Routine Interview: Developing A Non Linear Horror Experience Set On An Abandoned Moon Base

A horror game set on moon? Count me in.

Routine is a non linear horror title that features a classic gameplay mechanic that is rarely used by horror games these days, the mechanic of permadeath should you fail. The game is developed by the talented indie studio Lunar Software. As you must have guessed it by now, Routine is set on an abandoned moon base as the player goes searching for a missing team. You will face various types of hazards, monsters and everything that can possibly scare you.

We caught up with the artist and designer of the game, Aaron Foster to talk about the game’s different survival mechanics, the setting, potential next gen versions and more.

Rashid Sayed: First of all, tell us a bit about yourself and your company Lunar Software? 

Aaron Foster: My name is Aaron Foster and I am a Designer/Artist for Lunar Software, we are mainly based in the UK and there are 4 of us in total working on Routine with one or two freelance artists helping us out also! Routine will be our first game and while it may not be perfect, we do hope that it will be something quite different to what you have experienced before.
 
Rashid Sayed: What can you tell us about the protagonist of the game? How does he land up on the abandoned Moon base?

Aaron Foster: In Routine you take control of a nameless person and is there purely for the player to embody rather than have a personality and story of his own. We want the focus to be on the environment and things happening around him, rather than him specifically.

routine

The C.A.T is something that you will rely on for keeping track of progression, it will help with navigation and vision in some areas, it’s a way to remotely connect to certain interfaces and of course you are able to use it to “defend” yourself in a non permanent and quite rudimentary way.

Rashid Sayed: Against who is the player fighting? From what I see they seem to some kind of robotic aliens or is there a supernatural force in action?

Aaron Foster: SPOILER! :D

Rashid Sayed: Do you think the inclusion of weapons might reduce the suspense/horror element? 

Aaron Foster: The C.A.T is an extremely rudimentary tool when it comes to defending yourself with it, you will not feel empowered and honestly it’s there as a last resort and comes with a cost.

Rashid Sayed: What can you tell us about Cosmonaut Assistance Tool? How will it tie up with the weapons upgrade system? 

Aaron Foster: The C.A.T is something that you will rely on for keeping track of progression, it will help with navigation and vision in some areas, it’s a way to remotely connect to certain interfaces and of course you are able to use it to “defend” yourself in a non permanent and quite rudimentary way.

Rashid Sayed: Lighting seems to be an integral part of Routine. Can you share the technical methods that you utilized in achieving the same? Furthermore, how better the lighting will be in the final version?   

Aaron Foster: From a technical standpoint we are just trying to keep the game optimized, so we mostly use static lighting (lightmaps) We do throw in some dynamic lights for variation and gameplay purposes though and luckily we use Unreal Engine 3 which has a pretty solid Global Illumination solution for all of our static lighting needs.

routine

Depending on the type of person you are, you will be faced with the option of Survival or Discovery and both will come with its own set of challenges and “rewards” The game does have multiple endings to really embrace your choices.

Rashid Sayed: The game seems to be following a similar camera trend like those found in Outlast and Amnesia. How do you plan to make it unique for someone who has already played those games? 

Aaron Foster: I personally don’t see much similarities to Amnesia or Outlast due to it also being a way to potentially defend yourself, it’s also upgradable and takes a little bit more finesse to use due to us using a deadzone aiming system. We were never inspired by anything when it came to the C.A.T it was spawned out of a long brainstorming session early in development.

Rashid Sayed: The game promises to deliver a non-linear experience. This obviously means there are multiple paths that the player can take to achieve in-game objectives.  How will this actually work in-game? Can you please explain with an example? 

Aaron Foster: Depending on the type of person you are, you will be faced with the option of Survival or Discovery and both will come with its own set of challenges and “rewards” The game does have multiple endings to really embrace your choices.

Rashid Sayed: Routine features permanent death system. To make things difficult there are no health bars as well. How are you making sure that the game is challenging and at the same time not frustrating for the player? 

Aaron Foster: Permadeath isn’t really in the game to make it difficult, it’s there as a way to make the player really question and care about the actions that he takes.

Rashid Sayed: Do we have a release date set for the game?

Aaron Foster: 2014 is about as close as a release date as we can get right now sorry ;(

routine

We have been working on Routine for quite a while now and may just need time to rest once we release. We do love the guys over at Sony, they have been great with us and we would love to release on PS4 if we have the energy to pull that off to a good standard.

Rashid Sayed: The game is currently planned for the PC platforms. Do you have any plans to bring it on the PS4 and Xbox One? Especially on the PS4, given that Sony has a solid self publishing system in place.

Aaron Foster: PS4 is a small possibility after the PC release.

Rashid Sayed: Why is the possibility ‘small’ for bringing it over the PS4?

Aaron Foster: We have been working on Routine for quite a while now and may just need time to rest once we release. We do love the guys over at Sony, they have been great with us and we would love to release on PS4 if we have the energy to pull that off to a good standard.

Rashid Sayed: Xbox One has ID@Xbox program for indie developers. I am wondering if you are interested in bringing the game to the Xbox One. If not, why?

Aaron Foster: We are PC games and developers at heart, so for us to even think about doing a console release is strange enough in itself. If we did finally decide on doing a console version we would like to support Sony for all the great things they are doing to support our industry.

Rashid Sayed: I am sure you must be aware of the technical specs of the next gen consoles. What are your thoughts on the technical prowess of PS4 and Xbox One? 

Aaron Foster: I have honestly not really looked into them so I honestly couldn’t give you much of an answer.

Rashid Sayed: Routine seems to be a pretty resource demanding game. But if you ever decide to port it to next gen consoles, do you think you will be able to do it without any compromise in resolution and frame rate? 

Aaron Foster: We are using Unreal Engine 3 so it won’t be too demanding and I doubt we would need to optimize much for next gen consoles.


  • Zubayr Bhyat

    Not too crazy on some of the questions like Routine being resource demanding. UE3’s been around long enough to perform well on most platforms. Nice to know it may come to PS4 though.

  • Psionicinversion

    hmm so die and you have to start the game all over again? hmm looks like this would be one game i cant play drunk then at least if i want to complete it!!

  • John D

    This game sounds so creepy. Space+Horror= Win Hope this comes to PS4. The engine looks to good to be Unreal Engine 3. Guess it is heavily modified.

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