Guns of Icarus Online brings steampunk airship combat to PS4

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To have the opportunity to bring Guns of Icarus Online is a dream come true for us. We are Muse Games, a small studio in New York City where Guns of Icarus Online has been our baby and our life for almost three years.

What if you took the thrilling moments of briefly using the big mounted turrets in shooters and make it the core of the game? You blowing stuff up with this mammoth artillery or heavy machine gun, mowing down lines of enemies.

What if, instead of being alone, you were placed in an enclosed space with three other people on an airship in the sky, bringing down enemies, triumphing, and perishing together as a single entity? Coordinating which guns to man, what needs repairs, all hell breaking loose on deck as other ships are torn apart around you.

Crew ScreenPost End Screen

In Guns of Icarus Online you and your crew slip into specific roles to steer the ship in and out of combat, hop on big guns to take out enemies, and make desperate repairs in hopes you survive another encounter with an airship that approaches you from beyond the horizon.

We started this winding journey literally on napkins and notepads. We wanted to push the boundary of teamplay and experiment with a blend of gameplay experiences hasn’t been seen before. Guns, fire, explosions – and above all a sense of urgency, action, and power.

Kickstarter FulfillmentHurricane Rescue

This dovetailed with our concept for a ruined world with large dieselpunk airships and bands of marauding air-pirates patrolling the wastes. We balanced an offensive turret shooting element with a defensive repair game that drew inspirations from time management games like Curry House CoCo Ichibanya and Diner Dash. We knew communication would be essential and we gave people the ability to communicate by voicechat and take the helms of airships at high speeds in massive maps with unique challenges and vistas.

The road to get to this point hasn’t been easy. There were times when we were almost down and out. During the prototyping phase for Guns of Icarus Online we were working with a big publisher from Asia. On our honeymoon everyone loved one another, but as more execs started meddling the creative vision started to fracture.

Vs Publisher

Our steam and dieselpunk world was threatened and was about to be turned into big-eyed and bigger-breasted anime caricatures in a cartoony world. We were forced to compromise. We hated our lives at that point. While crunching for months, money that was promised to us was being squeezed out by the publisher and even more features were being snuck into our development cycle. It was unsustainable and we were paying the price.

We finally decided to back out and were told point blank that if we did, the publisher would copy our game. We got out of the relationship regardless, but were almost broke as a result.

With that whole ordeal behind us, we basically started over. We turned to the then still nascent Kickstarter, before Double Fine changed everything. When we completed our campaign, we were the eighth highest funded game project at the time, and had over 350% of our funding goal.

Kickstarter helped draw attention, get the word out, and also enlist over 1500 willing alpha testers, which was huge. We did all the fulfillment work on nights and weekends, drawing sketches in logbooks and packing stuff. A few hundred packages per trip to the post office later, the post office lady literally told us, “get out!” as soon as we walked in the door with more big bags of packages.

Concept Collage

Our launch date on Steam was 29th October 2012. Being based in NYC, that date was significant for another reason, for that was the day Hurricane Sandy made landfall right smack in the middle of Manhattan, where our office was located.

Our building was locked down for about almost a month – no power, internet, lots of flooding type of thing. We were supporting players and maintaining servers via candlelight. To get the hotfixes out, we had a big problem. Our computer to build new updates was locked in our still flooded office. My teammate Conrad Kreyling biked in, eluded the security guard, scrambled into our room, and rescued the computer during the eye of the storm. He then ditched the bike and rode the bus to one of us who still had power.

That’s how the first update of the game was made, and while not every update requires minor acts of heroism, we approach our customer service with that same level of vigor every day.

We’ve had nine award nominations and several wins now for Guns of Icarus Online, and each time this happens we take a moment to look back on our work with pride… and then a few minutes later we’re back to supporting players and fixing stuff. It’s been a humbling and exciting journey so far, and we couldn’t be prouder to work with all the awesome people at PlayStation to bring Guns of Icarus Online to PS4.

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