EDIT: Looks like it's time for me to get back to shipping ToeJam and Earl so I won't be answering any more questions in this AMA. Thanks so much for offering up such great questions. I've really enjoyed myself and I hope my answers have been helpful and informative. Apologies to anyone whose questions I wasn't able to get to!!

We still have a long way to go in our Starflight 3 Fig campaign and every dollar counts! So please spread the word to any of your game, sci-fi, rpg pals! They can use the links below to pledge and keep in touch with me and the Starflight 3 team:

Hey there, Earthlings! I'm Greg Johnson, the creator of "ToeJam and Earl", "Starflight" and a bunch more stuff! I've been making games for... er... a REALLY long time, and not stopping! My studio, HumaNature Studios is about to ship "ToeJam and Earl: Back in the Groove" and we're currently raising money for "Starflight 3: Universe" the sequel to the first game series I ever made!

You can back now on our Fig Page!

We like to make games that make you think, make you feel something and ask what all this crazy stuff means! We're here to answer your questions so let's go!


Comments: 636 • Responses: 90  • Date: 

sun_br0293 karma

you made the original TJE? if so, thanks for making my favorite genesis game. my question is, when does the new one come out? is there a specific date yet?

ToejamGreg209 karma

Thanks! I made that together with my good friend Mark Voorsanger and we had a blast making that and those are very nostalgic memories for me!

The new one, ToeJam and Earl: Back in the Groove, will be out in the next few months, and in the coming weeks we'll be announcing the release date.. we're in the final finish line, we just need to get the final OK from the console platform holders

iveo8322 karma

what is the chance of it coming to Switch? I guess I can get it on Steam if not.

Edit: I just have to say that TJ&E was my favorite game growing up on the Genesis. My dad rented it for me at the video store cause some guy told him it was crazy. We played that game to death, yet I never beat it. Until 20 years later and I saw it was on the Wii Virtual Console. One of my childhood friends (who I would play the game with) came over and we sat down and finally beat it. It was amazing! Thanks :D

ToejamGreg56 karma

100% chance of coming to Switch! well, 99.9% -- assuming the Earth is still around on Launch date :)

Congrats on finally beating the game!! But now new challenges await <3

lowtoiletsitter3 karma


ToejamGreg4 karma

Aghhhhh!!!! What? ;)

Rimbosity111 karma

Oh dear word. It's you. I just wanted you to know that I consider Starflight the greatest PC computer game ever made, given the standards and technology of the time. The ability to squeeze literally an entire section of the Galaxy into an algorithm and a seed number was unique and amazing. (And there are many other reasons, such as the way it told a story in a manner that could only be done interactively, the easy to use UI, the legit science, etc etc etc.)

My question for you is -- has that code/algorithm ever been open-sourced/published, and if not, is this a thing that could happen?

ToejamGreg58 karma

All the original code was written in a language called "Forth" -- also its a little hard to access as it's on a bunch of old tape drives from the 80's.

It's probably possible, but the amount of time and effort it would take for someone to go through all of that would be probably insurmountable and prohibitive :(

Still, deeply appreciate your compliments! It's an interesting and ironic fact that sometimes ignorance can work in your favor. We didn't realize when we started working on it how instance it was to try to algorithmically create a universe within a floppy disk... good thing we had no idea or else we wouldn't have tried!

malekai10114 karma

I’m sure that I’m way too late but Starflight was the game that got me into gaming. Thank you for creating it.

ToejamGreg12 karma

That's really great to hear Malekai! So awesome. You are more than welcome!

Rimbosity4 karma

Thanks for the answer! I remember Forth. Wasn't an option on any of the systems I owned growing up, you know, the standard BASIC and Asm stuff. (Although TI Extended BASIC on the 99/4a was a very good dialect... with precompiled subroutines and everything...too bad the hardware was such a self-crippled mess...) But I remember hearing about it and later taking a look at it...

I hear you about the tapes, too. I don't even have the stuff to pull things off of 3.5" floppies any more, and we even still have a 5.25" floppy or three around the house.

What you did was with the effort. You pulled off something amazing. And that wasn't even the best part of the game... the best part was that shocking realization when you realize just what you've been inadvertently doing the whole game... the horror!

ToejamGreg4 karma

Haha... yeah, I guess that final reveal made it kind of memorable for a lot of players. "Soylent Green is made of PEOPLE!!"... or something like that. ;) And thanks for the Forth comments - it was a really interesting language. Our engineers felt very strongly about it at the time. Sort of like a philosophy.

GFischerUY3 karma

Starflight was a masterpiece and the algorithmically generated worlds were mind blowing. Thank you and congratulations. P.s. the story was very cool too. Did you write that too?

ToejamGreg3 karma

Yes I did. :) And thanks. I think the story in this new one is even better. (Well at least the detailed outline that I wrote). I appreciate the kind words. It was a great team.

notjaykay77 karma

Do you think you guys will remake this classic photo for Starflight 3?

ToejamGreg67 karma

That's a really fun idea -- we would need access to another plane. Rod McConnell was actually a full time pilot for Flying Tigers (Cargo Airline) and that's a cockpit of a 747 -- so if you have any planes lying around (or a space shuttle would be ok too) then yes, we would love to recreate!

Oh and I glued those Interstel logos onto our jumpsuits w/ construction paper :3

Devils_-_Advocate27 karma

They have photo ops set up at NASA facilities at Cape Canaveral, take a vacation, and a photo!

