[Thanks everyone -- It was a blast to reminisce! We are no longer answering questions.]

We are Mike Kulas and Matt Toschlog, the creators of the original six-degree-of-freedom shooter, Descent. Combined, we have over 60 years of experience and founded Parallax Software, Volition, Inc, and Outrage Entertainment. Recently, we created Revival Productions and are thrilled to be returning to 6-DOF gaming with our new game, Overload at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2010925172/overload-the-ultimate-six-degree-of-freedom-shoote

We will begin answering questions at 1pm EST and since Luke (radiangames) and Chris (serinayd) never stop working, they'll be around too! We can't wait to hear from you, so please, ask us anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/MattToschlog/status/696722978571157505 Proof: https://twitter.com/MikeKulas/status/696732769439784960

Comments: 475 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

UF_Jediluke62 karma

MULTIPLAYER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thank the Gods of Descent!! So, committing to multiplayer...as an expansion. Does this mean that multiplayer will not really be worked on until after single player is fully complete?

MikeKulas50 karma

Thanks, Jediluke! We have no one working on multiplayer now and we are very focused on hitting our single player date. However...I do think we'll have some of the old-timers getting started on mp things. Very hard to stay away from it.

RomeroGoon34 karma

Backer here, super stoked for the game.

  1. What's the plans for the soundtrack? Any plans to licence some Type O-Negative and recreate some of the awesome industrial techno from the first two games?

  2. Any news on Guide-Bot?

  3. Will the X1 edition be hitting Game Preview?

Cheers guys and girls, good luck!

MikeKulas30 karma

I think you must be referring to Overload. We've got Dan Wentz and Allister Brimble from Descent to write music and do sound effects.

Guide-Bot? Some people asked for a stretch goal to not have him. ;)

Don't know about Game Preview yet, but that would be very cool.

D_Cent23 karma

Since Descent4 was cancelled because of the sales of Descent3, what makes you believe that people are now more receptive for a 6DOF game?

MikeKulas40 karma

I'm not sure I would say D4 was canceled as a result of D3 sales. It was a very complicated time for Interplay and Volition (who would have been the developer) was already working with THQ. I suspect I was already in early discussions with THQ about the sale of Volition. (That processed started-stopped-resumed over more than a year.)

Anyway, genres can come back and it's our belief that there's a strong audience out there for more Descent.

NoNamesWereAvailable19 karma

oh my gosh! The competitive descent community is all about this. I can tell you there are some hardcore descenters that want this more than anything!

For my question(s)

Do you plan to work with anyone from the existing retro or rebirth descent communities to eventually develop multiplayer?

How does it feel to have created a game that is still played 20 years later?

MikeKulas16 karma

Yes, we are in touch with people from the communities. It is incredibly gratifying to see that the communities never went away and that is part of the reason we're making a new game. In many ways, they know more about multiplayer Descent than we do. Certainly in terms of tactics. ;)

sushi_cw9 karma

Do you plan to work with anyone from the existing retro or rebirth descent communities to eventually develop multiplayer?

This is great but I hope they're careful to make multiplayer that's fun for everybody, not just the hardcore players. All too often listening too much to the top competitive multiplayer people ends up doing that...

MikeKulas11 karma

Sushi: Agreed! We need to build a game that is geared towards as many people as possible. One ally you have is the weaker players on the dev team, of which I am one.

darthkarki16 karma

Super excited for this game, this is my first time backing a non-finished kickstarter. My questions have to do with Overload:

