Rebel Galaxy on PS4: A Backwater Universe

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Rebel Galaxy on PS4: A Backwater Universe

I love space games. And for a long time, it’s been tough out there for people like me. Almost overnight though, it seems we’ve turned a corner. Elite: Dangerous is more awesome with every build, Star Citizen is breaking records, No Man’s Sky is gorgeous and surreal, and Enemy Starfighter looks amazing. I can’t wait to play all of them!

Rebel Galaxy on PS4

Now Double Damage is throwing our hat in the, ring too, but with something very different. We wanted to build a swashbuckling space game, one filled with weird aliens, backwater bartenders, lawless pirates, and epic space battles. A game with a galaxy to explore, characters to befriend or enrage, and the random element that’s been in so many of the games we’ve worked on.

Rebel Galaxy isn’t set in a shiny, modern future — it’s a greasy, rusty place on the edge of the known universe, where the ships are barely holding it together, and the people are, too. It’s a sandbox galaxy where you play the character you want. Are you a devious mercenary, collecting bounties? A crafty trader who hires protection wherever she goes? A pirate, preying on convoys? A roguish do-gooder? Maybe a little of each? You’ll fight, trade, negotiate, escape, explore, scavenge, mine, ingratiate, and intimidate.

We’ve played lots of space-flight games, and they almost invariably involve chasing a reticle, sliding in behind another fighter and blowing them to bits, or making a hectic bombing run on a destroyer.

With Rebel Galaxy we’re flipping that around — YOU fly the big, weapon-bristling ships here, with huge quantities of firepower, turrets, volleys of rockets, and massive broadside blasts. It’s closer to naval combat, if naval combat had lasers, space fighters, shields, and warp-drives and was about ten times faster.

Rebel Galaxy on PS4

You can decimate a group of fighters in seconds, manning turrets or lining them up in your broadsides. You can also assign AIs to the stations on your ship, having them target or prioritize specific enemies. Do you want your particle turret to focus on picking off fighters, or instead to weaken the defenses of larger enemy craft? It can do that while you’re blowing the crud out of a neighboring destroyer.

One of the big challenges of figuring out a new combat system is mapping it all to a controller. We weren’t content to have the old primary/secondary weapon setup — we wanted you to feel like you had a wide variety of weapons and options at your disposal. And we wanted you to be able to actively maneuver yourself to take advantages of the weaknesses in an opponent, or to dodge an incoming volley of torpedoes, or to weave between the derelicts of old ships.

This took a ton of iteration — but the end result lets you steer your ship while rapidly switching between broadsides, or manning an individual turret which smartly locks onto targets. Getting the camera to help you out and to anticipate the targets that you want to be shooting was another big part of the equation — there’s a LOT going on, but we want it to feel natural. Context-sensitive actions were also important to cramming all the functionality we wanted into the controller.

The cool thing about all this is that you really can become very skillful — it’s not just a numbers game. Anticipating another cruiser’s particle blast and dodging behind an asteroid, letting him burn it out on the surface, then emerging from the other side and unloading a flight of heatseekers and puncturing his hull is extremely satisfying!

Rebel Galaxy on PS4

Erich and I have spent a lot of time working on action-RPGs. We worked together on Torchlight and Torchlight 2, and before that Erich co-created Diablo and Diablo II. The funny thing is, in many ways Rebel Galaxy has more actual role-playing in it. The things you say, and the choices you make, have an actual effect on how other people (or aliens… or robots…) interact with you.

A faction system underpins our conversation system. You can hail a merchant and demand he drop his cargo, but the merchant’s faction will remember it. Maybe they’ll send bounty hunters to track you down. Assist the militia, and they might agree to lend a hand with a combat run you’re undertaking. If you beg, that pirate might only take half your cargo!

We have a phonetic matching system, so the conversations are lipsynched, and the characters are expressive. This has been a lot of fun to do, and adds a lot of character to the game.

Backing this up we’ve got a cool blues and rock soundtrack. It sounds weird, but trust us, it works. Hearing that slide guitar kick in while you warp through a nebula is pretty great.

We’re excited to show everyone what we’ve been working on. This has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had building a game. Space games are back, there may even be a lot of them now, but we think we are bringing some genuinely new gameplay to the table.

We’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section. We’ll try to answer as best we can. Thanks!

Comments are closed.


20 Author Replies

  • Looks pretty solid, any idea of when we will see this on PS4?

    • 2015 is about as specific as we’re getting thus far- we’ll get more precise the closer we get to shipping.

  • Im also a huge fan of space games.
    I dont understand why there are no real epic space saga games on playstation.

