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E3 2012: We chat with Novacore Studios about Legends of Pegasus

There have been quite a few 4X space strategy games released for the PC. Now Novacore Studios is making its move into this genre with the upcoming title Legends of Pegesus. The game, to be published by Kalypso Media, is due out later this year. We got two members of Novacore Studios, CEO Andre Overhagen and Studio Lead Peter Seydel, to answer our questions about Legends of Pegasus.

First, how did the concept for Legends of Pegasus come about?

We are big fans of the 4X genre and have been playing games like Ascendancy, Master of Orion and Sins of a Solar Empire for years. So when we founded our own development studio, it was only natural that our first game should fall in this genre.

We have seen lots of space strategy games come out over the years. What will make this game stand out from the crowd?

First of all, in addition to multiplayer and sandbox mode, we have a singleplayer campaign. Though this might sound trivial, it is something that most other 4X games have refrained from trying. And this is not just any simple campaign. Legends of Pegasus‘ single-player storyline takes you on an epic space opera journey with over 40 hours of playtime.

Also, we hope to bring new players and old veterans of the genre together by making the game easy to learn and challenging to master. We use direct visual feedback whenever possible so that the player does not have to search in piles of numbers for the information he wants (which of course he can do if he wants to really go into detail). The state of a planet can be read via its visual appearance with one quick glimpse. Has terraforming made the planet suitable enough for my race? Did pollution destroy the atmosphere? Are giant megastructures defining the surface of the planet? All this information can be gleaned by just by looking at the planet. Of course, the campaign also gives us an advantage in the quest to bring new players to the genre. It not only delivers an entry into the universe of Legends of Pegasus, it also teaches the player the basics of the game bit by bit.

Another thing that the fan community will like about Legends of Pegasus is that it will be highly modable. We want the modders to really play around with the files that are delivered and maybe create some stunning total conversions.

What is the fictional back story of the game?

In 2231, humanity discovered a new power source which opened the way to the stars. Humanity built huge spaceships, colonized distant worlds and terraformed others in order to create habitable planets. This was a time of great enlightenment for humanity: while exploring deep space, mankind was united for the first time in its history.

But, as is always the case with man, his warlike nature got the upper hand. The winds of freedom led colonies to rebel against the government ruling from faraway Earth. Humanity was on the brink of utter chaos and the government was on the edge of collapse.

When all seemed hopeless, a seemingly friendly alien race appeared. These aliens shared their technological knowledge with us and brought the civil war to an end. While doubtful at first, Mankind finally accepted this alliance with these new allies, and allowed them to freely roam human space in a mysterious quest…

Then one day, without notice or warning, our strange new allies stopped sharing their knowledge and began regrouping their spaceships. When the first human planets were attacked by our former allies, we were taken by surprise. All our starships were called back to Earth to defend our homeworld and put an end to the attack, but the enemy was too strong. In the midst of this hopeless battle, a wormhole opened and swallowed a small group of human warhips. These ships ended up stranded in an unknown and unexplored galaxy. Legends of Pegasus tells the story of this little fleet…

What sort of playable factions will the game have?

Legends of Pegasus will feature three unique races: the humans, the X’or and the Arthrox. The humans find themselves in a totally new environment and are struggling to build up a new civilization in this unknown sector of space. Their look and feel will be very familiar to players who are fans of popular science fiction books and films. That is also why we decided to start the singleplayer experience with the human campaign. You will be following the adventures of Jonathan Daniels, a commander in the human fleet who tries to balance the aggressive and the more diplomatic forces within the makeshift human government.

In the course of the game, Daniels will get in contact with the two other races and you will define their destiny as well.

The X’or are an insect-like robot race lead by the nucleus, a representation of their collective hive mind. Devoid of any feelings or desires and not dependent on water or oxygen, their civilization quickly spread over the universe in search for the knowledge to be gained from other races.

The Arthrox in turn refrain from contact with other species as they have had bad experiences with aggressive neighbors and were betrayed by the same. They are an organic race, technologically advanced and able to live on planets as well as in the void of space itself. They were once one united race but have split into a variety of tribes, each with their own queen.

