Rodina interview: exploration, combat and modding in an indie space adventure

These RPG elements won't be present at launch, however. The initial version of Rodina will be focused on exploration, combat, survival and progression through the main story. Brendan plans to expand from there, with the game's scope increasing as its community grows.

"Initially the game is about exploring the solar system, the planets and their landscapes, searching for resources, and fighting any aliens that get in your way," Brendan says. "We also have a bunch of text content: stories in the form of emails, personal notes, and books, that give insight into the Rodina Universe and the wider story. The player also has the opportunity to get creative and customize the interior of their ship."

"All of the computers in the game ... the player can hack and recode at will."

Customisation is another of Rodina's big idea, and it goes far beyond just the insides of a player's ship. Brendan plans to add programmable in-ship computers in a later update. "When hacking is unveiled in a future update, all of the computers in the game will be actual virtual machines running Lua code - just like the rest of the game - and which the player can hack and recode at will. So, for example, there is a Navigation Computer which defines how the player's controls affects ship movement. If the player so chooses, they can hack this computer and change the ship controls to something preferable. They might choose to program an auto-targeting module, or even add something like autopilot. If they create something cool, then naturally they will be able to share that creation with others.

"I imagine that it will get more and more interesting as the game gets more simulation and RPG elements," Brendan continues. "I see this as a feature that is sort of an experiment right now and will come into its own over time."

It's not just the computers that are open to modification. As Brendan explains, players will be able to tinker with the game's own Lua code. He's also planning to release a Blender plugin, which would allow the community to edit Rodina's art. "It should be easy for players to create new content," he says, "and ambitious users could even add new functionality to the game. I wouldn't be surprised to see some total conversions, or even brand-new games, if Rodina ends up being popular."

Brendan isn't short for other ideas that will eventually make it into Rodina, but there inclusion will largely depend on the game's initial success. But while the game's long-term future has yet to be decided, the first post-launch updates are already being planned. "Right now the game doesn't have things like life support systems, fires that could break out, cooling systems, electricity, hacking, etc," he says. "I want to simulate all that stuff so that the player can experience cool dynamic situations like fire in the engine room or emergency coolant leaks."

"The core experience of being in a world is totally there."

Beyond that, Brendan plans to involve the community, giving them a list of potential features, and letting them vote on their most desired. Even then, he has his own wishlist should things go well. "The most important future feature-set for me is boarding enemy ships In order to do this, I'll need new art, procedural interior maps, character animation and AI. It's a big job but it'll be a huge moment when it goes in."

While there's a long way to go before Rodina becomes the game it could be, Brendan's hoping that what's already there will be enough to captivate players. "Walking around the landscape, taking in the scale and grandeur of it (which is much easier on foot), jumping your way up a mountain in traditional RPG fashion, seeing the light change and realizing the sun is going down, and then returning to your ship just in time to see an amazing sunset... it's just really immersive. Frankly, the game has a long way to go before it has all the gameplay I'm dreaming of, but the core experience of being in a world is totally there."

Brendan plans to announce Rodina's release date soon. We'll let you know when he does.

Phil leads PC Gamer's UK team. He was previously the editor of the magazine, and thinks you should definitely subscribe to it. He enjoys RPGs and immersive sims, and can often be found reviewing Hitman games. He's largely responsible for the Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.