  1. What level of destructibility are you planning on for the enemies? Will it be purely visual (such as armor plates falling off when they take damage), or will it be functional as well (such as being able to shoot off a gun arm, preventing them from using that weapon)? It would make for a good bit of player-driven comedy to be able to shoot their weapons off rendering them impotent, and then depending on the bot they might try to run away or maybe just ram you over and over Monty Python-style.
  2. Will there be other destructible environmental odds and ends throughout levels? I'm thinking along the lines of all the random crap you can smash in the TT LEGO games, or even the TV panels in the old Descent games; things to blow up just for the sake of it. They could contain energy or shields or ammo or something to make them useful, or not, but in any case it's fun to have more stuff to blow up.
  3. What is your process for choosing between engines? What made you pick Unity 5 over UE4? As a neophyte the most I can do is look up the differences and see what other people's opinions are, but presumably you want to actually test each out to compare them first-hand, so what does that testing look like?
  4. What kinds of puzzles/physics/environmental interactions can you implement now with today's technology? What ideas did you have before that you were unable to implement at the time, and what are some totally new ideas that have struck you due to current capabilities?
  5. You mentioned in the stream that you don't want to include water, and already have lava. What specifically makes water more difficult to implement? Gotta admit, I'm a sucker for some nice rendered water...
  6. What mechanics from non-6DOF games have you thought might make an interesting if unorthodox addition to a 6DOF game? Sublevel Zero tried crafting, but personally I don't think that's a great fit. Menu-driven features like that take you out of the moment and lessen the tension of wandering through a maze, looking out for hazards.
  7. Will there be any other primary objectives or game types for any levels in the campaign besides blow up the reactor and escape? It's a pretty solid formula, but I'd definitely love to see what interesting designs people who are more creative than me could come up with to help avoid too much feeling of repetition.
  8. Are you planning on including any side objectives besides rescuing hostages? I think some simple additions such as "kill x number of y bots" or "find and destroy z bot" could help make it feel like there's plenty to do. Or, going along the lines of more destructible environmental objects, you could add things like "find and destroy the communications array."
  9. How much variety are you envisioning for environments? You've showed off caves and some type of facility, can you go into more detail on the types of structures we will be exploring and the different types of looks you will be going for?

MikeKulas19 karma

Gonna be quick on these:

1) So far visual, but a good cue for the player. Have discussed shooting off weapons, not sure if it will happen.

2) Loved blowing out lights...

3) We experimented with UE & Unity and found iteration time to be faster under Unity and felt the lighting system worked especially well for us.

4) Lighting now can drive gameplay. You can identify robots you can't see by their shadow profile.

5) Water isn't hard -- Luke just hates it. We don't understand why. Keep bugging him.

6) We have kicked around a few ideas, but it's important to be careful in expanding scope. Descent was a tightly focused game and that worked well.

7) Haven't settled on any other scenarios yet. Will need to pretty soon.

8) Same as (7).

9) Can't yet, sorry. Hope to during the campaign, though.

lukeman300014 karma

Hi -

Please tell me that you guys are considering co-op for the multiplayer component?

MikeKulas11 karma

We will evaluate it when we start doing real work on multiplayer. We know many are interested.

raptur6dof13 karma

Can you settle an argument for me? At the beginning of D1 and D2 levels, there's a "vroom" sound with wavy arcs over the screen. Since the sound resembles the sound of materialization centers, I thought this corresponded to a materialization of the ship inside the map. My friend says that there's a door behind you, so you came through the door and the sound and arcs instead correspond to your shields coming online. However, there are a few levels in D2 where you can open the "door" behind you, and there's no hint of a passageway. What do the sound and arcs correspond to?

MikeKulas17 karma

I can't recall us discussing the point, but we must have. I believe you were sort of beamed/materialized in. But that makes the door behind you irrelevant. I would guess it went in stages like: (1) Just put the ship in the level. (2) Put an inoperable door behind. (3) Put in a cool effect. I don't recall us discussing if step (2) made sense after we did (3).

phx1312 karma

Hey Matt & Mike! Over the past few years we have seen the 6DOF genre explode. What do you think is the chief reason for this turnaround? Any plans to support the Oculus Rift? As a huge Descent fan I am excited at what you guys are working on. Best of luck to you guys!

