Interview: ThinkingStars, developer behind D.E.E.P Battle of Jove
Updated: Sep 23
During and after the Steam Game Festival: Summer Edition 2020, Skyward Flight Media has written first impression articles and interviewed the dev teams of flight and space titles that had demos publicly available. D.E.E.P. Battle of Jove visually defined itself with fast, arcade action, transformable spacecraft and bosses and vivid visuals. Our first impression article discusses the three mission demo in more detail.
During the festival, Skyward contacted the development team behind the game to schedule a post-festival interview. In the interview we discuss various aspects of the demo, its reception and future developments with 'Martho' from the ThinkingStars development team.
Hello and thank you for this interview. Could you introduce the ThinkingStars development team?
First of all, a big thank you to Skyward for making this opportunity available to us. We are a game development team from Beijing, and our studio name is ThinkingStars. We are currently working on D.E.E.P Battle of Jove and we have 6 members, including 2 art design, 3 programmer and 1 level design, but of course every member of the team is actually working on the game design!
Our pleasure. How long has the dev team been together? Is D.E.E.P. Battle of Jove the team's first game?
The studio has been around for 5 years, the core members of the team have known each other for quite some time, and we've all been working in the game industry, developing games for mobile in the early days.
In addition to working on D.E.E.P Battle of Jove, there is another game in development called ANNO: Mutationem. It is an action-adventure game that combines pixel characters with 3D scenes and has a strong cyberpunk feel to it.
Skyward gave a first impression of what we believe the story of D.E.E.P. Battle of Jove is, but to clarify, what is the story setting of the game?
Haha, we have to be honest and say that the characters and backstory shown in the current demo are temporary substitutes, and the part about the backstory is just an early idea.
The character set-ups and dialogue of the characters currently seen will be replaced in the official release, and even these character images will be completely replaced in a way that is more appropriate for the current style of game graphics.
One thing that is certain is that players will be able to experience a full single-player story mode where many characters will appear, contain different forces, and take unexpected plot twists.
The game will have a full voiceover. All I can reveal right now is that the plot can remind you of some classic Japanese cartoons.
It's a bit early to ask these next questions, but how many spacecraft are planned? Could you describe some of them?
Currently we plan to offer 5 different classes of spacecraft, including Scout, Interceptor, Fighter, Bomber, Gunship totaling 5 types.
The scout class is the fastest and most agile, but is nimble, weak in armor, and has fewer missiles to load.
The Fighter class spacecraft is the most suitable for dogfighting as it offers a well-balanced flying and handling experience and can be loaded with a wide range of weapons.
Bomber class spacecraft are slower flying and less agile in steering, but capable of carrying a greater variety of missiles and more powerful Armour.
The fourth craft of the demo was called the Beatle. It was unavailable to fly, so could the team tell us about it? It looks really heavily armored!
It's a Gunship class Spacecraft, which will be a bit bulkier to handle. It can be equipped with more types of Guns and Missile, and has great firepower. Players will be able to fly it in some specific levels.
Strike Mode on the Firefly-MKII in the demo was very interesting. Do other spacecraft have this ability or similar modes to transform?
Originally we were only planning to add a Strike Mode to the Fighter class, as only Flight Mode would limit the player's experience to more possibilities, such as more flexible panning control, but also exploration and item scanning in Strike Mode.
Since we received a lot of inquiries from players during this Steam Game Festival about similar questions about Strike Mode, we've decided that players will definitely want other planes to have similar modes, so we're going to plan for all other classes of spacecraft to have a more unique transformation, but it will be different from the Fighter's Strike Mode, so we'll keep you posted as to what it will look like.
Staying on this subject, the boss battle in demo mission 3 used transformation well to both provide a challenge but also give visual cues to players to show their progress during the battles. Are there other bosses in the game that transform?
Yes, we want to make that giant battleship boss, but we also want the player to quickly understand that this giant battleship has a weak point to attack; a flurry of attacks is definitely not an option. In order to keep the player's attention, we'd like to add a few more variations at different stages of the battle to keep the excitement going. So with the addition of the transformation design, Nintendo's Star Fox has actually inspired us in this regard. We'll also have some bosses in the game that have similar designs, but will definitely be different from demo. And don't forget, we also have the Ace fighter bosses, so players can get a good taste of the intense dogfight.
