Space Siege Q&A - Cybernetic implants, the destruction of Earth, and the future of humanity.

We check in on this promising action role-playing game from the maker of Dungeon Siege.

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What is humanity? Well, to the development team at Gas Powered Games, humanity is defined as resisting the temptation to replace body parts with cybernetic implants that transform you into a deadly war machine. While female earthlings may find Seth Walker, the protagonist in the upcoming Space Siege, more attractive if he doesn't remove his arms in favor of alien-blasting bazookas, sacrificing his own humanity may be the only way, in fact, to save humanity. We checked in with Space Siege lead designer Mike Marr to get the latest on the upcoming action role-playing game from the maker of the popular Dungeon Siege series. Here's what he had to say.

Seth Walker and cybernetic implants are humanity's last hope.

GameSpot: It has been a while since we last saw Space Siege. What are you currently focusing on at this stage of development?

Mike Marr: At this point in development we're putting the final touches on the game: incorporating feedback from beta testers, finalizing the game's balance, and making sure we've covered all the bases.

GS: Space Siege revolves around Seth Walker, a highly trained soldier tagged as "humanity's last hope." What makes Seth so special besides, you know, the ability to turn himself into a hell-raising cyborg of destruction?

MM: This is an interesting question because Seth is very much an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Because of that, he has to make decisions throughout the game about how far he is willing to go in order to save the remnants of the human race. That said, Seth is unique among the ship's crew in that he has an affinity for tinkering with gadgets and robots, and he is the only one on the ship able to get the Hodgson's Robotics Unit up and running, which then turns into his robotic sidekick.

GS: Life on Earth is wiped out by the Kerak as the game begins, and we meet up with Seth on a colony ship that is quickly boarded as it tries to escape the solar system. Assuming Seth cleans out his ship, what happens next in a galaxy flooded by human-hating aliens?

MM: Great question! This is one of the major plot points during the course of Space Siege. Seth has to decide how to deal with the Kerak menace and what to do should he succeed in removing the Kerak from the Armstrong. The choice ties in to the dilemma of cybernetics, but I don't want to reveal much more than that.

GS: So far, we've seen a few small, spiderlike enemies in the game. What other frightening Kerak will we be forced to mow down? Also, why are the Kerak so mean?

MM: Fairly soon in the game Seth faces off against some of the larger Kerak, including a siege beast that uses a combination of charges and electrical blast attacks. In the later stages of the game, the Kerak really put the screws to the humans when they do something that tilts the odds even further in their favor. I don't want to spoil it, but it won't be pretty for Seth and his friends.

As for why the Kerak are so mean, that ties in with humanity's first effort to colonize an alien world. A ship called the Rebecca Lee discovered an inhabitable planet that they called Elysium. Unfortunately, the planet was considered holy by the Kerak, and they showed up and killed all of the colonists and then set their sights on Earth.

GS: We understand that the difficulty in Space Siege is adjusted dynamically by how many cybernetic implants Seth decides to use at the expense of his humanity. What are the rewards for Seth if he chooses against cybernetic implants? Will female earthlings find him more attractive?

MM: Electing to avoid cybernetics lets Seth utilize several abilities that cannot be accessed otherwise. Additionally, it opens up an alternate ending. And yes, female earthlings do find him more attractive if he keeps all of his parts intact.

GS: What body parts will Seth be able to enhance, and what are some of the benefits? How many different customization options are we talking about here?

MM: There are seven total body parts that Seth can replace with cybernetic alternatives. Benefits in doing so include things like more health, faster movement, access to the best skills in the skill tree, and the use of the game's most powerful weapons.

GS: Philosophers have been struggling with the question for ages, but how do you define humanity?

MM: In Space Siege, humanity is a rating of how pure you are. Giving up your humanity is a slippery slope. A cybernetic eye or hand doesn't cost much, but the more powerful cybernetics, like the spine or the brain, will cost you your identity. However, sometimes that's just the cost of doing business if you're fighting an alien menace bent on genocide.

