In March 2016, Black Lab Games set out to develop a 3D space strategy game in the universe of Battlestar Galactica. Set during the time of the first Cylon war, Battlestar Galactica Deadlock tells a new story while being well established into the show’s lore. Not wanting to assume all players of Battlestar Galactica Deadlock know the background of the show, they tried creating an experience where fans can find key elements and characters of the SYFY series they love so much.
With that in mind, we reached out to the developing team of Battlestar Galactica Deadlock to find out more about the game, its creation, the unique challenges brought by developing a game based on established IP [Intellectual Property] and the release of the game.
Having recently released the gameplay in a live event on July 12, 2017, Slitherine told us they have been “Blown away by the reactions from both Battlestar galactica fans and gamers who may not have caught the series before,” adding the development team are all “huge fans of the series who set up a game that was faithful and honest to the show”.
BSG-M: Are there any Battlestar Galactica easter eggs you can tell us about without spoiling where or when they show up in the game?
Slitherine: There’s a few call backs to the 1970’s series in there, following up from the precedent set by the show in the Razor and Blood and Chrome web-series. The fans will certainly understand the origins of the design of the Artemis-class ships and we’ve brought back the classic double-saucer Basestars. There’s also a couple of family connections in the cast of characters (look out for some familiar surnames) and even a considerably younger (but still irascible) Doc Cottle.
BSG-M: Will fans be able to identify other ships in the fleet?
Slitherine: You’ll see the first wave of Jupiter-class Battlestars (though Galactica is currently missing-in-action on deployment at the start of the campaign). You’ll also see Mk1 and Mk2 Vipers, original Cylon Raiders and Heavy Raiders and Cylon Basestars.
BSG-M: What about voice talent or music from the show? Has any of that been taken into consideration for the gameplay?
Slitherine: The Sound Effects of the guns and engines are all from the re-imagined series. The voice-over cast are all new talent, and do a great job! The music was composed by Ash Gibson-Grieg to be very much evocative of the show.
BSG-M: What are the strengths of this game and in which ways does it differ from other games in the same genre or universe?
Slitherine: The battle gameplay is a special combination of real-time and turn-based strategy. You have as much time as you want to plan out your fleet actions such as setting headings, prioritising targets, launching Vipers and/or Missiles. But once you’ve done your planning, it’s the commanders of the ships that fight for you. After a set period of time the game then pauses automatically and you can re-issue orders. The key bit is that your opponent is playing by the same rules at the same time as you which gives the game the strategic depth of a turn-based game whilst also giving the thrill of trying to second-guess your opponents actions and trusting that your ships will hit their targets.
In addition to this, the main single-player campaign is controlled from the War Room where you are in charge of building, equipping and deploying the forces of the nascent Colonial Fleet to defend the 12 Colonies of Man. The design of the system is inspired by the map designed by Jane Espenson and Kevin Grazier. it’s down to the player to work out how best to protect the 12 colonies whilst also taking the fight to the Cylons.
BSG-M: Where there any fans of the original – or 2003 series in the development team?
Slitherine: The whole development team love the show. This whole collaboration started with someone asking Paul Turbett (the lead developer at Black Labs) which SciFi IP he’d most like to work on. He answered Battlestar Galactica and that was the starting point for the whole project. Personally, I grew up watching re-runs of the original series on British TV (I’m not quite old enough to have watched it first time round!) and I’ve really enjoyed diving down into the backstories of the re-imagined series and I’m very proud of my Rear Admiral pins!
BSG-M: Does working on a game with such a developed backstory, set of personalities, universe and fanbase change the perspective of working on this game or is it ‘just like other games’?
Slitherine: There are very unique challenges and benefits on working on an IP that is so well known. The challenge is that you know that there’s lots of people out there who are hugely invested in the series and you’re carrying a lot of their expectations on every decision you make. But on the other side, you’ve got this amazing universe that’s already there with all its stories and background which gives such a fantastic place for new ideas to start from. We’ve also really enjoyed working with NBCU and UPC. They’ve been super supportive of everything we’ve set out to do.
BSG-M: Are there any other games to compare the gameplay with?
Slitherine: There’s plenty of space strategy games out there to compare with. It’s certainly worth taking a look at Black Lab’s previous game Star Hammer: The Vanguard Prophecy, which provided the technical core from which Battlestar Galactica Deadlock could start out from. On the real-time/turn-based gameplay side, there’s some other games in different genres like Frozen Synapse, Endzone or Combat Mission.
BSG-M: The current release date for PC is set for August 31, are release dates for console gamers already known?
Sliterine: August 31 will be the release date for the PC version. We haven’t announced the releas date for Xbox One and PS4 yet, but it will be in before Christmas.
Battlestar Galactica Deadlock Trailer
We would like to thank the Black Lab Games development team, Sliterine Ltd. & Matrix Games’ Marco Minoli for their insights