Recently, we here at XBLIG Reviews had the opportunity to game online with the Cadenza, the developers of Sol Survivor. We enjoyed the game so much, both online and off, that we decided to ask the developers some questions about the themselves, the game and what their future plans are.
XBLIG: Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
CADENZA: Cadenza Interactive is a group of about 10 guys, with a 3 man core of full-time developers. Our part-time developers all maintain day jobs and work when time permits on game tasks. The company started out as a group of friends and has grown together through the events of our first year of development.
XBLIG: What made you decide to create video games?
CADENZA: The core of the Cadenza team were always doing ambitious summer projects throughout high school and college. Whether it was amateur film, CG work or building some contraption, as a group, they’d always found some larger purpose for their time that required a lot of teamwork. The guys gamed together too, and when everyone got done with college, the skills were in place to take a shot at game development. The core guys did a trial work week to see how the team clicked, brought some part time guys in as needed, and here we are! It really is a labor of love.
XBLIG: Tell us a little bit about Sol Survivor.
CADENZA: Sol Survivor is a sci-fi interpretation of the popular tower defense genre. We had some issues with common tower defense tropes and wanted to improve upon them. Our background was primarily Warcraft 3 tower defense games, so we wanted a 3D, stand-alone (i.e. non-flash) game. We also wanted players to be active and engaged at all times, without any “sit-and-watch” time that tower defense games get. With that in mind, we gave players command of “orbital support,” to allow them to aid their towers and mop up any straggling creeps that make it past their defenses. Sol Survivor offers both single- and multi-player gameplay. Single player play puts the player in charge of the Sol Paragon war effort against the evil alien Ascendency who use the souls they reap to power their war machines! Multi-player gives players the ability to play a few different ways with their friends.
XBLIG: Can you give us some details about the different features of online play?
CADENZA: Online play features co-operative and competitive modes to suit any pace or level of experience.
Duo is a co-op mode that allows players to divide up responsibility for orbital support and towers into two different roles. The two players then defend from waves of enemies on any of the campaign maps.
Co-op is a true team effort, where players can share resources gained to varying degrees and must protect a colony with the same shared pool of lives.
Versus is a race to outlast one another, either individually or in teams, against waves of computer generated opponents.
Wars mode gives players the ability to craft waves of enemies for their opponents to deal with in real time. As they do so, they must also create their defenses and orchestrate their orbital support to defend from the waves their enemy crafts for them!
XBLIG: Which is your favourite online feature?
CADENZA: Our favorite mode in-house is Wars. I personally enjoy it for the pacing.
Once you’ve played through the single player game some, you’ll notice just how “twitchy’ the game can feel when you’re juggling support abilities. The pace only gets faster as you are also charged with sending creeps at your enemy. Wars forces you to know what creeps will penetrate your opponents’ defenses and also to balance your resources.
XBLIG: Are there any hints or tips you can give us for the different games in the online play?
CADENZA: In Wars mode, it is critical not to overspend on defense! Some commanders have an easier time in the first two minutes of a wars game, and others come into their true power around the five minute “mid-game” and don’t let up from there. Spend only what that commander needs to get through that stretch in the game, and use the rest for creeps! Also, for the other pre-generated creeps, don’t always focus your fire on one location! Some commanders do best spreading their damage out over time, and some creeps are easier that way.
XBLIG: Do you have plans for a sequel to Sol Survivor?
CADENZA: Right now we see Sol Survivor as an ongoing project. Sequel would be a bit inappropriate, but there will be more content (new maps, etc.) in future for both the PC and Xbox versions.
XBLIG: Can you tell us about the PC release for the game?
CADENZA: The PC release of the game needs to have some UI changes to take it from the console to the PC. Our development team has had both UIs in place in-house, so we’re now taking the stand-in art and design and making it feel more permanent. After that, we’ve got some networking and platform-specific things to work on.
XBLIG: During the online session of play recently, you mentioned about some great news for the company. Can you elaborate on that for our readers?
CADENZA: We’ve signed a release deal with Stardock’s Impulse, one of the largest digital distribution platforms on the PC. We’re really excited about working with them given their reputation and gamer-friendly attitude.
We’d like to get Sol Survivor on any platform that will have us, so there may be more news of this sort in future, if we work hard for it.
XBLIG: What inspired your decision to create Sol Survivor?
CADENZA: The team are all interested in sci-fi to start, so that was a good genre to agree on. We also enjoyed tower defense, and I think the decision to pursue that came from the things we wished existed in other tower defense games or mods we had been playing.
XBLIG: How was the team that worked on Sol Survivor made up?
CADENZA: About half of the team has been together since high school. The other half has come together through college and random happenstance. Our core guys wanted to take the group that had LAN parties and make something big, and that’s what Sol Survivor became. We’ve learned a lot, and we came into it fresh enough that we really had to learn as we went. We’re fortunate to have the group we do. Our full-time guys are exceptionally talented and put their sweat into every line of code or model they produce. Our part-time guys have put hobbies, sleep and many other things on hold to apply their unique talents to the making of this game. We’ve also had a lot of support from family and friends who were able to provide help on the business side of things. It really has been a team effort.
XBLIG: How long did it take to create Sol Survivor?
CADENZA: Sol Survivor was one year in development. We actually showed it publically first at PAX ’09, almost exactly one year to the day of the start of development.
XBLIG: How did it feel to be a DBP finalist and get the opportunity to showcase your game at PAX?
CADENZA: PAX was incredible. We scrambled to get as many of our guys up to Seattle as possible. There was a road trip from southern California to Seattle, and a couple of other guys flew up. Even though we’re still a very small company, it made us feel legitimate. We didn’t place in the money, but the competition showed a wide range of games and I know I speak for the whole team when I say it was an honor to be considered.
XBLIG: What plans do you have for development for other games?
CADENZA: As a team we have dozens of ideas. We’re likely going to whittle down to the ones that suit the strengths of our team over the coming months and run through some prototypes. We fully intend to follow Sol Survivor up with something else!
XBLIG: Anything else you would care to mention?
CADENZA: I personally really enjoy working with the Xbox indies community and the indie games community at large. As a team we also enjoy keeping a community for the game, because we do intend to support this game if we’re fortunate enough to see it grow. Our forums are at http://www.solsurvivorgame.com, and we do everything there from discussing game mechanics to arranging multiplayer games. We also have a twitter (@cadenzagames) and post frequently on the blog posted to http://www.solsurvivorgame.com. The blog details a lot of the production process of the game, as well as some of the mechanics. We try to provide a lot of content about us, about how we do what we do, and about our game for anyone who finds themselves interested.