GS: What other RPG elements will we see besides cybernetic upgrades?

MM: There are a number of RPG elements in Space Siege. We have the traditional skill tree that not only makes your character more powerful, but it also grants Seth new abilities based on his cybernetic layout and level of humanity.

Additionally, we have an upgrade system for both Seth and his robotic companion, HR-V, or as we like to call him, Harvey. In designing the RPG elements of Space Siege, we aimed for taking a twist on the traditional RPG leveling scheme. Your standard RPG uses an experience curve that is exponential, and time between levels grows larger over time. We instead use an incremental scheme that lets the player enhance their character, their weapons, and HR-V every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the course of the game.

GS: The Dungeon Siege games have typically focused more on action than on story. How do you think the increased focus on story benefits Space Siege? Do you worry that the change will alienate fans of your previous games?

MM: I'm not worried. I believe we've managed to actually increase the level of action as well as give greater focus to the story. The key to doing this in Space Siege was our decision to allow conversation to happen primarily over the radio, letting the player continue exploring and blowing up aliens as the story unfolds. You can stand in a quiet hallway and listen to the conversation, or you can forge ahead guns blazing while the conversation occurs. Either way, the game keeps the objectives clear, and you can always go back to the conversation log to read something you've missed.

GS: Are there any plans to support DirectX 10 for owners of high-end PCs? Any other cool high-end graphical stuff in the works?

MM: For Space Siege, we chose not to support DirectX 10. However, because our focus is on providing the most compelling experience to the widest possible audience, we're evaluating what value DX10 can add to our future titles.

As for other cool high-end graphics, we built quite a few rather unique graphical enhancements into our engine, including an advanced lighting model that pushes the boundaries of dynamic illumination. The engine also supports high dynamic range lighting, which is controlled by environmental settings and captures all the benefits of HDR without the typical bloom effect.

In addition to the work done on the lighting, we took advantage of modern hardware instancing support and packed the screen with more objects, enemies, and effects than we have traditionally been able to handle. And in regards to our special effects, we support advanced primitives as well as the ability to use all the latest shader effects for refraction, distortion, and glow. We put a tremendous amount of effort into taking advantage of all those systems to provide an outstanding visual experience for Space Siege.

GS: We've seen a lot of different storytelling techniques in action RPGs lately, from cinematic cutscenes to branching conversation trees. How is the story in Space Siege told?

MM: The story in Space Siege has branching conversations, but not in the way you would expect. Characters in the world respond to Seth's actions and choices automatically, particularly when it comes to whether or not he uses cybernetics. Each of the primary characters has definite opinions on what Seth is, or isn't, doing, and those opinions are expressed during the course of the game. It was important that we deliver an interesting story without bogging the player down in conversation trees or running through town to make sure they had gotten all the quests before departing.

In addition, there are datapads scattered around the world that offer additional details on everything from evacuation plans to what happened to some of the other survivors. The datapads really help color in the story.

HR-V, or Harvey, serves as mankind's best friend.

GS: Finally, what's the one thing you think players are going to be most excited about when they finally play Space Siege?

MM: If I had to limit it to just one thing? I'd say our use of physics make Space Siege a very volatile experience, and I suspect players will get a kick out of the experience.

Discussion

77 comments
NemesisLives
NemesisLives

From the maker of Dungeon Siege? Uhh... I don't know...

lime05
lime05

Well sparked my curiosity!. Looks promising. Gas Powered Games have earn't my vote.

zeus_gb
zeus_gb

It's nice to see devs still supporting XP. The game sounds like it's got a Mass Effect kinda flavour to it, it might be interesting.

