Interview: Digitum Software, developer of Absolute Territory
Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Absolute Territory: The Space Combat Simulator debuted a publicly available demo during Steam Game Festival: Summer Edition 2020. At first glance, Absolute Territory's promotional material invokes a nostalgic feeling from space sims of days past. After hours of playing the demo, I was intrigued by how "right" maneuvering in space felt. The experience was further enhanced when I was able to use more advanced flight equipment, that I would not expect a demo to recognize. The experience of managing energy levels in combat and sliding through space with relative ease left a lasting impression on me after the festival.
With questions on my mind, I reached out to the developer, Digitum Software, for information about this game's development and their game festival experience.
Hello, thanks for this interview. It's nice to meet you. Can I ask you to introduce yourself?
Hello, thank you for having me. My name is Dan I.B. Woods. I am an indie developer currently hiding behind the guise of Digitum Software. I love Sci-fi in film, TV, video games, especially space combat action/simulation set in futuristic settings. I also enjoy programming. Combining these elements, I decided to develop my space combat simulator Absolute Territory.
Watching the promotional and test footage of Absolute Territory gives off a nostalgic feeling. What was your inspiration for making this game?
Nostalgia is what has driven me to make Absolute Territory. When development first began, there was no more interest (outside of an indie setting) for space combat simulation games. Rather than wait for someone else to make one, I decided to make my own.
I have a love of Sci-fi. Watching the original 70's Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, Star Trek, Babylon 5 in my youth enflamed a passion within.
I spent many hours playing Wing Commander on my Amiga 500. As time went on, I found that I enjoyed playing this genre, somewhere in between arcade and realistic simulation, which the Wing Commander series hovered around (with the one exception).
TL;DR: A love of sci-fi and video games and the drought in the genre (at the time!).
Before starting game development, Digitum Software created VUME. What type of software is it?
Video Uploading Made Easy (VUME) for YouTube Content Creators. It's a companion app for YouTube, on Windows PC, designed to simplify uploading and publishing videos.
I used to make videos for my gaming channel and found YouTube's service to be lacking in some areas, especially for those who upload content regularly.
VUME's main feature is multiple upload defaults, a feature the competition offers as part of a recurring paid subscription. You can define many defaults for the title, description, tags, etc. for say different topics, or if you are a gamer, video games.
VUME takes this a step further with variables, which you can pass via the video filename to auto-select the template and auto-populate metadata, making each upload specific to the video content. You can say goodbye to copying pasting text and manual edits. VUME includes other features, like auto-posting to Twitter and Tag analytics.
Are there plans to continue software development alongside game development?
The plan is for a Tick-Tock cycle. Tick, let's make an application. Tock, let's make a video game. After Absolute Territory releases, I will re-review that original plan. Currently, I expect to be making further updates and improvements to Absolute Territory after release for some time. You have reminded me I have a bug fix update I need to test and publish for VUME.
On Absolute Territory: one thing that is clear from the promotional material but can also be felt immediately through gameplay is how the ships maneuver. It feels the way I would imagine a more simulator style space game should handle.
I suppose that stems from Wing Commander 1/2 and the I-War series. I loved using the Shelton slide in WC1/2. Hit your afterburner to reach full speed, then turn and pepper your target with hot laser bolts as you slide past them! Fun stuff!
I-War took the physics more seriously and probably provides a more realistic idea of how corvette sized space ships would handle. Slow and sluggish!
After a lot of hard work, I ultimately used Physics to apply forces for rotation and velocity (speed) changes, for example, to correct your forward velocity based on your facing direction. I found attempting realism wasn't fitting for smaller space fighters (imagine dogfighting in the NASA Space Shuttle). Unrealistic force numbers are applied to tighten up the controls, without making it feel too much like flying a fighter jet in an atmosphere.
If I pulled the veil on the force numbers, you would see that the rotation forces are almost as high as the main engines to propel you forward!
The Shelton slide! There's a name I have not heard in a long time. This video demonstrates a unique (and daring) level of maneuverability. How is this possible? What are some of the advantages of flying like this?