Innerspace Exclusive: Interview with Creative Director

Interview with Creative Director at PolyKnightGames on their aerial adventure through a series of interconnected sphere's called Innerspace.
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Allow me to introduce you to Innerspace; a series of connected, inverted spheres that are completely uncharted–and they are all yours to explore. Your aircraft is a well equipped explorer with crazy potential just lying in wait.

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In Innerspace, you are the cartographer and the lore keeper of the long-forgotten civilizations of these water-coated spheres.

While exploring the bubbles that make up Innerspace, you may come across relics that grant you insight to the history of the sphere and fill in bits of the map. Your travel companion, the archaeologist, will accept relics in exchange for upgrades to your aircraft. You may even catch a glimpse of monolithic creatures that rule over their bubbles as demigods.

Innerspace‘s aerial engine wasn’t designed to simulate realistic flying; instead, the plane flies free from the effects of gravity to focus on exploration. The game even features a number of advanced flying techniques that, once mastered, should prove invaluable throughout the game.

Whether exploring the skies or diving under the waves, Innerspace promises a wealth of sights to see in a fantastically imagined world, the likes of which have never crossed my path before.

After witnessing it get Kickstarted rather successfully last month, I decided to contact PolyKnightGames for an interview to see how Innerspace is shaping up in the mind of Creative Director, Tyler Tomaseski.

For days, I dug around their pages trying to find every scrap of info that I could about the game. I have to hand it to PolyKnightGames, they know how to withhold just enough information to leave my head spinning. Definitely not the worst case scenario.

Innerspace Exclusive Interview with Creative Director

Interview with Creative Director

It took some time to come up with ten solid questions that I really wanted to ask Creative Director, Tyler Tomaseski. I’m extremely gracious for his patience and the time he spent answering my questions. I’m sure they are very busy chipping away at the fine details of the game.

Some of the answers I got back only brought a flood of new questions to mind. Innerspace is different than everything I’ve ever seen before.

Q1: When you find relics in Innerspace, it opens up the option for the archeologist to upgrade your plane. What kind of upgrades can players expect to see from the archeologist? Are upgrades dependant on what you find? In other words, can you grab obscure relics first to nab different upgrades, therefore changing the way that the game progresses?

Tyler Tomaseski [TT]: To the latter question, yes. Upgrades are relic dependent, meaning the order in which you find relics will affect your progression throughout the game. We’re planning for some larger upgrades that will increase your interaction capabilities, additionally we want some general upgrades that increase your plane’s maneuverability. We’re planning on tying cooler/bigger upgrades to harder-to-find/get relics.

This really opens up the door for people who want to have a unique experience, and I think it’s great that upgrades depend on the artifact instead of relying on something silly like ‘artifact points’. I’m excited to see what kinds of upgrades will make it into the game!

Innerspace Flying Exclusive Interview

Q2: Will you be adding any customization options for planes? Like if I wanted to paint my plane black, give it blue feathery wings, make it shoot pink lasers, and have a kite trailing behind it, could I do that? If not, do the upgrades you acquire make an apparent impact on your plane? 

TT: I think we’d love to move in that direction, but for now we’re planning on having an unlockable set of skins and a variety of planes that you can unlock. The vessel of travel is important, but our emphasis is definitely on the world. That level of customization is something we’d love to do, but it’s on the back-burner right now. 

Any level of customization is important, and makes each experience feel more personal than the last. Even just a few skins to start out with is a lot more than some games present to us.

Q3: You mention that picking up relics will fill in parts of your map, however, I haven’t seen any indication of a map at all. How have you designed the in-game map to work, for a game with such unique spatial features as this one?

TT: Yes! It’s a difficult problem that we’re still working out all the details on, it’s why you haven’t seen it (nice catch!). We’re planning on showing an intersection of a globe, the first prototype of it was finished during the Kickstarter, we decided to hold off on showing it until it’s done. That said, it isn’t done yet, but here’s an exclusive screenshot of the prototype! We plan on Relics unlocking the region surrounding where they were located, so don’t search areas for relics you’ve already explored (encouraging the player to explore blacked out areas of the map).

The unlocked chunks aren’t shown in this screenshot, as we’re developing the tools for that specific feature right now.

The Innerspace bubbles definitely have interesting shape. I wonder if you will be able to rotate the map and examine it in a 3D space. Those grooves on the right side of this map look like places where land juts out of the waters.

Q4: I saw the whale companion. He’s cute as a button! Are you planning on adding any extra companions? What would your personal travel companion be? 

TT: Yes! If by personal travel companion you mean the original one you start off with, you will begin with none. You’ll find companions as you explore further. The one I want personally? I’d love to make something inspired by the MAGs from Phantasy Star Online for myself. The design for the robots in one of our smaller projects, Shroud, was inspired by these. We have a few companions to design based on campaign donations, and we’ll design further ones based on gaps left by the ones we design there. 

Companions are nice to have by your side, especially in a world like Innerspace where your only other companion in sight is an old archaeologist only interested in relics.

Q5: I see that you list the special invisible pillars in this game as enemies. To me, this says that the game won’t be seeing any true combat, but rather estranged obstacles meant to boggle your progress. This is a refreshing spin-off of the average, kill-able video game enemy. What gave you the idea to add enemies like this, and what other types of enemies do you have plans for, other than the pillars?

TT: It’s something one of our artists, Steve Zapata, has loved the idea of for the past few months. That said, you’ve caught directly onto something we’re intentionally doing. We’re trying to subvert the usual dog-fight mechanics of flying games and substitute it with more abstracted or unique interactions. We’re a fan of designing as you progress, so you can truly find what would be most entertaining in that moment, so we try our best not to plan everything out before hand. So I have a lot of ideas, but only a few things we’ve definitely planned.

