Interview: Last Oasis Developer Supports Epic Games, Looking Forward to Cloud Gaming

Last Oasis developer and Segmentnext had an interesting had about Epic Games Store, Cloud Gaming, the developer’s future plans for Last Oasis.

While the community is quick to attack the  Epic Games’ approach to getting exclusive games, developers have a different viewpoint. Same is with Cloud Gaming, some see it as a huge leap for the gaming landscape while others see it as a just another buzzword that won’t go anywhere.

Segmentnext: Where did you first come up with the idea for Last Oasis, and its background and lore?

Donkey Crew: The idea came to us while working on a prototype of Last Oasis. Originally, the game was supposed to be quite different from what we ended up with, and the process of establishing those basics continued as we developed.

There were many inspirations for our world and game mechanics. Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest and Howl’s Moving Castle for the Walkers, Mad Max and Waterworld for the apocalyptic mood, Dune for the recently revealed sandworms, and many others.

Even at this later stage of development, we’re still coming up with additions to the world of Last Oasis. We’ve got a wonderful writer on our team who makes sense of it all and creates a cohesive narrative that links the gameplay with the lore.

Segmentnext: Was it difficult to implement the idea of a player-driven economy and consider what sorts of things players might bring to trade with
each other?

Donkey Crew: Our economic system has seen many iterations over the years. Luckily, together with our beta testers, we were able to work on it to improve those mechanics and bring them to where they are now. Nomads are free to trade anything they want from raw resources like wood or water to masterfully crafted equipment and consumables.

We always knew that a well-implemented player-driven economy would fuel all other aspects of the game, especially an open-ended MMO like Last Oasis where players set their own goals and find unique ways to achieve them. While dedicated traders will get the most out of this experience, trading affects absolutely everyone, no matter how or even if they utilize it.

Price changes will be affected by factors like clan wars, shortage of resources in the world and other player actions while causing various unpredictable events. Players may start to establish monopolies, trade wars could ensue among those searching for coins, and pirating might become more lucrative as more nomads get richer.

Segmentnext: Since players can build their own walking-transports, what sorts of customizations can players do with them, aside from making them suited for different pursuits like combat or trade or things like that?

Donkey Crew: There are many different types of walkers with their own strong sides and we’re planning to keep adding more during Early Access. While we decided against the free building for walkers for various reasons like unwanted “box ship” meta and performance, players are free to build any mannable weapons, crafting stations, and all other kinds of structures to customize their walkers. Our current customization system also allows to freely change legs and wings of your walkers to tweak their movement.

We have some interesting ideas for much more in-depth customization and personalization of the walking machines and will be exploring it during Early Access with feedback from our players.

Segmentnext: Can they personalize them, change their colors?

Donkey Crew: To some extent. As we’ve mentioned earlier, players are free to change the legs and wings of their walkers, but the base hulls will remain in accordance with nomadic designs. Colors of the wings, as well as painted emblems, will also be customizable through our Clan system.

Segmentnext: Did you take inspiration from many other games when dealing with things like walker and melee combat, player economies, crafting,
and base building? Is there anything players might be familiar with?

Donkey Crew: All of our team members have their own favorite games they’re passionate about and want to bring pieces of them to Last Oasis. While there wasn’t any specific game that influenced our Walker designs, other aspects like melee combat and the player-driven economy will have some familiar undertones.

Mount & Blade has been a huge part of Donkey Crew’s history, which was the main reason we decided to try combining the Survival MMO genre with that skill-based thrill of a fight. A decision to implement a global player economy, however, was swayed by how impressed we were with EVE Online.

Segmentnext: Since the game is still in early access, what plans do you have to
add new things to it both before and after its full release?

Donkey Crew: We’ve got a lot of things on the list! While the Early Access release version has enough experiences prepared to keep you entertained for hundreds of hours, as proven by our beta testers, there are many more features and experiences we’d still like to add. Those include new environments to explore with unique resources and enemies, more hostile giants inhabiting the world akin to sandworms we’ve shown at Gamescom, an enormous walking city where nomads can rest and spend time together, and lots more.

One of our core principles in Donkey Crew is involving the community in development as much as possible. While we have big ideas for upcoming updates, the majority of changes during and after Early Access will be influenced by the players themselves, their feedback and suggestions.

Segmentnext: Since the game is marketed as a survival MMO, will the main threat
be other players, or will there also be various vicious animals and
mobs players will have to contend with?

Donkey Crew: There are many ways to get in trouble in the world of Last Oasis. Players, of course, can be the most dangerous threat around, but the game not being strictly about fighting, many encounters can be either neutral or even friendly. Traders Meeting at a Trading Station will be happy to see each other, as their profits depend on other traders in the area. Warring clans have different approaches to meetings among themselves, but we can just say you probably don’t want to be around for that.

The world itself can be hostile as well though, as players can find dangers among flora and fauna. Strange humanoids inhabiting the lands won’t tolerate intruders in their camps and will hunt nomads roaming in darker parts of oases. Other creatures like the giant sandworms are much more rare, however, so engaging in combat with them is usually a choice rather than an accident.

Other risks can come from various, sometimes unexpected, situations. Water is an important resource for survival, and while it’s not difficult to find its sources, mismanaging your supply can prove to be disastrous. Went on an expedition from an oasis to a desert without preparing and spent all the water on the way there? You might find just barren sands and not be able to return, causing you to die and lose your trusty walker. Failed to move your base and walkers towards the East as the Earth goes around the Sun? You’re likely to get burned to a crisp at your previously lush land.

