The Gamerheads Podcast

From Gamer to Creator: Eddie Cai's Journey and the Making of StarVaders

October 03, 2023 Gamerheads Podcast Network
The Gamerheads Podcast
From Gamer to Creator: Eddie Cai's Journey and the Making of StarVaders
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome to another episode of The Gamerheads Podcast! In this episode, we're in for a treat as Eddie Cai, the brilliant mind behind the game StarVaders, shares his fascinating journey from a classic game enthusiast to a game creator. Listen in as Eddie takes you through a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about his favorite classic games like Portal and Roller Coaster Tycoon, and his love for boardgames, and how these games inspired him to create a unique blend of established genres in StarVaders - a deck-building, turn-based tactical space invaders game.

Eddie offers an inside look at the game development process as we continue our conversational adventure, revealing how he incorporated the artwork into the game design and his future plans for the game's narrative and character arcs. We'll also discuss the diverse and complex bosses that add a challenge to StarVaders.

Join us as Eddie voices his perspective on the indie game industry and the player response to StarVaders at PAX. If you're curious about game design or just a fan of indie games, this episode promises to deliver a treasure trove of insights.

Follow Eddie on Twitter: @AxolotlStar

Wishlist StarVaders  on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2097570/StarVaders/

Check out the website: https://star-vaders.com/

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Music:
Jeff Dasler - Recused
Scott Gratton - Wheel Intro
Various Artists - Return to Control


Speaker 1:

Hi, I'm Celia Shilling from Yacht Club Games. Hey, this is James from Mega Cat Studios. Hey, this is Matt AK Stormageddon from Reignite Screensnark and the Fun and Games podcast. This is Stephanie from the Boss Rush podcast and the Boss Rush Network. Hey, this is Mark and Keon from Bonta Off-Ald. Hey, this is Sebastian with theproteonerreportcom and the Single Player Experience podcast.

Speaker 2:

Hi, this is Chris, mike and Garrett from Daylight Basement Studio. Hey, this is BaronJ67 from Level 1 Gaming. Hey, this is Todd Mitchell from Code Right Play Salutations. This is Mike Carroll from Stroll Art.

Speaker 1:

Hey, this is Jeff Moonen from Fun and Games podcast. Hey, this is Patrick from the Backlog Odyssey. Hey, this is Roon from Roonick Codes.

Speaker 2:

Hi, this is Andrew from Spalata Birds.

Speaker 1:

Hi everyone, Jill.

Speaker 2:

Grote here from the Indie Informer hey, this is.

Speaker 1:

Brimstone and you're listening to Roger Reichard on the Gamer Heads podcast. And welcome to another episode of the Gamer Heads podcast. My name is Roger. Along with me. This week I have a very special guest. I have Eddie Cai. He is the lead designer. What did you say? Is that your title of Starvadors? Lead designer of the Game Starvators. I got to try out this game at PAX at West and I loved it. I loved playing the game. I played it since I got home and I saw that you updated the demo, so of course, I got to play more of this game. So yeah, welcome to show, Eddie. Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule and meeting with me today.

Speaker 2:

Oh, no, of course. Thank you so much for hosting me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. So tell us about yourself before we get into the game. Tell us about yourself. What was your induction to games itself, into gaming and the wild ride of creating a game yourself.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm sure. So yeah, my name is Eddie. I was born in Canada, in Montreal, canada, so we had French high school and all that and yeah, I guess the typical upbringing I think is super special. We. Some of the first games I've ever played was I'm rather young actually, so Portal was one of the earlier games I played. Okay.

Speaker 1:

Things like Roller Coaster Tycoon.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I love Roller Coaster Tycoon.

Speaker 1:

Civilization.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So, there's always a bit of those puzzle or tactics type strategy games that I've played, but Portal was like my childhood favorite game ever, right, yeah, so that's actually kind of how I got into game design a bit as well, because Portal is such a well-designed game. I tried to get into the modding scene a bit oh. Like a few of my own maps for Portal. Yeah, yeah, I don't think that ever went anywhere, but that did induct me into the game development world and the idea of thinking about games from the other side. Fast forward a few dozen years and fell in love with board games. Yeah, I'm much more of a bigger board game person than a video game person, I would say Okay and yeah, so I played a lot of board games. One of my most favorite games is called Arkham Horror, the Card Game. Okay, yeah, yeah, it's like a deck building type game. Yeah, build out characters, go through emissions, prevent the world from getting destroyed by Doom. Yeah, and I did make a fan-made campaign of that game. Oh fun. Yeah, that was very well received. And that was my first major game design project. After that, I, me and a few of my friends we were in the game design team. Um, I, me and a few of my friends from before university. We got together, did a few game jams together.

