Hello and welcome to SBOCLIGHT ON… our weekly feature where we dive into the nitty gritty of gaming’s most indie of offerings. Here, we will shine a SBOClight (get it?) on one game/studio, offering a never before seen look at its fun parts. Sometimes, there will be interviews, sometimes development stories and videos, who knows maybe even a giveaway or two. What we do know is that this will be THE place to read up on some of the industry’s newest and most interesting titles, let’s get started.
Having played and reviewed the game StarTap recently, we have a number of burning questions that we would really like to have answered about the game; from its lore, to its future developmental plans. To satiate this hunger, we have had the great opportunity to be able to schedule a quick meet-up with the developers of the game, Inzen Studio.
Picture of a Stella badge, designed by Inzen’s resident artist Chuinny
Without further ado, here it is:
Q: Why space? Walk us through the design concept and the game prototype!
Space! Space because we wanted to find a theme that still held some IRL mystery for people.
The basic design concept and the prototype was to test the mechanic of how tapping to accelerate but never decreasing in speed (due to there being no air resistance in space) would feel like. An immediately related issue that came about then, was the visual representation of the ever-increasing speed of the shuttle. Because in trying to keep some realism of the game, we have decided not to put in random asteroids for the shuttle to fly past, thus losing an easy way to visually convey “speed”.
Thereafter, we add in the Drones as a source of resources to level up the shuttle, as a means to allow for greater acceleration and more impactful abilities. This was also to test how this could scale in the long-run, should the game have increasingly further milestones… And that was basically our prototype!
Q: What was the inspiration behind the story? Was there a particular motive behind the space setting?
The space setting came first, so the story was always going to be based on our protagonist Stella’s motive for going through the journey.
We told ourselves that StarTap wouldn’t be about resolving a major conflict though. There are no monsters to defeat. No guns that go ‘Pew Pew’. In that way it is ‘passive’. So Stella’s motivations had to suit those conditions.
So, a part of Stella’s motivation is ‘curiosity’, representing humanity’s fascination of what lies beyond Earth. Another part of Stella’s motivation is to keep a lifetime promise that she had made, and this ‘determination’ drives her to be able to go out into space alone, knowing that she will probably never get to see earth again.
Q: Why idle game?
We started out thinking of a theme for an idle game because we wanted to create a game that was easier for casual players to pick up. We also wanted something that would be best represented as an idle game. So, when the topic of space came up, we thought that exploration through space does not have to be a very active event, aside from the in-the-shuttle management. And then it occurred to us that this is something that wouldn’t work in most other genres. As it turns out, it (the theme) looped back as fitting for an idle game genre anyway! We then stuck to it!
Q: Why Stella? And just who is she?
“Stella” the name, because of stars! “Stella” the human because she happened to be born in the age where single-manned space travel is possible, but not advanced enough for humans to go out of the solar system and back within a lifetime. So we needed someone with her tenacity and willpower to go through with something like this.
Q: Why is the alien even out there in the first place?
We’d say ‘Chance’. In an infinite number of parallel universes, the Alien wasn’t there. And so, Stella’s journey turned out to be different. In StarTap’s story, we explore the infinite number of parallel possibilities that stemmed from the Alien being there. And each individual player is playing an instance of that. As for the exact reason why Alien was even roaming out there, that is something we are figuring if we should explain in the game…
[The lead designer breaks off for a little, while stroking his chin.]
It’s safe to say though, that the Alien’s level of technology is far beyond Stella’s, and being out there in space is just another normal ‘day’ for it.
Q: What are the future goals for the game development? Does Inzen plan to keep it strictly as an idle game? Will there be other features that are more interactive, like mini-games?
The more straightforward goals are to include milestone locations that are further and further out in space. This also means that they are larger and larger space objects. We are progressing from planets to stars to nebulas to galaxies and galactic clusters…
We also have feature goals to implement, like the commonly requested social features from the player community, such as clans and tournaments. We do also have an interactive feature planned, to give players more to do in the game, though we are still working on that.
And of course, we will still come up with events throughout the year, as well as new Shuttle parts and decals! At its core, yes StarTap will stay as an idle game, but with features that, we hope, will set it apart from other idle games.
Q: Will there be an end?
With the decision to use locations that have been observed though a telescope instead of stage numbers, this question is always on the back of our minds. We don’t want it to end, because Stella should always have somewhere new to go, assuming the Universe goes on indefinitely. We do want the players to be able to keep going on as well, and we are still looking for a graceful way to achieve this!
With that, our time with Inzen Studio ran out, as they have to get back to preparing the latest updates to come! But just before they leave, we sneaked them a sneaky little question, “What is the answer to life?”
The lead designer of StarTap stared up at the ceiling and pondered for a short moment, obviously aware of the origin of this question and the answer we were expecting. He then casually remarked, “Life was never a question in the first place! Because life doesn’t exist.” *wink*
As you can see, StarTap still has a long way to go! With the upcoming Christmas Event, it might just be a reason for new players to pick up and game and experience Stella’s journey. Inzen Studio hopes that people will too, share the wonder that Stella has about space. The mysteries that lie outside of our solar system, and the perseverance to be able to fulfil their promises and pursue their dreams.