"When I first started working on Rodina, I thought that the three things that would make my game unique, the three things I had not seen in a game before, would be: 1) Full-scale, procedural planets you can fly down to seamlessly 2) The ability to walk around your own ship 3) The ability to hack computers." Brendan Anthony, a 10-year game development veteran who has worked on titles such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3, explained over e-mail.
"When Notch announced 0x10c, his announcement highlighted the exact same things." Anthony quipped, punctuating the statement with an appropriately placed emoticon (It was ':p', in case you were wondering).
Rodina is Anthony's dream game, a space game that shares plenty of resemblances with Notch's 0x10c. Except that this one appears to be tottering on the edge of completion, of course. According to Anthony, he's currently in the 'second to last' stage of production. Gameplay is being polished and new ships, fights and other miscellaneous items are being added for the customer's pleasure. Alpha and beta are next on the list. As for release itself, will we be waiting for another year?
"No release date yet but I'm intending to release it within a few months."
Inspired by games like Freelancer, Star Fox and Elder Scrolls, Rodina will include a whole bevy of features, it seems, including the ability to release toxic gas into an engine room (nasty!) or fly a false flag to lull your enemy into a sense of false security (even nastier!). Most interestingly, perhaps, is the fact that Rodina, much like 0x10c, will have a computer you can hack.
A more accessible one.
"The DCPU was a low-level simulation of a computer. When the player hacked into it, they did so what was essentially assembly language. Hacking in Rodina will be different. The programming is all done in Lua which is a high-level scripting language. The emulated computers are all tied directly into gameplay systems. So, you will be able to do simple things like: x = y + 1. But you will also be able to easily accomplish more complicated actions like: LifeSupport.Vent( "POISON GAS" ) Navigation.OrientShipTowards( Enemy1 ) Weapons.Fire()."
He adds, "I think it will be interesting and fun, even to people who aren't programmers. Note that hacking will be made available in one of the free updates that will come after the initial release- it won't be something people see right away."
While there might be those who would immediately want to cry clone, Anthony says that he been working on Rodina well before the world was informed about 0x10c. Notch announced 0x10c on April 2012, Anthony revealed a tech demo. Given Anthony's background in mainstream development, he's no stranger to the idea of pressure. "Fortunately at the time, my game was far enough ahead that most people recognized that they were both original ideas that happened to overlap."
So, how does Anthony feel about what was once the colossus he was competing with? Empathy. "I definitely understand his position. Finishing projects is much easier to motivate with money or the threat of losing one's job, and when the project is a big one, the incentives need to be big, too. For Notch, the incentives are all upside-down: it's a huge game, and there's absolutely no practical need to complete it. No matter what happens, he'll be the richest, most successful Indie game developer of all time. I think his decision to focus on smaller stuff is smart for his personal happiness, and it could end up being great business-wise, too. After all, from what I understand, before Notch made Minecraft, he was making lots of little games. Minecraft was a hit because it had 'It' and everyone could see it. Not because Notch decided ahead of time 'this is what I'm going to work on for the next 2 years.'"
Rodina will be released with a Kickstarter-style, pay-what-you-want model. People will be allowed to purchase it for just about any price the desire, with 'tiers' determined by the amount paid. Those unwilling to pay the base price will have to contend with a kind of unlimited demo. Which, honestly, is more than most of us will normally get.
More information about Rodina can be found here.