Sabotage Talks RPG Sea of Stars, Kickstarter Campaign - ArticleEvan Norris , posted on 07 April 2020 / 2,850 Views
Last month, Sabotage Studio launched a Kickstarter for its sophomore project, the role-playing game Sea of Stars. It was funded in under seven hours. A small indie studio from Quebec City, Sabotage made its debut in 2018 with The Messenger, a critically-acclaimed action-platformer that leaned on classics of the genre from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. Sea of Stars, which takes place in the same universe as The Messenger, is likewise influenced by pillars of the 16-bit RPG scene—Chrono Trigger among them.
Heading into the final two weeks of the Kickstarter campaign, Sabotage CEO and Creative Director Thierry Boulanger was kind enough to share his thoughts on the upcoming game (due in 2022) and its grassroots support.
Q. After succeeding in the "Metroidvania" sub-genre, you've pivoted toward turn-based role-playing with Sea of Stars. Why the change?
Thierry Boulanger (TB): It has been the plan ever since the company was founded; to slowly build the team as we learn the ropes of running our own studio, build what credibility we could with a first title we could approach more easily as a start-up, and then get to the dream project!
The pillar around which we build our games is the story they tell. The Messenger was a perfect fit for the action platformer as it had a solo protagonist going running across an island from beginning to end. With Sea of Stars, we are telling the story of a group of adventurers sailing around the world to unravel its mysteries, so the RPG is the natural choice here.
The only thing we’ll never pivot from is the retro vibe and the pixel-art treatment.
Q. You describe Sea of Stars as a prequel story set in the same universe as The Messenger. What kinds of narrative links and Easter eggs can fans of The Messenger expect?
TB: It is designed to be a self-contained adventure, but there will certainly be added value to those who have played our first game. It being so far into the past it is more likely to be about world building and subtle hints at origin stories, but we absolutely want to make the experience fully accessible to newcomers.
Easter eggs (if there are any) should remain completely unspoiled, however.
Q. Speaking of The Messenger, it received high scores from many outlets, including VGChartz. Can you speak to its level of commercial success? Are you able to share sales figures?
TB: It didn’t sell a million copies, but we were certainly blessed with a very good reception, enough to allow us to be able to undertake the next project without financial stress. Being in Québec City where the cost of living is relatively low compared to our neighbors in Montréal probably helps a lot too!
Q. According to the Kickstarter campaign, Sea of Stars is a turn-based RPG "inspired by the classics." Which classics influenced you the most?
TB: The short answer is “all of them”. A top five would probably be Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, Lufia 2, Illusion of Gaia and (brace for unpopular opinion) Secret of Evermore.
Q. What led you to Kickstarter for Sea of Stars? What are the benefits of crowdfunding? What are the risks?
TB: Our goal was validation. Reinvesting all the gains from our first title, which could statistically very well be our only profitable title ever, was quite a risk. But it was the plan nonetheless, because the belief in the team and the idea was just that strong at the studio.
So we set out to present the idea with a funding goal that was low enough to be reasonable - you can’t ask for even 10% of what it actually costs to make a game with 16 people over 3 years, these figures simply don’t make sense for an individual and we respect that, but we still wanted to see a response big enough to feel confident that there would be people to play Sea of Stars in the end if we committed to it.
We couldn’t be more thankful for the reception so far.
Q. Can you tease any upcoming stretch goals?
TB: No, but everything has been so crazy that I don’t see why not. We’ll be announcing the final stretch goal soon, which is a DLC free for all backers. We were already planning on getting to work on a first DLC as soon as the game released and we were done with other stretch goals. If we reach this last one, it will be free for everyone who backed the project.
Q. Finally, any early plans for a physical release of Sea of Stars once it lands in 2022?
TB: At this time we just confirmed a partnership with Limited Run Games to offer physical copies through our Kickstarter campaign (and later available for pre-order on our website throughout production). It isn’t off the table as an official offer at launch, but it is too early to tell.
I'd like to thank Thierry Boulanger of Sabotage for his time and thoughtful answers, and Tinsley PR for arranging the interview. You can read more about Sea of Stars on its Kickstarter page. You can also check out our review of Sabotage's premier game, The Messenger, here.