Well it seems there is something shiny going on in the Firefly universe again. We had the privilege of speaking with Craig Redl of DarkCryo about their upcoming game Firefly Universe Online, or FUO for short. Craig gave us some insight into development as well as future plans. They intend on using much of the fans’ input to help create the ultimate fan game for this epic series. Ultimately, all that matters is we seem to be getting a gorram game devoted to Firefly. In my opinion this is the best thing that could happen aside from a season 2 being announced of course. DarkCryo will be unveiling a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the game tomorrow with a goal of $200,000.
About Firefly Universe Online:
Inspired upon Joss Whedon’s television series Firefly, FUO aims not to disappoint by building upon the very foundation that has made the Firefly franchise such an intoxicating masterpiece for fans around our Earth-that-was.
Indie Game HQ: Can you tell us a little bit about DarkCryo Entertainment?
Craig: We are a handful of professional developers, mostly operating out of Victoria, Canada since our humble beginnings of 2011. How we ended up being critiqued against the industry giants is anyone’s guess, but it has certainly slapped us hard toward AAA results. All we were really trying to accomplish is to make the games that we want to play, not what industry marketing experts tells us we want to play. With the specific titles we have in mind, this one in particular, either we do it or we die without ever seeing it.
Indie Game HQ: How long have you been working on this project?
Craig: We all have family, and at times fulltime contracts or employment. DC certainly doesn’t pay the electric bills for any of the Crew, we’re all volunteers. That being said, most of us have taken the plunge into 8-12 hour days on DC stuff, on and off for the past couple years. We don’t have to tell you or your readers what a tremendous undertaking it is for an MMORPG of this calibre. Everytime we veered away from our Firefly-inspired title to work on an alternate, smaller-scale IP, the online Community would lovingly pitchfork us back to their beloved lore. Without a doubt, the greatest chunk of our 2011-12 existence was devoted to just this one title.
Indie Game HQ: When you say Firefly-inspired, what exactly do you mean? Will there be tie-ins to the series?
Craig: What makes Firefly so inviting to us and our DC Community is not strictly its cannon; it is its Crew and its Community. Regardless of the absence of derivative works, Players are in the company of their fellow Browncoats, and their fellow Firefly Fans. From the truly devoted of Joss Whedon’s followers, to Gamers simply looking to escape the cookie-cutter MMORPG. Since we are aiming for a 100% Fan-driven Universe, it is really up to the DC Community to determine how much tie-ins there will be. They are mindful of not intruding upon 20th’s derivatives, and our forums are a testament to their ingenuity of how we can accomplish both, and still maintain an open comm link with Fox Legal. It is our job to simply ask, read, and code.
Indie Game HQ: Part of what made Firefly such a great series was the engaging storyline in each episode, will the game have a strong focus on the storyline as well?
Craig: You’re asking if there are “quests” and “events”. We sometimes use these words as well, since that is what Gamers can relate to, but this is nowhere even close to a conventional storyline MMORPG. The Alpha release is strictly Sandbox, and each PC will act as a self-contained RPG. They each write their own backstory, storyline, and evolution into gameplay. Should they want to be captured by the Feds, experimented upon, turned into a Psychic and live out their lives as fugitives; the A.I. will foster (or hinder) almost any PC storyline conceivable.
Indie Game HQ: What type of playable characters do you plan to implement?
Craig: Not withstanding aesthetics, every character rolls as an equal. Old school factions, reputation, classes, professions, attributes; these are mostly replaced by Roleplay Experience (RPXP), and it is forever fluid. That being said, there are four major food groups that form a societal ecosystem, and more than likely Players will be choosing allegiance to one in order to make their way through the U’Verse. Unlike most MMORPGs, rival factions may have their differences, however here they are forced to work together in order to accomplish their goals. Point-and-shoot, click-and-cast, mindless encounters won’t get you what you need to survive. The campaign page goes into detail regarding each faction, and exactly how together they form a cohesive, symbian circle.
Indie Game HQ: I see that each character has almost 40 slots for armor, clothing, and weapons. How much variety do you intend on implementing into the game for these items?
