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Nexus 2 The Gods Awaken Q&A

Nexus 2 The Gods Awaken is an ongoing Kickstarter project to create a true sequel to a fantastic space tactical game, Nexus, The Jupiter Incident. If you haven’t played the original you can find it on Steam, but it is a must play for any fan of space based games. As said this project is ongoing and needs the assistance of fans and gamers alike to put it over the edge.

We had a chance to chat with Vincent Van Diemen, producer on the project about the thought and development process of the game as well as his background in gaming.

Can you start with telling us about Nexus: The Jupiter Incident for those who might not be familiar with the game?

Nexus is a tactical real-time space game in which you command a fleet of ships through an epic campaign set in an original universe in the near future.

Nexus does a lot of story-telling in all its missions and the way you control your ships is a mixture of micromanagement (especially when you work on the detailed loadout of the ships prior to the missions) and fleet control.

For each and every one of you who don’t know Nexus and want to know more about the actual gameplay (and story), there is a series of play-throughs on YouTube under the title ‘Let’s Play Nexus’. All in 1080p and each episode featuring one single mission of the game. It will take you a full weekend to watch all the episodes, but it’s time well spent.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lototgZSUwk[/youtube]

Give us a general breakdown of Nexus 2?

Nexus 2 is a true sequel to Nexus: The Jupiter Incident. The story picks up 25 years after the events in Nexus 1 and we’ll continue that very story with new developments, new races appearing on the interstellar horizon etc. A new phenomenon is the Psi. These are humans with supernatural powers.

If you know the story of Nexus you know that an AI called Angel disappeared at the end of the game. But where to? The answer lies in the Psi that play an important role in the new story. Because of their extraordinary abilities these Psi are good to have around, and if you can’t have them, then you better make sure your enemies don’t have access to them either.

In terms of gameplay Nexus 2 will stay very close to its predecessor as well. With many improvements of course and some interesting enhancements.

What will the UI in the game look like?

The UI was not the strongest elements of the original game, so we are looking at it very seriously. But it is very hard to say a lot about this. As with many elements of game development we will be trying a lot of stuff, designing it, prototyping it, then refining, redesigning, prototyping etc. Whatever I say about it now, you will probably see something different in the final game.

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Where did the idea come from for the ship designs?

The creation of the ship designs is a complex process. On one hand there is the story. It partly inspires the design of the races. Then a creative mind – such as a concept artist – starts to draw. Then with rough sketches there is interaction between the two disciplines and then the artist moves on (or starts over). If the concept artist has a special source of inspiration is not known to me. I find it an amazing process and I am a big fan of concept art. But the creative part of it is a big black box for me.

As far as controls what can we expect as far as changes in Nexus 2?

Controls will be similar to the original. In fact it’s the same as with the UI. We look at the original game, we discuss what was good and what was bad about it. We redesign whatever we think can be improved and start prototyping it. But – same here – we will not have a groundbreaking new way of ship control. Overall it will stay close to the original, but tweaked.

As far as mission design to you expect it to be linear or more open or perhaps a mix of both?

Simple answer. Linear. We have some ideas about creating some freedom, but story-wise it needs to be linear. Like in Nexus 1 we want to tell a story, we want it to be interesting, a bit like a good sci-fi book. For that we need it to be linear. And we’ll prove once more that linear doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

As far as customizations particularly weapons, can you tell us about how this will be handled in Nexus 2?

Weapons as such cannot be customized. The loadout of ships will be an important task between missions. And during the campaign you will be provided new weapons and utilities to enhance your ships performance in each and every possible way.

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Tell us about the modding that you will allow for the game?

There is a fantastic modding community for Nexus 1 and we know what this did for our game. We are still amazed by what some of these modders did. Really impressive. So, for Nexus 2 we will not only continue to support the modders, but in fact we want to create an even better moddable game. With more and better tools, easier access to parts of the game that were hard to mod in the original. If all goes as planned we will be using the Unreal tech for Nexus 2 and one of the reasons for this is that this tech does allow us easy support for the modding community.

What is your vision for the multiplayer aspect of the game?

Multiplayer will also be similar to Nexus 1, but it’s too early to say too much about it. Multiplayer still needs to be (re-) designed. We have the high level concept ready, but the actual design will probably bring some new ideas. We will see if we have enough time and resources to experiment with these and bring you guys the best multiplayer experience possible.

Are there any specific features that you hope to put in the game?

I am excited about all of the new ideas and features for the game, but these are not mine. I am the producer, not the designer. I am also cautious. Some of the new features may look great on paper, but will they actually work? Is implementing them not too much of a pain (sometimes a single feature breaks a dozen others that were working perfectly before). So, well. That is my job. I definitely have some favorites and I also have some ideas, like for the music. But let’s not get carried away 😉

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Can you tell us about your gaming background?

Once upon a time I had a glorious career in ICT. But in 1993 – the year CD-ROM was introduced I decided to go all games. So, I quit my job and opened a games shop in my home town. Since 2000 I have been working as a producer and I have produced close to 20 games on 5 or 6 different platforms.

As a gamer, I go all the way back to early tabletop gaming devices. My first computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectum. On that machine I learned how to program and I also played many games on it. After that I owned an Atari ST, partly because I was experimenting with electronic music (midi). So, I wrote my own midi software, but also created some games that were distributed in ‘public domain’. Since my ST ended on the attic, I am a PC gamer. I only played GTA4 on the X360, simply because it was not available on PC at first. But a mouse and keyboard are my gaming devices.

Was there a space based game that inspired you before you began working on your own game or perhaps a book, TV series or movie?

You would have to ask the lead designer of Nexus 1, as well as the mission designer(s). I think many of them got their inspiration from books and movies. The lead programmer I know was huge fan of Stanley Kubricks ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Next time we’ll ask more members of the team what inspired them…

What is your favorite classic game?

Ah, now that is a tricky question. Game, not gameS, right? Well, I am answering it only if I am allowed to mention 2.

Fallout 2 & System Shock 2. Old grumpy guy here J

So there you have it. Be aware this project is ongoing so be on the lookout for more information. Also, if you have a question about the game post a comment and we will put them all together for our next Q&A.