ToejamGreg19 karma

Good idea!

funtastrophe46 karma

Does your company own the Starflight IP or is it being licensed from EA or some other holder? I'm already in on Fig, but some remaining concerns would certainly be alleviated if there were some clarification to ensure that we wouldn't find ourselves in a last-minute publishing rights battle scenario.

Also, what's your stance on people making fan-games in the universe at the same time that you're developing the real deal? Hostile? Friendly? ...Obsequious?

ToejamGreg60 karma

Binary Systems still owns the rights to Starflight, the company where I made Starflight! We have a licensing contract in place so we're good to go! Rod McConnell is the owner of Binary Systems and perhaps the nicest guy on this planet! He's given me his full confidence. Love ya, Rod!

In regards to fan games... I choose Friendly. I've always considered that a good thing as long as people make it clear that it's a fan-made game.

Novadale18 karma

Does Binary Systems or Rod McConnell have a website? I am having trouble finding any information on the company. A friend of mine and I have a tendency to discuss video game ip and I find it fun learning more about old game dev studios and finding out what they have been up to recently.

ToejamGreg23 karma

Binary Systems doesn't make games anymore and Rod McConnell is retired. If you have any specifics you'd like to know then shoot me a DM on Twitter (@ToeJamGreg)!

smartbrowsering3 karma

If I do an indie studio what type of IP contract should I have in place before I let people work on the game with me?

ToejamGreg7 karma

If you decide to make a fan-game (which means you can never sell it by the way - that's important) then let us know once you have gotten a good start on it. You don't need any contract with us, but keeping us informed is appreciated.

ip_address_freely45 karma

How the hell did you come up with Toe Jam and Earl anyway? I will have you know I spent way too much of my childhood at my friends house exploring every level with rocket skates and icarus wings at the risk of falling to the level below just to find any small, remote islands. I think my best find was the first world, bottom left corner to go to level zero.

ToejamGreg35 karma

I hope you'll be spending way too many hours on this new one as well. Be sure to get back in touch with those same friends and get them to play this one with you.

Level Zero is back again (shh don't tell anyone I told you). We've got some new surprised down there for you too. Drop me a line on Twitter (@ToeJamGreg) after you play!

rhaikh43 karma

The state of real life exoplanetary science has obviously taken leaps and bounds since the original Starflight was released. Are you planning to incorporate these discoveries into your new galaxy somehow, or should we expect more fantastic planets like Funkotron?

ToejamGreg65 karma

OH yeah! Capital SCIENCE Capital FICTION. When it comes to the ecosystems and planetary recommendations especially we're definitely gonna use the latest and greatest Scientific research we can find! For example the question of "What makes a planet more likely to support life or sentient life" has been heavily researched in the years since the original Starflight games. And we want to let players come away with a feeling like they've learned some science. Great question!

NapIStheCOOLEST33 karma

Who are some of your musical influences for creating ToeJam and Earl?

also who is your favorite person to help you with Back in the Groove and why is it Nap?

ToejamGreg54 karma

Oh, that's easy! Herbie Hancock, Brothers Johnson, The Daz Band, The Gap Band, Sister Sledge, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Parliament, Chaka Khan, I used to watch Soul Train a lot in the 70's, War, Wild Cherry....

My favorite person is................................. my son Tomo! But Nap comes in a close second ;)

Oolonging31 karma

Do you have any interest in having Toejam or Earl appear in anthology games alongside other creator's characters (e.g. Smash Bros, kart racing, dating sims)? What sort of challenges are there?

ToejamGreg78 karma

YES! We'd love to see ToeJam and Earl appear in all sorts of games -- the main challenges is making connections with those people (so if you have something, reach out to us!). I think a lot of people think SEGA owns the IP, but they actually own the original games, but not the IP and trademark (It's owned by myself and Mark Voorsanger, original other creator) -- so perhaps people don't know we have the rights and think they have to reach out to SEGA...

So if you have a cool idea, and can fufill the conditions of TJ&E's contract rider (no moldy cabbage, lots of rootbeer), then they wanna talk to you!

redpandaeater27 karma

What was the inspiration for the hot tub island on level 0 in TJ&E?

ToejamGreg44 karma

It really was there to give players a break -- from the stresses of playing and the stresses of life. What's better than chillin in a hot tub with your friends, sippin' on lemonade?

In Back in the Groove, be sure to try to find it -- it gets even better!

OddlySaneConsidering25 karma

What kind of interface would it have? Starflight of course has a third person "god view" even though one of the members of the crew serves as a kind of player avatar. There isn't a huge connection between the player and the player character, all the crew members are pretty much equivalent as story characters.

I think these choices were made more by the gaming culture and technology of the day more than intentional design. The style of today is more immersive and realistic, often even first person. The player isn't floating around aloofly like we typically did the 90s, we are embedded in the world, and living right inside a character's head.

I guess I'm asking, is S3 going to be retro or modern?

ToejamGreg29 karma

Big question! But a good one...

One of the things we're excited to explore is exactly this. We see an opportunity to represent your crew as characters with personality and relationships with each other and with you, the captain.

In Starflight 1 there were no individual characters and you're right this was due in large part to limitations of the time. We'd like to do more storytelling with interesting characters. We have a lot of exploration to do to find the right balance between the style of the original game and modern games. Not sure yet where the sweet spot will be!

