Rik Alexander on The Last Leviathan
Ever want to build a ship from scratch? Ever want to use this said ship to hunt down sea monsters, and blow other ships apart piece by piece? If your answer to any of those questions is yes, (if you answer "no" to all of these, please get your mental health checked out by your local doctor) then you need to check out The Last Leviathan. I've played several Minecraft mods involving ship building, and these mods sparked a personal obsession with building boats. Sadly, most of these mods seemed unrefined, uncomplicated, and unbalanced. I did spend a large portion of my life in New England learning to sail and fish, so I guess shipbuilding reminds me of my youth. Personally, I've always wanted a shipbuilding game. Apparently, I am not alone, as The Last Leviathan has become one of Steam Greenlight's most popular games. I recently had the chance to speak with Rik Alexander, one of the masterminds behind the project.
Who are you? How did you get into game development?
I’m Rik Alexander, and I started in the games industry as a tester at Hasbro Interactive back in 1998. I actually started coding when I was 8, when I started coding simple games from magazines.
How did Super Punk Games start? How many people are on the team?
Super Punk Games came about when Steve and I got together. I actually had a company called AppCrowd up till then, but we both wanted to be indie, and so we restructured the company into Super Punk, and started coming up with ideas for our first game.
We’ve been working on The Last Leviathan for just over a year now, most of last year we only had 1 part time coder, and myself and Steve part time. We added a full time artist in November, and another part time coder in February of this year. We’ve just added a community and social ninja to the team in the last week.
What is The Last Leviathan?
The Last Leviathan is the brain child of me and Steve, who spent a number of weeks sitting in a darkened room thinking up many different ideas for games around Easter time 2015. Our remit was to create a new Super Indie Studio that created games with strong creative components where players have the freedom to become unpredictable through emergent gameplay, and also just to be jaw droppingly good!
The game itself we describe as an evocative voyage of creativity, discovery and terror. Which means you get to build a ship, sail through our world, and blow stuff up. And we try and make that as enjoyable as possible
The game features a very robust customization system for your ship. How did you balance this system? How does the player acquire new parts?
The player can start in a sandbox, and create anything they like right from the start, though in the voyage mode the player starts with limited resources and has to forage and battle for more. We’re still balancing that at the moment, so we’ll let you know how we did it once we’ve finished.
Ultimately, it’ll be through the constant play testing we do each day. We’re constantly tweaking and adding to the game as we go, which is great for making the game perfect, though not as good for hitting schedules!
You have to put yourself into the game as a player. Fortunately, I’m a massive gamer, so I find it easy to then just ask yourself some simple questions like:
1) what does the player want to be able to do here?
2) how intuitive is this?
3) how difficult is it to explain these systems we’re building in the game to the player? If the answer is “we’ll need a complex tutorial” then redesign it!
Your game is heavily influenced by physics. How does the physics in your game affect gameplay? What features and gameplay mechanics did you implement to take advantage of the physics engine?
One of the main foundations we built this game around is the physics, so everything you do is affected, from adding a simple block to the portside of the ship (which will make it list if its not counted balanced) to the damage you can do with various weapons, and the speed and turning circles with various thrust forces.
It's all physics based. If you want a fast ship, then it’ll have to be smaller, which means you’re compromising on your weapons. If you want a tank, it’ll be just that, slow to move but devastatingly powerful if you can hit your target.
The waves in the sea affect your ship dramatically too, from slowing you down if you hit a dip, to changing the trajectory of your cannons – we’ve had to invent a new 3rd person firing method for this, as it was just too hard to hit anything! (much like in real medieval ship battles!)
What is the future for The Last Leviathan? What sort of content can we expect at launch?
We hope that the future is bright, and we’re looking forward to continuing to add content. We have so many ideas already, and the new community that’s been created around the Steam Greenlight has been adding to that list too.
We’re still deciding on exactly what we’ll have in for launch, but you can expect to have enough content to keep you building, modding, and sailing for a long time Check out the greenlight page