It’s been four years since Runner Duck introduced us to Bomber Crew and the developers have come a long way since then. Space Crew, their next adventure, took us to the galaxy’s depths last year, making our Star Trek dreams come true as we recruited our own starship crew and became captains for the United Defense Force.
Fans embraced the simulation-strategy game, and it even received a substantial free update last month called the Legendary Edition – not to be confused with Mass Effect - that implemented Away Team Missions, a new campaign against a Droid Army, and more.
We wanted to learn more about it, so we reached out for an interview with Runner Duck founder and programmer Jon Wingrove.
Space Crew: Legendary Edition Interview - What's Next For Runner Duck's Intergalactic Sim
Henry Stockdale, Gfinity: Firstly, thank you for talking with me today! For any readers unaware of the team or game, could you please introduce yourself?
Jon Wingrove, Runner Duck: We started Runner Duck with just two of us - myself and Dave Miller. We’re now a team of four, with programmer Joe Le Grice and artist Greg Sue both having joined us in the time since the release of our first game, Bomber Crew.
In Space Crew, you are charged with commanding a ship of 6 or 7 crew members. You bring them on a campaign of missions to the furthest reaches of space, encountering hostile enemy aliens and hazards. There’s a lot to manage on board your ship, where your crew have to put out fires, repair broken systems, manage power output, and even fight off boarding aliens and androids!
Similarly to Bomber Crew, it’s a tough game with a range of strategies to learn. Crew that die during a mission are lost forever, to be replaced with a new recruit - but there’s always the escape pods to give your valuable crew a chance of surviving when you sense things might be taking a turn for the worse.
Gfinity: Space Crew launched last year, moving away from Bomber Crew’s World War 2 setting to across the galaxy. Were fans receptive to this change?
JW: It was quite a big change to make, for sure. I think there are players who were into Bomber Crew for the setting, but also a lot of players who, while they liked the setting, mostly enjoyed Bomber Crew for its gameplay.
We felt that the change of setting would allow us to bring in some new gameplay elements - for example, giving us a larger space for your crew to move around and allowing us to have boarding parties and on-ship combat. We also have power management, recharging shields and even a gravity generator to worry about.
We’ve had some really great feedback from the community, and I think we’ve also reached a new audience of sci-fi fans with this setting.
Gfinity: Considering you’ve now released a major free expansion, is it fair to call Space Crew a success for Runner Duck?
JW: We’re a really small team, so looking at the size of the game with the new expansion included, it’s a great achievement for us all. It’s great to see the team’s hard work pay off with our players being able to have some tense and dramatic adventures through their Space Crew campaigns!
It was great being able to bring this expansion to all our existing players for free [and] it’s really breathed a new life into the community. We’ve learnt a lot from developing Space Crew, too - all of which will help us going forward on to the next project.
Gfinity: Was this new expansion always planned or did that decision come later?
JW: We started planning additional content when Space Crew first launched. At first, we focused on addressing community feedback. We added in a lot of extra in-mission events, and we added some extra gameplay/difficulty options, too. After this, we felt we wanted to do something much more substantial, which is why it took us a bit longer.
We started building the Android Ambush campaign, alongside some prototypes for Away Team missions. I did a really basic prototype for “Away Team” in secret. I sent a video of it to the rest of the team as a way of explaining the idea. Because an entirely new mission type like this was going to be more complex to develop, I wanted to be confident it’d work well before I dragged the rest of the team into it. Luckily they all liked the idea, and we began working together to expand what could be done with it.
It was very difficult keeping quiet about all the content coming to Legendary Edition. I really wanted to tell our community about what we were working on! It’s been a huge relief to finally be able to talk about it in the past month or so.
Gfinity: Legendary Edition adds a new campaign against the Droid Army, alongside Away Team missions and further crew members. Can you tell me more about these changes?
JW: The Android Ambush campaign is a new separate campaign set after the Phasmid War. There are ways in which the Android enemies behave differently - their hacking ships target your stations directly, and their boarding parties come in distinct types which cause chaos in very different ways to the Phasmid boarders.
Away Team missions are new missions situated within both the main campaign, and the Android Ambush campaign. In these missions, you land your ship at a space station or enemy structure, and send 3 of your crew in to explore it. There are different traps, puzzles and enemies inside. - but also there may be Legendary crew members to rescue. Some Away Team missions involve triggering the self destruct mechanism of the station, and then escaping before it explodes!
Legendary crew are another new feature of this update. These are mysterious crew with alien appearances and improved stats. You can’t get them from standard recruitment - you’ll only be able to get them to join your crew by rescuing them from within a mission. They can be found both during events in regular missions, and in Away Team missions.
We also added new weapons and liveries for your ship, and new gear for your crew!
Gfinity: Can we expect further updates, or does Legendary Edition mark the end of Space Crew’s voyage?
JW: We’re figuring out the next game currently. We’ve got a couple of little fixes and adjustments to make to Space Crew still - so we’re sorting those out, obviously. Then after that our main focus is going to be on the next game. We’re such a small team that we can only really divide our attention in so many ways!
Gfinity: Are there any plans for a mobile release?
JW: We have no plans for a mobile release at the moment.
Gfinity: I appreciate you won’t be able to say much here, but what does Runner Duck’s future hold? Are the team looking towards a third Crew game, or is your next title likely to be something new?
JW: I can’t say anything too specific, but we’ve got a lot of really exciting ideas for our next game - so we’re trying to get them coherent and all in one place. It’s always daunting at the start of a project, but we’re all really looking forward to getting started.
Gfinity: Lastly, is there any message you’d like to share with the fans?
JW: Thank you for all your feedback and support! Don’t forget to use your escape pods!