – capital ships, or ships that have specialized roles that can turn the tide of any battle, on our Kickstarter page. We’ve also mentioned additional races, a centralized control bridge, and Player vs. Computer (PvC) play as possible expansions in our podcasts. We’ll be discussing these possible expansions in greater detail over the coming weeks on our updates. We are also committed to including our dedicated community in the creation, prioritization and implementation of future features. We’re making the game WE wanted to play, but want to make sure it’s also the game THEY want to play.
Leliah: Fantastic. If you want to learn more about Novus AEterno or join the Kickstarter backing, check out their official page!