Craig: None. As an indie Crew, we don’t have the resources to model thousands of pants, or even begin to fathom keeping up with the demands of old school endgame content. Instead, we’ve implemented in-game crafting tools that you can shape, texture, bump, animate, trigger, particle and prefab. We’re just the patent office. We determine what resources must be salvaged to craft your invention, add PC interactive capability, and check off a series of NPC triggers in order to recognize the item. Once your invention is approved, we upload the prototype to the server where all players stream it into their asset library, and you can then go off and exclusively manufacture, distribute, and resell all the wobbly-headed geisha dolls your heart desires.
Indie Game HQ: How in-depth do you intend on making this game, will players be able to have a ship and crew, or will the game focus more on planetary gameplay?
Craig: We get this one a lot, primarily because all of our media to-date showcases inWorld environments and mechanics. First question we get asked is whether a player can walk around their ship. Yes, it is no different than the interior of a building, only that the occupants are translating with the vessel as it moves. Next, and most fitting of an inspired title to this franchise, are whether players are crewable. Every space flight has its glitch in real life, and players can expect nothing less in the U’Verse as well. The bigger the ship, the more complex the components, the farther away it is to locate and repair. Yes you can go rogue, limp around the ship, put out fires, and buckle during re-entry, or you can hire a Medic, Mechanic, and Pilot to better your odds.
Indie Game HQ: How much money will you be trying to raise with the upcoming Kickstarter?
Craig: Almost $100,000 have already been donated by both DC Investors and DC Crew contributions over these many years, bringing the gap to $200,000. This is high for a funding campaign, albeit modest for a quality MMORPG. Had we been required to pay salaries to our crew volunteers since the 2011 launch, this number would have been significantly higher. One of our crewmates with 16 years experience as a Senior Investment Banker has punched the numbers, as she does so very well, and this is the final number we require to reach home plate. It is the 11th hour, and fair to suggest that we cannot continue at our current development pipeline unless we meet this goal. This is why she is a fixed funding campaign.
Indie Game HQ: With such a low price point, do you intend on supporting the game long-term with micro-transactions or do you have something else planned?
Craig: In combination with previous donations and ongoing Crew contributions, this campaign will cover a healthy lifecycle for both North American and Oceanic services for the initial two years after launch. Thereafter, there exists a second in-game currency for OOC transactions, with 100% of the generated revenue being distributed to those within the DC Community that participate in our revenue-sharing program. Even the DC Crew must ourselves purchase DarkCryo Investment Certificates, or DCICs, alongside our Players if we wish post-campaign remuneration. This is only fair since most, if not all, DC Community members openly contribute to the game design process.
Indie Game HQ: Can we expect an open and closed beta for the game?
Craig: In order to ensure the high standard of quality expectation, we are not looking to become the next World of Warcraft. The U’Verse is hungry for quality, not quantity in regards to gamer population. To this end, it is necessary to place a cap on the number of concurrent connections allowed for this MMORPG, both pre and post-Beta. Our existing DC Community, in addition to the campaign Contributors, will reach our population goal for the foreseeable future.
Indie Game HQ: For those that believe this is a hoax or are skeptical, what would you like to say?
Craig: Ya, we heard about that article as well. We must have thought about answering this question every hour of every day since being Kotaku’ed, and yet we’re no closer to an answer now than when you asked it two days ago. You might as well ask us to respond to a National Enquirer tabloid article that suggested we are giving birth to a two-headed, alien goat. Then after damage has been dealt, retract their article, go back to business as usual, and we’re left cleaning up the mess for months to come. Asking us what wouldn’t we say would be a much shorter list, but we just shake our heads and back to game development we go. On the lighter side, it just goes to demonstrate how much further ahead we are of every other game studio out there, since most MMORPGs aren’t considered a joke until after their release.
Indie Game HQ: Thanks for your time. Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?
Craig: Those of you that have been casually following our determination and resilience over these many years will certainly appreciate this. This has been a most challenging endeavour, making Indie Game: The Movie look like a cakewalk. We would like to express our gratitude to everyone for your kind words and ongoing support, we could not have gone this far without you. If you allow us the opportunity, we look forward to buying you a drink inWorld.
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