The lead animator from 5 Lives tells us why Satellite Reign won't be a slavish Syndicate imitation.
By Jason Imms on July 23, 2013 at 9:05 am
Satellite Reign, an exciting spiritual successor to Syndicate and Syndicate Wars, is approaching the end of its Kickstarter campaign. Mitch Clifford, lead animator from the hopeful developer 5 Lives, is confident.
“We’ve been glued to Kicktrack,” Clifford says. “We’ve got an amazingly similar graph to what [Peter Molyneux's] Godus had.” Based on this, and the fact that the 5 Lives team’s research showed that they should prepare themselves for the slow middle period of any campaign, they’re confident that they’ll receive funding enough to go ahead with Satellite Reign. “Things are starting to pick up again now, so we’re all pretty optimistic about it. Getting some more stretch goals in there would be nice, but we’re pretty happy with how its gone.”
When asked about seeking extra funding on the project after the Kickstarter campaign finishes up, Clifford said that it is possible. “We’re looking at the grants that Screen Australia are offering, and some of our ex-Sega guys have contacts at the GDAA [Game Developers' Association of Australia], so we’re looking into that,” he said. “If the Kickstarter doesn’t go through, then short of something amazing happening, I don’t see the game happening any other way.”
5 Lives is staffed by a group of long-time developers that have jumped through the hoops of the publisher model of game production many times, and none are really interested in returning to it. Steven Dangler, the CEO of Dracogen and XE.com has backed the project at a high tier. “If everything went south,” said Clifford, “and he really really wanted to be that big CEO, then maybe? But yeah, outside of that, Kickstarter is really the only avenue that we’re expecting to be able do the game with.”
Despite the similarities inherent in making a spiritual successor to Syndicate and Syndicate Wars, the 5 Lives team is working to ensure that they are creating a game that is their own. “It’s our own world that we’re creating,” Clifford claims. “We don’t have a Persuadatron, we’ve got our own little take on that idea. Syndicate and Syndicate Wars made their own little genre there, that no other game has really touched. We’re just trying to revisit that genre, not make a clone of Syndicate. Mike had a lot of ideas that didn’t make it into Syndicate due to time and budget that we’re looking at for Satellite Reign, but this is definitely its own game.”
Developers that choose to crowd-fund their games need to walk a fine line between keeping their backers in the loop, and not over-promising. “We’re trying to be as open as we can. I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a game before that has been publicly known from the get-go. Every single game I’ve worked on has been hush-hush,” says Clifford. Even when he was working on tie-in game for Legends of the Guardians, a game that he doesn’t think people would have “lost their minds over,” he said that the entire thing was kept a secret until three-quarters of the way through the development process. “We believe that being as open as this will help the game to go over as well as it possibly could.”
The Satellite Reign Kickstarter has very little time left. If the idea of returning to a future of violent corporate espionage excites you, then Agent, your mission is to back the project before it’s too late.