Lead Designer Andy Butcher answers four straight-forward questions.
Skeptical, we talked to Lead Designer Andy Butcher. Admittedly our questions are a bit tough, but Andy answers are both sensible and relieving. Take a look and decide for yourselves!
How might you alleviate concerns over combat that's instanced to 100 players?
Limits on how many players can be involved in the same battle are essentially a matter of client performance - our servers can handle larger fights, but client frame rates (even on the most powerful computers) will start to suffer.
In a game that uses a more traditional RPG approach to combat, this is less of a concern. But in a game like Entropy, where players are in direct control of their ships and aiming and firing their weapons, low frame rates have a much bigger impact on a player's ability to fly and fight.
We'd rather have 100 player battles that are great fun than larger battles that are unplayable, and our experience from Battlestar Galactic Online showed us that 'fleet battles' involving around 100 players were very enjoyable and felt pretty epic in scale when you're in the thick of them.
Of course, we're always working to optimise and improve the performance of the game, and if we can increase the limits in future we will.
What might be the most valuable feedback you've received about Entropy thus far?
Probably the most valuable has been the feedback from our Early Access players about the way we currently handle long distance travel between areas of interest in star systems. At the moment we use a System Map that abstracts this form of travel and presents it from a different perspective, but the players have been very clear that they would prefer a system that presented travel in the same 3D view as the rest of the game.
As such, we've been spending a lot of time evaluating alternative approaches and how best to handle them, which will be a very major change to the basic structure of the game.
Compared to others in the genre, is Entropy specifically designed to be a more accessible space combat/trading sim?
Yes, it's definitely something we're aiming for. We understand from our own lives that it can be hard to find the time for a long gaming session, and so we want to ensure that a solo player can log in, play for 30 minutes to an hour, and log out feeling that they've achieved something, even if it's only completing a few trade runs, defeating a few pirates or finishing a couple of missions.
Regarding gameplay, how does Entropy primarily distinguish itself from perhaps its most similar game, EVE Online?
We have a great deal of respect for EVE, both as developers and as gamers. Two of the key differences between Entropy and EVE are the style and nature of combat, and the pace and nature of the gameplay.
Whereas EVE's combat is based on a more traditional RPG model, where you're 'commanding' your ship and selecting targets for its weapons, Entropy offers direct manual flight and weapon controls, and so our combat is based more on 'dogfighting' between smaller and more agile ships.
Similarly, while EVE's great depth and scope are some of its greatest strengths, they mean that it's hard to achieve much in a short play session. Obviously, we want Entropy to have a lot of depth and scope as well, but as we mentioned above, we're also trying to ensure that the game is accessible and enjoyable for much shorter play sessions.
Fair answers, I'd say! Thanks for tackling the tough ones, Andy.
Entropy’s various Early Access tiers are available at a 33% discount for the Steam Summer Sale.
Colt "ShdwFlm" Casey