Interview with Chasing Carrots on Cosmonautica

In this week’s interview with an indie developer, we catch up with producer Josef of Chasing Carrots, creators of space trading game Cosmonautica. It’s a small studio where everyone wears a lot of hats. Josef, for one, does PR, marketing, contracts, game testing, and submissions for festivals on top of production related stuff.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us about Cosmonautica and your Studio, Chasing Carrots. Could you tell us a little about how Chasing Carrots started?

Chasing Carrots started as a side project of our two founders Patrick and Dominik in 2009, where they came up with the idea for the studio’s debut title Pressure. The company was then founded in July 2011 with some talented programmers and crazy animation specialists with strong art backgrounds around the vision of producing pure digital fun. Our team size varies between 7 to 10 people, with freelancers and interns in mind.

Where did the (rather awesome) name Chasing Carrots come from? How did you go about choosing it as the name of your studio?

The name of the street where the company essentially started has the German word for carrot in it, and since a game developer tries to always motivate the player to keep playing, “to keep chasing the carrot,” our name was born. Also carrots are healthy and of course we like to cook tasty dishes with them.

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What inspired you to make Cosmonautica ? It’s quite different from the usual entries in this genre – an aspect which has really drawn us toward the game.

The idea developed during our so called “Proto-Fridays.” On these days we develop small prototypes and if an idea sticks, we’ll flesh it out and rework it until it’s ready for production. A huge inspiration was Elite II. There wasn’t a real space trading simulation that appealed to us since then and most space sims are too dry and impersonal, so we decided to have the crew as a main element.

If you had to describe Cosmonautica to someone who has never heard of the game and hasn’t yet taken a look at the trailers, how would you do it?

Elite meets The Sims with a quirky touch. And if you don’t know these games I would say it’s a humorous space trading game mixed with elements of life simulation, and you have to satisfy your crew members’ basic needs to start. From that point on you’ll be able to play the game like you want.

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Could you describe the options available to players in running their space company? How flexible is the game in terms of choosing your own path?

As a player you’ll be able to play our campaign or the endless game, where you write your own stories as you play, because as mentioned before you can choose your own path as long as you fulfil your crew members’ needs. You can play as a trader, pirate, bounty hunter, shuttle service or a mix between these elements. It’s your decision how you equip your ship.

How much interaction will players have with their crew, and how much impact does the crew have on the eventual success or failure of the player?

The interaction with your crew members will be limited, but the crew’s impact on failure and success is huge. In order to succeed you’ll need a balanced crew to keep your ship up and running. Sure you can adjust your crew members’ work shifts and maybe some more, but they have their own mind, and besides working for you they have to satisfy their needs on their own.

Would you mind explaining the public challenge system to our readers? How will it work, and how can players measure themselves or their skill against their friends?

The challenge system is still in its early stages and a lot can change for that. But in general, you will be able to create an objective everyone has to finish and then play that challenge against your friends or anyone else. Every challenge will have a highscore and you’ll be able to compare how everyone did during that challenge.

There’s an idea to integrate challenges seamlessly into your single-player game, so you can decide on which part you’ll lay your focus.

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Will Cosmonautica have any form of multiplayer component, either now or in the future? We’re especially interested in games within this genre which explore co-operative play.

The challenge system is sort of an asynchronous multiplayer, but other modes may come to fruition in the future. I mean we know how to do co-op since we did that in our first game Pressure, but with Cosmonautica we’re focusing on the single-player side and then let’s see. But if there is enough demand from our community, we would be more than happy to add more stuff to the Cosmonautica universe.

Players usually identify themselves by the ship they fly – will this ship be upgradable? Can you equip it with different modules, weapons, etc? Is the player able to purchase additional ships, or will you always ‘own’ and fly just one?

Well, you’ll be able to give your ship a name. Regarding your own ship, you will always fly just one ship, but you can choose from different ships and ship classes. As a player you will be able to upgrade the rooms and it’s completely up to you, how you place the rooms and which rooms you buy for your ship.

A question I always ask when games involve spaceships: will there be carriers?

There could be some sort of carriers, but for now it’s hard to tell to what extent. Since there’s only the idea for something like that, but for now we’re working on lots of different ships. And if we don’t get to carriers before release, that doesn’t mean that we can’t add them in later.

What sort of challenges should players expect to face during an average gaming session?

Besides your crew and fulfilling their needs a lot of things will challenge the player. Crew members can get sick, pirates might attack you and lots of random encounters that have yet to be disclosed ;)

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The game heavily utilises humour to be quirky, different and entertaining. How do you keep the humour fresh for players and ensure it doesn’t get ‘old’ after a while?

Currently we’re working hard on bringing as much variety into everything as we can. The theme, the style and what comes with it, is quirky by nature, but there’s a bit of seriousness to all of that. So you’ll be able to play pretty normally and have some good laughs, that’s our intention. We’ll have a really funny campaign in Cosmonautica, but the player can choose to play freely and write his own story. We think trying out different things like crew and room combinations and ships throughout the game will be enough to keep it fresh.

What activities are there in the game for players besides trading, space combat and exploring?

Researching new rooms, ships and of course the crew management. While challenges and quests combine aspects of different activities. You can choose to be a shuttle service, a bounty hunter or a pirate. But we still have some things up our sleeve for post release.

What is the one feature you’re most proud of in Cosmonautica and you feel will be a huge selling point to potential players?

Lots of space simulations are pretty serious and dry, that doesn’t make those games terrible games, but we felt it was time for something different. Our fresh approach regarding this genre brought great feedback so far and this uniqueness is our selling point. We’re also really proud of our visualisation of the solar systems and our overall look and feel.

If you had all the time and money in the world, what feature would you love to add to the game more than anything else?

Strategic ground missions on different planets.

Thank you very much for your time, it was an absolute pleasure speaking with you and we look forward to the final version of Cosmonautica !

Thank you for this opportunity to tell something about our game. Keep up the great work and hopefully we’ll speak again.

the author

Managing Editor of ManaPool, Peter lives in York, UK and is a great fan and master of turn-based strategy games. If he isn't playing one of those, you'll probably find him in a role-playing game instead. He's definitely not afraid to provide a straight up opinion on any game and has a strong like for indie developers. We all start small, after all.