MikeKulas14 karma

A lot of things are coming together. Lots of good controllers for playing 6dof. Some old teams and lots of new teams getting back together.

We have Overload running on Rift, but a lot of work to do it right. Very quick to get it up and running, though.

raptur6dof11 karma

I saw in the code for D1 and D2 that the bot AI is a huge nest of if statements. Given all the advances in machine learning over the last few years, are you going to experiment with adaptive AI?

MikeKulas14 karma

Certain kinds of adaptive AI would not be hard to code, but these things can be frustrating for the player. Part of a good AI is allowing the player to learn how to defeat an enemy. Adaptive AI would turn that into a progression that could be very rewarding, but could also be very difficult for the player. It's kind of like code for dodging the player's lasers/missiles. It's easy to make that so good that it's not fun for the player. Shorter answer: Some adaptation is a good idea.

D1Drakona10 karma

What things did you like about the single player in the previous games that you plan to consciously repeat? Any mistakes you would avoid?

MikeKulas10 karma

I thought we allowed our levels to get too complex. Discovering your way through a level is part of the fun, but discovering some cohesion and logic to it in the process is rewarding.

I felt we did a good job of showing people new things, things they hadn't seen in other games. It's tougher to do that now, but I think we can do things with new tech, such as the lighting, that affect the gameplay. Other games have done that, but it would be a step forward in the 6dof gameplay, I think.

Mistakes to avoid? I would have said laying multiplayer on top of a single player game, but that happened to work out really well.

PyroJockey10 karma

There has been much discussion about the use of assets from the original Descent series in new games. Sol Contingency ran afoul of this. What part of the Descent IP, if any, can we expect to see used in Overload? Will we once more be able to pilot our beloved Pyro-GX or some similar variant?

MikeKulas8 karma

PyroJockey -- We can use almost all of the content of any of the Descent games in Overload. However, at the moment, we don't have anything in game. We have been very focused on tools and tech and core systems. It would be easy to drop stuff in, but before that, we need to think about how things would tie together. We're pretty much on the fence...though would be hard to imagine no Easter eggs.

sushi_cw10 karma

Which of the three previous Descent titles does Overload feel most like?

MikeKulas20 karma

Well, it certainly feels like Descent 1, right down to the small office. And after four years out of industry, it feels like my first game again.

CivEZ9 karma

Oh God!
I still play the original Descent (And 2 and 3).

In fact, not too long ago, I engaged in some rowdy Descent talk here on the reddit.

I have to ask, who was in charge of hiding all the hidden rooms? Was that just something you guys added as you went along? Or was it intentional from the start as part of the game planning process?

I'm still not convinced every single hidden room has been found.

MikeKulas6 karma

I don't think there was a cohesive plan for the hidden rooms. They were planned as each level was designed with many added after most of the level was built.

D_Cent8 karma

Will there be any kind of a "community match" where Descent fans can play against people from the Revival team? :) (I'd like to see Matt in action ;) )

MikeKulas4 karma

That would be fun if they like kicking puppies. Except for Luke, who is still a beast. But, yes, I would like to see that happen. ;)

Fineus7 karma

Hey guys - like many here I've been a huge fan of the Descent series since the original - Descent 2 helped me through an operation on my ankle and was a huge distraction from the tedium of hospital wards as a kid! Thank you!

My question is one of storyline which appears to have been uncovered so far...

  • I've seen mention that you're on the fence about including assets / references to the original Descent series. Does that include the storyline? There seems a lot of room to create a story away from the original Material Defender and focusing on another sector of space etc...

As an aside, I'd love for you to include and heavily reference the original Descent universe in some way. It has so much potential depth to be explored and - I hate to say it - that seems to be something I'm not seeing covered by other 6DOF titles being worked on currently.

I dearly wish every project success - but this one seems to have the best potential as a true successor to the original Descent games, rather than a 6DOF title with the occasional nod to it.

