Daniel Lautzenheiser of Arc Games spoke with us to discuss his new project Aurora Rising. The game was greatly inspired by the 2012 indie hit Faster Than Light, but Daniel hopes to greatly improve on the standards set with improved crew options, ground combat, and many other features. The project is currently maneuvering its way through a Kickstarter, and with 15 days remaining, it has a little over $10,000 to go.
About Aurora Rising
Aurora Rising is a RPG set in a fictional futuristic universe. The game strives to create a balance between dynamic space combat, crew micromanagement, strategic ground combat, and elements found in more traditional RPGs. Elements such as hidden items for you to find, new skills for your crew members to discover and a compelling storyline. The game will take you from your homeworld to the far reaches of the known galaxy and beyond, exploring nebulas, meeting new alien races and exploring ancient alien ruins.
Indie Game HQ: Thanks for speaking to us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a graduate student, currently working on acquiring my Master’s degree in Computer Science here in the United States. Before deciding to focus my efforts on Aurora Rising, I was striving to become a professor and teach computer science. In that time I taught two university level courses and was a Teacher’s Assistant for many more.
Indie Game HQ: Prior to working on Aurora Rising, what other projects have you worked on?
I have spent the last year as an admin on the Shaboozey Minecraft servers and forums. During my time there I have designed and created several modifications for our Minecraft server, including a rather unique Moba pvp arena. It was this work that actually inspired and convinced me to create my own game.
Indie Game HQ: You’ve stated that Aurora Rising is inspired by Faster Than Light, but in what ways do you plan on improving upon the model set by Faster Than Light?
One of the major issues I had with Faster Than Light was that when it came to your crew, what they could do in the game seemed very limited. Crew progression was restricted to a small increase in efficiency at tasks they did repeatedly. I wanted to address this by treating the crew in the same way as most RPGs treat the main character. Each crew member will have their own stats, gear, weapons, and skills they can learn along the way, giving the player much more choice and control over how your crew performs.
Ground combat in FTL was also very limited. It normally resulted in positioning your crew members in a room with the enemy and having them punch one another, then sending your crew members to the medical bay to heal when they got low. A large focus for Aurora Rising is to make the ground combat just as interesting and complex as the space combat.
Indie Game HQ: Other than Faster Than Light, what other influences did you have for Aurora Rising?
A big inspiration for me when designing the ground combat has been Frozen Synapse. The game mixed a very strategic experience with some real time elements, resulting in a brilliant game. FFVI has also been a major influence. It is a great example of a traditional RPG and the way it presents the story line is one of my favorite things about the game. I am hoping to present the story of Aurora Rising in a similar manner.
Indie Game HQ: Aside from the backstory, will the game feature a full-fledged storyline?
Yes, the game revolves around a central plot line. In this instance the crew will play a big role, as you will be experiencing the story through their eyes. Each crew member will have their own back story that you will be able to explore throughout the game. When talking to NPCs you will be speaking as one of your crew members, making decisions for them that will have an impact on the overall story.
Indie Game HQ: How large do you hope to make the world of Aurora Rising?
I have been personally creating this universe for some time, even before I had even considered making the game. I am planning on having a massive amount of backstory and lore for the player to explore as they go through the game. Although you do not have to explore everywhere in the game, you will be very much rewarded if you do and will learn a great deal more about the universe of the game.
Indie Game HQ: How expansive do you intend making the crew system? What type of variety will be present, and how customizable will they be?
As you progress through the game each of your crew members will gain levels, and as they gain levels they will acquire skill points. These skill points can then be spent to gain new passive and active abilities for your crew members. There will be a large selection of passive and active abilities to choose from so you will not be able to get all of them on every character. You will have to choose how to specialize your crew members to best complete your missions and fit your personal playstyle. You can think of these as talent trees of sorts, starting with some basic abilities that once acquired unlock more powerful and specialized abilities.
Indie Game HQ: Part of the funds raised will be put towards graphic and sound designers. Have you decided on what art and music style you want for the game?
I have begun working with someone on the art side of things and we have a couple ship designs already. The game will have a pixel art retro style to it.
Music wise I am still working out the details, but I want the music to have a very epic and grand feel to it. Probably with some orchestral elements to it.
Indie Game HQ: What is your personal goal for releasing Aurora Rising?
I want to make a game that people will want to play, both for the gameplay and the story. Gaming is my passion and science fiction stories are by far my favorite. I am really striving for Aurora Rising to be a wonderful mix of both. If Aurora Rising is successful I plan on working to build a successful game development studio, and hopefully continue the story started in Aurora Rising in future games.
Indie Game HQ: Thanks again. Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?
If you want to know more about the game head over to the Kickstarter, and support the game if you are so inclined. Feel free to send me question either on my Twitter or on Kickstarter. I would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Kickstarter so far.