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Know Your Indie: Rocket City Studios

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I recently had the pleasure to speak with Dana Massey, Lead Game Designer on Second Chance Heroes over at Rocket City Studios. With their first title set to release later this year what better time to dish some details on the indie developer? So if you’re wondering who these guys actually are and what they’re working on, pull up a chair and stay a while. A big thank you to Dana Massey for the time!

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Derek Nichols: For those who may not be familiar with your studio, if you wouldn’t mind, please give us a run down. Who is Rocket City Studios and how were you founded?

Dana Massey: Rocket City Studios was founded in late 2009 to create both Second Chance Heroes and all the tools necessary not only for this game, but also for future projects. The core team had worked together previously – on an MMO called Wish – and for this title, we wanted to move to a project that was more focused and, frankly, fun.

DN: Where did the name of the studio originate from?

DM: The city in which we were originally founded – Huntsville, AL – is called the Rocket City for its extensive ties to NASA. It’s where Werner von Braun and his team invented the rockets necessary to send man to the moon.

DN: What games have inspired you and your team growing up?

DM: We have a pretty eclectic group of gamers in our studio. Personally, I grew up with an NES and SEGA Genesis. Obviously, the staples of the 80s played a big role in my development as a gamer (Mario, of course), but also as a Canadian I played a heck of a lot of sports games (NHL 94!!). As I grew up, I found my interests moved more into MMORPGs (Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, etc.) and games like Diablo.

What I found as I aged though was that a lot games had become overly self-serious. There’s nothing wrong with the epic journey to save the world from doom, but as a company, we felt there was room for a lot lighter take on things. From day one, our goal was to make a game that put a smile on people’s face.

I think the most common reaction people have when they first see our characters – whether it be Lincoln with a chainsaw, or Queen Elizabeth with a mini gun and cigar – is a childlike joy of seeing something that’s just plain funny.

DN: What project is the studio currently working on?

DM: Second Chance Heroes is a cooperative arcade action adventure where you collect historical figures to fight back a monster invasion that threatens our world.

At launch, there are 12 characters for you to collect as you move through a series of dungeons that take you through a Mall, an underground Hobo Colony, and a secret government bunker. Your goal is to save the world from a rampaging horde of werewolves, zombies, vampires, aliens and, of course, sentient cheeseburgers.

Players select two characters per level and can tag in and out as they like. So far we’ve revealed: chainsaw wielding Abraham Lincoln, cannon riding Napoleon Bonaparte, cigar smoking Queen Elizabeth I, sword swinging Joan of Arc, electric throwing Nikola Tesla, ghost anchor hauling Blackbeard the Pirate, and knife throwing Julius Caesar. We’ll be revealing five more in the coming weeks on our website.

Over time as players complete optional goals inside the levels, they also collect Historical Relics. These relics give you extra powers to use against enemies. For example, The Holy Grill lights anyone the hero attacks on fire for a brief period of time.

DN: Are you able to go into the story at all, perhaps a teaser for what players can expect?

DM: The game is set three weeks from today… no matter when today is.

For reasons not yet discovered, a plague of every monster imaginable has descended on modern society, sending it into chaos. Frustrated with the selfish world’s inability to deal with this new threat, high school history teacher Hubert Beasley has taken matters into his own hands: He’s cloned an army of history’s greatest heroes to come back and save the day.

You play as those heroes.

DN: How did the idea come about? What were the influences in creating Second Chance Heroes?

DM: We always knew we wanted to make a funny, isometric dungeon crawler. At first, it was a bit more traditional. We had characters who you could equip silly armor onto and so on, but while fun, it wasn’t all that different.

Historical characters came about somewhat ridiculously. We were trying to engineer a resistance system and at the time our damage types were Atomic, Biochemical and Electric. On a whiteboard we’d written “A + B + E =” and of course, I had to fill in a drawing of a top hat.

That got the wheels spinning and we presented it to the group originally as the idea that we’d just have a few you play as, rather than creating your own character. Derek, one of our artists, suggested he’d rather collect them… From there, Second Chance Heroes really came into its own.

DN: It may be a bit early, but how would you like to see the game evolve post release? What would you like to see added down the road?

DM: Post launch we hope to continue supporting the game with new characters, levels and game modes. It’s a bit of a cliché, but we want to see how the game does and what the community wants before we commit to any specific course of action.

We do though have a roadmap of narrative beyond the secret government bunker and a list of literally hundreds of historical figures we’d love to add. I would imagine those might play some part in future expansion plans!

DN: When are you looking to launch the game, what platforms will it be available on, and is there a price point set?

DM: We will launch the game later this year on PC and Mac. We’re also very interested in other platforms. We’re seriously considering Linux, but we won’t commit until we’re absolutely sure.

We have not yet set a final price point, but this will be a single up front purchase at a very reasonable one-time price.

DN: Anything else you’d like fans and gamers to know?

DM: To make any game a success, you need lots of help. If people can show their support by voting for us on Steam Greenlight (LINK: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=146770056) that would be a huge benefit.

DN: Thanks for your time!


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