TJPOWERyouloveit20 karma

I gotta ask... who do you prefer to play as in the ToeJam & Earl games?

ToejamGreg30 karma

When we were making the original TJE games, Mark Voorsanger was always ToeJam and I was always Big Earl. These days I play them all but there's a special place in my heart for Flo, Big Earl's mom!

the_original_Retro19 karma

Hey Greg. Starflight 3 looks like a game that I'd be keen to play, but there's been some negative crowdfunding results for a few other games and that makes me hesitate a little. How are you and the other folks at HumaNature gonna put concerns like that to rest?

Thanks, and hope that your bringing modern life to an old - well, okay, very old - classic knocks it out right of the park.

ToejamGreg32 karma

Thanks for the confidence /u/rhaikh! I don't want to toot my horn too much but I'm kinda the original indie developer. Been doing this for 34 years now (as an indie)!!

We also just went through the crowdfunding process with TJE: Back in the Groove and I won't lie there was a lot of learning that went on. There's a lot to balance when you crowdfund. But there are also big advantages, perhaps the biggest one being staying in sync with the people you're making the games for! All we can ever do is our best. It's a matter of personal integrity. I hope my track record will speak for itself!

Oolonging18 karma

What is the saddest thing?

ToejamGreg31 karma

homeless kittens -- just the thought is bringing tears to my eyes

why did you do this to me?!

ValarMorgulos17 karma

My daughter and I have bonded over playing the original TJ&E. It is one of our favorite games to play together.

One thing I need to ask: How do you sneak up on Santa and actually scare him? I always try to use the "tip-toe" button, but he sees me and then the ! shows up and he jetpacks away!

ToejamGreg39 karma

Oh! It's the game of red light/green light, when santa looks up from his pack, you have to stop moving. When he looks down again, you can continue sneaking.

Rocket skates might work as well.. in the new game you can do this ;), or the sneaking trick! Or invisibility paint!

Grimparrot15 karma

May I just take a moment to thank you for Starflight? I played it to death, was one of the first games that really captured my imagination and set me up for a lifetime of enjoying games on the PC.

ToejamGreg8 karma

Thanks back at ya! I'm so happy to hear that Starflight makes for such good memories for you. What other games have you enjoyed? Also let us know if there's anything you want to see in this new Starflight game!

droid_mike14 karma

Wait... Starflight? The original spave exploration sandbox PC game for the 80s that took like 15 million man hours to make and was incredibly awesome? You're making a sequel to that original game? If so, I am in!!! What is the timeline for completion (assuming funding is met)?

ToejamGreg7 karma

Estimated ship date is Q4 2020 although its still very early in development so please don't quote that just yet ;)

We're really excited to work on it too and hope we get funded! :)

Hamsternoir13 karma

I still have the TJ & E sound track running through my head sometimes and still can't forget it.

Exactly how wise was the wise old man in a carrot suit?

ToejamGreg12 karma

Only others wearing carrot suits can fathom the ways of the wiseman -- let ye not ask lest ye wearith one

no really, if you wear one, send me a picture !

RedditConsciousness12 karma

Man this takes me back. The code wheel. The map. All my notes on the map. Finding cool ruins on planets.

My question: Greg, we live in an age where people often buy content digitally so there is no longer an opportunity for box "feelies". Do current gamers know what they are missing out on and is there a way game swag like that could make a comeback in a "digital everything" age?

ToejamGreg10 karma

Absolutely! If Starflight 3 funds we're making a "big box" physical copy of the game and although we don't have all the goodies finalized for what's going to be in there you can count on there being all KINDS of fun stuff like that. I really want a proper homage to the cool stuff you got in the original Starflight games.

Narwhal_Rider12 karma

Hi greg!

First off, you have created 2 of my favorite old games, so thank you for that. Toejam and earl was innovative, weird, and very fun. A good friend and i spent many hours trying to beat it, got to level 22 but couldn't beat it, i think we missed a ship piece somewhere. Remember being upset with those damn mystery boxes resetting, you cruel man. Did love the hottub on the very bottom. Looking forward to playing the updated version.

I can also remember starflight, and playing it on my c64. A damn fine space exploration, remember great times exploring planets for resources and strange alien artifacts, assembling a diverse crew, and trying to negotiate out of fights. It was so far ahead of anything else like it. Loved the ant people, enjoyed the weird space combats. I also seem to remember something about a tesseract...

Ah, the days when EA on the box represented great, innovative games. Seems so long ago.

Anyway, question time: as someone who remembers Starflight, what concepts are you bringing forward from the original to this new game (races, exploration, parley, etc), and how do you plan to adapt your original vision to all the new ideas that have come since (no man's sky, mass effect, starbound, etc)? What is going to make the new starflight unique in relation to the many other space themed games out and coming out?

I really hope you and your project the best, I remember how good the original was, and am hoping your new game is as innovative and engrossing as the first.

ToejamGreg4 karma

At this stage we don't have design decisions yet, what we do have are design concepts and possibilities from a lot of brainstorming. We're still sorting through all these ideas. What I know at this stage is that Starflight 3 needs to capture the spirit of Starflight 1 and 2, that's different from the mechanics. I'm particularly interested in and excited by the aspect of interactive Science Fiction and alien cultures and perspectives. My hope is that this new game can challenge players to step outside of the assumptions that we make and ask questions about meaning and existence. And I hope we can do it with humor and the same light spirit that characterized Starflight 1 and 2.

anras11 karma

Was Toejam and Earl inspired by roguelikes and if so which ones?