Speaker 1:

Fun.

Speaker 2:

For, like, yeah, test out our creative skills and our programming skills and all that. And eventually, while playing a few board games, I came up with the idea of Star Vaders and we started working on that part time and eventually full time. Now, as it as the potential grew more and more.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's awesome. You can see a lot of influence of board games in Star Vaders, so I can definitely see that and I love it. So, uh, yeah, tell us about Star Vaders then what's this game about?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so Star Vaders is. I think the easiest way to explain it would be saying it's a turn-based tactical version of space invaders. Yeah, so you control this little mech at the bottom of this grid and there are aliens that are coming down. And then ships are coming down slowly every turn and you just kind of like shoot at the aliens before they get to the bottom. But um, it's turn-based tactics, right? So each turn you have a certain amount of actions you can do and you have to strategize. Where do you place your bombs? Which ones do you shoot first? Try to um, have a bit of tactics to figure out what's the best way to deal with this menace that's coming down, and we've incorporated a deck building element as well, which is to say that the actions you use to move your mech and fire bullets and all that, they're all written on cards that you play.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Um, it adds this kind of variability to the gameplay, where each turn you get a new hand of cards. You're um. Each turn you have to figure out a new puzzle, to solve a new strategy. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I love that. I mean. So I play a lot of deck builder games and I also play a lot of deck builders. Uh, like board games too, I have. I have I have a whole stack of games that I play. Board games wise and deck builders are like my favorite games. And for me, when I play starvaders, what impressed me the most about this game was the fact that you took something that is like an established genre of, of of deck builders, right, and I've played a lot and they, a lot of them, are the same right, like they had the same premise and it's like, okay, I've seen that. But you took it and like added such a cool element with the strategy of like a board game right, cause we have the grids, that and they have the enemies coming down that it was something so different and so unique. Uh, even with the um, with the overburnt or the, the overheating mechanic, right, where, like typically a lot of games like you can play like three, you have three action points in and three, three cards, but, like your overheating element is so unique and so cool. Uh, I, just I love this game so much. It's in in, besides all of like the cool mechanics, it's super polished. It is such a beautiful, beautiful game. So, uh, yeah, I I love this game a lot, a lot Thank you so much. Yeah, uh, yeah, I'm absolutely is such a fun. I mean I you know, when I played, I thought I was really quite proud of myself that I beat that first boss.

Speaker 2:

I was like, yeah, it's quite a hard game.

Speaker 1:

It is a hard game, it is, but it's so fun and it's it's like, once you pick up on it, it's like amazing. It's such an amazing game. So, um, what? What inspired star of Vaders? I mean, besides the board game, obviously, and obviously space invaders, like what were some of the other inspiration you had with the game?

Speaker 2:

I did. There are. There are actually two very, very specific um catalysts to me creating star of Vaders or coming up with the idea, and it's two specific board games unfortunately coming back to the board games, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

There's one board game called bullet.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

And it's kind of this. So bullet, the idea of bullet is what if a bullet hell game was a board game? Oh interesting, so bullet is kind of this real time game where you have a bunch of bullets coming at you and you have to match patterns to defeat the bullets before they get too low on the grid. Oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

Oh, there's similarities there with with the, the other doom area, right? So yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2:

And so my first thought there was I really like this game, but what if it was a deck builder? Because there were cards in Indigame Bullet. They did have cards. They had different characters. These characters had their set of cards. But I was thinking it'd be cool if you could upgrade those cards or improve your deck over time. You have a longer form campaign than just these small matches against other people. So it started there. There was another game called Underfalling Skies. It's a solo board game. The premise is what if Space Invaders was a tactical?

Speaker 1:

board game In that one.

