I feel like I've been talking about Eufloria forever. The game started life as Dyson, a procedurally-generated real-time strategy game created for an online competition, and gradually evolved into a commercial title which consumed the lives of Rudolf Kremers and Alex May for the next three or so years.
Kremers isn't ready to let go of Eufloria's universe just yet. Having recently finished off the PSN version of Eufloria, he's now collaborating with the Tuna team on a brand new spin-off title in the series.
Eufloria Adventures, the game's working title, is set within the original universe, but it has very different gameplay mechanics. You control a single seedling ship this time around, sent out to study and collect ancient artifacts with which you can enhance your ship's abilities.
As you explore deeper into the world, survival becomes far more taxing, and constant upgrades to your ship are necessary for defeating enemy colonies and discovering your exact role in the underlying story.
Once again, Kremers has turned to procedural generation to make the game as replayable and organic as possible -- just one plus point noted in a lecture he gave on the topic recently. Unlike Eufloria however, this new title will place a much more solid focus on exploration and customization, while bringing in that classic conflict strategy angle.
Why, then, did Kremers decide to continue on with the Eufloria story, rather than moving on to something new. Isn't he a bit sick of staring at it after all this time?
"It is a universe I have grown to love and would like to explore further both in gameplay and narrative terms," he explains. "There are also aspects of gameplay that we originally intended to explore in Eufloria, but either we ran out of time or they did not sit well with other mechanics. It's also a nice way to tell a bit more of the narrative behind Eufloria."
Having sold a quarter of a million copies of the original title, Kremers is also very interested in catering to the game's fans. "We think we would make a lot of existing fans happy by opening up a new corner of the Eufloria universe to them, while introducing new players to a rather unique gaming environment."
The game is aimed for a launch (at a date to be determined) on PlayStation Mobile, rather than PC or iOS as you might expect. Says Kremers, his work with Sony on the PSN version of Eufloria played a large part in his decision to go down this route.
"I think PS [Mobile] is a really smart and likeable move by Sony," he adds. "Personally I find the Vita a stupendous handheld gaming device and to open it up to indie devs is exactly what it needs to set itself apart. Original indie games with a strong personal identity on a fantastic piece of kit? Seems to me the right approach."
Breathing life into the Vita
Kremers believes that, despite the Vita's poor start, the handheld will soon take off, especially with Christmas coming up.
"It may not do absolutely huge numbers in terms of its userbase yet, but on the other hand if these users are really dedicated gamers than they will flock to good games. As indies we have relatively low overheads so we can be profitable with fewer sales than big companies."
He adds, "A nice side-effect is that it makes commercial sense to create original progressive games, because we don't want to (and often can't) compete within traditional stale genres anyway. In other words we can take creative risks, and Sony is very open to that."
Like Ripstone and numerous other indie developers before him, Kremers believes indie developers are the key to saving the Vita, and he is more than happy to help it succeed.
And those wondering how Alex May, one of the original creators of Eufloria fits into all this can wonder no more -- May is working on his own projects, and is more than happy to see Kremers continue the Eufloria universe.
"We are all indies that support each other, rather than hard-nosed corporations that want to stifle the work of competitors," says Kremers. "We are friends, and we encourage each other's games. Within a context like that it becomes more a question of what projects to collaborate on. In this case Alex and I had separate goals, while Tuna was completely up for it."
Kremers says that we can expect more information from himself, Tuna and composer Brian Grainger on Eufloria Adventures in the coming months.