ToejamGreg32 karma

It's worth pointing out that I'm really old. I was up until 3AM most nights playing the original Rogue game when I was in college in 1981. This was on the college's mainframe computer! I was playing on a black-and-white CRT in ASCII!

That's where the play mechanics for ToeJam and Earl come from! In the 90s there was no genre "rogue-likes".

Thelonius1611 karma

How much does the story for Starflight 3 flow as a sequel to the previous games?

ToejamGreg23 karma

I don't wanna give away TOO much but the story for Starflight 3 isn't a direct sequel to the previous games. There will definitely be some of the same alien races from the original games but Starflight 3 will take place in a whole new part of the Universe! And the story of Starflight 3 is bigger and deeper than ALL the previous games!

flamefammstudios10 karma

What do you think of SEGA's current state?

ToejamGreg24 karma

I actually love SEGA of Japan and have friends there! We are currently in discussions with them about publishing ToeJam and Earl in Asia! I hope we can make that work with them.

I had a great relationship with SEGA of America in the 90's and im still in touch with some of those people -- honestly, i haven't had too much communication with SOA in recent years!

I love Road Rash!

a lot of people at the office like the Yakuza series :)

Blue_Haired_Old_Lady12 karma

So can we have a Toejam and Earl themed road rash game?

RevengimusMaximus6 karma

"Space Rash"

ToejamGreg4 karma

I'd play it!


Would you ever consider making a ToeJam & Earl game in the style of Panic on Funkotron again? I'd like to see another 2D sidescroller.

ToejamGreg8 karma

Heck yeah! If an opportunity presents itself to be funded I'd love a chance to take another swing at a sidescrolling TJ&E game. I'd especially love to have it set on Funkotron again, I feel there's a lot more to experience on that planet.

ip_address_freely10 karma

Is there anything hidden on Funkotron in TJ&E 1 that we should know about?

ToejamGreg14 karma

If you haven't talked to Trixie already she is waiting for you down in the lower right corner.

TBGNP_Admin10 karma


I'm going to have to curb my enthusiasm or risk gushing for pages about how influential Starflight was and how much I loved it.

I'm VERY happy and very excited to see you and Starflight make a come back. I love learning about and following developers to see "what they're doing now" like the original X-COM crew, Firaxis, Hi-Tech Expressions, Diversions Entertainment, Red Fly, Flagship, Runic, Megaman, Castlevania, and more.

What have the rest of the Binary Systems crew been up to since Starflight? Who were they? Where have they gone? I can't find much information on even who they are, just a memory of a picture in an album sleeve of you all in astronaut uniforms.

I'd pay to see a documentary all about Binary Systems and Starflight's creation.

ToejamGreg5 karma

I'd love to tell you about the rest of the crew. I continue to be in touch with all of them after all these years, and I see them when I can. That said some of them are private individuals and I'm not sure if I should share much information about them. I'm flattered and I'm sure they would be to that you'd like to see a documentary. Aside from Dave Boulton who was one of the early programmers on the game and passed away, everyone else on the team is doing well. Most are off in other non game-related careers.

elephantshark449 karma

When will Toejam and Earl be a game in the app store?

ToejamGreg3 karma

We might be down to do a mobile game if the demand is there and Back in the Groove does well enough to support that!

gws9239 karma

Hey Greg! We met at PAX West and chatted for a while. I'm the nerd that runs /r/toejamandearl. Thanks again for connecting with me.

What has been the hardest part of running your own independent game studio? Any suggestions for hopeful game developers?


ToejamGreg4 karma

Yes! I remember you! It's great to hear from you again. I appreciate your question, it's always good to shine a light on the path ahead for people trying to walk this tricky road. To be very blunt, the hardest part about indie game development is staying solvent/funded/sustainable. It requires a lot of creativity and a lot of tenacity and faith to sustain an indie studio and you need people around you who are smart and filled with positive energy. I have been very lucky to find great people to work with! The best advice I can give to young indie developers is just have faith -- the power of believing you will find a way when you can't see the path ahead is what, ironically, makes it possible.I've seen so many people give up and drop out -- its not an easy business but when it works, there's nothing better.

Thank you so much for running the r/toejamandearl reddit page!! Let us know however we can help! <3

brandon7s9 karma

Absolutely loved Starflight II. I think it was my first Sega Genesis game to play besides Sonic the Hedgehog.

Can we get Black Eggs and blow up planets in this new one?

Went ahead and chucked some money your way. Really looking forward to it!

EDIT: looks like that was Starflight I, not II. Doesn't matter. Still blew up earth.

ToejamGreg3 karma

Thanks for chucking some money our way! If we get this launched it will be in part thanks to you. Black Eggs and planet bombs? Are you sure you're ready for that responsibility? We'll see what we can do for you!

kalpol8 karma

I played Starflight constantly in the 80s. I emailed Alec Kercso once and he actually responded, we had a nice conversation about how no other game felt like it had that feeling of a little ship in a big scary universe. Also the story was really good, AND it was all on two 360k disks. Will your new game be less than a megabyte?

ToejamGreg8 karma

First off -- Alec is AWESOME. Alec is the one who got me into the project. He and I were roommates at UC San Diego and Alec joined the Starflight project before I did. I remember looking over his shoulder and asking him what it was and if I could join too. Alec was so great to work with and we still talk every once in a while.

