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Q&A With Hibernian Workshop

After scouring the Internet for more promising video game prospects, I came across yet another simplistic-looking, yet ambitious title looking to make waves among the indie community. Astral Ascent, the second title from France-based indie outfit Hibernian Workshop following on from their first game, Dark Devotion, is a 2D rogue-lite with intricately rendered 8-BIT visuals, intense combat sequences, and RPG elements in the form of a unique magic-building system. In development since 2019, the game was recently funded on Kickstarter within 36 hours of the campaign going live, and now the target has switched to fulfill the project’s next stretch goal. Wanting to know more about what this will have to offer players upon release, I reached out to the game’s creative director and chief programmer Louis Denizet to ask a few questions about the game, and what drove them to make such a radical departure from their previous game. So  here’s what Louis Denizet had to say about Astral Ascent:

 

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What were the influences behind your game?

We play a lot of indie rogue-lites such as Wizard of Legend, Dead Cells, Hades but games like Children of Morta have been very influential on us for their artistic style.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

We were two, me and Alexandre the artistic director, for several months to set up the intentions then we started working with Gaël and Renan for more than a year on it. The studio works remotely and we mainly iterate a lot on elements we produce until we think things are good enough.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

The game is scheduled for 2023 with an Early Access early 2022 but there is already a demo live on Steam for PC & Mac that includes the co-op with a good level of quality.

 

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What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Freedom! We are self-published so we can do what we want and so far every aspect of the game feels exciting to us.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Staying motivated in the long run can be challenging in particular at the beginning where things seem to be very very slow: making the big systems like remapping inputs, localization, etc really took us a lot of effort but this is behind us now!

 

How important has player feedback been throughout the development of Astral Ascent; especially from those players who had played Dark Devotion beforehand?

For now, we are just starting to have player feedback thanks to the demo, for that we even created a specific channel in our discord server where you can post a suggestion and if people upvote your suggestion it can end up in our workflow so we can check that. We think it will very important for the game as we are making a rogue-lite we want to really rely on these suggestions to improve the game. For Dark Devotion fans, so far, feedback has absolutely great and we are very happy about it!

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How well has the game been received so far?

Absolutely great, it was quite a challenge to deliver a good quality game in addition to the Kickstarter campaign, we are a small team so it meant extra efforts but we are happy with the quality!

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

We will release on PC, Mac, PS4, PS5, Switch, so far we did not announce Xbox and DRM-free.

 

In the last few months, I’ve noticed there has been an influx of indie games to have come out of France. Have there been any other French developers out there that have been there to offer further advice or to have taken inspiration from?

Oh yes; the French game developers community is very welcoming and we often talk together to give advice, this has been very helpful so many times!

 

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It’s mentioned in the press kit for the game that Astral Ascent is a far more ambitious project than what Dark Devotion was. In what respects is it more ambitious?

In my opinion: every aspect! The game scope is so much bigger with all the rogue-lite elements, we have 4 playable characters, co-op mode, the dialog system, the controls remapping, etc. This is a very big step up from our previous/first production.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Yes, a lot! We had an 8 slot inventory for spells for both players, for example, each hub NPC has been reworked at least 2 times and we completely changed our main hub, believe it or not, it used to be 3 times bigger with completely different assets.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Dead Mage who released Children of Morta seems like a very good choice from my point of view!

 

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From a developmental standpoint, what have been the most important lessons learned from the development of Dark Devotion going into Astral Ascent?

Good question, again I would say everything! Dark Devotion was started as a learning project, we knew nothing about game development or coding or anything so it was pretty chaotic. Apart from that, I would say pre-production is really something important to learn!

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Do game, do game jams! That is the way!

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

As a studio you can follow us on Twitter we are very active as our Kickstarter campaign is live and we have so much to reveal: https://twitter.com/HibernianWS As a developer you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DenizetLouis, or itch.io: https://louis-denizet.itch.io/

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Thanks for the opportunity and thank you for taking the time to read!

 

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I also want to thank Louis for taking the time out of development to provide the answers to my questions and to wish him and all the team at Hibernian Studios the best of luck with Astral Ascent. In recent months, I have encountered a lot of indie developers to have originated from France, and Hibernian Workshop is the latest in an ever-growing list of new and exciting programmers looking to make waves and break new ground. I certainly can’t wait for the release of this game, and I hope you can’t too. If you’d like to check out their Kickstarter page, you can do it via the link below:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hibernian-workshop/astral-ascent

In the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed reading this article because I had a particularly exciting time learning more about this insanely ambitious game.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer  88

Guest Article: The Full Sync Network

For today’s article, and for the first time in a long time, I have a guest blogger on to express his opinions on the current landscape of gaming and his predictions on where it may go amidst the newly ushered in ninth generation of the medium. Josh Maddox of the FULL SYNC Network and I had recently been in contact in regards to the subject and offered to have his say on the blog on the new generation of gaming as well on the most recent releases, including Monster Hunter Rise, Resident Evil: The Village and others. established in 2016, the FULL SYNC Network is a collaboration of gamers around the world specializing in news, reviews, and previews of upcoming games, as well as streaming on their YouTube and Twitch channels of games, hardware reviews, and instruction videos. So without further ado, here’s what Josh Maddox had to say about the future of gaming and the ninth generation:

 

Despite the latest generation of consoles and graphics cards launching last year, many people are still playing on old hardware due to stock issues. We all thought that may ease up as we entered 2021 but the scalping game is still strong and thousands continue to struggle to get anything. Some have succeeded, myself included with my PS5. But others still check Discord for stock alerts every day then rush over to get into queues for the stock they keep missing out on.

