We recently had the opportunity to stream and review the twin-stick shoot-em-up Tachyon Project, which is one in a long list of indies arriving on Xbox One in 2015. It’s an enjoyable game that focused on story, enemy variety, and ship customization–all things that are usually absent in the twin-stick genre–and we ended up awarding it an 8/10 verdict score, which you can check out right here.
After our video review went live, we sat down with Eclipse Games’ founder Eduardo Jimenez to discuss Tachyon Project, why online multiplayer is difficult for indie developers, and what he would do differently now that the game is available on Xbox.
Brad: Can you tell our readers a little bit about Eclipse Games and your role in the company?
Eduardo: “So Eclipse Games is a small indie dev company I founded after leaving Black Rock Studio in 2011. I’ve been working with some people I’ve known over the years, mostly in previous companies. We’ve quite a few years of experience in the industry.
We’re a small team and we’re focused on doing small but polished games that are fun to play. We’re all old-school gamers so we tend to get inspiration from classics but we always try to bring something new to the table.
I’m the founder. In my visit card I say I’m the Managing Director, but TBH, I’m many things normally the Game Director and Technical Director (and only programmer) of the games in the company. I’m the janitor of my office too :)”
Brad: Tachyon Project is the first game developed by Eclipse Games, right? Has your team worked on any other games before joining Eclipse, or was this a first for everyone?
Eduardo: “Actually it’s the 4th game we develop, and the second one for consoles. We developed LightFish (Steam), EcoFish (iOS) and Super Toy Cars (Steam, Wii U and soon on Xbox One too) before Tachyon Project.
Besides, several of us are veterans from this industry. For instance, I’ve been working on videogames for over 10 years now. I worked for Pyro Studios first and then went to Brighton to work for Black Rock Studio (Disney). I’ve had the opportunity of taking part in some high profile AAA games such as Pure, Split/Second, F1 2012 and Disney Infinity.”
Brad: I just played through Tachyon Project for our video review, and Miles live-streamed the game for our followers on Twitch. This isn’t really a genre that focuses on enemy variety or story, and we both thought that was a nice touch to help separate your game from the others. What lead to your decision to include these things? Why do you think they’re uncommon in the genre?
Eduardo: “I can’t really say why they are uncommon in the genre but I can certainly explain to you why we decided to go down the enemy and weapon variety route and why we added the story.
So, I like Geometry Wars, I think it’s a great game, really fun to play. But what I don’t like is that it’s focused on leaderboard competition. I’m not good at that and thus I get bored after a while. On the other hand, both the lead designer and I love old school shmups such as Raptor, 1942, etc. These shmups tend to have a lot of variety in enemies which is one of the things that keep them from becoming stale and boring. We wanted to port that to the dual stick shooter genre. Also, we thought that the idea behind Luftrausers’ ship configuration was really cool and decided to bring some of those aspects to Tachyon Project too.
With regards to the story, it was more of an afterthought really. I had an idea about the story from a while ago, but it wasn’t until I spoke to a local comic artist that we decided to go ahead with the story. He said he was interested in working with us I told him I thought I could find something interesting to do in Tachyon and that’s what came out of it. It’s probably not the best story we could’ve had, but I think most people prefer having it there than having nothing.”
Brad: Was Tachyon Project inspired by other twin-stick shooters? What inspired the AI hacker storyline?
Eduardo: “Geometry Wars, particularly the third installment, was a main point of inspiration, but it wasn’t the only one. As explained before we took a lot of inspiration from classic shmups, particularly Raptor (I love that game) and also LuftRausers (I’m not sure if you could consider that a twin-stick shooter). I also like quite a bit Radiangames games, Ballistic particularly.
With regards to the story, I think that Tron was our main inspiration. We took inspiration from the film for the menu backgrounds and then when the time to get a story together came I took from that film too. I also have been a dad recently and that helped shape the story a bit too.”
Brad: Now that your game is available to the public, is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
Eduardo: “Yeah, definitely. After reading some reviews and checking with people we’ve realized that the ship config screen is a bit messy and counter-intuitive, for instance. The story has no voice acting, but that’s more of a lack of funds problem. The game may be a little bit on the short side, if you don’t like the challenges so we could’ve done something there too.