As far as the size of the new game... who knows? We want to limit the complexity and keep the simple spirit of the original, but we also want a higher fidelity of art, animation, and music and that takes up space... So we'll see!

I can promise it'll be under a terabyte!

Mufossa757 karma

Another SF3 question: In SF1, when you recommended planets for colonization, you would get money but I don't recall seeing outposts or settlements appearing on those worlds. Is there the possibility of that happening in Starflight 3? The idea being that you could watch a new settlement develop over time?

ToejamGreg10 karma

One of the things we hope to do in Starflight 3 is make the recommendation process more fulfilling and also give players a stronger sense of closure with the ability to know what happens to their colonies as time goes on. There's a lot of factors and real science we want to incorporate in the planetary assessment process and a lot of ways that planets may be useful aside from colonization. Planets that have become colonized because of your recommendations may reach out to you for help, as you bear some responsibility for them. We have lots of fun ideas and can't wait to dive into this part of the game!

deanykg7 karma

How does game development feel in this day and age compared to developing for the Genesis? If you have specific memories of programming for the Genesis you can compare to the tools you're using for Back in the Groove don't hold back; you're among poindexters here. :)

ToejamGreg5 karma

I would say that the problems and issues we face are essentially the same. We use different tools for sure, and we have efficiencies in new areas, but the complexity bar is much higher in terms of goals and expectations and the problems of debugging and working against a tight schedule are still the same as they've always been.

I remember our compile times taking up to an hour every time we made the smallest change in the original games, so we had to be really foresightful, Mark had to be extra meticulous about bug fixing.

If you had asked me back then what game development would be like in the year 2018 I would have said, it'll be a breeze!! ha ha ha... little did I know...

ThydeUK7 karma

How was the unique style of the original TJ&E inspired? It was my favourite game as a kid and partly for the unique art/sound!

ToejamGreg3 karma

Thanks for the question! I gave /u/PCWOverlord a pretty long answer to this. Check it out! I'm glad to hear it was your favorite game as a kid, that's pretty cool!

Superphotonic_Ryan6 karma

Hello Greg! I can't tell you how important Starflight was to me growing up. I have my original Tandy 1000 copy, probably still works!

Tough break regarding Stardock and Fred and Paul.

Any ideas on how you're going to do planetary surface exploration? Seems like it'd be a challenging feature to work on. Terrain vehicle vs. Mass Effect's probes vs. Star Control's arcade-y movement.

ToejamGreg8 karma

First, shout out to Paul and Fred! Love you guys!

I know this answer can be a little disappointing but truth is we don't know yet. We have so many things we hope to accomplish. At this stage in the project there's always a longer list of things you want than what's possible. What we do know is that we want to give a strong impression of planetary diversity and that sense of alien world exploration. Here's hoping we have the opportunity to tackle these questions!

2Cuil4School6 karma

Do you envision any kinds of larger strategic elements at play here? e.g., even if not the player settling colonies and expanding empires manually, can you nudge the galactic course along specific directions, slowly, for instance, increasing the range of what is considered "safe" or potentially tipping scales of power to enable empires to rise and fall? Or even smaller scale: fending off the pirates in this sector allows trade to flourish, making more items available there in the future?

In short, what kinds of lasting impacts on the structure of the galaxy map can players have, and are they all "pre-planned" as a part of the story, or will there be an element of freeform play there, so that players can strategize what changes to try to accomplish first?

ToejamGreg6 karma

If I understand your question correctly you're asking about what type of dynamic story elements will we have in the game and on what scale.

In Starflight 1 it was primarily about uncovering a fixed backstory. Doing this is more straightforward than creating a story that changes the state of the universe as a result of player choices. Still achieving this is ultimate goal. Also in terms of scale we have a very deep cosmological story plan. So you won't just be fighting space pirates. You will be talking with sentient species about their beliefs, the meaning of life and the origins of the universe.

Also there's something really wrong with the coffee machine on your spaceship...

RebelRoundeye6 karma

Starflight was a game that captured my imagination as a 11 year old. When I was in my thirties a game came out that bored the hell out of me called "Mass Effect". I felt Mass Effect was a modern day version of Starflight but not as fun. Did you recognize any similarities or feel like Starflight was copied? Also, thank you for Doki Doki Universe.

ToejamGreg5 karma

You get the award for being the first person to mention Doki Doki Universe. The personality quiz in that game is still one of the things I think I'm most proud of ever having made. Also I'm so glad to hear Starflight captured your imagination when you were a kid. It's hard for anything that follows to live up to that first experience. I was really honored when I heard that Mass Effect was inspired by Starflight. Our goal is to make something that can inspire the imagination of a new generation.

johnnychi5 karma

Via a certain... IP issue with Star Control, I heard you collaborated with Paul and Fred with parts of Star Control 2.

Do you guys still talk? Bounce ideas off each other, etc?

ToejamGreg9 karma

Paul and Fred and I are still good friends. We never see each other as often as we'd like, life keeps us too busy. When we do get together we like to take long hikes and talk about the Science Fiction novels we've been reading and share ideas. To this day I don't think I've met anyone with an imagination like Paul's. He always keeps me and Fred entertained!

JoshuaS9045 karma

My father originally had this on the PC (286) and loved it. Years later we got it on the genesis, and I finally got a turn.