    Big fights in space with massive gun-ships, smaller fighters, freighters, many weapons, and good story to make sence of it all.
    It would be perfect… except one thing, this game would be great having on ps3 aswell, not ps4 alone.
    We ps3 owners are still loyal customers to playstation.

  • cool! I like space games.

  • Hey Travis,

    This sounds really awesome!

    Is this PS4 Exclusive?

    Please take advantage of the “Speaker” in the controller, Resogun and other games are using it and it adds to the experience and enjoyment. oh, can you talk about how you guys are using the “Touchpad” and the “Light Bar” as well?

    This game will be a day one digital buy for me. I hope you offer a discount for PS Plus members the first few weeks after it launches. Oh, since the PS4 is getting “Themes” I hope you guys would consider doing Themes and also Avatar pictures based on your game.


    Rob aka Graf

    • Hey Rob – no, this one isn’t an exclusive –

      At present I’m not using the speaker or the touchpad (except as a button) – although I might use the touchpad for galactic map navigation (although the right stick would still work)

      If I have time, I might use the speaker specifically for a lot of the computer voice callouts –



  • wow this looks really awesome. I only wish it was also going to be on Vita

  • Looks very very promising! Can’t wait to play it!

  • Rebel……galaxy……..backwater universe……weird aliens…….backwater bartenders…….lawless pirates…….epic space battles……Rebel Galaxy isn’t set in a shiny, modern future — it’s a greasy, rusty place on the edge of the known universe, where the ships are barely holding it together, and the people are, too

    Anybody else thinks this sounds like a Star Wars game, but without the Star Wars license? I’m cool with that, because I loved the original trilogy (not the prequels), but I just wish if you were gonna make an awesome sounding Star Wars game, that it actually be a Star Wars game. We haven’t had a good one in quite a while

  • The first part of the article says FIREFLY to me, which isn’t a bad thing. Looks interesting, cant wait to see more.

  • As a backer of Elite (beta is great!) and Star Citizen I can safely say I’m glad to see the consoles getting some space faring love with No Man’s Sky and now this. Rebel Galaxy sounds like it’s got some great plans so I will definitely keep it on my radar.

    Don’t know if you will be answering questions or not, but if so: Has Elite and Star citizen encouraged some of your design and gameplay choices with all their success so far? Anything you are trying to do a bit differently?

    • I’m a backer on both Elite and Star Citizen – they didn’t directly influence our design decisions, but it did reinforce them, and made it very easy for us to stay away from doing a realistic ‘sim’. We feel like those bases are pretty well covered by those projects now :)

      So I guess in one respect it was freeing to know that we should just commit to our completely different direction! :)

  • Hey + GrafUlrich88

    I just watched the Trailer on Youtube and it has A, B, X, Y and Rt and Rb in the Control Sections.

    Also it says Coming 2015 for Steam and PS4. Didn’t Mention any others, but it can be gathered from the Controls.

    • It’s actually using those buttons because my first platform for dev was the PC, and I used a 360 controller plugged into it :)

  • Great introduction. Now let’s see some footage. ;)

    I didn’t think of Star Wars when I read the post; I thought of a deeper AC: Black Flag.

  • It’s awesome to see more space games making there way to console again. You got me when you said sandbox and RPG so day one purchase for me!

  • If this works like you say it does then consider it bought. Love these styles of games.

  • I never say this, but you know what? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! This looks awesome!

  • Sounds great!

  • “Good” Sci-fi games seem to be getting kinda scarce lately. You’ve caught my interest with this one.

  • This sounds like exactly the type of game I’ve been waiting for. Glad it’s coming to PS4. I saw the announcement a few days ago and thought it was PC only.

  • Sounds like you guys are fans of Firefly. Me too! I hope this game ends up being awesome!

  • Some time before PS4 was released, someone at Playstation (forget who) tweeted asking what kind of game I’d like to see on the PS4. My immediate response was “space game”, with nods to Elite, Freelancer and a few others.

    So glad to see that not only is it happening [insert .gif], we’re also getting a variety of them. Totally looking forward to more on this game.

  • This sounds great! I’m a big fan of the space games too! This one sounds so, so sweet. Will it be out by the end of the year? I agree with TERWALLACE, take my money!!

    • It won’t be out in 2014 – we’ll be shipping sometime in 2015, and will get more precise with the date the closer we get.

  • Additional: Curious to see what views/perspectives will be offered here, since it is not, as you mention, “chasing a reticule”.

    Will we be looking in on the action from a 3rd person view? Is it more strategy-sim-like, (e.g. Civilization)? Or is it first-person, where you’re actually at your command post in the ship?

