Interview : Drifter Developer Founder

We recently had the opportunity to interview Colin Walsh the founder of Celsius Game Studios, and ask him some questions on his upcoming game Drifter, which will be coming to PS4 and Vita.

Drifter is a procedurally generated, open-world sand box, space trading game. The game is literally massive, and in the game, you get to partake in a variety of different tasks. Mining for ore, escaping pirate space ships, or even becoming a pirate yourself, is all part of the Drifter experience.

Q:  What inspired you to create Drifter?

I had always been interested in video games and space exploration and when I was younger I had played quite a few space games such as Frontier, Privateer and Starflight which had inspired me to think about making my own take on the genre. So basically Drifter is a game that I’ve been thinking about making for nearly 20 years or so.

Q: Was PlayStation an easy choice to make when choosing a platform?

I had designed Drifter from the beginning to as cross-platform compatible as possible so apart from being relatively straightforward to port the game to PlayStation I felt it was a natural fit given Sony’s recent moves in trying to help indie developers get their games on PlayStation. Also Drifter had begun life with an eye to launching it on iOS so I felt that given the similar hardware in the Vita it would be a good fit there.

Q: How long has Drifter been in the making?

I’ve been working on Drifter since late 2011. So quite a while!

Q:Will there be any differences between the PS4 and Vita versions?

The gameplay between the two versions will be identical and assuming I can solve the back-end logistics it should even support moving save games between the two platforms. If there will be any differences it will likely involve lower-resolution textures because of the lower amount of video RAM on the Vita and possibly optimizations to ensure the Vita version has smooth and enjoyable gameplay.

Q: Have you had any time to play any other games whilst developing Drifter? If so what’s been your go to game?

Amusingly I often joke that I’m too busy making games to play games but I have had some time to play a few games over Drifter’s rather lengthy development period. My “go to” game is probably Zach Gage’s SpellTower on my iPhone but I have finally gotten a chance to play Dark Souls recently which is quite excellent. Also I play a fair bit of Spelunky on my Vita.

Q: When do you think Drifter will release?

I’m hoping that Drifter for PS4 and Vita will be available before the end of 2014 but that all depends on when the core game is completed.

Q: What’s next for you after Drifter? Any plans for a new game?

I don’t want to reveal anything just yet but I actually have at least two new games that I’m deciding between to work on next.

Q:  What price range do you see the game being ?

I’m currently leaning towards a $9.99 price-point on PSN and assuming it’s feasible I would also like to support cross buy.

Q:  Is their any integration with your friends list via scores or records ? I guess with it being a sandbox game this could be difficult ?

I haven’t really thought deeply about this yet but there could be interesting statistics I could use for scores or records like distance travelled or credits earned. As you say I suspect it will be difficult to make it work well with a game like Drifter but I have been planning on some sort of integration.

Q: How have Sony assisted in getting this game released ?

Sony has been excellent in supporting us in making Drifter. In addition to providing us with development hardware they have also been helping us promote the game to the PlayStation community. I’d also just like to say that their developer relations people, especially Nick Suttner, have all been excellent to deal with.

Q: At what point did you think, this game would fulfil your dream of having a console release ?

I had actually started thinking about bringing the game to Vita in early 2012 but it wasn’t until 2013, after Sony began to actively pursue indie developers I was able to actually realize my dream of bringing Drifter to PlayStation.

Q:  Will you be showing the game at E3 ?

Sadly I was unable to get a demo that I was satisfied with ready for E3 so I’m hoping I’ll be showing it at another event later in the year.

Q: How are you dealing with the port from PC or are Sony dealing with that for you ?

I’m dealing with the port myself. Thankfully my custom 3D engine for the game acts as a layer between the game and the underlying graphics API so it was relatively straightforward to get the game up and running on PS4 and Vita once I was able to convert the low level code to those system’s retrospective APIs.

Drifter is slated to release before the end of 2014

About Nick Linnell

My name is Nick Linnell, and I've been playing video games for a long, long time. If you like what you read here, feel free to check out my own blog with the link below!

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