Question- Which was your favorite platform/arch to play on?

ToejamGreg4 karma

I didn't actually play it TOO much on the genesis, but there was a lot of things about it I loved.

I playtested the heck out of it on the PC -- I can't say in all honesty that I "played" the game as a player -- hard to do that when you've designed and written all the dialogue by yourself...

I did do the design for the Genesis version as well and I especially liked how they implemented the mining and life form collection on planetside and I liked the more arcade-like combat.

ThatCakeIsDone5 karma

Huge fan of the Starflight series. I loved the exploration, and the constant threat of disaster coming from all angles (hostile aliens, getting lost in a wormhole without a proper navigator, planetary storms). When I saw this AMA my pulse increased. I can't wait to play SF3. And since I have to ask a question...


ToejamGreg5 karma

Ahhh... I see you are a true disciple of the Tandelou... but which one? The true faith or the false and misguided one? Hmmmm.... :)

Cryovenom5 karma

Automod nuked my post because it was too much "Hell Yeah I played the shit out of SF 2 I'm in!!" and not enough of a question so...

What was your favourite race in Starflight 2, and why is it the Spemin?

(Note that answers will be reviewed by the SSSS)

ToejamGreg6 karma

I was trying to decide between the Tandelou Eshvey and the Tandelou Eshvara but all of a sudden I feel strangely compelled to say it's the Spemin. Yes, definitely the Spemin...benevolent lords and masters of the Universe. Hmmm... I wonder why I just said that.

Wahngrok5 karma

I backed the game as soon as I heard about it as I have very fond memories of playing Starflight 2 as a teen (never was able to run the first one on our PC back then).

Can you hint whether the Dweenle make it to the third installment? They have a special place in my heart the poor fellas.

Oh and are you planning on having a mixed crew from different races again?

ToejamGreg8 karma

You just vastly increased the chances of the Dweenle being in the new Starflight! They are going to be so happy! Well... happy for a Dweenle.

As to the mixed race crew, totally! That's part of the fun. We'd like to put a lot of attention on the inherent abilities, personalities and relationships in your crew. Fun right?

SpaceGameJunkie5 karma

Two questions.

  1. Will there be more genocide in this game? ;)
  2. The original games had a lot of depth along with a very simple interface, allowing it to even be played on a simple D-Pad controller back in the day on the Sega Genesis. Is this balance between depth and accessibility still something being considered in the new game?

ToejamGreg7 karma

  1. That's the first time I've seen a wink after the word "genocide". Nice! But yes big things are at stake again in this universe. We have quite a story planned for you, but I don't want to give it away yet.

  2. Absolutely! There have been a lot of great Science Fiction games since Starflight but many of them are rather complex. One of our goals is to make an exciting interactive novel experience that is also simple and accessible. Proof is in the pudding, you'll be the judge if we succeed or not!

sirparanoid5 karma

Any chance of a spiritual successor to Panic on Funkatron? ;)

ToejamGreg6 karma

You never know!! A lot of people ask for more TJ&E in this style instead of the original game, and if the demand is there (or if Back in the Groove is super successful), we will totally be considering that! We would love to go back and try our hand at that if there's enough folks who would want to play it!

eolithical5 karma

(supporting the game at decently high tier)

For a Starflight fan (played it at a snail speed thanks to an old 8086), should we expect the same feel to the game? Is it a Starflight game made in modern times, or is it more of a new game with a Starflight universe and name? What kinds of differences can we expect to see (that you are comfortable with sharing)?

ToejamGreg5 karma

Thanks for being a supporter! We so appreciate the help. You may find bits and pieces of this answer among other answers here but I'll take another swing at it for you. Starflight was great for what it was but of course that was 1986. Both in look and gameplay it needs a lot of updating. Also, aside from simply streamlining it and making it more modern there is so much I and the Starflight team hope to do that is inspired by the original games. From your crew and crew relationships, alien languages and communication, alien culture and perspectives, deep backstory and dynamic interactive story elements, real Science in planetary recommendations, algorithmic generation of ecosystems, faster paced space combat, new navigation methods, ship construction, etc. There are so many areas we hope to bring new concepts and inspiration to! At the same time we want to keep our finger on the pulse of what Starflight meant to all the original fans and make sure we stay true to that original spirit.

Mufossa754 karma

Questions: How many systems do you plan to have in SF3? What will be the map size and will it be 2D or 3D?

ToejamGreg11 karma

My original thought was 6 systems, and then I thought.. wait, that's not enough! Then I thought: 4 Billion. And then I thought, yeah... 4 billion!! And then I thought, wait: that might be too many. I'm still pondering that question.

Assuming you mean the star map, we might use 3D but it will be on a 2D plane.


Capn_Yoaz4 karma

Greg. First, thank you for Starflight & TJ&E, they were my favorite Genesis games! I'm very excited to see an updated version of Starflight, and I'm making my kids play TJ&E now to get ready for "back in the groove."

QUESTION - Are you planning different starting positions? Like the Velox or Elowan home worlds(if they exist?)

ToejamGreg4 karma

Forcing your kids to play TJ&E huh? I like your strict parenting technique. :D

As to starting positions we haven't got to that level of detail yet. But its a good question!

razordreamz4 karma

Will it be possible to fly other races ships? I mean I could get ahold of a Spemin ship and fly that instead?

