Interview: HullBreach Studios Outlines Its Ambitions for a Wii U Space Epic
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Wants to "give reason to go back to the console day after day"
Earlier this year HullBreach Studios announced HullBreach Uncloaked, a Wii U follow-up and modernisation of a Wii browser-based MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) called HullBreach Online. It's quite possible that many won't have heard of the Wii title due to its home on the relatively under-utilised browser, though the idea itself is likely enough to intrigue many.
This is a new game and not a direct remake, however, so we caught up with lead developer Daniel Gump to learn more about what this project will entail and what gamers can expect when it eventually arrives on Wii U.
First of all, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and HullBreach Studios?
We are a trio of Nintendo fanboys who see a lack of certain types of games in the Wii U eShop.
HullBreach Uncloaked will naturally draw attention to HullBreach Online, the browser-based MMORPG on the Wii. How closely are the two games related, and is this Wii U project an MMORPG?
HullBreach: Uncloaked is set in the same game universe a few generations after the events of HullBreach Online, when mankind has re-unified and greatly expanded space-faring capabilities. Uncloaked will have both MMO and single-player aspects to appeal to those who like both.
Unlike the Wii title this will be on the eShop, so have you encountered hurdles bringing this sort of experiences to the Wii U store?
We have been approved as Wii U devs, but we are too early in the development process to really know much about any difficulties we may encounter until we order the dev kits. At this point, our concentration is on creating the artwork and building out the game engine.
Can you tell us more about the various enhancements and improvements you're making with regards to ships, sectors etc?
HullBreach Online was one of the earliest non-plugin graphical browser games of which I am aware. In 2007, the capabilities of Web browsers were just reaching the point where such games were possible, with Opera (used by the Wii's Internet Channel) and FireFox leading the pack in supported features. Fast forward that 7 years on a native platform that is much more powerful, and the possibilities are limitless!
Even though HB Online included some 3D rendered content, the game was an overhead 2D endeavor. It originally had space combat as an integral part, but an update to the Internet Channel killed the Wii Remote's B-button interaction, so combat had to ultimately be stripped, leaving just missions, exploration, and mining.
HB: Uncloaked will be a fully 3D game and definitely include combat. The area of exploration will be vast, incorporating all 576 sectors of HB Online (as they would exist generations later) and have considerable new areas and new content within the existing sectors. There will be more ships, more missions, more upgrades, and more of just about everything.
In you initial announcement you stated there'd be 576 sectors, so is the game's universe fully-defined, or do you utilise procedural generation?
HullBreach Online used a sector gridding system that had Greek letters for coordinates, starting with Alpha Alpha and ending with Omega Omega. The Sol system was in the middle at Mu Mu. Uncloaked will use a similar naming scheme, but the exact layout is undermined at this point for new sectors.
As with HB Online, the planets, outposts, etc., in Uncloaked's sectors will be fixed. For Uncloaked, missions, NPCs, faction territory, real-time markets, and other aspects, will fluctuate.
Just how big would you say the game's universe is?
It's tough to say at this point, since we would like to keep cramming in new content all the way until we decide to publish the game. The Milky Way galaxy is vast, so we definitely won't run out of inspiration. Think of sectors being the rough equivalent of solar systems. If we are planning to surpass the 576 of HB Online, then we have a lot of content planned!
Will the core of the game be that of a "space shooter", or will the be trading, exploration and so on also be extensive?
All of the above: combat, trading, exploration, missions - very sandbox at its core.
Can you tell us about the online component and how it'll work?
The online aspect will include a full real-time trading market at established outposts/planets and mission pair-ups with other players.
Are you still planning regular DLC after launch, and if so what sort of content will this be?
There will be vanity DLC, like new ships. Being gamers ourselves, DLC that is required to beat a game already purchased infuriates us; thus, we won't be doing that.
How will communication be utilised online, will voice and text chat be supported using the GamePad, for example?
Chatting at outposts will be one aspect of online play. Whether that is handled through text only or video/audio has not been decided.
Are you planning multiple control schemes, and will the GamePad's capabilities be utilised in any particular way?
There will customizable controls.
The GamePad will be the cockpit/bridge dashboard, showing maps, sensor reading, and other displays that a pilot might use. For off-TV play, the GamePad will have the main 3D view with toggling for the dashboard overlay.
If this is an MMORPG, or at least inspired by one, how will pricing work for this title?
Since we are not charging a subscription fee, don't expect a massive infrastructure, like EVE online, WOW, or other MMORPGs. Some elements to Uncloaked will be online, but the core of the game will be single-player. The server farm will be funded by the eShop purchases and optional DLC.
If you could give a final pitch to readers about this, what would you say?
The Wii U is a great console. It's potential has just not been shown in many games yet. We hope to contribute to filling some of the holes left in the Wii U's offerings by developing and publishing a great game that will give reason to go back to the console day after day.
Do you have an estimated release window yet?
There is currently no release window set.
We'd like the thank Daniel Gump for his time.