SA game devs “can definitely compete”

Center Space is an upcoming turn-based strategy game featuring mechs, developed by South African studio Heart Attack Games. MyGaming caught up with lead developer Jonathan Locke to discuss his new game and what it’s like being a game developer in South Africa.

Locke was very optimistic about the SA gaming scene, but does see a changing trend in the mainstream gaming sphere. “I think indie gaming in SA is looking promising – I see a lot of promising kickstarter projects and new indie game developers – BroForce springs to mind as a good example of what we can make,” said Locke. “I think South Africans are starting to realize that, as far as indie game development goes, we can definitely compete.”

“Regarding gaming in general, I’m somewhat disillusioned by new releases and by what I see as anti-consumer actions, such as DRM. So I like that indie gaming has had an upsurge recently because I think it gives gamers a good alternative if they want something fun that doesn’t cost R500 and require an Internet connection”.

Locke also elaborated on some of the obstacles that he has faced in designing Center Space.

“I’ve faced three main obstacles. The first is difficulty obtaining funding. The second is difficulty finding artists and modellers who would like to work on the game. And the third has actually been motivation related,” explained Locke. “When a project stretches into months, it becomes difficult to keep your motivation up! So some days were a real struggle, but I’m getting there.”

Center Space screenshot 1

Centre Space

“Center Space is chiefly inspired by MissionForce: CyberStorm, which is a 1996 turn based game also involving giant robots,” said Locke. “I played it a lot as a child, and always thought it was a pity that so few games similar to it existed.”

Locke believes that Center Space will offer something new to players and fans of the genre, particularly with its mech-based units.

“I think [Center Space] has some interesting mechanics and possibilities. One example is the sheer range of equipment and weapons to use, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.”

“For instance, a player might choose a drive system that is more efficient at crossing flat terrain, but worse at jumping up and down cliffs. They could also choose to use shorter range plasma weaponry that does heavier damage than laser weaponry, of course at the expense of range,” explained Locke.

Center Space screenshot 3

The developer elaborated that each of the three factions in the game has a unique philosophy and approach to combat, and that will influence the way in which they operate.

MyGaming asked Locke how the incorporation of mechs (an element usually related to fast-paced action games) will influence the gameplay.

“Mechs can carry a greater number of weapons than other vehicles, such as tanks. A tank only has a single barrel, whereas a mech can mount multiple weapons in a variety of configurations,” said Locke, explaining the customisation possibilities for mechs. “Another example is the fact that mechs can jump up and down cliffs, which would be impossible for tracked vehicles.”

Center Space screenshot 2

Center Space is scheduled to release in 2014, with a demo expected to be released within the next few months.

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SA game devs “can definitely compete”

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