ToejamGreg3 karma

YES!! ...Oh wait... I wasn't supposed to give that away yet. Damn! Pretend you didn't hear that.


Could we ever see ports of the original 2 Genesis games and ToeJam and Earl 3 come to Switch or is that something Sega would have to decide?

ToejamGreg6 karma

Unfortunately the original 3 games are owned by SEGA so we can't do anything in that regard but cheer it on!

IntellegentIdiot4 karma

What where your favourite games from the 80's and 90's?

What was the idea that led to TJ&E? Was there something that you and/or Mark thought "That's a good idea, we should build a game around that"?

ToejamGreg11 karma

Soul Calibur for Dreamcast, as well as DOA2.

Ecco the Dolphin for Genesis (except it got too hard) (Hi Ed!)


my favourite game though - Star Control Melee

CapeMonkey3 karma

Did you have any input on the Genesis port of Starflight? Is there anything you especially like or dislike about it?

ToejamGreg7 karma

I designed that but worked with an external group. I feel they did a great job! In some ways, it was my favorite version of the game. I'd be curious to know what you thought what was better/not as good about that version so we can incorporate that feedback into the new game :D

Raccoon_Party3 karma

What style of combat are you considering for starflight 3? 1 & 2 on the PC had more of a simulation feel, the Genesis port had more of an arcade style feel closer to like star control.

Any thoughts really on the direction you're going to take with combat would be great!

ToejamGreg5 karma

We'd like to shoot for something that's a little more fast-paced and arcade like. But we also want to keep things simple and easy to control. We have a lot of exploration and investigation ahead of us. Our early prototyping points us in a general direction but it almost certainly will be changing as we make discoveries. If you have anything in mind that you would love to see we'd love to hear it!

mattimus_prime_3 karma

Sorry if this has already been asked here, but what made you choose Fig over other crowd funding platforms?

ToejamGreg5 karma

One of the biggest reasons was that we are excited is that FIG allows gamers to actually invest in the success of the game! Obviously goodies and swag is cool, but working with FIG allows us to give Earthlings a chance to invest in the game and own a small piece of the game's profits! And that sounds really exciting and fun!

We had a really great experience working with Kickstarter on TJ&E: Back in the Groove and we're good friends with folks there, so we're not looking to not use KS for other projects either -- we thought we would explore the opportunity for people to invest in the game and see if that's something that people wanted and try something new :)


UnPhayzable3 karma

I gotta ask the real question. What's your optimal way to eat a chicken wing?

ToejamGreg8 karma

If I ate meat my optimal way would be eating it with gusto and then tossing it over my shoulder, throwing my head back then laughing in a raucous manner. Unfortunately I don't eat meat and doing this with sushi just doesn't work as well. sigh...

Tachyon19863 karma

assumes OBSEQUIOUS stance.

Greg and the rest of Binary, thank you so much for making the Starflight games. Really got me into Space in addition to countless hours of entertainment.

I still remember parts of the original SF1 manual where there was a "prophecy" written in it that explained the backstory. It was really funny and intriguing to read, who wrote that? We need more of that in Starflight 3.

ToejamGreg5 karma

Haha. I wrote that. And the game story and dialogue. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed all that stuff. I had a blast doing that... well eons ago.

CzarEggbert3 karma

I just wanted to say thank you! Starflight is the first game I remember obsessing over, and is a large part of the reason that I became interested in computers. I know it is not much, but I remember learning how to navigate DOS learning how to copy/move files, change directories, and install programs because of that game, all when I was 8. I still play it every now and then form GOG.

As for a question, what are your thought on Archive.org putting old games such as Starflight online, in VMs like DOSBox, for people to play for free?

ToejamGreg6 karma

Sure theoretically but practically speaking it's not my call since I don't own the rights to Starflight. But I like the idea in general!

cherrytarts3 karma

Which one of TJE's friends on Panic on Funkotron is/was your favorite?

Mine were Lewanda and Peabo!

P.S. (I just found the games on Steam. There goes my weekend!!)

ToejamGreg4 karma

Lewanda and Peabo are actually my faves as well, cuz they're both so sweet. But Latisha is probably the most fun to write for because she's got such an edge to her. Matt Conn, who works with me, does a really mean impression of GeekJam, so GeekJam is on the rise

Enjoy and have fun this weekend!!

ZeusMcFly3 karma

YOOO, I still have my original Starflight Genesis Cartridge, I played the ever loving hell out of that game. Are there any hidden Easter eggs or secrets you've been holding out on?

ToejamGreg6 karma

The binary message of the Mysterions was actually a morse code for my phone number at the time.... but no one ever called!

I had a big prize in mind for the first person to figure it out but... maybe we'll hide something cool like that in the new game.

Thelonius162 karma

Is the new Starflight 3 on Fig connected at all to any of the previous efforts to make a new game or remake the old games?

ToejamGreg6 karma

I assume you're talking about the fan-made Starflight 3 game. I was in touch with those fans at the time and loved their enthusiasm. This game has no connection to them other than expressing our appreciation for their amazing enthusiasm and hard work!

PCWOverlord2 karma

What were your design inspirations for ToeJam, Earl, Funkotron & everything else that comprises the universe they live in?

ToejamGreg4 karma

I went to high school in the '70s in central LA. Those were the days of big afros and Soul Train and high school students carrying big boom boxes on their shoulders. I've always been obsessed with aliens and with outside-the-box perspectives. I got my degree in Biolinguistics with a plan to be the guy they called in when the aliens landed and they needed someone to talk to them.

