Interview by Chris Picone, 15 September 2021
Joining me today is Mauro D'Andrea from Neptune Games, a budding new developer working on their ambitious debut game, a CRPG called BioSynth: Rising. Both the developer and the game only appeared on my radar recently, so here we shed some light!
CSH: I only discovered Neptune Games and BioSynth: Rising very recently – and with a Twitter account less than a year old, I’m guessing there’s probably quite a few people out there who haven’t heard of either yet. So, introductions are in order. Who are Neptune Games?
Mauro: At the moment the team consists of 9 people, all from Italy. Everyone has at least a few years of experience in his/her specialty and a great passion for their job. When considering new team members we look at quite a few aspects, not just skills and experience! For example, passion, a sense of respect for the job and for others, and communication skills all play a big role. These attributes allow for a great work environment, which makes everyone give their best.
Most of the team has worked in the industry either for some companies or as a freelancer. I am an exception. When COVID arrived in the spring of 2020, I ended up jobless... after the initial horrible feelings, I started looking at the event as an opportunity... and in the summer I started BioSynth: Rising. While developing the game, I also started looking for teammates... and one year later here we are :-) We have most of the development covered now but we plan on hiring outside help for localization and voice acting.
CSH: Sounds like the right team for the job. Now tell us all about BioSynth!
Mauro: BioSynth: Rising is a classic RPG in a Sci-Fi setting. Let me clarify that: Sci-Fi, not strictly cyberpunk. Sure, there are implants and many other cyberpunk elements... but the game doesn't stop there. For example, as we show more about the game, you'll notice many biopunk aspects. Genetics is a crucial science in BioSynth... a whole continent invested a huge amount of resources into it – and as a result they can do some incredible things.
There are also some post-apocalyptish environments. Most of the nations on the planet are gone, and robots are on par with people (same rights and a free will). The first fact means that the world is in chaos – the only two laws are money and power. The second fact means that are lots of cool robot characters. We have a big variety in BioSynth!
CSH: So we have synths, robots, and humans trying to survive in some sort of dystopian/apocalyptic environment. Who’s the main character?
Mauro: The main character is an ordinary person who notices something quite strange: someone is hunting him/her. The reason? Who knows? You'll have to find out what's going on and fight for your survival. Of course, this also means that you'll have to find who is responsible for your troubles.
CSH: Mysterious. I watched the trailer after we spoke last and I can see the game’s an isometric turn-based RPG. What else can you tell us? Any key gameplay features that sets BioSynth apart from all the other CRPGs out there?
Mauro: Yes, destructible objects. We have seen a comparison to Divinity Original Sin because we mentioned environmental interactions after we showed an exploding barrel. The reality is that the exploding barrels are the only type of interactions that we're sharing with DOS. I know it sounds bold, but we have some cooler destructible objects... but we can't talk about them yet.
CSH: Sounds great! Red Faction introduced me to destructible objects in gaming and – provided they’re implemented well – I’m a huge fan. What were the videogame inspirations behind BioSynth? Guessing Fallout & Wasteland – anything else?
Mauro: Yep, especially Fallout. Also Diablo 2, the Baldur's Gate saga, and Divinity Original Sin 2. I know the setting is totally different but they inspired many gameplay decisions.
CSH: Any non-videogame inspirations? Books, TV, film? Bladerunner’s a gimme but what else are we looking at?
Mauro: Actually, most of the inspiration for the setting has come from non-videogames. Did I mention that both me and other team members are into movies and manga? Lots of these influenced the development. Of course, Bladerunner is a must. Other than that, Mad Max, Alita: Battle Angel, Automata, and Star Wars are just a few of the movies that inspired us. We’ve also been inspired by manga like One Piece and even tabletop games like Warhammer 40K. Also, I love playing Magic the Gathering... and one of its worlds influenced the setting and story of BioSynth. But I can't talk about that, it's a big spoiler.
CSH: What state is the game in? When is release planned?
Mauro: It's in pre-alpha. We have a playable game, and the backbone is there... but we need to expand everything so we’ll be looking to Kickstarter so that we can completely fund the game while keeping the freedom to express our original idea – and without investors pushing for an incomplete release. It's also a great way to build a community around the game. The release is planned about a year and a half after the Kickstarter.
CSH: Here's to hoping the Kickstarter goes well! And since I’m sure it will, what sort of stretch goals can we expect?
Mauro: We have some cool ones. Do you want a spoiler? Ok, here it is one stretch goal: special bullets. Have you ever desired to charge your minigun with exploding bullets? Or maybe you'd like your bullets to bounce from an enemy to the next one... well, I think you got the idea.
CSH: Sounds very Judge Dredd, which I’m also a huge fan of. We’d better wrap this up but maybe we’ll chat again when the game’s a bit further along in development and you’re able to share some more details.
Before I let you go: When’s the Kickstarter?
Mauro: We're launching the 21st of September, at 16:00 (or 4pm) UTC. By the way, we'll have an early bird offer, so it's worth to check the project right at launch :-)
I’m already following the Kickstarter and will absolutely be backing it on launch. Thanks for your time Mauro, and good luck with everything!