Ten Questions With… Jeremy Lee (Strides Interactive Game Studio)

Ten Questions With… Jeremy Lee (Strides Interactive Game Studio)

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After completing Starlight: Eye of the Storm, a very enjoyable and accessible bullet-hell shooter by Strides Interactive, we wanted to learn more about the game. Thankfully, the developer for Starlight, Jeremy Lee, was kind enough to answer our questions.

Can you give our readers a quick introduction of yourself and the studio

Strides Interactive is a game studio formed in Singapore with the vision of progress and engagement. “Strides” – means making small progress regardless. “Interactive” actually meant the vision to engage with our audience and listen to their feedback and suggestions.

How did the idea for Starlight: Eye of the Storm come about?

The idea actually came from our audience! During a conversation regarding our first game – Foresight (a RTS sequel to Starlight in terms of storyline), he mentioned that Jun Jimin was actually an Ace pilot before being a Commander, therefore, why not talk about her story with a game? And hence, the Starlight idea came about.

What is it that sets Starlight apart from other bullet hell shooters?

Starlight has a unique feature known as Drift. Such a feature exists on twin-shooters that require two axis of control. However, in Starlight, this is done automatically. Therefore some people call it “auto-pivot.” As such, we can play in a 16:9 widescreen mode because enemies can come from all directions, not just top or bottom. Together, with a Weapon Shop and Special Power, players can discover multiple ways of playing the game, enabling even non-shmup players to slowly catch on and improve without having to die in-game endlessly.

What were the most significant challenges during the development of Starlight?

The most significant challenge we’ve come across is to constantly send a message on Starlight. Why? Because shmups have grown into a certain reputation, a stereotype that it’s a genre no longer playable by ordinary players due to the various bullet patterns and the need for high-octane reflexes.

What was your experience with Steam Early Access like, and how much did the game change during this process?

Early Access was the opportunity for us to gather feedback essentially, noting that the game is nowhere near the final state. During Early Access, the game only had Arcade Mode with ten stages, Weapon Shops with its original set of weapons, and was hardly optimized. It was good enough to play, but on some machines, it’d just slow to a crawl even when it’s within specs.
Initially, we thought three months would be sufficient. But I realised if it’s going to be really good, we’ll need more time to develop the Campaign Mode stages and pace out the storyline. Also, the game’s much more optimized now and can support 16:9 widescreen completely.

Starlight features plenty of weapon combinations; what are some of your favorites?

The synergies, actually. That is, combining different weapons with certain special powers might lead to certain very powerful combinations, some that might be unknown to me (as the developer) still.

Many players are intimidated by bullet hell shooters. Do you have any advice for them and why they should give Starlight a chance?

Starlight starts very slowly with some respectable but not impossible difficulty. New players can use the weapon shop to their advantage; there are bullet neutralization weapons in the game that help players survive in a bullet hell environment, along with special powers and bombs; players are well-stocked to handle these situations.

Players who love a balanced mix of technology, weaponry, and a challenge should give Starlight a chance. Try it! Play the demo! Perhaps get a copy, play the Campaign, clear the Arcade Mode, maybe even duel with your friends with Duel mode. (Online is possible with Steam Remote Play)

Not enough? Try again with different weapons! (High-end weapons all have their own unique abilities) Build your own custom ships with the ship editor included in the game! Download ships made by others on Steam Workshop to refresh your experience! The list goes on!!

What are the future plans for Starlight: Eye of the Storm/Strides Interactive Game Studio?

As we head towards post-release, we’ll add more content and support our audience for any issues encountered. After that, we might be headed into Switch if all goes well.

In the future, we might consider doing a new IP or doing an HD remake on Foresight with major redesigns of ships and user interface.

What is the most unusual thing on your desk right now?

My daughter’s bear – his name is Prisoners. Why? I don’t know why. Here’s his photo.

This bear has been accompanying me through most of Starlight’s development. Sometimes I feel that I’m looking more and more like him – Slouched. Tired. Getting fatter like a bear.

Anything else you would like to add?

It’s not easy to make proper games. Sure, there’re many games released out there every day, but whether they’re proper, as in, playable, no crashes, can derive fun or not – is highly subjective. We small indies strive only to survive and hopefully make enough money to make our next game. Our long-term vision, of course, is to hope to be able to build a following, an audience where we can fulfill our vision of progress and interaction.

A big thank you to Jeremy for taking the time to answer our questions, and we look forward to playing more Starlight and future projects by Strides Interactive. Check out our full REVIEW for Starlight: Eye of the Storm, and be sure to try out the free demo if you are still on the fence.

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