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Ironseed Revisited

Ironseed Revisited

Interviewed By Richie Shoemaker

 

If you were asked to list your favourite space games it would be doubtful if Ironseed would be among them. That’s not to say it was a poor game - far from it, just one that happens to be less well remembered than it deserves.

Ironseed was released in 1994 at a time when space gaming was enjoying what may be looked upon as a golden age: Wing Commander was still in the ascendancy, Elite was ongoing, Master of Orion had just taken ownership of the 4X crown and virtually every month a new space game was clamouring for buyer's attention on store shelves, a large percentage of which had Star Wars on the box. There was some tough competition about.

Inspired by the classic exploration game Starflight, on the face of it Ironseed appeared to be yet another space adventure based around crew management and planetary surveying, but whereas Starflight had set the early benchmark and Star Control had created a fun and fanciful alternative, Ironseed was very much darker and more complex. No better, necessarily, but undeserving of the subsequent obscurity.

Now the original developer of Ironseed is looking to re-develop the game. Reluctant to call it a sequel and with no subtitle decided upon, Jeremy Stanton is currently settled on calling new Ironseed a re-vision, “Not a revision. A re-vision.” He states. “We are taking the spirit of the first game and using it as inspiration for this more robust take on the original. We'll scratch the clunky alien conversations and obtuse research and construction interface. It will still be complicated, but at least now it will be manageable.”

The original Ironseed

The original Ironseed

What is it about the original game that makes you want to revisit it?

Jeremy Stanton: There were certain things about the original that were just plain painful. Alien conversations being one and general plot mechanisms being the other. Those things existed but they did more to confuse people that to drive the gameplay. We're hoping to remedy things like that in this version.

Will you be going down the story-based exploration route, or will Ironseed 'version 2' borrow influences from more modern space successes like Galactic Civilizations?

Jeremy: I think we'll continue to be story-based. I hope for it to be much like Homeworld but without being on rails. That isn't meant to imply Ironseed will be better than Homeworld, but from a gameplay and mechanics perspective that's the easiest way I can think of to explain it.

Are there any space games since Iron Seed that you've been impressed by, or gameplay functions in newer games that you'll be looking to borrow?

Jeremy: The game play mechanics that inspire me the most come from older games like Starflight, and Star Control 2, specifically. We intend to draw from inspiration like that.

Do you think there is a market out there for a game like Ironseed?

Jeremy: I'm not terribly interested in whether or not there is a huge market for Ironseed. We have gameplay mechanics to try and story elements we'd like to convey. We're going to have fun creating those things and work towards creating a game we want to play ourselves. I'm not opposed to profitability, but we're focusing on the art of the thing first. If other people like what we've created that's cool too.

What stage are you with the development?

Jeremy: This is very early. I'm still assembling the team. I anticipate being in full development mode this spring.

How committed are you to seeing this project through?

Jeremy: We're very committed to this project. I have my own business software development company and the developers from our team will be working on this part-time and in their free time as well. I have their attention for at least the next 24 months so you can count on at least that much development time from multiple coders and artists.

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