In Legends of Pegasus, each race has unique technologies, ships, buildings, economic structures and unique ways to terraform planets.

What sorts of spaceships can we expect in Legends of Pegasus?

Legends of Pegasus features a very powerful ship editor that works a little bit differently for each of the three races.

As a human player, you first choose a basic hull for the ship you are about to create, maybe a cruiser or a frigate. You can then attach modules of various sizes onto that base hull. They may be civilian, military or scientific modules. Together with the basic hull, they form a blueprint grid layer onto which you drag and drop various components like weapons, engines or shields. Based on the type of modules, the ship can carry more weapons, more special components or more components for civilian purposes.

While this process is basically the same for each race, their ships look totally different. The X’or do not use basic hulls but they directly connect various modules. Their ships tend to become insect-like, circular structures, with lots of spikes while human ships are flat and even. The Arthrox have biological ships that are created by connecting a head with some body parts and a propelling tentacle at the end.

Because of the multitude of options this gives to the player and because every weapon the player puts into a blueprint will be visible on the ship once it is built, no two ships will completely be the same in Legends of Pegasus.

What kinds of gameplay features do you consider to be important in the game?

It is very important to us that no game in Legends of Pegasus feels quite like the last one you played. When you set up a new game, you can make all the little decisions that make 4X games more replayable than most other genres: What kind of universe would you like to play in (spiral, cluster, disc)? How many galaxy arms? Should there be random events? How aggressive should the AI behave? Should the galaxy be poor or rich in minerals?

In addition to these basic variables, Legends of Pegasus also lets the player adjust each game to his style of play. You do not only choose a race. You also choose an ancestry for your race which is pretty much like defining your character in an RPG: You have a pool of 21 skill points that you can spend on skills such as “research”, “diplomacy”, “production” or “trade”. You may also spend your points on special skills that are very “expensive” but give your faction a special bonus. “Brilliant mind” will give you a chance of instantly getting a second technology once one is completed; “Telepath” lets you see cloaked ships from the very beginning and greatly enhances sensor ranges. And to even further refine your style of play, you may choose bonus tech trees that, when combined with the unique tech trees of each race, give you special technologies to research that will give the upcoming match a whole new spin. For example, humans do not have EMP weapons in their basic tech tree. But if you choose the ION bonus tech tree, you may get a chance to research such weapons in the course of the game.

To put the variety this brings into the game into perspective: we have over 2000 different researchable technologies in Legends of Pegasus. In multiplayer matches, players may use this feature to define their role in an alliance. One player may set up his faction to be the damage dealer while the other one may focus on production and rake in the resources for the team. Hopefully the community will fill the forums with talk about the hunt for the perfect setup for each situation in the game.

Of course the comprehensive ship designer, the big single-player campaign and the combination of real-time battles with direct control over your enemies and the large scale turn based strategic decisions makes Legends of Pegasus something that 4X fans can definitely look forward to.

What can you tell us about the art style and graphics in the game?

Legends of Pegasus will deliver a realistic and very detailed universe. As already pointed out, we want the player to get direct visual feedback on everything he does in the game. He can see all the weapons that are on a ship, he can see damage done in battles; he can see the progression of terraforming on a planet. Also, we want the player to really feel that he is playing a distinct race, so we gave each race its own interface style. In the single player campaign, we drive the story forward with beautifully hand-drawn cinematics.

What can you tell us about the multiplayer modes in the game?

Legends of Pegasus will feature multiplayer for up to eight players via Internet or Local Area Network. All the options that are available for the sandbox mode can also be used in multiplayer.

What is the current status of the game's development and when will it be released?

Legends of Pegasus is on a good way to completion and will be released in summer 2012. We will use the remaining time for balancing and playtesting.

Finally, is there anything else you wish to say about Legends of Pegasus?

We would like to thank the community for all the warm words and the encouragement they gave us over past few months. It really means a lot to us and we will work hard to make Legends of Pegasus the game that they are all waiting for.

NeoGamr and Neowin's coverage of E3 2012 is sponsored by War Inc. Battle Zone.

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