BitSummit 10 Developer Q&A: Mecha farming is the hot new thing in Lightyear Frontier
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Japan's longest-running independent game dev festival, BitSummit, reconvened this August in Kyoto. A special deputized deployment of VGG staff attended the weekend-long event and reported back with exclusive Q&As with developers in Japan's pioneering indie game dev scene. Check back in with us to explore an exciting batch of upcoming games in VGG's BitSummit 10 coverage.
Lightyear Frontier proves you can teach an old mecha new tricks. GET IN THE ROBOT, FARMER.
In Lightyear Frontier, players control a large mech in order to farm, build, and explore a large, vibrant open world. The game follows familiar patterns of farming and base building. You'll gather resources in an initially untamed area and discover the secrets of the planet's past as you build your homestead and explore. The mech that the player pilots can be controlled either from first or third-person perspectives, allowing for a variety of game feels. The mech comes equipped with the tools that they will need to tame the environment, including a destructive drill, a watering gun, a seed cannon, and a resource-collecting vacuum.
Perhaps best of all, you can share the workload: The game can be played co-op with up to four players.
One of the developers of Lightyear Frontier, Denis Ferrier, met with us as we demoed the game and was eager to talk about the project.
VGG: “Please tell me your name and a bit about the game.”
Ferrier: “I’m Denis. I’m head of publishing at Amplifier Game Invest, who is the developer and publisher of Lightyear Frontier with FRAME BREAK. We have a big company; we have twenty studios including FRAME BREAK and we are developing lots of IPs, including Lightyear Frontier.”
VGG: “If you were to explain your game to someone who had never played video games before, how would you explain it?”
Ferrier: “Lightyear Frontier is a new type of game which we call ‘farming adventure.’ It means you are farming, you are also [adventuring] and you can explore the world. But there is no combat, it’s only chill ... It’s really a mix between simulation and arcade [game]. [If] you are a pro gamer, or you are meek or casual, you can enjoy Lightyear Frontier … Everyone will enjoy [it]. You have base building, crafting, farming, exploration, and adventure because you have stuff to explore. We are trying to create a new genre … It’s really a mix between Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, something like Satisfactory, and My Time at Portia.”
VGG: “Would you say it’s balancing all three? Normally the games focus on one thing or the other.”
Ferrier: “I would say it’s a balance, but it’s more exploration. If you have to choose one feature, you have to explore, you have to customize your mech, you need to unlock new features, you have to shoot to create because it’s a first-person or third-person shooter. But you always shoot to create, never to kill. It’s not violent, it’s a really peaceful adventure. You can use the gun to plant seeds, to water, and you have so many customizations for your mech.”
VGG: “Normally when you think first person shooter, you think of explosions and violence, so what is the inspiration behind this?”
Ferrier: “We wanted to make something new ... Just because you have a mech with a weapon you [don't] have to be violent. You don’t have to be violent to be cool. We want to be cool, we want to have lots of weapons — but to bring peace, to bring some nature, and to bring some color … We have animals. Basically, your crops have to survive the environment. You have weather, you have bugs [and] hazards depending on what you’re doing. The environment is reacting to your actions.”
VGG: “If you were to pick one thing about your game that you absolutely love, what would it be?”
Ferrier: “I would say the environment. It’s a mix between the art style and the atmosphere. It’s atmospheric and has nice colors … We have this kind of mystery, we have stuff to discover, so it’s really cross-genre. You farm, you explore, you build, but you are able to discover (the) truth: There is a civilization. That’s the adventure part. It's a bit like Metroid Prime. You arrive on the planet, you see some statues, and then you have some animals. You have a lore. We want the game to have layers. You play a farming adventure, you can build, you can also play [and discover] there is a planet, a galaxy, some NPCs. It’s a big project.”
VGG: “What is a way that people can help this game really succeed?”
Ferrier: “It’s a community-driven game. That’s why we went early access. The people and players will give us feedback, we need to react and adapt [to] the feedback, and the game will evolve with the community … It’s coming to Xbox and PC, so we’ll hopefully get lots of feedback.”
Lightyear Frontier is set to enter early access in spring 2023 for Xbox and Steam. According to Ferrier, it will be available on Xbox Game Pass from day one. Wishlist it on Steam and follow its development on Twitter if you feel the frontier calling out to you!