Well here we are, a week out from the conclusion of PAX Prime 2013 and the excitement hasn’t died down yet. I’ve wanted to share this one since I got back, but have had to wait as daily life took its course. I’m talking about Mist of Stagnation, the newest game being developed by Osiris Studios. Mist of Stagnation aims to cross the RTS and FPS genres in steampunk flavored, online competitive multiplayer. It’s something that’s never been done before and if the current state of the game is any indication, then it looks like Osiris is just the studio to pull it off. While at PAX I not only had the chance to try the game, but also to speak with Paul, one of the developers . Needless to say, he made a strong case for why Mist of Stagnation is a title gamers should put on their watch list.
What do gamers need to know about Mist of Stagnation?
“What we’ve got here is a first-person shooter with strategic elements, and the gametype we’re showing off today is our airship map. On this map, the players need to capture control points in order to gather resources. Where the strategic elements come into play is with the ‘Commanders’, thes giant mechs. […] Each team has access to one Commander, which is more of a support unit. […] The Commanders take the resources from the control points and use them to upgrade your weapons and equipment. They can also give orders on the battlefield, stuff like ‘go to this point’ or ‘capture this point’, and if you follow orders, it increases the morale of your team. The Commander can then use the morale points of your team to give you temporary boosts like increased speed or better aiming accuracy.”
If the opposing team takes out your Commander, is it just gone? Does the Commander respawn?
“The Commander does respawn and somebody else can jump into it at that point.”
Does that reset the upgrades you’ve spent your resources on?
“No, the upgrades remain, but when the other person jumps in they can completely change the approach to the battle. They can start going down the other upgrade trees and stuff like that.”
How about the rest of the players? How does the game play out for them? Are we looking at class-based stuff? Finding weapons? Load-outs?
“We’re going to have a load-out system. When you spawn you’ll get to choose your load-out: one handgun, one melee, and one rifle. [for rifles] a sniper rifle, a shotgun, and an assault rifle. […] As the match progresses, the Commander will either upgrade those for you, or give you access to the more powerful weapons.”
So you get to grow as the match progresses; there are rewards for being persistent?
So it’s a much more strategic FPS than most of what we’ve seen before? Players will use and encounter many different strategies and tactics rather than the one or two they typically see in FPS games?
“Yeah, and we really try to encourage that. […] As the Commander, players will have to make careful decisions with their resources. Even player re-spawning spends resources. […] they’ll be faced with situations where they’re like ‘do I spend all my resources on that upgrade that could really help us dominate, or should I not risk it because they’ll probably lose that fight anyway?’.
It sounds like you’re trying to make sure that when gamers play this game, they won’t be getting the same experience every time, or even close to that.
“Yeah, that’s the plan! And even our Commanders, specifically the weapons they give out, follow tech-trees. So by the end of the round you won’t be able to fill out the entire tech tree. Each battle you’ll have to decide: ‘Is it more important to go down the grenade line? Do I want grenade launchers? Do I need to upgrade the sniper rifle? Does my team need some up-close melee stuff?’ And you have to make that decision as the battle goes on; You may even find out later that you made the wrong decision for this battle and start going down the other trees.”
That actually sounds really exciting! There’s nothing out there that’s quite like this is there?
“That’s right. A lot of the team really enjoys real-time strategy, so we’re bringing some of that into the game.”
What would you say was the trickiest part of blending these two genres [FPS & RTS] which traditionally have nothing to do with each other?
“I’d say the hardest thing probably was figuring out how to make them both fun. We want everybody to want to be in the Commander suit since he’s the focal point of the RTS elements, but we didn’t want to make the Commander so over-powered that you felt bad about not getting into it. So it’s a tricky balance of making them both fun to play, but not making one more fun than the other.”
Now Mist of Stagnation is a Steampunk game, how has that influenced how the game plays thus far? Where are we going to see Steampunk come into play beyond the environments and general aesthetics?
“As far as gameplay goes, my favorite weapon is the ‘Boiler-Maker’, which is our version of a flamethrower; It shoots out hot steam. Not only can you lay waste to a small area, but the steam also spreads out as it shoots, so you can also use it to cover your team in a retreat or even an advance.”
So you’re really making use of steam power in this game?
Are we going to see more weapons like this?
“We are still in the process of making weapons for the game, but actually for one of the rewards for our kickstarter, one of the higher tiers, you get to work with us to design a weapon for the game.”
How did this genre blend come about? Can you tell me about some of the influences?
“Yeah. We’re all fans of RTS games like StarCraft, and I’m a big fan of the Age of Empire games.
Can you tell me what platforms we’ll be able to play Mist of Stagnation on?
“Yes, at launch we’re aiming for PC and Mac, but we are looking into the next-gen consoles and supporting Oculus Rift. However, none of those are confirmed yet.”
Mist of Stagnation may still be in the earlier stages of development, but based on what I played at PAX and what was revealed in my interview with Paul, I can’t help but look forward to seeing this game when it’s finished!
You can find out more about Mist of Stagnation by Osiris studios by checking out their pages on Steam Greenlight and IndieDB. You should also keep an eye out for their Kickstarter which should be established within a week of this post’s publishing. One more thing, be sure to watch for their open beta for the game later this year. I highly recommend giving it a try if you have the opportunity.