Interview: Daniel Irish Discusses Hardware: Shipbreakers, Shows Off Concept Art, and Explains How Homeworld Changed His Life

By Masoud House

April 14, 2013

I was a big fan of Homeworld when it released in 1999. I first played it on my first computer via a demo, and it was one of the first real-time strategy games I’d ever played, alongside Ages of Empires and Populous: The Beginning. Homeworld‘s use of full three-dimensional movement and gameplay were both breathtaking and intriguing, making both the gamer and sci-fi geek in me giddy, and it really set the bar for what I expected out of future strategy games.

So when I recently found out about Hardware: Shipbreakers, I was ecstatic to hear that much of Hardware‘s Blackbird Interactive team were the same developers who were apart of Relic Entertainment, the Studio that gave us Homeworld.

One such member–Daniel Irish, the producer of the critically acclaimed Myst series and Homeworld 2–agreed to an interview with DualShockers to give us a hint of what Hardware has coming, why he’s excited about the game, and a look at the concept art Hardware is being designed with (which you can view after the interview in the gallery below).

Masoud: How much of a role does Hardware’s megacorporation Long March Industries play in the game?

Daniel Irish: I can’t talk very much about the depth of this fiction at the moment; suffice it to say LMI plays a significant role in player motivation. We can talk all about this element in just a few more weeks as it comes together. But I can confirm that everything the player does is with the “hardware” created by LMI.

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M: How has Homeworld‘s success factored into the development of Hardware?

DI: One of the reasons why I joined forces (again) with the team at Blackbird is because I was a huge fan of Homeworld back in the day. In 1999, I was the producer for the Myst franchise, working on Myst III: Exile at the time. This game Homeworld came out and I was just stunned at the depth of the fiction, the quality of the experience, the engagement and gameplay and overall production value. A few years later, I joined Relic as EP for the very franchise I fell in love with.

Who knows where my life and career would be if I had not played that game? I’m certainly glad that I did since joining the team at Relic was one of the most amazing and awesome experiences of my life at that time. Even though I am friends with the founders of BBI, I still consider myself lucky to be trusted with yet another “epic” IP and be charged with leading the team responsible for delivering a quality experience to the fans yet again.

It’s kind of ironic in how a small thing, like buying and playing a game can change your life, huh?

So that’s one aspect of how Homeworld’s success has factored into the development of Hardware — it brought together a great team of developers and IP visionaries and together we’re onto our next chapter.

M: Is Hardware’s universe related to Homeworld’s at all?

DI: Is there a connection to Homeworld in our game? It’s a personal connection only — for myself and for many others who came to be good friends, colleagues and developers of award-winning, commercially successful game franchises as a result of that one game. But this is the next chapter of what we can do together.

Hardware: Shipbreakers shares some DNA with Homeworld for sure, but any gameplay connection to that IP is purely stylistic at most. We’re inspired by that franchise and all that it delivered to fans over the years, but today it is a new world, new business models and new player expectations. We’re planning to deliver on a new promise of an awesome RTS experience set in a unique sci-fi backdrop of deep fiction. Just like Homeworld was groundbreaking in its day, Hardware is being setup to usher in the next era of RTS revolution.

M: The treasure hunting theme of this game is easily reminiscent of the California Gold Rush. How does the story and theme of treasure hunting factor into the Hardware experience? And is there any resource gathering besides the hunted treasure?

DI: We’re going to talk about the fiction in more detail in just a few weeks. In the meantime, watch for our next trailer where “at last, we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi…”

Oh, I mean where we can show more of this off.

We’ll talk more about that after the gameplay reveal that’s coming up soon. Stay tuned!

M: Homeworld revolutionized the RTS with its fully functional 3D mechanics, story, and soundtrack. How does Hardware seek to innovate the genre?

DI: Hardware seeks to innovate and usher in a new era of RTS gameplay by using our terrain technology as a backdrop of fun gameplay. The same way that Homeworld ushered in the era of pure 3D RTS in space, we’re expecting hardware to innovate gameplay and style with its massive terrain and opportunity for meaningful choices for the players.

M: How big is the world of LM-27? And how diverse the environments? How much does the terrain affect gameplay?

DI: The world of LM-27 is huge. But we’re focusing the gameplay in on a few key areas which are particularly interesting. More to talk about this after our gameplay reveal in the coming weeks.

M: Hardware has been described as having a “massive fleet of vehicles” for players to use. What kind of variety can we expect to see in Hardware’s units?

DI: Pure RTS standards – long range, air units, ground units, short range, fast fire, repair, resourcers, etc. . You name ‘em, we’ve got them coming out of the factory…

M: Hardware has been described as having “social strategy” as a component: how does that factor into the Hardware experience?

DI: The social strategy is a bit of a misnomer as it turns out. It is a game that has both PvE and PvP components. In both game types players can complement the strengths and weaknesses of the other players on their team. In this aspect its social in that it requires player engagement before the gameplay starts. We’re using Facebook to connect with our community and support our fans, but the game does not play on Facebook. Facebook is just the wrong platform for this game and what our players want.

M: What kind of content can we expect to see in the future?

DI: This is a pure trans-media property. Expect to see it in many different forms, but more importantly, lookout for the next trailer which is coming out very soon!

Hardware: Shipbreakers is expected to release on the PC and Mac, and as you read above, big reveals are coming soon. How many of you are Homeworld fans? Are you excited by Hardware? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and check out the gallery below.

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Masoud House

Born and raised in video games and "geek culture," Masoud has been bred off of fantasy worlds his entire life and doesn't see anything wrong with that. He loves RPGs (especially TRPGs), sandbox games, the sci-fi genre, dieselpunk, art deco, and anything that allows him to create. Having graduated from John Jay College with a degree in English and a minor in Creative Writing, Masoud hopes to one day pen the same novels, comics, movies, and video games he enjoys escaping into when the real world gets too boring.

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