Innerspace Enemy Pillars Exclusive Interview

One idea was a creature that tracks your progression, keeping you from getting behind it because it always follows you. You’ll have to use cover to juke the creature out, utilizing your stalling mechanic to quickly change direction while under-cover. Hopefully that makes sense!

I’m excited to see how these new enemy designs pan out. This is an extremely refreshing take away from the painfully mortal enemies that make their way into so many games.

Q6: Demigods in this game look amazing. Seeing those gifs of the Mountain was absolutely awe-inspiring, but also sent chills up my spine. That crustacean is so big it could probably get my plane stuck between its teeth. That being said, will any of the demigods pose a threat to your vehicle?

TT: Yes! But only if provoked / it depends. An example would be that specific crustacean: his mouth is under-water and it would be a logical step that his diet is based on water-dwellers. Also, you’re pretty small in the scope of things, so unless you begin to pose a serious threat it would have no reason to even bother with you. Start pumping rounds into it and I’m sure it’ll throw a bit of a temper-tantrum in your direction, though!

Innerspace Exclusive Interview Demigod The Mountain

We want to create an interesting and logical world. So if it makes sense for the demigods to attack you, they will. That said, they are big… just crustation’s walking/moving legs could swat you out of the air.

Discovering demigods like this as you make your way around the bubbles of Innerspace is one of the things that appeals to me about the gameplay, here. I would probably fly around each demigod for a time, trying to figure out how they react to different situations. Interactive gameplay experiences like that in such a passive-aggressive game are really beautiful.

Q7: Since you’re exploring the insides of some inverted bio-system, it was noted that gravity is pulling directly away from the center. How will this affect your plane as your fly, or affect some of the special flying manuvers, like Diving or Stalling?

TT: Gravity only affects the plane in a few specific times. We want the player to be able to fly without sense of direction, so the concept of “down” never matters. In some preliminary testing we found that flying was much easier and entertaining in the sphere if directionality didn’t matter. Gravity does affect you when diving and it also begins to affect you slightly if you stall long enough.

When it comes to controls, first and foremost we prioritize intuitive controls. We’re making a flying game, not a flying simulator.

Q8: Are there any ‘home ports’ in the game, where the player goes to sell items (if applicable) or get upgrades for their plane? Or does the archaeologist travel with you, in your plane?

TT: The plan is that you can “ping” the archaeologist to find his current location. The archaeologist doesn’t follow you, although he is always in the same innerspace/planet as you. He has his own motives and his own exploring to do!  As far as a “home-port” goes, when you interact with the archeologist your plane will automatically circle his ship without you having to control it. Upgrades and changes are made here. It’s a bit gamified, but we like the simplicity and speed of it. We’ll be exploring options though.

I’m assuming the pinging feature will make full use of the map when it’s more fleshed out. I wonder at the types of things the old archaeologist would find interesting enough to explore!

Innerspace Destructible Evironments Exclusive Interview

Q9: You mention the environment is moldable/destructible with the wing blades and the laser guns. How in depth does this feature go? What kinds of things can you destroy or slice into? If you could expand upon this feature, how would you do so?

TT: We’re planning on having a structures with “degraded” or aged layers that can be cut away. This can reveal underlying structures/paths. We’re also really loving the idea of an ice-level where you have to cut your way through the ice to travel under-water. It’ll be limited to a few specific interactions, we definitely aren’t developing Battlefield Bad Company.

The game isn’t so much about the chaos you’re inducing, so we want to limit the destructible environments to a few points where they are most effective. This way, the interaction you have with the environment stays significant and rewarding, instead of meaningless and destructive.

I’m very interested in how this will play into unlocking hidden areas or artifacts. I see a lot of potential in finding hard-to-get-to areas through camouflaged environments.

Q10: What was the fuel for the ideas that were poured into this game? What sparked the initial idea? What brought in the idea of Demi Gods and enemies-that-don’t-really-hurt-you? Why inverted interconnected spheres? I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

TT: Thanks!  It’s a huge list, but I’ll give a few.  Inverted spheres come from a prototype of a game I made, an adaption of the novella, Flatland.  Additionally, inverted spheres are also rooted in Super Mario Galaxy and, the anime, Gurren Lagann.  There wasn’t a big starting point for it, just a neat idea, but that was the book I was reading, the game I was playing, and the anime I was watching at the time.  Demigods just come out of my deep love for Shadows of Colossus, Dragon’s Dogma, and Dark Souls (my three favorite games).  The passive nature of them is just rooted in the design/brainstorming process.

We spend a lot of time overthinking things. Most of our ideas come from that.  I think that makes them less rash/big and more inspired.

Innerspace Majora's Mask Moon Exclusive Interview

Closing Thoughts

Innerspace, is definitely a game I’m going to look out for. The team over at PolyKnightGames is doing a stellar job designing a totally unique experience from the ground up. I can’t wait to see how this game will look by the time it is nearing completion.

If you would like to support these indie developers, be sure to check out their website to learn more.

What are your thoughts on Innerspace so far? Do you find its intuitive and unique gameplay elements appealing? I can’t say I’ve ever seen a game attempt anything quite like this.

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Autumn Fish
Autumn is a freelance writer that grew up on GameFAQs walkthroughs trying to suss out how to get through her favorite PC and Nintendo games. These days she's a capable game pioneer, mapping out guides and tips so players of all skill levels can join in on the fun.