Q: Your game reminds me, in terms of look and feel, of the DOS games I played in the 1990s that got me into Warhammer 40K as a teenager: Epic 40,000: Final Liberation and Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate. What, if any, inspiration did you take from these games in making Sanctus Reach?
A: Both Final liberation and Chaos Gate were influences for us growing up. It's been a long time since we played them so their influence was more of a distant memory of the feelings we got while playing them rather than anything very specific.
Q: Have members of your team spent time with the tabletop Warhammer 40K game? If so, how has that influenced the way you designed Sanctus Reach? If not, what did you take as source material for your game – how did you make a game that felt like the tabletop experience?
A: Yes we have all played tabletop 40k, many days spent with 2nd and 3rd editions. Growing up there was nothing else that captured our imaginations so completely and for such a length of time as the 40k setting. We don't play anymore but we are still invested through the fantastic books and social media fan sites.
From the start we were clear that there were aspects of the hobby that we could never recreate with a video game. The hours of preparation painting your army and building your lists were often more fun than the game and of course the social aspect is something that only really works for a tabletop game.
So we aimed for a streamlined experience which still retained the feel of the tabletop game.
One of the advantages of playing and knowing the rules was that we were able to create game systems that did not copy the tabletop rules but still felt right with sensible outcomes.
Its actually quite funny how we all have our different play styles in the office. Alex is very aggressive and pushes his units out quickly. Kim is more defensive and likes taking her time. Mark's favourite unit is the flashgitz for the pure dakka they pump out, Alex likes levelled up Blood Claws whilst Kim's favourite unit is actually Rustgob with his ability to spam gretchen for free and stun powerful units with his melee. Gordon's favourite is the new rune priest Njal Stormcaller with his AOE anti tank ability
Q: I love the art style in Sanctus Reach – it looks more like an intense tabletop experience and less like you’re trying to make a movie out of what is admittedly daft source material. Tell me about how you designed the look of the game, and why you decided to do it that way.
A: At the start we spent a lot of time watching Duncan Rhode's painting videos on Warhammer tv, we really wanted our texturing workflow to resemble how miniatures are painted and that developed into a process that is fast but still follows many of the same rules as painting.
As a small team we are always looking for new ways to speed up game art production and as is the case with many games it is the limitations you face that have the biggest influence on the art style.
So keeping in mind the limitations of time, the engine, game type and our capacity we set out to do something achievable but with a determination to produce it at the highest possible quality.
Q: Strategy wise, what appealed to you about the Warhammer 40,000 universe?
A: There is a great variety of unit roles in 40k which opens up the strategic options, there are not many settings where hand to hand combat is viable along side heavy weapons. The units and weapons have a lot of personality to them which is great to work with.
We've recently added the Armoured Sentinel, a fast attack anti-armour sniper for the Astra Militarum, which is a completely new role in the game and should be a lot of fun to play with!
Q: What were the hardest design decisions you had to make while creating the game?
A: The hardest decisions are always when you have to cut something or when we cant give the players a feature they really want due to time or technical constraints.
The early design decisions about the combat systems and rules were tricky as we had to look quite far forward to make sure all our future plans would fit into the base systems. For example we cut the Scouts and the Kommandos because although their role was important we felt that lots of other units could perform that function.
Q: How do you feel about the response to the game since its release? And about the release of the Weirdboy DLC?
A: We are really happy with the response to the game and first DLC. We have a smart player base who give great feedback and also make sure we know about it if we get something wrong.
The weirdboy DLC was a little tricky as we were also adding lots of new features and fixing bugs for the base game. Now we have addressed lots of the issues we feel we have a great platform to push ahead with new content.
Q: Do you have plans for the future, whether its new material for Sanctus Reach or another game set in this universe?
A: Our short term plans are to complete the Sanctus Reach story with Astra Militarum and other armies from that setting - and showcase them in appropriate campaigns from the story.
We can't say too much about our plans beyond that but we would love to continue expanding the base game into new campaign settings.
Thanks for the questions and interest in our game.
The Straylight team.
And now we’ll deliver what we promised! Are you ready? Can I have a drumroll please?
(Please note that these images are Work in progress and don't represent final models)
As you can imagine, the new expansion will focus on the Astra Militarum, also known as the Imperial Guard! These stalwart defenders of mankind will fight to the death and to the last soldier to defend the Imperium of Man.
The expansion is currently in development and we need some brave volunteers willing to serve the Emperor by helping us test it. Feedback from fans will be really useful so don’t hesitate and apply to the beta here. Initially we would really like your thoughts on Skirmish and PBEM using the Astra Militarum to help us balance the new campaign.
We’ll reveal more of the upcoming expansion in the coming weeks - stay tuned!