Salvation Prophecy developer Sean ‘Jabberwocky’ Lindskog, the man behind Firedance Games, sat down with Indie Game HQ to chat about this sci-fi action title. Sean opened up about the difficulties of being a one-man, self-funded indie developer in today’s market. With so many competitors receiving their funding from large publisher studios, the challenge of releasing a self-made title is exceptional.
About Salvation Prophecy:
Salvation Prophecy is a military space epic. Human, mutant, and robotic factions are at war for galactic domination. Battles rage as space fleets collide, and planet invasions clash against fortified enemy colonies. Yet the greatest danger is the impending annihilation foretold by an apocalyptic prophecy. You must seek out the mysteries of distant alien worlds, and master ancient powers to withstand the coming storm.
Indie Game HQ: Can you tell us a little bit about Firedance Games?
Sean: It’s mostly just me, but “Firedance Games” sounds cooler than, “some dude who makes space games.” For Salvation Prophecy, I worked with a bunch of art contractors, too. They’re a cool bunch of artist folks from all over the globe – Canada, England, Germany, Belgium, Australia, Austria, USA, and the Czech Republic, many who share my passion for sci-fi. Most I’ve never met face to face, but we emailed and Skyped a lot while working together. Go internet! They often took my vague descriptions and bad napkin drawings and turned them into something cool.
I made most of the game while living in a small cabin in the backwoods of Canada. It was cheap, and I cobbled together every cent possible for artwork and music. I’d often go for many days without talking to anyone except the foxes, squirrels, and deer that wandered through my yard, and to the spacey characters I was creating on my computer screen. A strange recipe for a peculiar brand of indie game dev insanity.
Indie Game HQ: How long have you been working on Salvation Prophecy?
Sean: I started in 2007. I prefer not to do the math on how many years that’s been; it kind of scares me. Time passes too fast.
But maybe the real answer is; since I was a kid. I had a lot of space Legos. I also had some castle Legos too, but the space guys always kicked the crap out of the castle guys. Don’t bring a knife to a laser fight. Anyway, I guess I started writing sci-fi stories way back then.
Indie Game HQ: Describe what Salvation Prophecy has in store for gamers.
Here’s a run down on what Salvation Prophecy is: It’s a single player, military space epic. The backdrop is a galaxy at war, with 4 factions (2 robotic, human, and mutant) battling for control over planetary resources. There’s a lot of bad blood between them. There are big space battles. There are big planet battles. You advance rank through different types of missions. Once you reach faction commander, you take over the strategy for your faction, too.
There’s a storyline involving an apocalyptic prophecy as well, which slowly unveils through the game and eventually results in some seriously bad shit going down. If you live long enough to see it.
Indie Game HQ: How large is the universe in Salvation Prophecy?
Sean: There are 16 planets you can land on that are spread out over a handful of different stellar (solar) systems. All of the different systems are attached by wormhole routes, which you have to pilot your ship through.
Some wormholes don’t open until later in the game. These “unstable wormholes” take a lot of pilot skill to navigate. They lead to unexplored territory, new planets, and hostile alien creatures who want to chew off your head. But also lead to mysterious and powerful artifacts related to the prophecy.
You can engage “jump” to travel fairly quickly between any stations or planets in the same system. “Jump space” looks a bit like hyper-space from Star Wars, except you have to steer around lightning arcs during the jump. Space games tend to have a lot of boring travel time, so I spent some effort trying to make it more interesting and dangerous.
Sean: The AI are pretty smart. They act on their own. I think battles are most immersive when you only control your own character, without having to pause for any sort of squad tactics. I really wanted to capture the feeling of big chaotic battles, both on planet invasions and within space-fleet dogfights. The action is pretty intense. You’ll often ride the razor-thin edge of near destruction.
In planet battles, your allies (and enemies) use cover, intelligently choose their target, switch to the most advantageous weapon, use heal stims, and run for cover when they’re getting their ass kicked. They’ll work together to take down a big target like a mech or a colony building.
