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PAX East 2012: Novus Aeterno preview, backstory and interview
by Andrew Whipple III

The greatest background story of our entire PAX East trip had to undoubtedly belong to Taitale Studios' Novus Aeterno and its CEO, Nick Talmers Nieuwoudt. Having gone through a change of environment due to violence at a mere 16 years of age, he began a journey that lead him in the direction of the ultimate gamer's fantasy; to create his own title.

As incredible and inspiring as that story is, Novus Aeterno itself has a great deal of ambition behind it. It's a Sci-Fi MMO-RTS, a genre which has barely been dabbled with due to the fact that practically every title unabashedly fails. It's ballsy to even consider crafting a game in this kind of genre, but from the way it looks, Novus Aeterno could be what we've needed all along.

Novus Aeterno interview

Besides experimenting with a forbidden genre formula, Taitale Studios is bringing its fans into the fold like no company has before it. The fans will be the testing department for Novus Aeterno, playing and making suggestions to the developers based on what they're doing and what they'd like to see. The more you commit to making the game better, the greater your thoughts will be considered. Taitale even said that they will be hiring for new positions directly from this testing group. They're calling it the Infiltrator program and you can sign up for it on the official website. Now that's impressive.

If you're like me, you probably have a million questions about the mechanics of the game and how it'll all be able to work. In my interview, Nick explained to me that you're going to be able to design your own ships, the armor and even the weaponry on each individual ship. I was curious as to the balancing issues with this type of design and Nick was refreshingly candid. He explained that it's impossible to balance anything like Novus Aeterno. They're certainly going to try, but their response is positioning and strategic movement.

Unlike games such as Homeworld, Novus Aeterno will not implement the Z-axis. This means that the game is on one dimension, much like StarCraft. It may seem like an odd choice, but with how expansive the game is and the systems in place, it actually makes sense to keep it more simple. If you've ever played Homeworld or Sins of a Solar Empire, in moments of panic usually people just select everything, send them all to a central point and hope for the best, like Nick states in the interview. Keeping the combat on one dimension employs better thought processes and keeps you in control of your fleet without flipping your lid.

One of the coolest features Novus Aeterno brings to light is the use of ammunition. It doesn't matter how ridiculous your fleet is, if you can't resupply them during an offensive move then you're as good as dead. Every single cannon in the game requires ammo to shoot and they all require some form of reloading. An RTS with reloading mechanics? You better believe it.

Since the game is an MMO through and through, players will be happy to know that you can go literally anywhere, capture a planet and set up shop. There are multiple servers, but Novus Aeterno deals with them in a unique way (which seems to be their motif at this point). Each star system is a server, so if your buddy is standing by across the galaxy you simply have to fast-travel to their location and you're good to go.

Novus Aeterno is expected to be fully ready to go by PAX Prime in six months. It's unique take on development and strategy certainly has me excited. I can't wait to play more of it.

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- Andrew Whipple III

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