Earlier in the week, I had a chance to speak with Hannah about her upcoming title. The following is the story leading up to my Seasteader interview with developer Cosy Goat.
As a fan of classic simulation games, I’ve found the selection of quality products available to be lacking in recent years. Sure, there are a few diamonds in the rough from Kairosoft on mobile platforms, but even they don’t strike that balance between depth and freedom I’ve been looking for.
Imagine my surprise, then, when Hannah of Cosy Goat’s tweet crosses my news feed. She’d posted an update for a game of hers: “Seasteader”. A game in which you start from scratch building a productive seaside town. I’d expressed interest in talking to Hannah, as well as the second member of the two-person development team. Now that the game has launched a Kickstarter and has made its way to Steam Greenlight, that moment had arrived.
I’ll be referring to myself as D and Hannah as H in the following transcript. Questions in bold.
D: Let’s begin with the cookie-cutter question; who are you and what are you making? Fill us in Hannah!
H: I’m Hannah from Cosy Goat. We’ve been working on Seasteader since 2014. It’s a sandbox game that’s something between a city builder and a management strategy. Seasteader takes it’s inspiration from classic city builder games like Pharaoh and Caesar III, and economic and business strategy games like the Theme and Tycoon games. Some more recent games that influenced Seasteader are Banished and the Tropico series.
D: Cosy Goat is a genius name. Is there a story there?
H: There is! I have a rather timid demeanor, and on the first day we met, my now boyfriend compared me to a fainting goat. The goat nickname stuck, and then one day he said I was a cosy goat (heaven only knows why!). When I signed up for Twitter, I couldn’t think of a name, so I used “Cosy Goat” because it had a good ring to it, and it’s just sort of stuck as the company name.
D: That’s actually far more adorable than I thought it’d be!
H: It’s a silly story, but it’s true!
D: But I digress! My understanding is that Cosy Goat is a 2-person development team. Can you expand more upon that? How it began, your main strengths and such?
H: Well, originally the development of Seasteader started as a way to have some fun. This is back in 2014. A few months down the line, the potential behind the game really began to show, and so development was taken more seriously. Two years pass, and now we’re here with a product that’s less than a year from release. It’s been a bit of a challenging journey since we’re both coders with “limited” artistic talent. We’ve hired contractors for bits and pieces, notably for the 3D models for the buildings. That’s actually a big part of why we’re running a Kickstarter campaign. The modest amount we set aside for a budget is all used up, which leaves us in a tricky predicament as far as development goes.
D: I hear you. Game development can be difficult at the best of times, but for a two-person independent team with a need for artistic outsourcing it must be even more-so.
D (Continued): So why Seasteader? What drew you to the sandbox management style simulator? Previous inspirations aside, is the genre something you have a personal appreciation and history with?
H: Well, there was era in the 90s and early 00s when games in these genres were produced with a level of depth that we haven’t really seen much lately. I’m not disparaging modern games. There are plenty of great ones. But simplification for the sake of a broader market seems to have become the norm now. With Seasteader, we’re trying to develop it as a form of throwback to those old games, but with modern technology. That’s not to say that we’ll force players to go hardcore. A lot of the game will automate if you don’t take an active role in micromanaging everything. For instance, you can assign workers to specific buildings based on their skill sets, but if you don’t, they’ll still find jobs on their own. We want to make Seasteader such that players can play it at whatever level of intensity they want. That way we can make both hardcore gamers and more casual gamers happy.
D: That sounds good to me. As laid back as the player wants in the end. You can let the world do its thing or take a more active role in shaping it.
D: Ideally, what would you like to do after Seasteader? Not to disregard the game, but would you look to produce more games in this genre or would you seek to expand upon the existing title? Just general aspirations for Cosy Goat, in essence.
H: Exactly. All of our design choices focus around one thing, and that is for the game to be fun. After Seasteader is out, we’ll support it as long as people are playing it. We’ll also do everything in our power to make it as easily moddable as possible. Modding is another way that players can fine tune the game to be perfect for them, as well as extend the general life of a game. Setting Seasteader aside, we can’t wait to start work on new games! We’ve had plenty of ideas floating around, and we think they’d make for fun games. We’ve been resisting temptation to start work on them while Seasteader is in development, but once it’s out, we’ll dive right into them.
D: It’s good to know you have a solid plan for longevity in the game. As you’ve said as well, at the core the game has to be fun, so I’m looking forward to getting involved with and hoping that turns out to be the case.
D: As reductive as this may sound, I really love the way the water looks in Seasteader. What would you say, at this point, is Seasteader’s strongest point as somebody as close as you can get to the project?
H: This is touching on something I mentioned earlier, but I think Seasteader’s strongest point will be its ability to be molded into whatever kind of game a player wants. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but we’re definitely doing everything we can – from hard-coded game mechanics to easy moddability – to make it as versatile as possible.
D: I understand! So let’s talk about the moment-to-moment gameplay: how does the game begin? What jobs can you assign to people? Do you develop workers or do they naturally migrate to your place as it grows?
H: The game begins with a blank slate. You have your hub – your central building – floating in the wide open ocean, and a handful of seasteaders waiting for work. Your first task will be to build a construction yard (or several) so that your workers can start erecting your new buildings. Once you’ve taken care of base essentials like food or housing, you can focus on building up progressively more expensive production chains to bring in income for the seastead. Workers will migrate naturally depending on the conditions on the seastead. If you have open housing units and, more importantly, open jobs, you’ll get plenty of newcomers. Of course, as the game goes on, the happiness of the seasteaders will become more important, so you’ll need to take care of secondary needs like entertainment, environment and social.
D: That sounds right up my alley. The needs getting deeper as the game progresses is a smart move. I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.
D: Well I don’t want to keep you for too long from working on Seasteader as much as possible, so is there a final note you’d like to drive home to the audience of My Games Lounge about your game?
D: I’ll be sure to include those details in the article. Well we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us Hannah, myself in particular, and I wish you all the best with Seasteader reaching its goal!
From my perspective, Seasteader seems promising and Hannah comes across as passionate about the project. Time will tell if everything Cosy Goat wishes to do with the game will come to fruition, but I’m holding my breath for a simulation game I can sink my teeth in to. Thank you for reading, ladies and gents. Be well!