Developer: Hungry Couch Games
Platform(s): PC, Consoles (Platforms TBC)
Release Date: Q4 2020
We got the chance to speak to Konstantin Burov, the Head of Studio at Hungry Couch Games, about their upcoming Bioshock Infinite-inspired open world airship-adventure Black Skylands:
How would you describe Black Skylands to somebody who had never heard of the game?
The player travels on the airship between the floating islands, and then fights the baddies while exploring those islands.
As you play, you get upgrades for the player, weapons and ship. You can build a shop where you can craft the best equipment, too!
All this takes place in a large open world.
Black Skylands allows players to explore a vast open world made up of floating islands. Are these islands procedurally generated or is the game’s world hand-crafted?
There are two types of islands in the game. Some are hand-crafted — these islands are a part of the main storyline. There are also procedurally-generated islands — these are small islands where the player can get all the necessary resources after killing enemies on them. Resource islands are updating every 1-2 days after the player farms them.
Speaking of exploration, one of Black Skylands’ neatest features is the use of airships. Will players be able to customise their airship in-game?
You can buy new ships and new components in the game. There are six types of ship components in total. For example, you can install a bigger fuel tank and a more powerful engine. You can also change the hull material to increase the ship’s HP. The ship’s guns are also replaceable.
Black Skylands’ world is made up of multiple different biomes. Do these affect the gameplay in any way or is it simply a case of visual changes?
We have two global enemy factions — humans and swarm. The lands infected by the swarm have their own features. Biomes affect the environment, level design and weather.
There’s a day-and-night cycle in the game too. What sort of differences can players expect between the different times of day?
Night and day set the mood of the game. At night, the view range becomes shorter, and swarm creatures become stronger at night.
Do you have a favourite weapon so far?
Sniper rifle with mods that reduce recoil allows you to make quick critical hits.
And of course a combination of shotgun + hook. Pull the enemy with the hook and shoot them with a shotgun. Very effective, but it’s better not to try it if you don’t have enough HP left.
The game has a lot of interesting combinations of weapons, mods and mechanics to play around with.
I’ve always been a fan of top-down shooters and have played a ton of them over the years, so everything about Black Skylands’ action really appeals to me. Would you say there were any titles in particular that inspired you when creating the game?
Most of all, we were inspired by Sea of Thieves. We liked its concept.
Enter the Gungeon and Nuclear Throne definitely affected our combat system.
At the moment, our project is difficult to compare with one game. It has become something original. All mechanics are focused on the world of Black Skylands and work perfectly together.
When is Black Skylands releasing and on what platforms?
If all goes well, we will release the game later this year on PC and all the major consoles.
Finally, can you tell us something about the game that nobody outside of the development team knows?
I believe that we are creating an absolutely unique game. It has a lot of combined genres and mechanics. Sometimes it’s hard, because we have nowhere to look for solutions.
We create something of our own, then we test it. Sometimes we toss the prototypes. Sometimes we modify them after a lot of tests.
For example, we had to give up the jetpack. Even though everyone liked it so much, it just didn’t work in our game. Its scope was limited to flights over the abyss. It is not used in any way in the combat system.
But we made a hook that is perfect for our game, because it doesn’t work vertically like a jetpack, but horizontally. It allows you not only to travel between the islands, but also apply it in battles.
After almost a year in development, the game has moved away from the original mechanics. We constantly ask ourselves what should be in Black Skylands, how to improve the game and make it more appealing to the players. We hope you like what we are preparing for you!