I also think that we didn’t explain the stealth mode good enough. I think some people don’t understand the stealth mechanic (you’re hidden unless shooting) and how that changes the game significantly. I think we should try to do something about it.
There’s always things you could’ve done better, bugs to fix, and stuff to improve, but you have to draw the line somewhere and release a game, otherwise games may stall in the production line for ages.”
Brad: Since finishing Story Mode, I’ve been spending a lot of time playing Challenge Mode locally with my friends. Any plans to expand the co-op options in Tachyon?
Eduardo: “Adding co-op to story mode has been one of the things we’ve been asked for and we’ll probably try to do that for a future patch.
We’re also now considering several new challenge types:
- One where you’re set with a specified ship config and have to get as many points as possible.
- One in stealth mode where you can’t kill many people (you have to avoid them) so the number of kills allowed grows on time but the enemies do too and you get points for the longer you stay without any enemy kill.”
Brad: It seems that most console indies avoid including online multiplayer and opt to go the local couch co-op route instead. Why do you think that is?
Eduardo: “Online multiplayer is hard to do and it’s considerably harder to debug. Implementing it is reasonably do-able, but debugging it is hell. It’s already very hard on PC where you can use as many friends and co-workers as you need to debug it, imagine if you only have 2 consoles.
It also adds a lot of XRs (requirements that you have to comply with to release on Xbox One) which may fail your game and delay its release. It’s really a lot of work and, unless you get an important fan base, it may be for naught. It’s hard because players kinda expect that from titles now, but it’s really hard to do when you’re a small team (our core team is 3 members).”
Brad: What games did you play growing up that not only inspired you to create Tachyon Project, but to pursue a career in game development?
Eduardo: “Well, there are so many… Civilization, Street Fighter 2, Death Rally, Raptor, Blade, Doom, Quake, Command & Conquer, Warcraft, Monkey Island,… I’m pretty sure I’m leaving quite a few I should mention, but the list could grow to be really large.”
Brad: What games are you playing right now that you’re really in to? Any ID@Xbox indies coming out soon that you can’t wait to play?
Eduardo: “I’m a LoL (League of Legends) player and have been for a long time. I try to quit it, but I keep going back!
I’ve been playing recently Lords of the Fallen. I get a bit frustrated with Demon Souls because I get killed way too often, but with Lords of the Fallen I do a lot better and I guess that’s why I’m liking it so much. I’ve started playing The Talos Principle too, which is a nice experience.
With regards to upcoming ID@Xbox titles, I must say Rise & Shine looks fantastic and I hope they manage to get a gameplay that goes along with the graphics. Ark: Survival Evolved looks amazing too. Ashen intrigues me quite a bit too. But I guess there are lots of games from lower profile studios that will be quite nice and interesting to play. I’ve played Ziggurat this year and enjoyed it a lot, and a friend of mine had the same experience with Spy Chameleon.”
Brad: So what’s next for Eclipse Games? Any new game ideas being thrown around?
Eduardo: “First thing we’re going to do is port Super Toy Cars (with quite a few improvements) to Xbox One. We plan to release the game this summer, maybe August but no later than mid September. Then we have a couple of ideas lined up, but it’s too early to talk about them. Hopefully we’ll release at least a game next year on Xbox One and port Tachyon Project to several platforms.”
Brad: We really enjoyed Tachyon Project, so thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions. Congratulations on being featured on the official ID@Xbox live stream and on your Xbox One launch!
Eduardo: “Thank you very much for having me around. I enjoyed the stream with the guys at ID@Xbox but I found it really hard to be answering questions from the chat while talking to the guys and all that with a 10 second lag :). My apologies if I didn’t do that well or didn’t answer questions that I should.”
We’d like to thank Eduardo from Eclipse Games for not only giving us the opportunity to play Tachyon Project early, but for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer all of our questions.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s no stranger to sinking an absurd amount of time in to an MMO, but also has a deep seeded love for quirky indie games, pro wrestling, horror films, and his hometown of Baltimore, MD. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.