Robot Gentleman Interview
I had a chance to chat with four members of the Robot Gentleman crew regarding their upcoming Steam release, 60 Parsecs! A direct sequel to the celebrated 60 Seconds!, this installment sends a hapless crew into the depths of space with only the slimmest odds of surviving the journey. I learned a lot about life, love, and soup.
1) While your previous title (60 Seconds!) came with some rather dark undertones, will this upcoming title be equally capable of bleakness? After all, the Space Age being emulated here is a pretty hopeful one.
Dominik Gotojuch: 60 Seconds! was all about contrasting the comedic delivery with a grim apocalyptic scenario. 60 Parsecs! will continue that fine tradition with making the overly optimistic, retro-futuristic vision clash with the reality of being trapped in a thin shell of a claustrophobic and not exactly reliable spacecraft. Don’t forget about the imminent shortages of canned soup!
Mateusz Pusty: This time, you’re being thrown 60 parsecs – which equals almost 200 light years! – into the black vastness of space. And you need to survive there! You have limited resources, no way to contact Earth and nobody from your crew were prepared for such event. So I think that gives us solid foundations for bleakness. 🙂
Agata Bednorz: The Cosmos is a vast and terrifying place. There’s plenty of room for bleakness. But it wouldn’t be a worthy sequel to 60 Seconds! if we didn’t manage to mix the horrors of space and survival with a good amount of humor.
Radek Smektala: As far as our heroes are concerned, planet Earth has been nuked so that’s pretty heavy 😉 There will be enough bleakness to satisfy even the most die-hard nihilists although, as in the original 60 Seconds!, it will all be presented in a humorous way.
“The Cosmos is a vast and terrifying place.”
2) Crafting systems in games tend to be pretty incredible, meaning players can make amazing things seemingly out of nothing. Will the crafting system in Parsecs! be as boundless, or will this be another opportunity to punish players in hilarious ways?
MP: Who’s saying we want to punish the players? 😉 We’ve added crafting system to give a bit more control and strategy to the gameplay. But remember – we’re sitting in a small vessel where anything can break at any moment so… nothing is impossible.
RS: Well, crafting’s not free. To make an item, you either need to send your crew on an expedition to gather resources or disassemble some of the equipment you already have. We’re still refining the system so I’m not sure whether it will be possible for your crafting attempts to backfire, but anything’s possible at this point.
AB: I wouldn’t say punish but sometimes you just postpone your imminent doom… You will need some kickass management skills to take the right decisions and work with your limited resources.
DG: Decisions have consequences. Crafting the right thing at the right time may be key to survival in space. But crafting the wrong thing… From our perspective, we give players, even more, tools to play with, to shape their story. If they end up blowing themselves up in the process – it is part of the fun!
3) It looks like players will be working with a whole new cast of characters in Parsecs! Is this a totally separate story, or will there be any narrative ties to the previous game?
MP: 60 Parsecs! starts in the same moment as 60 Seconds!. This is the same apocalypse that destroyed the life of Ted and his family, and when they’re sitting in the bunker somewhere in the US, our crew is trying to survive somewhere in the void.
AB: Both games play in the same alternative universe, at the exact same time. Not only is there an apocalypse on earth but apparently the catastrophe reaches space too. Is there an explanation for this? Will the player find out?
RS: It’s the same world. The newcomers are blasted 60 parsecs into space at the same time Ted’s family descends into their bunker. Now I won’t comment on whether you will meet some of the original cast in Parsecs! but there’s nothing in the narrative to make it out of question…
4) I notice that the crew is both unrelated and trapped in a very small space for a very long time. Will there be romance to discover in your tiny vessel?
AB: Oh yes! Romance, Hate and everything in between in fact. As the captain you will have to take some serious decisions and not always will everyone agree with you. It makes for some great soap (soup?) opera material.
RS: That’s actually the intention! One of the new features we are pushing very hard is dynamic relationships between characters. If you keep your crewmates fed and healthy and make responsible decisions, there’s a very real chance that romance will bloom on board.
MP: It’s the essence of relations right? One of our goals is to allow players to build their own relations between the crew. If somebody wishes to proceed with more romantic relations then who are we to stop them?
DG: Romance and more, in fact! As Radek mentioned, relationships between characters will play a major role in 60 Parsecs!. We want to make them an essential part of the narrative that can be uniquely shaped in every playthrough.
“One of the new features we are pushing very hard is dynamic relationships between characters.”
5) What are some of your inspirations for the Space Age aesthetic featured throughout the game?
DG: The pop-culture of the 1950’s and 1960’s provides us with so many references it is hard to list them all. However, we also take a lot of inspiration from the reality of the time – the Cold War and the Space Race propaganda and of course the historical achievements in space exploration. But the best part is the collection of insane ideas scientists and engineers had for space travel. Want to fly to outer space? No problem – just keep exploding nuclear bombs behind your ship and it will boldly go where no one has gone before!
AB: Besides the Star Trek series, my biggest source of inspiration are Science Fiction comics from the 50’s and 60’s. Series like Weird Science or Incredible Science Fiction help me to visualize how people imagined space exploration and life in space. I combine these concepts with some real life 1950’s/60’s ideas and technology and come up with a mixture of wacky retro futurism and historical designs.
RS: The original Lost in Space TV show is a big one, as is Forbidden Planet. Personally, I also take a lot of inspiration from an old Amiga game called It Came From The Desert which was recently adapted into a movie. It’s not set in space, but it’s plenty weird and offers a very interesting, pulpy vision of the 60’s. Suffice to say it’s about giant ants invading a small mining town. So yeah, it’s pretty great.
MP: The biggest inspiration is the reality itself. How people were thinking in the 50’s and 60’s about space travels. What was their imaginations of the future? The science papers, posters, old movies. That’s the effect we’re trying to achieve. Of course mixed with our own style.
6) Eating soup in space seems like it would be crazy complicated. Are players going to be sealing their own doom by bringing so much liquid to a sealed, possibly zero-g environment?
RS: It has never been established that there’s any other kind of widely available food in the 60 Seconds! universe than canned soup so it’s either that or nothing at all.
MP: Have you eaten our soup? It’s amazing what you can do with it by using proper resources. There is no better source of nutrition in the entire universe! Or at least it’s what the label says.
AB: If your space station blows up you grab what you can. If it’s soup you will eat soup. Lot’s of soup. All the soup.