But let’s not dwell on it too much, easy to say since I got what I wanted, and let’s take a look at the future of gaming instead.

 

Consoles

Less than six months after the PS5 launched, Sony is already looking at upgrading the storage on their consoles and making it more accessible for those that already bagged one to do it as well. I mean, I love my PS5 but there is nowhere near enough storage on it, with less than a terabyte to spare and a chunk of that is for the firmware. But I think this is a record of how quickly a manufacturer has decided to upgrade their console following release.

Xbox hasn’t announced plans yet, but don’t be surprised to see the usual slimline versions coming out in a few year’s time. Hopefully, by then they’ll actually have stock.

I guess, the console everyone is hoping for though is an upgraded Nintendo Switch. Whilst we all love the Switch, it is extremely underutilized. I mean Nintendo is great for innovation and creativity, and they have excellent first-party titles. But what they ooze in that, they lack in a common-sense almost, never truly fulfilling potential. I mean, look at the Switch, so versatile. Can be played docked and handheld. It’s a purpose-built gaming tablet essentially, that is able to be docked and played on the TV.

However, you can’t get Netflix, no internet browser, low internal storage too. I mean, it has the technology in there of an old SmartPhone, newer ones are arguably more powerful than it. And smartphones do everything in life. So the potential is there for the Switch to do the same. Yet Nintendo seems insistent on just doing what they want to do. Which is admirable, but also incredibly stupid. Question is, would an improved Switch have better functionality? Who knows.

 

PC

When it comes to PC, the future is a strange one. VR was supposed to be the future of PC gaming, but it still hasn’t hit the heights it was expected to. But sales figures for the Oculus Quest 2 look good, and with it being wireless and suitable for smaller spaces, it is likely we may soon see the rise so many predicted. 

In terms of hardware, the newest graphics cards are all released, but as with the latest PlayStation and Xbox releases, there is hardly any stock. Scalpers have been buying it all up, and many who have got the latest GPUs have been using them for mining cryptocurrencies since Bitcoin decided to explode to over $50,000 earlier this year. Which leaves many gamers in a tough position.

Now, they could upgrade to the last-gen cards, because they’re still capable of things like 4K and decent frame rates in games. But the problem is, with the shortage, the costs of older models have skyrocketed. I bought my RX 570 4GB for £80 over a year ago, and I’ve seen the same model going for £140 nearly double what I paid. And now many of the last generation cards are even selling at higher than the retail price of new cards. But, because no one can get them, people are paying stupid money. We don’t actually know when this madness will end.

 

Games

Who doesn’t love games right? But there are always so many titles to choose from, it can be tough to decide on what to get if you’re on a budget. And with so many games coming out this year, I thought I’d just write a quick list about some upcoming titles we’re excited to see.

  • Outriders – Developed by People Can Fly and published by Square Enix, Outriders is a third-person RPG adventure due to release April 2021.
  • Guilty Gear – A fighting game from Bandai Namco that is very anime-based in style. This was also due out in April 2021 but has since been pushed back to solve issues that cropped up in the latest beta tests.
  • Resident Evil Village – Due out in May, the latest installment to the Resident Evil series looks to be one of the most intriguing and detailed yet. A must-have for horror game fans.
  • Monster Hunter Rise – Following the release of the Monster Hunter movie, the newest addition to the popular game series launches later this month.
  • Back 4 Blood – Back 4 Blood is an upcoming multiplayer survival horror game developed by Turtle Rock Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It has major Left4Dead feels to it, and had incredible feedback after the latest beta tests. This one is due out a little later this year in June.

But it’s not entirely new games that are coming out. There are a whole bunch of remakes and remasters too. Two of the most popular people are looking forward to our Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and Oddworld: Soulstorm, which is a reimagining of the classic Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus. Still, I seem to be waiting on a remake of my beloved childhood title Croc. I was hoping with the reintroduction of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro that this would follow behind shortly after, but alas, nothing so far.

 

What are your thoughts?

There you have it, our thoughts on the future of gaming this year. But what do you guys think? Will we see a “Switch Pro” in 2021? Will stock of new consoles and graphics cards ever become more accessible? Is there a game you think we should be checking out not on our list? Or maybe you agree we need a Croc remake and want to start a petition with us? Whatever your thoughts, let us know what you think in the comments below or over on our social media channels.

 

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Josh for taking the time out to contribute to the blog in what is truly a fascinating read about the possibilities and the limitations that very well come with the advent of the ninth generation of gaming. If you’d like the check out the various different platforms FULL SYNC operates out of, all links are below:

Main Site – https://fullsync.co.uk/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fullsyncnetwork

Twitch – https://www.twitch.tv/fullsyncgaming

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvrGKhe7y4gTmgD2pxxBsAA

Twitter – https://twitter.com/fullsyncnetwork

Gamer’s Apparel – https://gamersapparel.co.uk/store/fullsync

Be sure to check out their stuff, but in the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed reading what Josh had to say, and if the opportunity comes about for me to work with FULL SYNC again, it will be up on my social media pages too.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88