Speaker 2:

It's more of a tower defense style game where you play down towers and you solve some puzzles with dice rolling to try to line up shots against aliens. I merged all of these ideas together. Obviously, there's inspiration from big deck building games like Slate of Spire. There's also inspiration from tactical games like Intuitive Reach. A lot of the design philosophies are very similar to those types of games. So, yeah, it's a big mix together of all of these ideas. I just put them on a prototype on tabletop simulator.

Speaker 1:

Interesting.

Speaker 2:

And it kind of worked and then we went along with it.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome. That's awesome. I think the impressive part for me is the fact that you took these concepts from board games and then you brought it to the virtual tabletop and tried it out there, but now you're building it in unity. So what was that learning curve? And thinking through it, it sounds like you had a great idea for a game design and you thought through the design first, but then the whole learning curve with unity. What was that like in building out the game?

Speaker 2:

It was pretty complex, I would say.

Speaker 1:

It was pretty complex.

Speaker 2:

We're lucky that our team is made up of three people and two of us have computer science degrees in university, so we are pretty solid software people already. But there are a lot of unforeseen things in video games that you don't really think about when designing, say, a board game, for example. One of the most complex things that we had to implement for the current game, the video game, was what I called a preview system. When you hover over a card or when you're about to play an action, it shows you exactly what's going to happen once you play it. That's a very useful quality of life feature, so that people don't have to try to do the math to figure out the chain reactions, how it works, because we just kind of showed them so that most of the decision making is what card to play, instead of what happens when I play this card. These type of calculations are just intrinsic in board games, but in video games we're allowed to ease the learning curve for players by helping out with that.

Speaker 1:

And it's very difficult to implement. Yeah, yeah, and you're right. There's something like in a board game, you get an instruction booklet, right, and it just kind of walks you through, like this is the step of play, this is how you play that, right. But yeah, in video games, I mean outside of having a physical booklet that you could ship with the game, right, like, you do have to have that the learning curve, and I would say like the game is challenging, but the learning curve is not difficult in Starvaders, but you do a really nice job of like easing people into the game and showing them how it works, and then also you don't throw the most difficult thing at them right away, right, like, obviously, the challenges ramp. The other thing I do love about Starvaders, too, is the fact that at the end of and this is very typical with deck builders, but at the end of each level you get to choose, like, do you want to go after, like, a new card or do you want to go after, like an upgrade, right, and it also shows you like the difficulty level of like each one like this one looks more difficult than this one, right, so it's amazing because like, yeah, like all that goes into game development, but that's not typically how board games are laid out. So, yeah, I thought you did a great job with that.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, yeah, yeah, thanks, yeah, it was complicated.

Speaker 1:

That's so. Now you're going full time with this. What's that like?

Speaker 2:

Um, it's pretty wild, honestly. Um yeah, for me personally at least. I never really imagined that I would be working in game development.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Because the field itself is very, very harsh, very difficult to make a living out of.

Speaker 1:

So we got.

Speaker 2:

we were very, very grateful to have such wonderful publishers as partners that can help support us all time. Yeah, Um, since it's our own indie studio, we get to have flexible schedules. Um, mostly work from home, remote, so, um, I think it helps a lot that we get to be able to work in the best way our own human needs want to work.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it creates um a favorable environment for working, I guess.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's awesome. Was it your first packs? Was this your first showing of the game too?

Speaker 2:

It was personally my first gaming event I attended. Our game itself was also at a little Montreal Comic Con event. Oh yeah, that's awesome.

Speaker 1:

That's cool. There was a lot of people at packs that came over to the game and were playing it. What was the reception like, what were you hearing from the fans and how cool was it to see people playing your game.

Speaker 2:

It was awesome I was seeing people play my game, because then I'll go back home with a bunch of notes on how to fix the tutorial.

Speaker 1:

But no, it was great.

Speaker 2:

What I noticed is that anyone who has played a deck builder before loved the game instantly because they know what they're getting into already. There were a few players that actually told their friends to come play it at packs.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome.

Speaker 2:

On the third day of packs, they invited me to dinner with their group of friends and I went and just made a few new friends out of that.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome.

