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Talking XO with Jumpdrive Studios

Jumpdrive Studios

We previously reported that XO had been fully funded on Kickstarter. With the success of the game’s Kickstarter campaign and prior approval from publisher Square Enix through their Collective platform, I reached out to developer Jumpdrive Studios to talk to them about their upcoming sci-fi RTS.

Check out the full interview below.

Where did the title XO come from? Does it stand for anything?

XO has a 2 part meaning. You start the game as the executive officer on board the last surviving battleship in the fleet. A series of unfortunate events puts you in command, and it’s up to a fresh XO to save what’s left of humanity. It’s also short for exodus, seeing as you’re on the run throughout the game.

You pitched the idea of XO to the Square Enix Collective community. What kind of response did you get and what is it like having a big publisher such as Square Enix approve your game? How do you feel about the Collective platform?

Putting our game on the Collective was extremely helpful. It gave us a chance to practice our pitch before going to Kickstarter, and the feedback helped us focus on what people seemed the most interested in. It was also great to see what connected with players, and what we need to do a better job showing off in our gameplay trailer. For a small team like us, having Square Enix give your project a kind-of seal of quality is a big deal. This is our first game, and backers are rightfully wary of new teams going to Kickstarter these days. By working with the Collective, we were able to back up our qualifications through a detailed assessment interview. I think that approval goes a long way in helping backers feel confident their pledges are going towards making something awesome.

Where did the idea for XO come from? When, where and how did you come up with the concept?

Brian [Jamison, founder, game designer and art director at Jumpdrive, has] been dreaming up this game for years. He came up with the idea over drinks with a fellow game designer and it just stuck with him. We’re drawing influence from other sci-fi works like Battlestar Galactica, FTL, the Lost Fleet series, and even experiences running small businesses.

The game has quite a unique art style. What influenced it and why did you choose it?

We’re all big fans of retro arcade games, and that vector style seemed like something that hasn’t really been brought back in a cool way as of late. We think it’s beautiful and iconic, and it makes a lot of sense for a small team to go after something more stylized than expensive, hyper-realistic graphics.

$55,000 was successfully raised on Kickstarter for the project. How did you feel when it surpassed its $40,000 goal? Were you ever concerned it wouldn’t be funded?

I don’t think I’ll ever forget where I was when we reached our goal – a bar in Seattle called the Grizzled Wizard, sitting alone on Twitter sending a flurry of tweets asking for support to push us over the $40,000 goal. Having Square Enix Collective supporting us certainly took some pressure off, but that’s still not a guarantee of success. XO was on Kickstarter during a really tough time, and we saw several projects struggle to reach their goals.

XO will release exclusively on PC, Mac and Linux. Are there any plans to bring it to consoles?

We’re considering it, but it’s still too early to say. We want to focus on making a really great PC game first, and certainly don’t want to over-promise right now.

Jumpdrive Studios is a pretty small team of devs. What are the advantages or disadvantages of having such a small dev team and how does that impact the game?

The best thing about being independent means we only have to answer to ourselves and the people playing our games. The hardest part about working on a project like this with a small team is that we all have to wear several hats, but I don’t think we’d have it any other way. Everyone is involved in marketing and design in some form or another, we’re more like a band than a company in that sense.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

You can keep up with XO’s progress on our weekly devlog at!

I’d like to thank all of the amazingly talented people over at Jumpdrive Studios for taking the time to answer my questions and give us some insight into the game, the ideas and concepts behind it and the journey from the initial pitch proposed on Square Enix Collective back in May, to the fully funded reality it is now.

XO is slated to release in March 2016 on PC, Mac and Linux.

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