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14 December 2017

What is Deadstone?

Deadstone, a sci-fi themed 2D shooter with RPG and tower defense elements has been scheduled for Windows release on 10 July 2014. The developer, Timeslip Softworks,  is a single member game development studio based in rural Ireland. Deadstone is the studio’s first game, and has been in intensive development for 18 months.

I got to talk to Daithi from Timeslip Softworks about the game.

Daithi, I understand Deadstone is a sci-fi themed 2D shooter with RPG and tower defense game. What exactly should I expect when I play the game?

Deadstone is a game about defending a Martian colony from a worsening planet-wide outbreak. You’ll do this in two ways. First, you directly control Blake, an Irish mercenary, in frantic, top down battles against increasing numbers of infected. Most of the time, this involves taking down the infected before they reach the colony, and staying alive in the process. If an infected gets past, you lose a colonist, meaning you will get less resources from then on. If all colonists are killed, that’s all she wrote. There are also arena missions, and rescue operations, where you have to save a stranded colonist.

Deadstone has a strong strategy component, which allows you to manage the colony’s resources. If you make good choices here, it will make your life easier when you are fighting the infected. This includes placing defenses to back you up during combat, purchasing weapons, upgrades, and leveling up Blake.

 

So what kind of defenses, weapons, equipment, and upgrades will be available for my character?

When designing Deadstone, it was an early design decision to present the player with a wealth of options for managing the colony’s defenses, and then let them succeed or fail by their choices.

As a quick rundown, there are 16 weapons, 5 equipment types, 4 turret types, and mines. The colony also has a lab, which allows players to upgrade the 5 basic stats of weapon and turrets up to 10 times each. There’s a turret technology tree, which unlocks new turret abilities, such as automatic reloading, or self healing. My favorite upgrade is a turret technology called Kinetic Thumper. This turret add-on stores the recoil energy generated from firing, and periodically releases it as a shockwave, which pushes back and damages nearby infected.

The character system also has considerable depth, with 4 primary stats (Speed, Constitution, Accuracy, Mechanics), 11 derived stats, and over 40 perks. On a normal game, a player should be able to hit character level 25, so there’s a lot of scope for customizing Blake to suit your play style along the way. My favorite perk is probably Death Robot, which requires a high Mechanics stat to unlock, but gives you a gun wielding robotic ally as back up!

 So it looks like this is a game where I will need to manage my gear as well as my strategy in order to have long term success against the infected. What kind of strategy and gear would you suggest for a beginning player?

Yes, you’re right on this. Making poor decisions in terms of spending resources and character build can make combat very difficult. There are a number of broad strategies a player could pursue, with plenty of minor variations. For example, you could choose to build Blake as a tough, fast, high damage fighter, and invest in the best weapons, and weapon upgrades. You’ll be able to take down infected very quickly this way, but you can’t be everywhere at once, and won’t have very much by the way of defenses to catch any infected you miss.

For a less action-oriented experience, you could develop Blake’s Mechanics stat, in order to support more turrets. By investing resources in building turrets, turret stat improvements, and unlocking new turret technologies you can build up a really strong defensive line to fight from. Playing like this, you’ll mostly wait for the infected to come to you, thinning down denser concentrations before they hit your defenses, and repairing turrets when you get some breathing space. Arena missions may prove more difficult should you opt to play this way, as in these missions you don’t get turrets for backup. I’d like to think that this scope for different play styles also lends Deadstone considerable replay value.

For new players, I’d recommend not developing the mechanics stat right away, as turrets are not immediately available. It’s especially important to develop the speed stat immediately if you are playing on the harder difficulties. Also, holding some credits in reserve is good idea, in case something you really want becomes available in the next level!

 

Is the game a stand alone game or do you have plans to make it some kind of MMO?

An MMO is unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of working on a sequel at some point, but not right away. To some extent, I’ve suggested what direction a sequel might take, in the later parts of Deadstone’s story.

 Anything you think people should know about the game that I failed to ask?

Deadstone also has local co-op support for two players. A control pad is required, but this allows you to experience the full 50 mission campaign with a friend. Also, due to a complete inability to decide on a general story tone, I ended up writing two separate stories: Side A and Side B. Side A is the main story, which unravels the source of the outbreak and the fate of the colonists of Deadstone. Side B is lighter, offering a farcical take on events, while poking fun at the game itself. Putting Side B together was a lot of fun!

 Where can people get the game?

Thanks for asking : ) For the next few days, there’s a mailing list on the website for anyone who would like an email notification when Deadstone becomes available, at www.deadstonegame.com/buy-deadstone. When Deadstone is released on 10th July, the mailing list will be replaced with links for getting Deadstone direct from the homepage, or through the various distributors who will stock Deadstone. Currently, Desura and Shinyloot, will stock Deadstone, with more options on the way.

There’s also a Steam Greenlight campaign underway.  If you’d like to see Deadstone on Steam, please consider dropping in and giving it a vote. I’d be very grateful!

 What about other projects? Anything else in development that we might find interesting?

Games are incredibly demanding and time consuming to make, so I only work on one project at a time. However, turn based games have a lot of appeal for me. Games like X-Com, Fallout, Jagged Alliance, and Silent Storm were (and still are) firm favorites, and I’d really like to do something within the TBS genre.

As much as I’d love to start working on a new game right now, my emphasis is still very much on Deadstone. I’m looking forward to feedback from the gaming community, and intend to continue working on Deadstone for some time after release, using this feedback to expand and improve the experience. Also, after the Windows release, I’d like to bring Deadstone to Mac, and hopefully Linux too.

Daithi seemed very excited about his game and quite honestly, I can see why. The game may has most of the elements I look for in a good game. It is action packed, has a story line, and with elements like coop mode and diseased zombie hordes, how can you not enjoy it? I get my review copy in a couple of days and will write more after I get to play the game.

 

 

 



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