Speaker 2:

That's pretty fun.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's something that you probably didn't expect, right? No, yeah, that's awesome. The other thing I noticed, too, was that you were asking people like you asked me like, what other games have you seen here that you thought were pretty awesome, right? Yeah? And you were taking notes of other games, so I thought that was cool too. Not only were you interested in getting feedback about your game, but you wanted to hear what other people were saying about other games out there. So I thought that was really neat and fun to see as well, because I don't experience that roll off and where people are like what other games have you played that you liked? So that was cool, that was neat.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I think I feel like being part of the gaming industry. You have to be excited about the future of gaming industry in general.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

So I mean, I'm always interested in the other indie games and all that yeah. They're not competitors. They're just more fun for me, I guess.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Especially recently, it seems like a lot of indies have banded together and been like hey these changes to unity. This is that cool right.

Speaker 2:

Oh dear.

Speaker 1:

God yeah, there is a narrative behind Starvaders. You talk about interweaving the story into Starvaders. We'll talk about the story a little bit. And then, how did you interweave that into Starvaders? Because I can't imagine that being real easy when you're building a rogue-like deck builder and trying to weave a story into that as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's actually something we're still working on, so it's not completely fleshed out yet. But it is very difficult to interweave narrative in such a mechanics heavy game. In these type of games I think there's a lot of players that kind of just play and they might not even realize there is a story. There's click through the text or through the dialogue really fast. But I do think there are a lot of players that also enjoy the world that they live in and the characters. Our focus on Starvaders is making the characters shine through the game. We're trying to put a lot of emphasis on having the characters have different personalities. We're going to try to make it so. The characters have little text boxes. When you ever do an action, we'll try to make them unique and reflect their personality, trying to get that vibe across. Hopefully, if we have the scope and the time to do it, we would like to have each of them have a little character arc throughout the game. A personal story, personal black stories that you uncover while you play. I think that would be great. I guess the story for Starvaders is really there's an alien invasion happening. You're one of the only hopes to defend the earth from this alien invasion. But there are a few big questions that remain to be answered. Why are the aliens invading earth? Why are you the one trying to save the earth? Why is it that every time you die you get to restart and try again that?

Speaker 1:

is a good question.

Speaker 2:

We're trying to answer these through our narrative as well. There might be a bit of time travel. There might be a bit of cosmic mystery happening.

Speaker 1:

I'm really intrigued. Now, that sounds amazing. Each character, because I noticed that there's characters that are locked. You have to burn five cards before you unlock another pilot of the mechs. Will each pilot have their own unique cards associated with them as well?

Speaker 2:

