Aven Colony -Q&A With Founder of Mothership Entertainment
AbsoluteXbox sits down with founder to talk Aven Colony and more
This week, Aven Colony, developed by Mothership Entertainment and published by Team 17 launched, and at AbsouteXbox, we are very lucky and privileged to have grabbed a Q&A with Paul Tozour, the founder of Mothership Entertainment. See what he had to say about Aven Colony below.
Aven Colony releases next week, and for those who don’t know what it is, what is it? What’s Aven Colony?
Aven Colony is a sci-fi city builder that tells the story of humanity’s first colonization of a world outside the solar system. You play the role of a skilled colony governor helping the Aven Expedition survive on the world of Aven Prime, a moon around an alien gas giant planet 10 light years from earth, 500 years in the future.
In the campaign mode, you’ll establish one colony at a time on the surface of this alien world and grow it into a massive, sprawling sci-fi metropolis as you help the Aven Expedition uncover the story of the civilization that once inhabited this world.
In the sandbox mode, you’ll be able to customize each mission as you see fit.
What was the inspiration behind Aven Colony? Have any other simulation games inspired the team?
We did a ton of due diligence before we designed Aven Colony. That includes looking at a lot of traditional city-builders like SimCity and Cities: Skylines, builders with an emphasis on management such as the Tropico series, classic city-builders like Caesar III, and deeper sim games like Banished and RimWorld. I’m also a huge fan of the Civilization series, so several aspects of the UI and gameplay were influenced by Civ as well.
We were also influenced by a lot of non-strategy games. The storytelling, for example, was inspired by Firewatch; we were inspired by how natural and spontaneous the game’s dialogue felt and how well it made you feel like you were in a conversation with others, and the walkie-talkie in Firewatch inspired Aven Colony’s in-game “SHIPE” communicator tool. We were also inspired to improve on delivering experiences and elements we thought were missing or could really benefit from refinement in the genre such as putting a lot of attention into our campaign to deliver a solid single player experience and trying to make our UI streamlined and accessible so as not to overwhelm the player with numbers.
What can we expect to see in the Gameplay?
Aven Colony isn’t quite like any city-builder ever made.
On the one hand, I think anyone who’s a fan of city-builders will be instantly comfortable with it, since we studied so many other games in the genre.
On the other hand, we’ve tried to embrace and extend a lot of the best genre conventions into a new, unique blend, while adding lots of new elements unique to our sci-fi setting — such as expeditions that let you explore the surrounding terrain, alien artifacts you can collect and research and activate, and lots of environmental challenges unique to the world of Aven Prime, such as creep spores, plague spores, toxic gas eruptions, shard storms, sandworms, “water worms,” winter lightning storms, and deadly robotic “Hover Guardians.”
How long has the game taken to get from the original pitch to the release?
We started working on the game in the fall of 2013. We had the game essentially feature-complete by mid-2014, in the sense that everything in our original design documents were in the game and working, and we spent 2015 refactoring the game and we spent 2016 polishing it with a gradually expanding beta program until we announced in October 2016.
How much has the game changed from the original pitch however long that may have been? Or has it changed much at all?
The surprising thing is just how closely the game matches our original design documents from all the way back in 2013. There were a lot of changes and additions over the years, of course, but the current game matches that core vision 100%. We had a lot of challenges along the way, the last half of 2015 was very rough for us and almost killed us.But we all believed strongly in the game, and each time we doubted the game or ourselves, all we had to do was play it to see the promise. This was a game that wouldn’t let us quit.So went back to the drawing board and looked at our original vision for the game, and decided to return to that vision. Once we did that, everything started magically coming together. We did 5 rounds of focus group testing in the office, inviting gamers in and watching them play. Then we ramped that up into a private beta, then a public beta on itch.io in September, and then in December, we partnered with Team17 to bring the game to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well as PC. That was a pretty miraculous year for us.
Players love a game that’s going to keep them going. Is there going to be any DLC released? Can you share anything for us to get excited for?
Aven Colony is the only game on our agenda, and we won’t be working on anything else in the foreseeable future. We’re hard at work on additional content right now. We have one artist dedicated to buildings who’s had several buildings backed up since May waiting for engineering support to get them in the game. We also definitely plan to release additional maps as well. I can’t go into specifics just yet as far as what will be available and when and in what form whether it will be DLC or something else, but we’ll announce specifics as soon as we’re able. In the long run, we have some very interesting plans for where to take Aven Colony. There are several habitable worlds in the same solar system as Aven Prime, all with a rich history between them, and we look forward to telling the story of those sister planets in the future.
Thank you Paul for talking to AbsoluteXbox