Back in 2015, Polish developer Robot Gentleman released its darkly humorous take on the apocalypse, 60 Seconds!, on PC.
Since then, the game has been ported to Mac, iOS, and will soon be coming to Android and Switch. But the studio is now ready to move on from its first game and branch out into a whole new area – space.
Announced at Poznan’s Games Industry Conference 2017, 60 Parsecs! takes the arcade/interactive fiction gameplay of the original game and fires it out into the stars on a ramshackle spaceship.
“It starts from the same idea, but we decided to do something on a bigger scale. So we thought, maybe it would be cool to go to space,” explains producer Piotr Żygadło.
“It’s still in the ’50s – we created a whole alternative universe where in the ’50s, America, or the United Nations, or whatever, have this big space station and are training people to be astronauts.
“And then there’s some accident – maybe the same war [as 60 Seconds!] – and they have 60 seconds to pack stuff, get into the escape pod, and try to survive.”
The move to space also opens up what players can do. 60 Seconds! kept you firmly in one place – the bunker – while 60 Parsecs! will allow you to move around the universe to your heart’s content, even though the action all takes place in the escape pod.
Players can also now craft important items, like food, in order to survive a little bit longer once everything goes wrong. Each action, like crafting or moving, takes up an entire day, so you need to carefully choose what to do in each turn to maximise your survival chances.
The reason Robot Gentleman has decided to build on its existing game this way is to help ease in its latest round of hires. The studio doubled in size to ten people in 2016, and wanted to help the new staff gel with the old crew.
“When 60 Seconds! was a success, we decided we would like to do a sequel, but we decided that the sequel would be a great opportunity to train the new team,” says Żygadło, himself one of the new recruits.
“We had a very big search for people, because we put a lot of effort into keeping our company DNA and the mood, the feeling. It took us some time to find the proper people, and when we found them, they started working on 60! Parsecs.
“The game, to some extent, is already designed – we already know what this game should be about, we know the basic mechanics, so it’s lower risk.”
This new team does not include any 3D artists, meaning 60 Parsecs! will be swapping out the hurried scavenging at the start of the game in a 3D environment to a 2D affair.
“We’re focusing on nice, 2D environments, but it will be the same – I think it’s a very important part of 60 Seconds!, the rush and stress,” says Żygadło.
“We feel that we are better with 2D. We don’t have the capabilities to do 3D, we are outsourcing all of the 3D, so when we drop it, we won’t have to outsource it.”
We’ll have to wait and see what the opening section looks like closer to release, though even Robot Gentleman hasn’t locked down a launch date beyond “hopefully sometime next year.”
“It’s our policy, we’d rather wait two years than ship something that is not ready,” explains Żygadło.
“And we’re still working on 60 Seconds! – we are bringing it to consoles, to Switch, to Android, and we’re preparing some DLC, so we need to balance it a bit, we don’t want to rush everything at once.”
60 Parsecs! is also planned to have a multiplatform launch, though the team is focusing on a PC release first and foremost. One thing is certain, however – it will hit consoles before it comes to mobile.
“We get lots of sales on iOS, that’s why we’re working on Android right now,” says Żygadło.
“It’s just that, we know already that some press and influencers don’t like games that go to mobile, and then go to consoles. So, we’d like to ship consoles before going to mobile.
“For us, it doesn’t matter. It’s a game, the game should be good.”
However it plays out, Robot Gentleman certainly has a busy year ahead. Alongside 60 Parsecs! and new content for 60 Seconds!, it’s also developing a new title called Stray.
But with a renewed focus on what it does best in 2D, and the new team easing into the company while developing its next release, things look hopeful for the future.