Amplitude Studios talk Endlessly about Space

Ryan speaks to Amplitude Studios' Mathieu Girard about their hit indie 4X strategy game Endless Space.

Bitscreed recently had the privilege to interview Amplitude Studios, the team behind indie hit Endless Space CEO Mathieu Girard. Endless Space is an interesting take on the 4X genre and pits you against your tactical enemies in, yes you guessed it, space.

Q) What have been the biggest inspirations for Endless Space?

A) We have been long time fans of classical 4X games such as Master of Orion and Civilization. We have wasted many hours, days and years of our lives playing these games, in single or multiplayer. Our feeling was that recent 4X games, using present production constraints, were only exploiting a fraction of what you could find in the old games. So our goal was to bring an (almost) all-encompassing design, but with gorgeous visuals and an accessible interface. I think lots of people were waiting for such a game, and the initial feedback and sales lead us to think we were right.

Q) What was the main decision for you guys to go indie with this project?

A) Well we had a terrific time working on our previous projects at Ubisoft or other companies, but a niche genre such as 4X is not really the cup of tea for a big publisher, because it is a smaller market and not necessarily profitable for such big companies.

Also, there was a big appetite to return to a smaller/human team where everyone can participate to the production. In my case, in addition to building/managing the company and the administrative stuff, I had the time to code a large part of the game UI.

Space battles are fun!

Q) Are you happy with the press scores for the game?

A) I think it is a great success to reach 8/10 (or almost) on metacritic for a first game. We have scores above 90% from the most specialized press members who were waiting for a great 4X. For the lower scores, I think some journalists overlooked the fact that the game is sold 30$ and not 50$. We feel flattered to be compared to Civ 5, but we simply do not have the same means to include deluxe production values as AAA games. Still I think we have reached AAA quality in the systemic part of the game : interface, visuals, and depth.

Q) Can you see Endless Space becoming a franchise, or is it going to be a stand alone game?

A) This is just a start, and we want Endless Space and its universe to grow. As I told the community, the release was just a step, and the team goes on working on project. We have a 100 or so items requested by the community. The simpler ones will be patched for free, while the bigger stuff could make its way into an add-on.

Q) Why did you choose Steam?

A) We have been working with them on previous projects (Dark Messiah, R.U.S.E., Might & Magic Heroes 6), and we shared their vision on PC gaming and digital distribution. They have been a great support for a fledgling company such as Amplitude, granting us 100%.

We chose to integrate Steamwork, because for a small indie company, it means accessing a free multiplayer middleware, free matchmaking. It has many advantages.

Q) How long was the game in development for?

A) About 18 months for the main part and we started some mock-ups and document in our garage before that.

Q) What was the biggest challenge you faced?

The production was surprisingly smooth, although the biggest technical challenge was on the battle system and its dynamic cameras. There are still some concerns on this, and we will improve it in the coming months.

Q) Will Endless Space ever be ported to console?

A) I do not think it is well adapted to Endless Space. Adapting it would somehow break the depth of the game. Still, we are looking at other formats like tablets, which could be much more relevant.

Too complex for consoles?

Q) Could Amplitude ever work as a console game?

A) Too soon to tell. But I have to say that submission on consoles is a stressful experience that I would like to avoid right now.

Q) Would you ever consider working under a publisher after this?

Right now, we do not need to. We have achieved financial security. We prefer to work with a partner like Iceberg, where we can preserve our freedom, and on their side they know we have to complete the game on our own.

Q) Do you think the Free 2 Play model will work?

A) Actually I am not sure what the model is, because it is evolving constantly. What was relevant 2 years ago is not anymore. But that is also something we want to look into in the future, if only as a companion to Endless Space or other games.

Q) What tips would you give to anyone looking to get into the industry as a developer?

A) Study hard. Work hard. Be humble. Learn to work in a team. Try to complete projects to put on your resume. Watch you behavior to get a good rep and network. If you want to create your company, make sure you understand the market and how to access it. Have faith in people, but make sure you have the right ones with you.

Q) What is you next game going to be and when is it coming out?

A) Right now the focus is on Endless Space, but if we ever develop a pony training simulation, I will let you know.

Endless Space is currently available on Steam, priced at £22.99 for the Admiral Edition or £26.99 for the Emperor special edition.

Ryan Archer

About Ryan Archer

Gamer. Enough said.