Ace pilot encounters! This is an unexpected addition. How is the initial testing with enemy Ace pilots going?
Ace Pilot is actually the first type of enemy boss we considered making. We prototyped the Ace Pilot before we made the Dreadnought boss!
Since the demo showed off a boss character so well, I had expected more bosses but not Ace pilots. Can players anticipate something like 2 vs 1 or 4 vs 1 encounters against enemy Aces?
I'd say all of these scenarios should happen, and there will definitely be a 1 vs 1 situation, where the Ace pilot that comes along will be the toughest.
Of course there will also be Ace pilot squadron situations, where it will be 1 vs 2 Or more situations. The player will also have the assistance of teammates.
There will be 5 different forces in the game, each with their own Dreadnought, as well as an Ace pilot.
Is there an idea about how many levels the game will have?
We plan to offer at least 20 mission levels, and more challenging missions. It takes about 10-15 hours for the player to finish the campaign mode, depending on the difficulty.
The sample of the ship customization in the demo was good. The Steam page mentions more parts can be upgraded or changed in the full release of the game. What are some of these parts? How can they be unlocked?
In addition to weapons, you can customize your own body modules and enhancement chips. The body module can be divided into three parts: wings, engine, and cockpit, which can be customized by the player. These modules will not only affect the performance, but will also change the appearance of the Spacecraft.
WING Module: Affects armor performance, shield recovery and other related attributes, missile lock ability, attack power and other related attributes.
COCKPIT Module: Affects armor performance, shield recovery and other related attributes, missile locking ability, attack power and other related attributes.
ENGINE Module: The engine section mainly affects the acceleration and maximum speed related attributes of the fighter.
Enhancement chips can be installed in the above body modules to enhance existing properties.
Players can progressively unlock them in Tech-Tree by acquiring Credits.
Was the usual Six Degrees of Freedom seen in space simulators left out to keep this game more accessible?
Yes, we hope that casual shooters will also accept this current mode of control, and we will also find a way to add vertical and horizontal movement as well, so that we can still retain the full 6DOF mode of control.
How was Steam Game Festival: Summer Edition 2020 for the team?
Our team was very excited to be a part of Steam Game Festival this year, and many of our players gave us encouragement and valuable feedback. One of the things that touched us was a father and son who played the demo and then wrote a long review for us, saying It's been a long time since they've experienced such a cool space shooter, and they said they're looking forward to the final product. Wow, that makes it all worth it.
If I may ask, what is some of the feedback or suggested changes the team received? Have the team’s plans changed after the festival?
As already mentioned, many players want other spacecraft to have similar strike modes. I think our development team will be working on that soon. And there's the fact that in addition to the space scene levels, we're going to have levels on the surface of planets, in canyons, in skyscrapers and jungles. We've already completed some of these, and when the time is right we'll publish them to let you know.
The team's plans haven't changed, more fighters, more levels, more exciting boss fights everything is in intensive production and hopefully we'll be able to meet you all soon.
Our final question is about another unexpected twist: the team introduced concept art for anthropomorphic animal characters. There was a public poll about it, which is a great way to get feedback, but how does the team feel about potentially making these character changes? It seems like it would be a fun change of pace.
Haha, glad that was mentioned! One of the greatest joys of making indie games is actually the variety of situations you can try.
The flight theme itself is a bit more niche than other types of games, and we wanted to expand the group of players we could attract, and we didn't want to make the game too serious, so it might be a good idea to add anthropomorphic animals, because after all, we all love animals, right?
Of course, maybe it'll end up with both human and animal characters.
I’d like to give our thanks to the ThinkingStars development team for this interview and for their work on DEEP Battle of Jove so far.
Thanks to Skyward for providing such a valuable opportunity to let our readers know about our game.
If you are interested, you can download our free demo on steam and try it out! Please add to your wishlist, if you like the game. Currently, our development team is working hard on it and we hope to see you all there soon!
About the Interviewer
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.