I was a Rogue fanatic in college. I had just finished making two games called Starflight 1 and Starflight 2 and my brain hurt and I wanted to blow off some steam. Put all that together and you get ToeJam and Earl.

submat872 karma

Did you say Earthlings?

ToejamGreg3 karma

Still trying to understand these strange creatures. Most of the other rational sentients believe these irrational and self destructive creatures should be eradicated for the safety of the universe. I say they are cute and lovable. Call me crazy...

spmahn2 karma

Why was the decision made for the second Toejam and Earl game on Genesis to be a more typical platformer compared to the original that was more of an open world adventure type game?

ToejamGreg7 karma

ToeJam and Earl 1 did well in the market, but it took a while to pick up steam, it was a word-of-mouth propelled game. SEGA's marketing department was concerned at first that it wasn't going to sell well, so they asked us to change direction and make the sequel as a platformer. We were already 3 or 4 months into building a sequel based on game one and we shelved that work and made a platformer instead. So in a way, Back in the Groove is the sequel that never happened, I've been wanting to complete that loop for 25 years!!

Snorb2 karma

How much can you tell us about ship customization in Starflight 3?

ToejamGreg3 karma

We're still in pre-production, and we have some cool ideas and have been discussing things but we would love to know what types of customization you (and the community) would like to see. No final decisions have been made so the skies the limit in that regard!

Hold_my_Dirk1 karma

Just wanted to let you know that Toe Jam and Earl was one of the games my brothers and I bonded over most as a kid. Unfortunately, as the youngest brother, I was often stuck watching. So excited for Back in the Groove and more excited that all three of us can play! A couple things about multiplayer. Will it be okay to play with three players or should we find a 4th person to play with us? And will all four players have to be on separate computers or could we have two people on the same computer while the other two are on separate ones?

ToejamGreg2 karma

So the idea of multiplayer play is really at the core of this game. It might be fair to say there is nothing we care about more! With that in mind we've tried to make it as flexible as possible so you can play with any number of players up to 4 and in any combination of those players being local or remote. Players can also join or leave games at any time and you can play with just your friends or with people on the internet. This is of course true for the PC. We are still assessing what we can do on console given the various limitations.

And yes 3 player play is gonna be awesome!

reamo051 karma

Are we ever going to get an old time feeling, new Toe Jam and Earl?? The one on Xbox was okay, but the Sega versions were just amazing!

ToejamGreg2 karma

Aw yeah, there's a new one coming in the next few months -- keep an eye out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz0jNSB_nLw

laptopaccount1 karma

Hey, thanks for Toejam and Earl! Out of curiosity, what was your inspiration for that game?

ToejamGreg2 karma

Heya! Just check out the answer to the previous question from /u/PCWOverlord and thanks for asking!

JasonsMachete1 karma

Any plans to being Back in the Groove to consoles? It just wouldn't feel right playing on a PC

ToejamGreg9 karma

Yes! We are currently planning on bringing Back in the Groove to all 3 major consoles (sorry OUYA), we want to pass certification before announcing any release dates or anything definative but we are working on all consoles :D

Snearky1 karma

Will Back in the Groove continue to get content updates after released?

ToejamGreg2 karma

That's our hope! It depends of course on how well the game does. We have list of things we are already hoping to be able to do.

YellowS2k1 karma

My cousin and I had a lot of great memories together playing the original Toejam and Earl on Genesis. I don't have any question's but just wanted to say thank you for the countless hours you provided the two of us! If I had to ask a question, it would be, did you know that your games were an important part of people's childhoods?

ToejamGreg2 karma

I never realized how much that was true until we ran our Kickstarter campaign for ToeJam and Earl: Back in the Groove and heard stories and testomonies from the fans.

When we released the original games, it was pre-internet, and of course, it takes time for people to form memories, so.. I didn't realize how much of an impact it had for some people and hearing that really blew me away!

Same is true for my partner in crime Mark Voorsanger -- i think there's nothing more that he and I love than hearing stories like that :) <3

ImRickJameXXXX1 karma

Man I really miss toe jam and earl. It was the one game the wife and I could play together. Any chance or planes to remake that game?

ToejamGreg1 karma

We're working on one right now!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz0jNSB_nLw - coming in the next few months!

oafcmetty1 karma

OMG my brother and I used to love T&E - probably the only non-soccer game we'd play together. Was there every any plans for a T&E themed spinoff TV show or anything? Seems like it'd be a great premise for a cartoon series.

ToejamGreg2 karma

We're doing our best to make this happen. We're working with an agency in Hollywood right now, but Hollywood is slow and unpredictable. I hope to have some good news for the fans about this!

mini6ulrich661 karma

Whose dick do I gotta suck to get TJ&E3 ported to pc?

ToejamGreg2 karma

Haha I'm just going to answer the back half of this question. Mark Voorsanger and I own the IP but SEGA of America owns the code for TJ&E 3. So it's really up to them.

jeffh41 karma

Looking over your Fig Page, it looks like you are making a fresh start. For all of us fans who followed the earlier efforts to make a Starflight III on Starport Central, do you plan to use any of the assets or ideas from there?

ToejamGreg2 karma

Nope! This is a completely different and unconnected project. But I and the others on the Starflight team have no end of appreciation for those amazing fans. Big nod to you if you're listening!!