Segmentnext: Will there be any lore that players will be able to discover how the world got to this state, or will it just be the kind where you draw your own conclusions?

Donkey Crew: We have extensive lore established for the game with all the major events of the world described in-depth. While we’re revealing a little bit of the story through some of the external media like the game description and our concept art, we don’t want to bring it all out at once. Some of the bits and pieces will be there for players to find at Early Access launch, but they won’t be directly telling the story. We want players to draw their own conclusions from the evidence of the past scattered around the oases and try to craft the history out of it.

As the game develops and new features and content take place, there will be more and more ways to learn about the cataclysms, old civilizations, mysterious creatures, and other exciting things.

Segmentnext: Will players be able to advance technologically, such as going from wooden and stone weapons to something like metal or even gunpowder?

Donkey Crew: As in most games of this genre, progression and technological advancement are one of the core elements of the gameplay. Nomads are forced by nature to be on the constant move, which makes light and easy to fix machines the best and often only option. You won’t find walkers made entirely of iron for example. You will, of course, be able to wield masterfully crafted weapons made of bone, iron, and other advanced materials, build fortifications with sturdy materials like clay and cement and learn about creating mystical vitamins that enhance nomads’ abilities.

Segmentnext: Since Last Oasis will be a Survival MMO, will it have a mixture of both general open-world survival along with quests to complete, or
will it simply be survival with only a few other MMO trappings?

Donkey Crew: We mainly characterize Last Oasis as an MMO for its global world features. All the regions in the world and every oasis are linked within the same realm, meaning that players are free to travel to any corner of the Earth and meet every player. The economy of the northern parts of the Chinese region can affect the distant markets in Europe, traders can move their goods freely and establish routes between nations, and wars can start over territorial borders hundreds of kilometers wide.

In addition to that though, we do have elements of the “classic” MMOs. Currently, there are quests to complete for experience in the beginning of the game for players to learn about the mechanics and the world around them, but we’re considering a more expanded system to add in the future. Players can also explore remaining ruins of ancient civilizations and other unique locations filled with dangers and loot.

Segmentnext: Will players be able to band together in various clans and other groups to help them survive in this new post-apocalyptic world?

Donkey Crew: While one of our focuses is creating ways for solo players to have an impact on the world and providing them with viable ways to progress, clans are a very important part of Last Oasis. They wage wars for territories, establish flourishing markets across the oases, and influence every other aspect of the environment.

One of the key differences in our vision of clan interactions is that instead of driving groups towards being protective of their claimed areas and keep strangers out, they’re encouraged to invite smaller clans and solo players to settle on their lands, as the claims cover the entire oasis and all surrounding areas, while providing bonuses from harvesting and a tax from trading.

Segmentnext: Are you interested in bringing Last Oasis to consoles? As a developer, do you think PS5 and Xbox Scarlett will be able to get more MMOs as compared to previous generations?

Donkey Crew: Consoles are definitely something we’ll be looking into down the line. Being an indie studio, we’re giving all the attention to the initial Steam release, but bringing Last Oasis to as many players as we can with cross-play is a great goal for us to have.

There have been more and more MMO-type games coming out for consoles in recent years, both exclusives and ports from PC. Some of them do a wonderful job at providing fluid experience with their limitations, while some others, not being originally designed for the systems, struggle with things like controls and performance. With technology getting better and cheaper, consoles even now can rival with top-tier PCs and the next generation seems to be promising even more possibilities to developers. We definitely believe the industry will see more great projects taking full advantage of the next-gen.

Segmentnext: What do you think about Google Stadia? Will you be willing to bring your game to the service-based platform?

Donkey Crew: Cloud gaming has been around for quite a while now, but Google is definitely bringing it to a whole new level with Stadia. Seeing singleplayer giants like Cyberpunk 2077 and multiplayer classics like Destiny 2 available on the service makes it seems like streaming is on the path to becoming one of the regular ways to enjoy games alongside PC, console, and mobile platforms.

Same as with potential console release, we’d like to explore the possibilities of cloud streaming services, but will be focusing on our Steam version first thing after release.

Segmentnext: Did Epic Games approach you for any exclusivity? Do you, as a developer support their model of digital distribution? Do you plan to bring the game to other platforms like Epic Games Store in the future?

Donkey Crew: Epic’s approach is bringing a lot of good to the industry, and while it does create some tensions in the gaming communities, competition is what drives improvements across the platforms. More publishing options, additions to developer tools, major overhauls to features and much more was brought in because of the new players on the market. While Epic Games Store and Steam are trying to steal the largest piece of the pie by making big changes to the stale store environments, underdogs like Discord develop entirely new solutions for gaming user experiences.

For Last Oasis, being a Survival MMO, having as many players to populate the world as possible is crucial to provide interesting and engaging gameplay with naturally occurred player interactions. Therefore, we decided that releasing on multiple stores and platforms to accommodate larger number of players is an absolute priority over the benefits of exclusivity.

Last Oasis is now available on Microsoft Windows PC.

Sarmad is our Senior Editor, and is also one of the more refined and cultured among us. He's 25, a finance major, and having the time of his life writing about videogames.