Posted on Saturday, May 4th, 2013 at 11:12 AM by Ed Prosser
I had the opportunity to have a chat with Luke Hodorowicz about his plans for Banished and his experience in the gaming industry.
Luke Hodorowicz is the one man show behind Shining Rock Software, and has been working on Banished for getting on for two years. Banished is a frontier/settlers era city-building game focused around survival. The challenges in Banished come from the struggle to survive. Can you help your town get enough food? What about clothing? People need to stay warm in the harsh winters.
Banished has gained a lot of attention in the past month or so following the launch and spectacular fall from grace of SimCity. The Banished gameplay videos which Hodorowicz posted to YouTube to catalog the games progress found their way onto Reddit’s /r/SimCity.
Despite Banished being billed as a kind of alternative to SimCity, Hodorowicz says that really, they’re “completely different games.” Although, he does concede that it was good fortune that SimCity’s launch problems were occurring at the time he began publishing gameplay footage from Banished. “SimCity is certainly bringing traffic my way”
Despite Banished being in development for getting on for two years, it actually began life as a completely different game. After Hodorowicz left his job in the games industry after 10 years he says he was looking to learn new things: “I started building my game engine with a different game in mind, a kind of zombie apocalypse Diablo-style game. After about seven or eight months of working on it, the game just wasn’t fun.”
After scrapping the initial game, Hodorowicz turned his attention to making Banished. He says of Banished that “It’s the city-builder that I want to play. It’s supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable to play. It’s not a twitch game.”
That’s certainly true of what we’ve seen of Banished so far. Hodorowicz devotion to the game is clear, it has been a labour of love. According to Hodorowicz, the hardest part of the development process has been the artwork having “no idea” what the game was going to look like when he started.
He says “It took me a week to make the first house look nice. I just work at it till I’m happy with the result. It’s come out much better than I expected.” With one-man or small team indie games, it’s generally accepted that to expect AAA graphics would be ridiculous, given the resources that it takes to generate them.
This is one of the first things which struck me about Banished, that it doesn’t look like it has been entirely developed by one man.
The decision for what era Banished was to be set in was a compromise between taste, art and mechanics. Hodorowicz says “I like other games that are set in that period. I seemed like a reasonable type of art to make, and some of the mechanics to make are obvious. Use stone for building things.”
The current timeline has Banished being released at some point in the latter half of this year. Hodorowicz is planning on a late summer release, but says that if he needs more time to finish the game, then it will simply have to take longer.
Hodorowicz is planning on digital distribution, although he can’t discuss specifics yet, and is looking into “a lot of different avenues”.
In a Q&A published on Shining Rock Software’s website, Hodorowicz has stated that while combat may eventually be implemented into the game, it isn’t guaranteed. Apparently there is a design floating around on paper, but there’s nothing set in stone.
A feature of the game which has the potential to divide the community is the disconnected nature of the game. Each town is completely isolated and doesn’t interact with any other.
There are no plans to have any multiplayer content, players can’t interact with each other in any way.
On the other hand, isn’t that one of the community asked for with SimCity? If there are any complaints with this aspect of Banished, it will be a case of the community not being careful enough with what it wishes for…
Check out Shining Rock Software’s homepage here, and see Banished gameplay below!