Good luck guys, I look forward to following this all the way.

MikeKulas6 karma

We have considered several storylines, but not have settled on one yet. Also have not made any firm decisions on what Descent, if any, might be included.

Thanks for the kind words!

M-a-x6 karma

Is there any thought / goal / plan /wild idea as to when an Overload beta may be available to those who back the project at the appropriate levels?

MikeKulas3 karma

Beta would probably be 2-3 months before release.

aclays6 karma

If Interplay had been able to secure funding for another Descent game around 2008, would they have kept the same team on development? Have you folks been working together this whole time, or is this a reunion of sorts to develop overload?

MikeKulas7 karma

We have been working on different things. I left the industry for ~4 years. Matt was doing stuff at Reactor Zero. Luke & Chris were at Volition and then Luke went indie for about four years releasing more games than I could count. (radiangames.com)

As to a Descent game in 2008, if you mean would Parallax have reformed a team? I don't think so. We were all involved in things and...hard to see us working on an Inteplay project at that time.


Hi I'm very excited about Overload! QUESTION: Will Overload possibly have 2nd second screen support on the PS4/PS3/X1? MGS5 Ground Zeroes/Phantom Pain has a mobile (ipad, iphone etc..) companion app where you can view the in-game map during play that even moves in real-time as you move and has extra features like audio clips and mini-game. I found this app incredible especially on a ipad and with Overload would be cool to give more of a cockpit kinda feel with a second screen to follow.

MikeKulas5 karma

It's a great idea that we've kicked around, but haven't made a decision.

Zeether6 karma

I understand if this can't be answered, but I had noticed the post on GOG regarding Interplay and the issues with royalties, is that still being sorted out? I had bought all 3 Descents before they got pulled but it's obviously sad to see them go, although it was for a good reason.

Aside from that though I like Overload's look and the Descent-style mapping is neat!

MikeKulas6 karma

I can't say that I've seen progress on the Interplay front. We wish it were otherwise.

We like the cubes -- glad you do, too! ;)

ShinAli5 karma

mostly a purely selfish question (loved freespace and descent), but would you guys be hiring additional programmers?

MikeKulas2 karma

Most likely, Yes.

serenehazmat4 karma

Will we see the dreaded thief again?

MikeKulas4 karma

No decision yet. If we do, he will offer more of a reward upon death. Thief-Bot in Descent was mainly punitive.

theredbaron2183 karma

What are the most technically challenging aspect to developing a game like Overload? Which challenges are you most excited to tackle?

MikeKulas2 karma

I think the technically hardest thing is building systems that are extensible and can accommodate new ideas. At a more specific level, keeping multiplayer fluid is always a challenge, but we'll worry about that a little later. Writing an AI system that is challenging, but rewarding, is tricky.

raptur6dof3 karma

The class 1 drillers appear fairly early in D1 but are extremely dangerous with their quick fire and deceptive placements -- it's virtually impossible to get through e.g. level 6 at higher difficulty levels without dying unless you have the driller locations, cloaks, and invulnerabilities all memorized. I noticed that there is no similar drone in D2. What's the story, if any, behind class 1 drillers? Did they end up being more dangerous than you originally envisioned? (Maybe you already had the locations memorized because you designed the levels?)

MikeKulas3 karma

I agree -- That was a serious difficulty spike, too much I think. I think the level designer took a challenging bot and then built a level to exploit the bot's strengths. At that stage of the game, it should have been a hard bot in a level designed to challenge the player's knowledge and skills.

bob_marley983 karma

Thanks to you I wasted many hours tear-assing through the tunnels! Eventually I would have to stop due to motion sickness - did motion sickness ever bother you guys when testing/playing?

MikeKulas4 karma

Yes, I am very prone to motion sickness. Once we got Descent to the point that it was flyable, I would get motion sick within a few minutes. Considering we had over a year to go, this was pretty frightening. Fortunately, by continuing to play Descent, I seemed to get used to it and eventually could play continuously for hours.