Agermemnon
Agermemnon

@ahughs007 well it's funny because many said the same old s**t about xp ( now with it's third sp ) vista has had allot sorted with sp1 as for dx10 many moaned and **** about AGP being dropped saying welllllll it's not needed blah blah blah now would people have gotten the performance from a gpu such as the new geforce GTX280 if we had stuck with cack old AGP . Don't stand against progress for the pc market and if you don't like it stick to the old 486 or get a p*xy console for some great stagnation i say.

ahughs007
ahughs007

@Agermemnon,

I don't like Vista either; but it's part of the OS growing process (I'm looking at you WindowsME). I'm hoping that Windows 7 is less GUI-retarded than Vista.

I've been in IT for going on 10 years and won't put Vista on my machine. Being a fanboy for Vista doesn't change the fact that it is a poor successor to XP and a bad choice for most consumers. The only reason it (Vista) is on most machines is because M$ can't make more money without moving forward.

They could have implemented DX10 into XP but it wouldn't have made them enough money. With all the R&D they put into DX; they had to be compensated and didn't want to give it away for free. If anything they should have just designed XP v2, higher speed \ reliability and DX10 etc...

Instead they tried to shove a ton of un-needed visual effects that will slow down most computers especially in the long run, and a ton of un-welcome features.

Don't even get me started about troubleshooting on Vista Home Edition, and I thought XP Home was lame...

Agermemnon
Agermemnon

@Dante1321 you hate Microsoft for pushing Vista ? well lets all sit in dx9 and not evolve shall we or clicks fingers hang on this is the pc it's not a console so evolution will always happen thank god . Don't like vista say goodbye to pc gaming for you then as it's happening take a look around at all the ready built rigs being sold and are bound to be Vista OS not XP like it or lump it you will have to have it at some point lol .

Sunrie
Sunrie

Interesting. I'm not sure I'm going to be getting this. Seems a little too much like Mass Effect @Dante1321- You just showed how ignorant your are

Dante1321
Dante1321

Thanks for NOT going dx10. I hate M$ pushing gamers into Vista (Windows ME anyone?) VISTA = Epic Fail!

Mega-Tom
Mega-Tom

Looks AMAZING! I cant wait

Semperfi_89
Semperfi_89

The trailer for this game looks insane can't wait :)

yunatic
yunatic

well, i think the most important thing for a game is the story and personality. It's hard to like any game if the characters are unlikable. if its just some dude shooting lazer in space, even if you have the most fancy physics or lighting, it wont make a difference to how the game will be recieved. I certainly hope in the future of game industry, people should spent more time developing thing creatively, not rely on shinny particles.

yunatic
yunatic

it looks retarded, it's easy to just come up with a typical sci fi shooting game, with cliche designs and story. i bet the team of concept artist are those guys who just got out of school drawing monsters and guns all day. "cybernatic implant"? "humanitys last hope"? OH PLEASE!

snakestrike
snakestrike

Ah, an attempt to throw a classic game into a futuristic setting. Not a bad premise, really. I'll probably pick this game up just to see how well they combined the RPG elements with the good old hack and slash madness of the old Dungeon Siege games. I dunno about you guys, but there's something to be said for beating your way through a horde of disgusting monsters with a squad of trusted NPCs at your side... Now add guns!

croftforever
croftforever

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thewilyranger
thewilyranger

I thought the first dungeon siege was decent but they do not look like they are doing much outside of the formula, I may wait until later to get this game

spetsdog
spetsdog

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sdozer
sdozer

Haha I was listening to Robot Man while I was reading this.

mYslead
mYslead

so we should look forward to this game because of it's physics? right ....

Skullcandy
Skullcandy

The first Dungeon Siege was fun but not a deep game, the 2nd was BARELY an improvement, and this is Dungeon Siege in space. Way to stretch an idea into tedium.