Each of the 4 different factions have different styles of weapons, and the AI is programmed differently. That keeps the planet battles interesting, as different tactics work best against different enemy factions. Also, new kinds of technology get unveiled throughout the game that amps up the intensity and difficulty of battles.
In space, fleets will fly in formation to attack an enemy station. They’ll use evasive tactics when getting shot. And they’ll eventually catch on if your own evasive maneuvers are too predictable.
There’s also a whole strategic level built on top of the combat AI. The factions are competing to take over planets and space stations. The AI will make reasonable decisions of where to build colonies, space stations, military units, and where to launch attacks.
Battles occur throughout the game, even in places distant from the player. You’ll hear about this stuff through galactic news. And it’s not uncommon to stumble across a battle between two AI factions.
When you rank up to faction commander, you’ll take over the strategy for your faction using a galaxy-map interface from the deck of a space station.
Indie Game HQ: Of the four factions, which one is your personal favorite?
Sean: Gameplay wise, I think I enjoy the Salvation the most. I enjoy moving fast, dodging a lot in combat, and using their energy attacks. Even though they’re fragile and die easily, they can be very powerful once you get to know how to use their weapons.
Roleplay wise, it’s the Wyr hands-down. Their story is that human DNA was fused into their neural networks, in an attempt to create a breed of highly intelligent, highly creative scientist robots. The downside is that they ended up insane. I had a lot of fun writing their dialog. Maybe I should be worried that writing insane person dialog flowed so easily. If anyone knows a good therapist, let me know.
Here’s what’s cool about each faction:
Fast, nimble, but fragile. They’re mystics, and can manipulate energy to reflect bullets. They can also drain energy from enemies to heal themselves, and unleash it in a big psychic blast. They dual-wield small pistols. They have a special skill called “ghost” which turns them ethereal for a short time.
Big, powerful, hulking assault drones. They move slow, but you don’t want to stand toe-to-toe with one because they have a “shred claw” that’ll slice you to bits. They build up rage while in hand-to-hand combat, which can be unleashed for a big damage effect. Their shoulder-mounted rocket launcher is good for taking out crowds, turrets, and buildings quickly. They have a special skill called “berserk” which throws them into a battle frenzy, with a massive fire rate and damage boost.
The Wyr were created as scientist robots. They have a “zapper”, a third arm originally designed for engineering tasks, but delivers a close range shock attack. They can also construct small turrets which provide supporting fire. They’re pyromaniacs – and love to throw around bombs with huge blast damage. Their special skill is to replicate, which creates an exact copy of yourself that will fight alongside you.
These are your standard human marine tough-guys. They have a solid rapid-fire blaster, a grenade launcher, and an electro-blade which is a stream of energy attached to a wrist-band mounting. Their special skill is called “last stand”, where you draw deep on the unbreakable spirit of highly trained human soldiers – for a short duration you cannot be killed. That can turn the tide of a losing battle.
Sean: The future plans kind of depend on how well the game sells. If I can make enough money to keep working on it, then the sky is the limit. I need to get the game onto Steam, and I’m working my way through their new “greenlight” approval process. For those of you that buy games on Steam, I’d really appreciate any votes you can toss my way.
Indie Game HQ: Do you have any DLC planned for the game?
Sean: Sorta the same deal as above. I don’t have enough money for a bunch of new artwork right now, so that kinda limits things. But I’m keeping busy working on a linux port. Even though linux ain’t the highway to riches, I just really dig what linux stands for as an open operating system. So I wanted to support it.
Indie Game HQ: Thanks for talking with us. Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?
Sean: I feel indie games are hitting a golden age right now, partly because of digital distribution – big publishers have lost their stranglehold on things. Also, gamers are starting to look for something different from the “play it safe” mentality of AAA studios.
But a huge factor is that people are reading and talking about indie games. On places like this. Thanks for the interview, the site is looking great!