The idea for our different classes and different pilots is that each different class are made up of completely different card pools with new mechanics, new systems. As an example, our first, mick the Gunner, is a it's kind of how I described the game. It's they shoot bullets and they throw bombs and they blow up bombs and they have an overheat mechanic. Our second class. Actually, even though everyone loves the overheat mechanic, our second class doesn't have the overheat mechanic. They have their own unique energy system, and they have. They don't even fire bullets, they don't have any bombs. They don't burn any cards. They have completely different mechanics At each class. We're gonna have three classes in the game. Each class will have completely different ways of attacking, ways of using energy, so very excited to show that off eventually. And within each mick class we have different pilots and the pilots are different. They have different starting decks, different starting cards. They also have different cards they can find in the card pool as well. But they still use the same core mechanics like burning or firing bullets and bombs.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's awesome. That's amazing. I mean, you're adding so much awesome. I mean it's complex right, it's complexity, but what I love about that is it allows a player to decide how they want to approach the game and how they want to play the game as well. Right, yeah, so that's amazing. The other thing that I will say, too, is the artwork in the game. I love the artwork in this game. It has this manga kind of style to it, but what's cool about it, too and I think this is part of the reason why it just feels so crisp and clean is because the artwork is so fantastic as well. Can you talk about incorporating the art into the game design and how that process went?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so we have one artist on our team, Jin Fan, and he drew everything in the game All the UI work, all the sprites, animations. He's amazing and basically artwork is kind of in such a design-heavy game. It's a very iterative process as well. It goes through between us two a lot where I'm kind of like we need this enemy to feel like it's gonna shoot you or something like that, and then you would come up with something and we would discuss about it and think like maybe this one looks too dangerous. It's not that dangerous of an enemy, or maybe the shape of this enemy kind of seems too close to another enemy. So, there's a lot of design work in trying to come up with the art, with the UI work, as well as user experience when does the eye move to track the pieces and how to manage the flow better. It's very complex but I think, very satisfying when you see the final result and everything is very cohesive together, but still very clear and easy to grasp at a glance what everything means.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the thing about the art too just pops. It's very vibrant colors. It looks fantastic. Everything just seems to flow really well with this game. That's what I love about Starbaders.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I feel like I'm glad I didn't really say much about the color, but our artists just did bring all this color to this world and I'm glad. I love color. Right, I think games can't be too colorful, or should be more colored the world. I'm very happy that our game is that colorful.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Bright popping.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it helps the player feel like they are In the, in the vibrant world, so energetic, so active. When they make a huge combo it feels like, yeah, like then we try to keep the energy level high.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's yeah well done, love it. One of the other things we talked about is the fact that there is a tactics element to this game, right, so it's not just deck builder, but it's also tactics. Yeah, you talk about incorporating those two mechanics, because I don't think I've ever played Deck builder where you had to focus on the tactics, you know, and like, like the tactical, like almost like a board game, like you're saying with deck building, what was, what were some of the challenges with doing that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, um, I'd say one of the bigger challenges is is Is Is a some when you in a deck builder Sometimes you're not lucky, right, because yeah card to draw random. So yes occasionally you might draw a really bad hand and, however, in a tactics games like ours, something like movement is so important. Mm-hmm have every turn, that if you don't draw any movement during a turn, you might just Not be able to do anything during your turn, and that feels really, really bad. Yeah, play so. A lot of our design challenges are trying to Figure out how to imitate Bad luck or how to make it so. Yeah, so one unlucky moment doesn't end your run, but it should require multiple turns before you get to. You should have a lot of leeway before you die, right. Mm-hmm, that's kind of why there's a doom system which is kind of like our health bar.

Speaker 1:

Yeah you.

Speaker 2:

You only die after you make, repeatedly make a lot of mistakes, rather than dying from one or two single mistakes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, or.

Speaker 2:

Um, the entire space invaders design kind of helps alleviate the problem. But to, because even if you don't get to kill the enemies on the first turn, they're still like three or four turns away from the bottom of the grid. So you still have a bit of leeway to kill and you see them coming. You know that you're gonna get there in four turns. Yeah four turns to kill them. Yeah, and One hidden thing we've added in our game is we've rigged the RNG of the card draw.

Speaker 1:

Oh.

Speaker 2:

You always draw a movement card, if possible.

Speaker 1:

Oh, interesting, yeah, but I think I think that's really important because, you're right, like movement in this game is important because there'll be an enemy Atacks where they'll do like an area of tack right, and if you're in that zone where the area attack is gonna happen and you don't have any movement, like you're gonna collect scrap, right, isn't that? Isn't when you get attacked, right, that then it's. It's filler cards, right, like like any other dip, right, right, they're filler cards we can't really use. So it is important that you incorporate movement and and that's just the one thing, like I again, it's a challenging game, but it's not like overly challenging that I'm like frustrated and I never in when I was playing the game, like unlike other deck builders, where I do get frustrated when I don't get the cards and I'm like I can't do anything, I'm gonna set to trash this whole hand and every hand that I've had in starvators At least there was some things I could do in a position myself that maybe I can't attack this round, but at least I can put myself into position where I can do something next round, right, so that's why I love about that game too.

Speaker 2:

Thank you awesome. Yeah, yeah, I think, yeah, yeah. One of the big challenges of creating these type of tactics games is to make sure that the player understands. Um, didn't they?

Speaker 1:

they lost because of skill not to say that our players are bad, but but.

Speaker 2:

But it is a challenge for the players to understand why they lost right. Yeah, yeah and especially in a deck builder when the it's really hard to explain that they lost because of the choices they made. Five battles go when you pick the wrong card.

Speaker 1:

Right right, right right.