Chilean_demon
Chilean_demon

mmmmm seems to me like a mass effect but with cyborgs....not interested...you know I´m stil for a RPG who blows my mind.

katjajett
katjajett

I agree with Poodlejumper, sounds like alot of action with little role playing. Maybe slightly more then a game like Halo but not much. Not impressed.

ldonyo
ldonyo

Dungeon Siege in space. No, thanks.

spetsdog
spetsdog

POLARSKILL its the2nd time or evin 3th ... you say that , WE ALL KNOW THIS!!!!!!!!!ITS ALL RITE , REALX , don't try to deserv eny points!!!!!!!!!!!!!

spetsdog
spetsdog

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Polarskill
Polarskill

Its like Too Human with worse graffics and no interactive storyline...ill pass

Poodlejumper
Poodlejumper

Hey Game Spot! If there really are no aspects of Role Playing in it (unless you think stat juggling = roleplaying like the highly mistaken Gas Powered Games), then calling it a role playing game is higly erronous. You can keep the action part, but the Role playing part? Not so much. RPG = Role Playing Game. I don' exactly see much Role PLaying in any of the features the guys at Gas Powered mentioned.

spetsdog
spetsdog

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

xMADxDOGx
xMADxDOGx

i'll never schange my opnion about this game

xhan
xhan

lol @ no DX10. Suck more, Gas-Powered Games.

ottumatic
ottumatic

They should include the crouch area to the amount of body parts enhanceable. This will nullify any dislikes the female earthlings have against you for being cybernetic.

tomjacobs
tomjacobs

@Mongobq : I think the humanity vs. cybernetic implants is actually the only saving grace for this game so far. I mean, they intend to make it at least as mindnumbing as Dungeon Siege, when asked about the "enhanced emphasis" on storytelling, the designer says there will be no dialogue trees, no interruption of the action, no interaction as the replies are automatic. Sounds exactly like DS's story: shallow, linear, non-interactive. I'm not impressed so far.

earthnuggets
earthnuggets

Anyone else think this sounds a bit too much like Too Human? Holy God, the music on the website is unbelievably atrocious.

moh_sakhaii
moh_sakhaii

That's the kind of game I wish I was playing it already. just can't wait.

djtim_3000
djtim_3000

@QB1130X Fanboys? So if I happen to like the look of a particular game I'm a fanboy am I? I think you and madxdog need to go back to playing hide and seek and leave comment posting on the interweb to the big boys. I personally liked Dungeon Siege and its sequel. Good mindless fun in a relatively attractive package. GPG tends to make good games so I've got my fingers crossed Space Siege is as fun to play as it sounds.

btwillett2003
btwillett2003

I think this game will do great. For one, there is a Sci-Fi RPG that deals with guns and the future. At least it is not overdoing the fantasy elves, alliance, swords, axes stuff like the other RPG games. So it's nice for a change for once. The only thing that kind of worries me is the gun system, i mean how are they going to do the accuracy and ammo for the guns. For those of you who want more RTS from GPG, you guys just got Forged alliance so calm down..lol

QB1130X
QB1130X

i love how this game has fanboys before it has even come out. Looks awful none the less

FiddleStick
FiddleStick

wow...it sounds like a lot of the negative comments about this game are from uptight people that wouldnt know fun if it bit them in the arse. so sad really. looks like the game has a lot of potential. i loved the first Dungeon Siege. part 2 was good, but i didnt like it as much as i liked the first one. Supreme Commander was awesome also. Gas Powered Games rarely disappoints if recent memory serves me right. im definitely looking forward to this game, and i have been since its announcement.

mongobq
mongobq

I think the concept of this game really sucks. Giving up humanity to have a bazooka installed instead of your arm, I mean come on. This isn't Nietzsche or something

Syjunta
Syjunta

maddog... you Wached some stuf? and sory for pips? The graphics don't suck, the concept doesn't suck either what does suck is your attitude and comparing this game to MGS4!? Just a plain WTF is enough for that.

xMADxDOGx
xMADxDOGx

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

SrTVBR
SrTVBR

This game sounds promising! Nice Graphics....

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

This is the kind of game I've been wanting someone to make for years! Finally, a Sci-Fi based Action RPG with a greater focus on story than before, and a consequence-based Cybernetics mechanic. Also, it's nice to see the moral dilemma be defined by humanity vs. giving up humanity than "good vs. evil". It's got more subtlety to it.