Behind the scenes of Age of Water: A conversation with Yuri Miroshnikov
02/08/2024 - In an interview with Yuri Miroshnikov, the producer of Age of Water, readers get an insight into the development of the game, which is set in a post-apocalyptic world completely covered in water. Miroshnikov explains the inspiration behind the setting, the balance between player freedom and narrative, and the importance of shipbuilding and trade in the course of the game.
"Age of Water" presents a post-apocalyptic world that is completely covered by water. What inspired the team to develop a game in such a setting and what are the challenges of creating such a world?
We were looking for a setting that was both very cool and rarely used by other game developers. While there are both good Age of Sail games and land-based post-apocalyptic games on the market, the combination of the two settings is something new - at least for video games. The initial very warm reaction to the Age of Water announcement trailer in December 2020 showed that many gamers feel the same way.
The biggest challenge is always to develop a game that is interesting to play, because the setting alone is not enough. The good thing is that "sea adventure" means "pirates" and "post-apocalyptic" means "cool improvised boats and weapons", so we had a good idea where to start.
How does Age of Water balance the freedom for players to write their own story with a structured storyline?
We give the player the freedom to sail anywhere and do anything, right from the start, right after the first tutorial-like missions. Of course, they are somewhat limited by their equipment, but they are not forced to follow the story. We've played a lot of sea adventures (starting with Sid Meier's Pirates) and know that it feels good to just explore the seas.
On the other hand, there will always be story missions, so players will always have an idea of what they need to do next to have fun and progress through the game.
Ship building seems to be a central element of the game. Can you tell us more about how players can build and customize their ships and what role this plays in the gameplay?
Every boat starts with a hull, as this influences the number of additional modules that can be installed, as well as the size of the crew and cargo hold. In our boat editor, the player can freely choose where to place weapons and equipment (e.g. a water pump, a dredger, a desalinator, a power generator), what material to use to reinforce the boat's walls, etc. When planning the boat design, you should consider the power consumption of the modules and the total mass, so you need to choose carefully what you want to install where.
There are dozens of different boat hulls in total, but the player must progress in the game and perform certain actions to obtain new ones. Upgrading a boat or building new boats from scratch leads to new gameplay experiences and motivates the player to keep playing.
It's also fun to experiment with designs and build a boat that suits your personal play style. One boat is best suited for fast-paced combat where speed and firepower are paramount, while another can be a large and well-defended merchant ship.
How are player interactions handled in Age of Water, especially in terms of PvP combat and cooperation?
You will always see other players who are in the same online instance (up to 100 people at a time), but you cannot attack them or be attacked.
The most typical way to cooperate is to go on a quest with a team of other players. This is especially important for big fights like boss battles or storming a fortress, which are difficult to win alone.
You can also go to a PvP event to fight against other players, or take on a PvP quest where you and other players are on opposite sides of a conflict.
Trading seems to play an important role in Age of Water. Can you tell us more about the trading system and economy in the game?
Initially, resources are harvested from the seabed or collected from shipwrecks. The crew sorts the waste they receive and turns it into usable raw materials such as plastic or iron. The captains can either use the raw materials to craft items, sell them in the settlements or buy them in one settlement and sell them in another to make a profit.
How are players encouraged to explore the world and what can they expect from their voyages of discovery?
The trick is to make players believe that something is waiting for them over the horizon. It's usually enough to look around to find out where to sail next to discover new settlements or other points of interest. The urge to explore is something inherent in most people by nature, so we've done our best to create enough interesting content for them to discover.
There's also a practical reason to explore the world, as new locations mean new quests, new rewards and new ships.
What technologies and graphical styles are used to bring the unique world of Age of Water to life?
As you can see, our version of a post-apocalyptic world is quite vibrant and colorful. We wanted to create a fun and inspiring adventure rather than a dark social drama about the end of humanity. That's why the graphics are bright and cartoony and many story quests are very light-hearted, even if they do involve a lot of shooting.
On the technical side, we used the Unity engine because it was the best fit for what we wanted to do. We also did our best to make the water in the game look realistic and the battles on the water's surface both fun and believable.
How has the game evolved since its announcement, and what insights can you give into the development process?
The core concept of the game remained the same throughout the process, but we wanted to make sure that any content we added was good enough and that players didn't abandon the game mid-run. This means that the game should keep surprising them, in a good way.
Are there any plans to release Age of Water on consoles, and what is the long-term vision for the game?
We will announce our longer-term plans a little later.
How does Age of Water incorporate player feedback into development, and what role does the community play in shaping the game?
We have had a very loyal and dedicated alpha tester community that has been with us for many years. They have given us a lot of valuable feedback on quests, combat, boat building - basically all aspects of the game. We chat with them a lot on our Discord servers and via personal emails, so we feel like they were part of our development team. I hope they will like the shape Age of Water has finally taken.
Thank you for the interview and we wish you every success!
Source: Editorial office