Speaker 2:

So that's one of the big challenges making sure the players understand that they could have done something different In order to win, they made a mistake at some point, and how to show the player where they made the mistake. That's why, um, if you, we have something called the reroll Button with? The chrono tokens that lets you rewind a turn. That also reshuffles your hand as well to try to oh problem.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, there's a lot of these systems and starvators are trying to show you like Different things you could have done differently at some point in time. For example, overheating, you might be thinking if you lost at some point. You might be thinking I could have overheated earlier, try to overexert a bit more, or I could have overheated last turn, you know a lot of different Decision spaces to try to. Yeah, I'll leave you with this problem.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, and it was interesting I mean just on the overheating aspect too that there are certain Cards that you can get that actually you want to overheat because the, the card is going to actually do Better, like a do more attack right or or actually do more damage or actually available to do something. If you're in the overheat. Uh, you know, obviously don't want to overheat all the time, but when you have those in your hand you're like, well, now I do want to, so, uh, it's, it's, it's such a, such a cool mechanic, and like To me, when you've been discussing that about how you're teaching the player like that, like that's, that's a level of, of, of, of, you know, scaffolding, the learning that the learner can like, understand like, or the player can understand like, how do I grow in this game right and not get frustrated, right like that. That, to me, I think is is a solid game design, because that that doesn't always happen in every game, uh, and you get that in your game.

Speaker 2:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, uh. So the boss battles are awesome. They're challenging, but they're really cool and it's so. It's so neat to see, like the different bosses that you have in this game too, what, what went into designing the bosses and what were some of your favorite bosses.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so um, what, what? One of the hardest challenges in our game is Designing the enemies and the bosses actually. and the reason is that in our game there is no health bars, there are no damage numbers, I think, in a lot of typical games of this genre, the bosses are big health bars with big status effects, a lot of shield and they deal big damage numbers to you. In our game, specifically, everything's tokens on the board and most things die in one hit. So the big challenge is how do you design bosses that feel big when everything still dies in one hit almost?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And that's how most of our boss design comes from. It's just trying to figure out how to even make a boss in the first place.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, there are three bosses in the demo the Muddership, which is kind of like a Summertime summons normal minions to attack you with. There's the Mega Blob, and I would say the Mega Blob is probably my favorite of those three.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

The Mega Blob is a slime type creature. It's huge, it's like a three by three grid and each time you shoot at it it splits into little blobs. That split into smaller blobs Also throw some bombs at you. Sometimes I enjoy that one because of the reactions people get when they see it the first time. Yes, say what? What is this boss? It's just a big blob.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so fun and it's very chaotic to play as well.

Speaker 2:

Every time you shoot at it, you don't know what's happening, so I enjoy that one a lot.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's the one that I died at. I made it to that boss and the same thing. I'm like oh, he's splitting Whoa and I was stressed, right, and I was like I can't die and I died. But it was fun and it wasn't like again. It wasn't like oh man, I felt cheated. It was like I need to figure out how to beat this boss, right, like that was on me. I need to play better, I need to figure out the strategy better, but it was a cool boss. And the other thing, too, is how different that world is, like the blob monster is in the swampy land, right, and just even the worlds that you have built in that too. Like I didn't talk about that in my preview of it, but I'll talk about it now. I love how each world just feels so different too, that you're building and the enemies that you find in those worlds tie into the worlds, the levels that you're building, so that's awesome.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thanks, yeah, I think diversity, or the feeling of diversity, is very important for roguelikes in general, games that you play over and over again. It's nice to see different colors on the screen pop out in different worlds to be in exactly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I love it. What did you learn about yourself when creating this game?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know. It's a very complex question. I think my best answer is really that I'm still learning. I've learned that I'm still learning.

Speaker 1:

That's not a bad thing.

Speaker 2:

The game isn't complete yet right, but I already know so much about how much I don't know about the gaming industry how much I don't know about what is necessary to finish a game, all the business side of it, all the marketing side of it, all these perspectives of watching people play the game and realizing, oh, they don't understand what a card it means in the first place. And thinking about the different perspectives necessary to teach. Yeah, there's still so much to learn and I don't think, I think, that will never stop. I think there's there's no moment where you have learned everything. Right, you always keep learning. Yeah, yeah, I agreed.

