Interview with Muse Games, creators of Guns of Icarus Online

Guns of Icarus Online developer and Kickstarter celeb Muse Games sat down with me (well, figuratively) to answer some questions I had for them, their new game and just some of their experience with the industry.  Indie developer hopefuls and indie gamers alike will love to see what they had to say!
  1. First off, who all is on your team, where are you from and what did you do before working on Guns of Icarus Online?

Muse:  We are an indie game studio based in New York City.  Before we were Muse Games, we worked on a startup trying to create a virtual world experience that integrated web content.  The idea was intriguing and virtual world was all the rage.  But along the way, we really struggled to add content and meaning to the spaces we created, and we felt like the field was headed towards more and more scantily clad avatars.  The startup didn’t make it, but we jumped out to do what we always wanted, which was to make games.  The one great thing that we got out of the other startup experience was expertise in Unity, and as we started to make games in 2009, the transition technically wasn’t too much of an obstacle.

Before working on Guns of Icarus Online, we created and released the original Guns of Icarus, which was much smaller in scope, on platforms such as Steam and the Mac App Store.  We also worked on CreaVures, a puzzle platformer for PC, Mac, and iOS, featuring tiny, mythical creatures journeying through the bioluminiscent forest to restore its light.

  1. How long have you been making games?

Muse:  We have been making games together since 2009.  

  1. Could you summarize what sort of game Guns of Icarus is to you?  What’s your “elevator pitch” to people who have never heard of it?
Muse:  Guns of Icarus Online is a team-based, first-person multiplayer airship combat game set in a post-apocalyptic, steampunk/dieselpunk-inspired world. You can join your friends to serve aboard an airship, or get a captain’s license and your own ship, crew it with your friends or some hired hands, and set sail for adventure as you brave danger-filled skies to deliver precious cargo and fight off air pirates and rival factions. With the three classes of Gunner, Engineer, and Captain, everyone has a vital role to play, be it manning the guns, making repairs, or piloting the ship and coordinating the action. Strategy, teamwork, and quick reflexes in the heat of battle will lead you and your crewmates to victory and glory.
  1. How will players “play” this game in the multiplayer sense?  Does one player command a ship, another player work guns, etc?

Muse:  Yes, every player will play a role.  The captain will configure and pilot the ship, scout out enemies, and command the crew.  The gunner will work the various guns and focus on attacking the enemies.  The engineer will frenetically repair the various damaged parts to keep the ship afloat.  The team works together against other crews and ships in different PvP match modes.  

  1. What can the average person expect from playing this game in Co-op or in PvP?
Muse:  When you join a ship’s crew, you’ll find yourself thrown together in a tight space with a few crewmates whom you’ll quickly come to rely on and work together with in a fast-paced, frantic battle scenario. Enemies will be coming at you constantly, and you’ll be racing around the deck to get to where you need to be and coordinating your actions to get things done. In a multi-ship versus match, you’ll also be working with a whole team, with crews on other ships. But from an individual player perspective, you are on the deck of that ship with the people you’re sharing it with. It’s a very different experience from a lot of team-based games where every player is kind of on his or her own to an extent, rushing out into battle alongside a bunch of other teammates that you may or may not have a lot of individual interaction with. On a ship, you rise or fall together, and you definitely need each other.
  1. What was your major inspiration(s) for creating Guns of Icarus?  Any games, movies, books, music or even life experiences that might have influenced it?

Muse: We were always excited by the satisfying feeling of destroying things with a big powerful weapon like a turret in games, but most often, turret shooting is but a small fragment of the entire game experience.  So we really wanted to bring it to the forefront as a focal point of a game.  Once we decided on that, we were looking for ways to add intensity and add another layer to gameplay.  The repair part of the original game was inspired by time-management elements to add an element of frantic energy.

In the new Guns of Icarus Online, our objectives are to take the airship off the rails and create a full multiplayer combat experience that features both co-op and PvP play.  Captaining the airship and everything strategic and thrilling that comes with it is now an integral part of the game.

We are also fans of both Western and Japanese steampunk, so we wanted to create a steampunk setting but also inject different cultural influences to take it in a new direction.

  1. What has it been like working with Kickstarter?  Have you used them before and would you use them again?
Muse:  It has been great.  I can’t say enough good things about both the service and the people of Kickstarter.  They have been amazing in featuring various creative and interesting indie projects.Yes, we created a campaign for CreaVures last year, and received a lot of support.  The project was successfully funded, so we were excited to create another campaign for Guns of Icarus Online as the game was firmly in alpha development.  I would definitely use Kickstarter again for our future projects.

  1. I saw you’ve released a game previously on Steam (another Guns of Icarus game), what’s the success of that game been like?

Muse:  The original Guns of Icarus has been a success for us.  It sold around 30,000 copies on Steam.  For us, a small indie team with bare-bones budget and very little experience at the time, it was not only a success financially, it was also a great confidence booster.  

  1. What can we expect to be different with this new Online game from the previous game?

Muse:  The original Guns of Icarus was much smaller in scope, and it was created in four and a half months.  Given our resources, we had to focus on the core of the game, and a lot of the ideas we had we did not get to implement.  The game was also limited in scope, especially in terms of multiplayer, with only a simple co-op, one level at a time experience.  The new Guns of Icarus Online will focus on multiplayer combat and introduce an entirely new piloting and captaining dimension to the game.  

  1. I asked this in your comments section once, have you played the old Unreal Tournament 2004 mod Air Buccaneers?  Was there any inspiration from that?  What sets your game apart from this one?

Muse:  We hadn’t played Air Buccaneers prior to developing the original Guns of Icarus, although after release, it was referenced so many times we installed it in the office!  We drew inspiration from some of their visuals, but the gameplay in Guns of Icarus Online is completely different, with a much more frenetic pace.

  1. On your Kickstarter page you mentioned something about a larger online campaign, could you expand on what that’s going to be like?

Muse:  Yeah definitely.  In addition to the multiplayer, PvP combat experience that we are releasing first, we are also working on a world in which players can join factions and ferry goods along various trade routes between different towns.

While shooting planes and defending your airship will always be the focus, protecting the cargo the ship is carrying becomes a primary motivation in the Guns of Icarus Online world.  We’re planning an economy of cities and towns that players will be deeply involved in, sustaining trade and ensuring these settlements survive by transporting goods to where they’re most needed (and will fetch the highest prices).  Factions add a layer of political intrigue that will further spur players to action.  Players will battle over territories and attempt to push their faction to victory.

The World aspect of the game we will introduce as an expansion at a later time.

  1. Finally, do you have any other games on the horizon?  Any other projects you are looking forward to working on after Guns of Icarus Online?
Muse:  We anticipate creating more content and features for Guns of Icarus Online hopefully forever!  But we are also prototyping a couple of new game concepts in our spare time.  They are still pretty early in development, though, so stay tuned for future updates.  
Thanks for the great answers guys!  I really do wish you the best of luck with your new game and hope it is very successful!  I personally ordered a 4-copy pack so I could easily get a group of friends into this, the co-op part of the game looks great.
If you haven’t already hit one of my links to it above, please check out their Kickstarter page here.  You can order a copy of the game for $10 and get in on some early beta access!
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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

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