    • It’s third person when piloting the ship, but not ‘strategy-like’ at all. You’re never in first person while piloting the ship.
      You are in a first person view when engaging in conversations, but you don’t move around in those spaces.

      You directly pilot your ship and its turrets (unless you set them to AI) so it is a very direct sort of gameplay control.

  • @4 PC and PS4

  • I’ll buy it! Have anyone noticed trend of Space Games appearing after Star Citizen campaign got so successful approaching 60 millions dollars? Go star citizen!

  • All i need to know is.. is it an mmo (i,e I can see other players while flying around in space) OR at least have multiplayer at all? I mean all this sounds fun but if all I can fight is AI then Im not interested. Id rater be able to test my mettle (and steal from) living breathing, thinking humans

  • There really are not enough Space games out there. This will be a welcome addition to my PS4 library! Thanks for bringing it to PS Nation!

  • Sounds amazing. As a huge fan of space, this trend of moving to the future (as fantasty and dungeons and dragons has been thoroughly mind these past two console generations), has me all giddy. I can’t wait to experience this game, as well as the many others in this emerging genre!

  • Ok so I got important questions, is this like battlestation midway or specific control wise? it sounds like this is what you are going with, if you are . I love you already. nothing beat a full broadside from a battleship. now I can do it in space?!?

    is this open world-ish? like can I go to any sector I want when I want? sorta like Eve Online? or is it more linear and predicable? sorta like wing commander or any normal game where you run a mission but have choices during the mission?? it sounds openworldish which is OK with me.

    Price, is it a $60 game? or is it like a $20 downloadable title. I need to know how much to set aside to prepare.

    Demo/beta? just wondering.

    Multiplayer? again just wondering.

    this game looks pretty cool, sounds pretty cool, and exactly what I want.

    • I haven’t played Battlestation midway, but the control is direct –

      It is open-world, you can fly freely. You can get continuously generated side missions, or follow main missions, or both.

      It won’t be $60. Price not set yet, but will be in the downloadable title price range.

      Don’t know yet on demo, beta unlikely

      No multiplayer –

      hope that answers most of ’em :)

  • “Elite: Dangerous is more awesome with every build, Star Citizen is breaking records, No Man’s Sky is gorgeous and surreal, and Enemy Starfighter looks amazing. I can’t wait to play all of them!”


    does that mean these games are coming to ps4?

  • Privateer and Freespace are two of my favorite games of all time. I’m over the moon that the genre is making a comeback and bought both Starlight Inception on Vita and Strike Suit Zero on PS4.

    will there be GLBT characters in the game? can I choose a GLB romance/flirt options in dialogue?

    the ships and asteroids looks pretty good, but hopefully there’s better shaders/sub-surface scatterings effects done on the actual characters. the last screenshot looks kinda early last-gen, even for a more stylized design approach.

    • There are no real romance options in dialog – and the primary character is gender agnostic (you never see them, and they are never referred to by gender).

      The relationship options in the game are more along the lines of factions, and whether the different factions like or dislike you – characters that you interact with are usually representative of a faction (although not always). So you don’t befriend individual characters so much as you befriend a faction, if that makes sense.

      As far as shaders, I’ll continue to mess with all of them until ship, but I’m the only actual engineer on this project, so you may have to calibrate your expectations of what I can pull off vs a triple-A studio :)

  • I read a Polygon article about this game, in which the developers cited Star Control 2 as an influence on the type of characters and overall tone they seek to create. That sounds very appealing. SC2 truly was an immersive world in that respect, with rich narrative threads among the various races. If this game reproduces even a fragment of that feeling, that would be quite an accomplishment.

  • Welcome to my radar! Looks very interesting.

  • ah, I see. genuinely gender neutral player character is cool. are there GLBT non-playable characters, or are they also tabula rasa? (The character screenshot above could be a trans character, for instance, with mild references in dialogue.)

    will the factions be like the Mercenaries, Pirates, etc in Privateer? like taking an escort mission as a Mercenary where you fight Pirates means that Pirates will be less friendly to you, in general?

    if you damage — but avoid destroying — a given faction’s ships, does that have a less negative effect on their demeanor toward you? I like games where the more optimal route is a balance, like favoring non-violent stealth vs. run-and-gun in other games/genres.

    • I’ve tried to leave it open so that anybody can enjoy it and draw their own conclusions. I’ve got two girls, and they sure don’t want to play as guys!

      There are factions – mercenaries, pirates ( multiple pirate factions actually), and aliens tend to ‘be’ factions (also with exceptions – pirate factions for a given race, for instance ) Taking missions for one faction can have adverse effects on other factions (i.e. if you take a pirate mission to assault military craft, the needle is moved on both factions )

      Damage does affect faction, but not as much as destruction, so you can push and pull the faction lines, and work to switch faction allegiances. The aim is to let you play the game several different ways – for instance, hire mercenaries, set your turrets to ai, and play defensively, as a trader.

