When it comes to iOS gaming, few games garner as much love from fans or are produced with such high quality/standards as the Galaxy on Fire series. The scope of the game is incredible, the graphics are tasty and the story is expansive. As it turns out, Michael Schade, the CEO and Co-Founder of Fishlabs Entertainment (the company behind GOF2), is a pretty interesting guy as well. Today he shares with DailyTekk readers the story of how GOF2 game into being. Theres a wealth of insights here any true fan will appreciate so I’m going to quit typing now and let you get to the good stuff…
The one thing that sets the Galaxy on Fire saga apart from pretty much every other sci-fi shooter on the App Store, is its unique mixture of story-based, mission-bound and sandbox gameplay. In our game, we grant the players way more freedom of choice than other titles do and hence they can freely choose between dozens of different ways to make progress. When they’re stuck in the main campaign, for example, they can take some time off whenever they want and either do some trading, hunt down space pirates or accept side missions. That way they can earn additional credits and ultimately buy a better ship and stronger weapons, which will hopefully allow them to finish the mission they’ve been stuck at before. And even after they’ve completed the main story line of GOF2 and its two add-ons Valkyrie and Supernova, the fun is still not over, because the galaxy still bears a thousand secrets that need to be unraveled and a thousand challenges that need to be taken on.
Since everyone who worked on Galaxy on Fire 2 is a huge science fiction buff, we drew visual inspiration from a very broad range of different media — ranging from TV shows like Star Trek and blockbusters like Star Wars to classic games like Wing Commander and bestselling novels like A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. If you’re a sci-fi aficionado, you’ll surely discover a lot of homages and tributes to all kinds of fan favorites and genre classics while playing our game. One example would be the towels you could buy in the hangars of the space stations and another would be the so-called Grey, which are an alien race that looks a lot like the classic Area 54 aliens. Even their signature ship, the Vol Noor, bears a lot of resemblance to a flying saucer. But of course there’s also a lot of unique stuff to be found in the Galaxy on Fire 2 universe, such as the mysterious Void, whose home world and space ships look unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
One thing that still amazes me to this day is the enormous replay value of Galaxy on Fire 2. Especially when you’ve got both add-ons unlocked, you can easily play the game for hours and hours on end without getting bored or fed up. Even after you’ve finished the last story mission, you can still go on and buy better ships and weapons, find secret star systems, wipe out pirate outposts, manufacture special items from blueprints, gain enormous riches, explore the most remote corners of the galaxy and so on. We have heard from many fans, which have played the game for more than a hundred (!!!) hours and still cannot put it away. And that’s something you don’t hear every day about a mobile game…
How did some of the original concepts differ from the product that came to market? In most cases, we’ve gone through quite a lot of different layouts and concepts before we ultimately ended up with the ships, weapons and space stations that you can now see in the game. A good example is the Terran carrier from the Supernova expansion, for example. Here we had almost half a dozen different approaches covering the whole span from unconventional and experimental to orthodox and conversant. We ultimately chose a design that was inspired by the aircraft carriers of the US Navy because it did not only look good but also seem authentic, believable and feasible.
We always try to be as open towards our community as possible and hence we’ve introduced almost every aspect of the game to our fans on our blog and website in a rather detailed way. Take the making of the Supernova add-on, for example. To fill the fans in on the latest happenings here in the Fishlabs office, we’ve published a total of 17 developer diaries about Supernova over a period of more than half a year. In the course of these exclusive behind-the-scenes-featurettes, we’ve covered almost every stage of the production — including story writing, game design, graphics design, art direction, marketing and so on. So I guess the only thing that still remains a mystery about GOF2 is the T. in the name of our protagonist Keith T. Maxwell… actually, it stands for… nah, I’d better not tell… 😉
Our recording room is located right next to the conference room with our Xbox 360. During the voice recordings for Supernova, we had to put our internal FIFA 12 league on ice, because whenever someone scored a goal or got a red card, the yelling, cheering and screaming of the players was so loud that you could actually hear it on the recordings.
Of course, it would be a bit far-fetched to claim that Galaxy on Fire 2 reinvented the once-popular genre of the open space shooter in general. What it did, however, is blowing new life into these kinds of games and putting ‘em back into the limelight on the hottest and most spectacular gaming platform of the hour, namely mobile. Right now, there isn’t a single space game available on the App Store or Google Play that is on par with Galaxy on Fire 2 in terms of amplitude, immersiveness, production value and overall quality. Galaxy on Fire 2 has been one of the very first titles that managed to bring a console-quality gaming experience to a 3.5 inch iPhone screen… and we’re by far not done yet!
On a sidenote, I also have to say that it’s quite a funny coincidence that two of the biggest names in sci-fi gaming, namely Chris “Wing Commander” Roberts and David “Elite” Braben, have just recently re-discovered the space genre as well and started kickstarter campaigns to finance their next science fiction epics.