Speaker 1:

Speaking of like people playing the game while you're watching it, like for first. For for me, as a journalist, I think the stressful part for me is I Don't want to look like a fool in front of the person that made the game right and I want to look like, hey, I can actually play games that I and I actually can do. Well, right and and and. But what was it? What's it like on the other side, when you're, when you are watching people play the game Like is this stressful for you as well? Like, oh, please, like, get this, or oh, like, or is it stressful for you as well?

Speaker 2:

It's. Yes, of course, of course it is. I think it's like um, while you might be stressing that, oh the game, the game developer might think I don't understand what's happening we're stressing about oh, my game is not good enough to teach them what's happening, I think, or like oh no, you're gonna not like the game because they're not, they're not gonna win, so I wouldn't worry about what we're worrying about. Okay, we're pretty stressed.

Speaker 1:

Okay, I, I do remember when I played the game and I did not feel like Like I didn't get it because I got it right away, but I do remember playing it and I and I I think I made a bad decision at one point. I turned to you. I'm like no, I'm a better gamer than this. I promise you a better gamer than this. And I mean, like I said I made to the second boss, I didn't make a pass the second boss, but but I want to beat the first boss. I was like yeah, and I turned to you and you're like good job, but you're not done yet. Like go on, you know, like it was awesome. I mean, yeah, it was a lot of fun playing the game and and it is fun to see the reaction of, of you know, like yourself or other developers right to, and getting that, that feedback right away like I, I that's what I love about packs is that you know, hands-on and talk as well, so yeah, the person-to-person reactions, the face-to-face is it's just great you get to actually see people. Yeah, yeah, right, okay, I'm gonna ask a hard question here. Yeah, when are we expecting to see this game being released?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, um, so we're still discussing this with our publisher. Our release strategies we were there are dumb. Our original plan was to go into early axis sometime may, march next year. Okay, but it's still up to discussion. Yeah, so, yeah, not sure yet. Yeah the access market is quite a complex thing.

Speaker 1:

Another thing you probably learned while making games, right yes, exactly, but yeah, um.

Speaker 2:

Either way, though, the game itself will. We're still working on it and Even if it went into early access, the full release would be around a year later, so you can expect a full game sometime Q1 of 2025. However, we do have our demo out on yes team and it's very comprehensive. You can play many hours of it already there yes, you can a lot of different characters, different archetypes, builds. You can try it out. So, and If you do want to get deeper into the game, we are hosting a private, closed beta or that we will keep updating and keep talking with the community about. If you, yeah, and that's probably gonna exist until the game comes out and as a closed early access, I guess that's awesome.

Speaker 1:

Well, I guess that's a good question how can people follow you and follow the game's progress and in possibly sign up for this closed beta?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I'm Mostly active on discord and that's also where our closed beta is happening, and you can find a link to our discord Server in our steam page. If you search for starvaders on steam, the link to the discord server will be pretty much everywhere. Nice, nice in the descriptions and all that. Otherwise, I also have a Twitter account at Axolotl star where I'll post regular updates about the game, but the most helpful for us and where you might find the most information posted is gonna be on steam and Can follow us by wishlisting us or following us on steam to get more information. Yeah, for when the game comes out when we have news, when we have updates.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Nice yeah, and I'll include a link. Listeners, I'll include a link to the show in the show notes, to the steam page, and also your social media as well, and your website too, cuz you have the website. That is a star vaders comm right.

Speaker 2:

I think it's star dash.

Speaker 1:

Oh, there we go. Yeah, I'll put a link to that, though, in the show notes as well, so you can follow all that. Eddie, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule and meeting with me and talking about star vaders I I hope you know how much I Adore this game. If it wasn't apparent, I do adore this game so much and I love it and I and it's so much fun. I've been playing a couple times, even since I came back from packs. I'm like I'm gonna play some more star vaders because this is awesome. So Thank you so much for being on the show.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, Roger.

Speaker 1:

You're welcome listeners. Thank you so much for taking time to give us a listen. If you like what you hear, leave us a review. We want to hear what you have to say about the show. Follow Eddie, go, support them, go wish list. This game Is that. Again, the links will be in the show notes and until next time, everyone stay safe and game on. Bye.

Speaker 2:

Bye.

Interview With Eddie Cai, Lead Designer
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