TaxiZaphod3 karma

I always see these AmAs after it's too late. :( Well, I'm going to post this anyway, in hopes that somebody sees it.

I'm a big fan, of course. D2 is my favorite game of all time. I think the opening cinematic is perhaps one of the best of any game. When the Material Defender Hyper warps to Zeta Aquilae, and the Descent II logo is revealed... it still gives me chills even today.

My question is, roughly speaking, how long does it take to produce a cinematic like that? How many people work on it?

Thank you for creating such an awesome game!

MikeKulas3 karma

Thanks, Taxi. I can't reply to the time it took to create the cinematics, but wanted to thank you for your kind words. I think one of the artists will be chiming in.

Tsalikon3 karma

In the original games, what exactly was the internal explanation for what happened to the hostages when you picked them up?

Were they teleported somewhere? Stored in the ship somehow? Or did y'all not really make up anything to explain it?

MikeKulas5 karma

We never explained it, but without a shrinkray, they couldn't have fit in the ship. But then neither could the Earthshaker -- someone told me years later it's larger than the Pyro. I don't remember ever stopping to think about the logic of these things.

_REDSTOOL_3 karma

I loved the original two games and also freespace (which was someone else, but anyhow).

My question is 'how is the best way to play descent without getting dizzy?' Sometimes I had to stop because I'd get a little motion sick.

MikeKulas4 karma

FreeSpace was also developed by Parallax Software. During the development of Descent, I got motion sick from playing the game. But I had to keep playing it and the motion sickness eventually stopped. I don't know if your brain/body just adjusts over time, but it's a good thing for me that it stopped.

DroolingIguana2 karma

How did you intend for Descent to be controlled? I've always used a flightstick, with the stick itself controlling rotation, the hat switch handling vertical and horizontal movement and binding forward and backward movement to the keyboard. I imagine that most people play the game with a mouse and keyboard, but with so many different ways to move I'm not sure how that could work.

MikeKulas5 karma

Controls were very iterative. Early on, the ship could not stop. Sliding was implemented mainly as a means of dodging. I'm pretty sure left/right was added before up/down. I'm not sure we had "intent" in how it should be played, but wanted to support many ways. I was strictly a keyboard player, partly because in writing the AI I was constantly jumping between code/editor/game and didn't want to move my hands to grab a joystick. I don't think any of us played with the mouse.

mrjoshua20152 karma

Why did you set your budget to $300,000 the same as Descent 1? Did you factor in inflation?

MikeKulas3 karma

We kicked around a number of figures. It was just chance that we landed at the same figure as the Interplay contract.

SiriusTR2 karma

Off-the-wall question - what's the story behind that iconic shield orb (in D1)? Who designed it, how did they get the idea for it, etc?

MikeKulas3 karma

Adam Pletcher designed it. I think the story is:

"We need a shield orb." "OK."

I don't remember anyone else being involved in it. Maybe Adam will stop by.

another_mikey1 karma

Can you please, please, please support a multiplayer co-op mode, at whatever point you add the multiplayer support? The stand-alone game is awesome, but playing co-op with a friend really rachets up the experience, and makes replaying levels you have already played solo fun again. I know I am likely in the minority on preferring co-op to deathmatch type multiplayer, but deathmatch type multiplayer just reduces the game to non-stop shooting in what becomes a repetitive level, with no regard for any of the 'puzzle' aspects of finding keys, and no ability to appreciate the finer details of how the levels have been set up and rendered artistically, at least in my opinion anyway. I will buy the solo game no question (I am signed up on the kickstarter of course), but I know a number of more copies you will sell immediately with just the folks I know if you are going to add multiplayer co-op support eventually.

MikeKulas2 karma

Descent co-op was a lot of fun and we would like to support it, but we will have to take a serious look at it when we start on multiplayer development. At the moment, we aren't sure.