Interview: Dangerous

Help our readers get to know a little more about Dangerous’ allegiance system. Does the player have access to different technologies, ships, skills – even NPC love interests!? – depending on which faction “D” allies with through quests?

There are roughly 15 factions (a.k.a., corporations) in the game. You start out with neutral standings, but by interacting with them, you can raise or lower your standings. When you’ve raised your standings high enough, they’ll ask you to complete a loyalty mission. Upon completion, they’ll give you access to a specific ship, like the E-War Frigate, or a skill such as Newtonian Flight or Scan Probe. For example, Newtonian Flight lets you turn off the inertial dampeners and fly in one direction while aiming in another. Not only that, but if you train that skill, you can actually fly faster in Newtonian Mode than you could otherwise with inertial dampeners on. The Scan Probe skill lets you search out anomalies in solar systems, like derelict spacecraft or wormholes. Another faction will train you in Corporate Piloting, which lets you assemble a fleet of ships to do your bidding such as autonomously mining, transporting, and trading. All while you do your own thing elsewhere.

Some factions also have a rival, so if you gain standings with one faction, you might take a hit with its rival. Since factions earn money just like you, by mining, transporting, etc., you can also try to kill one off by starving it of funds. Each ship that gets destroyed has to be replaced with the faction’s wealth.

Another benefit to earning a corporation’s loyalty is that their ships will come to your aid if you’re attacked while they’re around. Since missions happen in well-traveled space, there is a real chance an ally or enemy faction can help or hinder you. They’ll also give you a nice discount on goods at their stations. And vice versa, they’ll attack you on sight if you anger them too much and will not give you missions. Luckily, if you attack a faction, there is a five minute cool down after which the faction will stop attacking you as long as your standings haven’t deteriorated too much and you hide out in a station. This is useful if you want to plunder a transport ship, for example.

The love interest angle is not tied specifically to factions but comes from interactions with your wingmen. They each have a backstory, and you’ll need to complete unique missions to acquire each one. The missions give you insight into their characters. You’ll spend a lot of time together in space fighting the good fight, so naturally, something might come of it. We’re not sure how much Apple will allow, as our romance involves a risqué mini-game, so this may have to wait for an update so as not to jeopardize the release.

In the web demo there was a news feed describing the movements of various other characters, presumably NPCs for now.  It reminded me quite a bit of a MMORPG chat and achievement window, actually – does it hint at any multiplayer plans in the future, and what purpose does it serve otherwise?

The world of Dangerous is truly alive as there are 600+ ships docking, undocking, warping, gating, mining, patrolling, fighting, etc., even as you’re inside the station. The news feed gives you a pulse of the local activity and I particularly like how it further immerses you in the world, knowing that stuff “happens” even when I’m in the station. For example, you could actually follow a mining ship as it makes its mining runs to an asteroid. We have a neat mechanic that lets you follow another allied ship through warp or gates by borrowing its warp tunnel. If you’re not allied or skilled, you can still follow, but have to take the long route. At the asteroid belt, you’ll see those ships actually blasting apart the asteroids for ore. Then they take it back and sell it, which provides income to their faction.

As far as multiplayer networking, Andrew and I have quite a bit of experience with that. So, yes, we do plan to eventually add multiplayer to Dangerous. In fact, we have some new ideas on how to scale the game to EVE Online-like proportions all on a single shard. In addition, we have some ideas on preventing “blob” tactics, which is what EVE has degenerated into, where the bigger fleet always wins. Our vision is that a lone pilot can make a huge difference. Hopefully, the sales of the game will fund this next phase of development, but we’re also considering pitching it as a Kickstarter project.

There were two features being discussed earlier that sounded really cool: one involved beaming onto enemy ships and presumably capturing or disabling them on foot, and the other involved settling down on planets and hunting monsters. Are we likely to see either of those in the release version, and if not, what are the chances of these mission types appearing in updates?

The original plan called for flying in space, walking in stations and planets, and ship-boarding. The scope of the flying in space grew to such an extent that we had to scale back the other parts if we wanted to release the game. But we are committed to adding the walking and ship-boarding in future updates. For us, this game represents not an end product per se, but an experience. And that experience will be incomplete until those other elements are included. We had hoped to provide a teaser of the planetside offering since we have elements of it in place, but that will likely come in an update.