  • “Backing this up we’ve got a cool blues and rock soundtrack.” Reminds me of Cowboy Bebop :)

  • Everything about this game sounds amazing, cant wait!

  • Wow! Liking what I see so far. Can’t wait to find out more.

  • sounds awesome! thanks for answering questions!

  • The game looks absolutely fantastic! I’m a huge space sim fan but unfortunately my pc is very sub-par and can’t play most of the better ones. After seeing that this is a single-player game rather than a multiplayer one it has definitely piqued my interest! Most likely going to pick this up day one!!!

    Are you always going to be controlling a single ship? Can you have fleets of ships? Even if they just follow you around and help you out it would still be pretty awesome!

    • You can hire mercenaries that will follow you around – but you only directly control your ship, and the subturrets on it.

  • The further down the article I read, the more I need this game in my life..

  • Sounds good to me! How do I preorder? ;)

    Any chance that instead of (or in addition to) an AI, we could use a person with another controller sitting next to us? That would be tops.

    • Unfortunately, no on that one. Camera control is integral to being able to aim and do stuff, so it’s be a wrestling match with the camera-

  • This looks really interesting. Reminds me of Skies of Arcadia’s ship battles/ACIV Black Flag. I loved those battle. I cannot wait!

  • And now having seen the trailer, I get the Firefly vibe from the music. Bring it on!

  • thank you for answering my questions. I saw the video of it and it does look like battlestations, you directly control all the weapons on ships.

    Looks like I’ll be buying your game. I hope you enjoy my money.

  • Looks very promising.

  • Hi, your YouTube gameplay trailer gives the impression that the gameplay is all on a 2D plane, is this correct? If so, I understand why you are likening it to Ac4 ;)

    • Large ships are on the plane, yes. Gunships and smaller ships can fly freely (and do) – which makes turrets valuable.

      There are lots of reasons for putting it on the plane (being able to fly around and actually find things, making broadside combat viable, big ships pointing in different directions off the plane look ridiculous), but mostly, it’s just more fun. :)

  • I am playing eve online right now and I have to say this sounds like a rip off. My huge complaint with eve is the combat will the combat in your game similar? Also will it be online or single player?

    • It doesn’t play anything at all like Eve. It’s in space, but that’s about it :) The combat is much, much (much) different, as is navigation, and pretty much everything else you do.

  • Awesome! Will most definitely pick this up.
    I get vibes of games that i loved playing on my Genesis (Starflight) and 3DO (Star control 2) when i was a whippersnapper.

  • To follow up on the #5 post above, have Double Damage Games considered doing a version of this game for the PlayStation Vita (to include the PlayStation TV)?

    • At present we aren’t thinking much about it because I’m not sure I could possibly pull off that many simultaneous builds and still finish the game!

  • Hell Yes!!!!

    Thank you, Thank you and Thank you!!!

    This is just what I wanted. Presntly the only Space games I can play on Playstation is Wing commander 4 and that’s about it because Sony has’t put Colony Wars trilogy on PSN (why sony why? ).

    Presently I am playing an Indie Space flight RPG called Starpoint Gemini 2 on PC… And let me tell you it rocks. You can be anything you want, capture ships sell them at space stations or add them to your garage. Hire troops, and officers, use rpg skills as you level up to do different things as it has 3 classes and a main story campaign that you can do when you want. To me this sounds similar to Starpoint and that is a GOOD THING!

    The fact that you are doing sandbox style and not mission style is fantastic. I didn’t like strike suit zero at all as it was a linear mission game with no depth that felt like it was just a modern day Arcade game with nice graphics. Keep the depth. Let people be a miner or trader if they want and not have to focus on combat and you will have a great space game that will appeal to a lot of people.

  • (Cont…from message 1)

    The fact that you guys worked on the Torchlight and first two Diablo games is just amazing in itself. Both favorites of mine. Do you have a website or newsletter about your game? I would love to follow your development of this as this is so up my alley in terms of what I want on Console right now.

    Again thank you for making this and I will buy this day 1!!!!

  • I remember being a 2nd grade kid reading a book (in class), that allowed you to make choices (turn to page#).
    Got to love choices, and interactive dialogue, with multiple rewards / consequences.

    Not getting a PS4 anytime soon, but they did just add MP3 support, so looking better for Sony.
    Now just give me backwards compatibility, with a longer lasting design, and I am playing this.

    Is there a love / romance possibilty?

    I know its not real, but it sure is safer, and sometimes its nice to roleplay :)

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