"Cupcake fighters in giant space battles." That's how I would describe Galactose: Pastries In Space by Zero Eden Games. And that, in all honesty, is what got me interested in talking to developer John O'Meara about his project.
I have a bit of a love affair with space fighter games. Massive projects like Star Citizen are the thing of my dreams but the final product is a long way away. I've played titles such as Eternal Silence and Entropy for so many hours that I've honestly lost count.
When I see a new game in the space fighter sort of genre my interest is piqued, but I usually don't hop into it unless I'm in the mood for it. However, when I saw Galactose: Pastries In Space, I was instantly hooked by the unique and surreal art style. At its core it's still fighters going up against other fighters (and eventually larger ships), but everything is based around an adorable food theme. How seriously does this game take itself? How deep is the lore of Galactose: Pastries In Space? I had a chat with John O'Meara after Playcrafting's Fall Expo outside a bar in Manhattan about his game. Before we get to that, have a peek at the trailer that got me so interested in this game:
Techraptor: [Let's start with] your name and the company you work for.
John O'Meara: I'm John O'Meara and [I work for] Zero Eden Games.
TR: And the game your making is?
JO: I'm making Galactose: Pastries in Space.
TR: The first thing that jumped out to me about your game was the space pastry aesthetic. What inspired you to make a planet that's a donut and cupcake fighters?
JO: So, originally we were going with a hard science fiction theme. One day our artists were asking us, "What's our polygon budget?" I made a cylinder since I could make it more round and just add faces and it kind of looked like an Oreo. So as a joke I textured it to look like an Oreo. And then our professor saw it and said we should consider a food theme. We had a vote, food won, and yeah.
TR: So pretty much an emergent idea. It wasn't intended from the beginning but that's how it turned out.
JO: Yeah. It just sort of happened.
TR: What's the general idea of the gameplay? I looked at a trailer before coming [to Playcrafting's Fall Expo] and it looked like you could control individual fighters but there [were] health bars on the top left [of the screen]. So you control a squad and jump between ships or something like that? How does that work?
JO: There's two modes. There's the drone mode where you fly around as a drone. There's different types of ships you can fly. You can fly as a Cupcake Fighter, there's a Pie Bomber, or as Ice Cream Scrambler. And then there's the other mode, the mothership view. Which is something we're still kind of working on, but it's more of an RTS element. You give orders and tell different squadrons to move to different places.
TR: Kind of like Homeworld?
JO: A little bit. But probably less of an ambitious [kind of gameplay] like 4X. You're probably not gonna be able to build during battle. [There's] more of an emphasis on orchestrating very large scale battles.
TR: It seemed to be a really big showpiece. Just a bunch of flying cupcakes flying around [blowing each other up].
JO: One of the things we're going for with this was "epic space battles". Imagine you jump into a Star Wars battle like in movie or something. Everything's flying around instead of just being a short scripted sequence. You can just fly around and shoot stuff.
TR: But instead of X-Wings [you're flying] cupcakes.
TR: Is it gonna be level-based? Sandbox open world?
JO: We were debating both for a while, but we're probably gonna go with more of a mission structure because it's a lot easier to do. There's a lot of questions about scale of background simulation if you wanted to do an open world. I'm pretty sure we're gonna go mostly with a mission-based system. We might have a hub where you can choose different missions. There's gonna be some story stuff that connects [the individual missions] and some of your deciisons there will affect the gameplay as well. It's not gonna be completely linear [where you] simply do the missions. It's gonna be a bunch of missions, an [overarching story], and so forth.
TR: Do you have an overall story planned out? Is it really light on story or heavy on story? Do you take the pastry thing super seriously or is it just like, "It's flying cupcakes, have fun!"
JO: We've recently started [working on] the story. That was something we ignored for most of the existence of this game.
TR: Gameplay first and then figure out why you're actually playing the game later?
JO: Yeah. Recently I've [brought on] one of my friends to do the story. He's coming up with some ideas, it's gonna be pretty cool.
TR: What platforms are you looking to come out on?
JO: The only announced one is Steam but it will probably come out for at least one console.
TR: What about controls?
JO: PC is gonna be keyboard & mouse [and] also obviously 360 controller. [It will] probably support... uh, what do you call it...
TR: X-Input game pads?
JO: I probably will do joysticks but I also gonna say Xbox One controller. It doesn't support it right now but it will probably.
TR: [What's] your release window looking like? How long do you think before it will be out roughly? If you don't know for sure you can ballpark it.
JO: Sometime in the next three years?
TR: Oh, so you're still really early in development, huh?
JO: Well, we're not early exactly. We've been doing this for like three years. We've sort of took a hiatus and we've started picking up again.
TR: Is this your out-and-out day job or is this a side [job]?
JO: I'm actually a freelance worker. When I don't have contracts I do this.
TR: So you're playing Game Dev Tycoon in real life basically.
JO: Something like that.
TR: Well, you make games and every once in a while you do contracts to pay the bills. Have you ever played Game Dev Tycoon?
JO: Yeah, it was pretty fun.
TR: You're basically living the game if you've never thought about that.
JO: That's true ... I don't recall you doing much contract work in that, though.
TR: Yeah, the whole contract work [is a thing where] you can assign people to to make some quick cash without all of the complexities of [making] a game.
JO: Oh yeah, it's been a while since I've played it.
TR: Do you have an idea of what would you be looking at pricing [for Galactose: Pastries in Space] at this point?
JO: I don't make any commitments but probably somewhere in the $10-$20 range. Although I'm gonna probably reserve any decisions on that until I get suggestions from Valve and other developers. That's what I'm thinking.
TR: Out of curiosity, when you do into getting ready to sell [Galactose: Pastries in Space] are you gonna pull the [alpha] you have up on your website or are you gonna leave it as is?
JO: We're probably gonna have a demo if it's not [a pain] to make. I think most likely what you'll see is we'll have a vertical slice version or something or whatever our last demo is and [we'll] just sort of be like, "Here, try our free demo!"
I'd like to thank John O'Meara for taking the time to speak with me. He was the last person I talked to before I left the building the Playcrafting Fall Expo was hosted in. He promised to meet up with me at the informal after party and he followed through on that promise.
I played the Galactose: Pastries In Space demo build a few times to get a feel for the game and I can wholeheartedly say that they deliver on their premise of epic food-based space battles. Some degree of strategy is necessary - throwing all of your ships at something in a suicide attack may not necessarily work.
My mind is racing with all of the possibilities for scenarios that can play out in the missions. I think back to games like Rogue Squadron where you often had to complete objectives under very strenuous conditions and losing even one ship would mean that the Gold Medal can't be won. There's the potential for a game that can be awfully challenging. And it doesn't look like that at first glance, no - but once you've had half a dozen cupcake fighters blown up because you weren't paying as much attention as you should have you'll change your tune real quick.
What do you think of Galactose: Pastries In Space? Do you like the aesthetic, or is it really not your style? What's your favorite space fighter game? Delight us with your tales of blasting womp rats in the comments section below!