Stranded: Alien Dawn, a new sci-fi survival/builder by Haemimont Games, is out now through Frontier Foundry. We got in touch with the developer to learn more – here’s what we learned.
Haemimont Games has developed a wide variety of games, ranging from strategy games to RPGs. What inspired the team to create Stranded: Alien Dawn, and how does it fit into your overall game development philosophy?
We have wanted to make a system-driven survival sandbox game for quite some time. While Surviving Mars has some survival elements to it, we wanted to build upon what we learned. And, since we have some hard-core base building and resource management knowledge around here, we decided to create a sci-fi outpost survival game that appealed to those elements yet was accessible for a wider range of players and has a more easy-going tone.
We’re thrilled to introduce Stranded: Alien Dawn, which seamlessly fits in with our portfolio of games, thanks to its intricate systems and mechanics – a hallmark of all our titles. Our game design was inspired by a diverse range of sources, with Rimworld serving as a prominent influence alongside other notable titles like Banished and Factorio. In addition to games, our team drew inspiration from various entertainment mediums, including books like Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves and television shows such as Ridley Scott’s Raised by Wolves. Of course, it’s impossible to name all our sources of inspiration, but we believe this mix has resulted in a unique and compelling game experience.
Stranded: Alien Dawn has been in Early Access for several months. What have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned during this time, and how have these lessons influenced the final version of the game?
We joke at the studio that after a certain point of development you can’t see the wood for the trees. Early access solves this issue and provides real-world feedback, together with time to address key issues or requests. That is why early access was invaluable experience for us.
While the game was in a fantastic place when early access began, it provided lots of opportunities for players’ feedback, and it also gave us the space for open discussions with a growing community. Many changes in the game were introduced thanks to some of their great suggestions. We’ve also learned a lot from the players regarding the different styles of approaching the game and its objectives – we have been able to create a game that can be enjoyed in a completely different way by just tweaking the settings to your preferences. Creating Stranded: Alien Dawn has been a journey to a new planet in every possible way and we never imagined we would get this far.
The game features a variety of alien enemies, each with unique abilities and strengths. How did you design these enemies, and what inspired their designs?
The alien setting of the game gave us a lot of freedom to create various new species. While the freedom to craft something bizarre and frightening was tempting, we decided to draw some of our inspiration from Earth’s natural world to make the game more recognisable – thus the enemies we see in the game are alarming, strange, yet somewhat familiar. For example, players will intuitively know when they first spot the menacing scorpion-like Shrieker that they’re unlikely to be friendly! By incorporating elements of familiar behaviour, the alien wildlife retains an air of unpredictability while remaining comprehensible to players.
The game will be released on consoles as well. How did you approach the process of porting the game to consoles, and what specific features can console players expect?
For our games, we use our own proprietary engine which is designed to be platform-agnostic. In that sense we are not porting the game for consoles – it runs the same game code as it does on PC, while we also ensure the experience is optimised for each console. This makes it possible for us to release Stranded: Alien Dawn on multiple platforms at launch, with all the rich content we introduced throughout the early access development process included.
Our goal is to make Stranded: Alien Dawn accessible to as many players as possible, providing the same content and features across all platforms. For our full launch we are also bringing all players an exciting new military scenario. For those who are eager to dive in, an exciting Early Adopter bonus is available for all who purchase before May 9 – don’t miss out!
Haemimont Games has a reputation for creating games with deep, complex systems. How did you balance depth and accessibility in Stranded: Alien Dawn, and what steps did you take to make the game accessible to a wide audience?
We really enjoy making challenging games, don’t we? Integrating numerous complex systems into a game can be challenging. While we believe that this approach leads to more immersive and engaging gameplay, we are aware that if a game is too difficult, it can discourage new players. That’s why we have designed Stranded: Alien Dawn with a variety of options that allow players to adjust the game to their own taste and pace – these include a relaxed ‘Peaceful’ mode for those who prefer a more chilled experience, and an ‘Insane’ option for survivalists who are looking for the ultimate challenge! Additionally, we have included helpful tutorials and a context hint system to introduce players to the game’s most important mechanics. To further enhance the player experience, the game features a narrator who keeps track of progress and adjusts the difficulty of attacks and events accordingly.
The game features a variety of alien environments. What was your approach to designing these environments, and how did you create a sense of immersion for players?
Our approach to designing the two distinct regions in the game has been primarily driven by the gameplay mechanics we wanted to introduce. As previously mentioned, we drew inspiration from Earth’s flora and fauna to make certain aspects of the game more recognisable to players. Observing, preparing, and finding ways to overcome challenges are critical at the start of the game. The alien world our survivors encounter is uncharted territory – with strange plants and unpredictable animals, the survivors must gather knowledge about their new home to overcome adversity.
Our aim is to strike a balance between an unfamiliar environment and these more recognisable elements. By doing so, players can create a believable story in their minds as they guide their survivors through the game. Ultimately, we strive to create an immersive experience that challenges players to use their knowledge and skills to help their survivors thrive in an unknown and potentially hostile world.
Haemimont Games has a strong track record of supporting its games with post-release content and updates. What plans do you have for supporting Stranded: Alien Dawn after release?
While we cannot discuss our plans in detail at this point, we can share that there is more to come for Stranded: Alien Dawn after release, so stay tuned for further details!
The game has a strong focus on survival mechanics. What do you think sets Stranded: Alien Dawn apart from other survival games?
We of course have been inspired by some of the biggest names in the genre, but we really wanted Stranded: Alien Dawn to offer a different experience. We focused on creating realistic 3D visuals and a sandbox environment that is easy for beginners to jump into and enjoy. We think we hit the nail on the head with a unique sandbox experience and awesome characters that appeal to not just hardcore survivalists, but also base-builders and colony-sim fans alike – we’ve already seen the community posting amazing screenshots and sharing funny stories about their favourite survivor.