Lunar Lander is a classic Atari series that has stood the test of time, thanks to incredibly simple, yet supremely addictive gameplay. You pilot a tiny ship, watch your fuel and try to land on increasingly troublesome terrain. That gameplay loop is very much alive in the upcoming Lunar Lander: Beyond, but the devs are also greatly expanding on what a Lunar Lander game can be.
While there are all sorts of new locations and gameplay mechanics to look forward to, Lunar Lander: Beyond also creates a whole story and universe for the franchise. In an interview with Game Informer, game director Alvaro Martinez spoke on how the team has tackled the story aspect of Lunar Lander: Beyond, detailing their thought process and more.
I’d say that since the original game didn’t have too much of a story, just the general theme of landing on the moon, the process was actually easier. It’s like painting on an almost blank canvas: little guidelines here and there, but with a high degree of freedom overall.
We first focused on the original game and concept; how did it make us feel? Tension was the answer. Okay, so how do we turn this feeling into a story?
We imagined we could start with some tension right from the get-go: What would happen if we lost Earth? How could humanity survive in such a scenario? The need for exploration, for finding hope in the midst of a high degree of agency would be set, and with exploration under these extreme conditions, we would get the experience we were looking for.
Okay, but how hard would explorations on these potential new homes be? Extremely high and low temperatures, lack of oxygen, different gravities – when we imagined how life would be in these conditions, it was clear the story would need to be set in a dystopian future. A dystopia inspired by classic novels, TV series, and movies from the late ’70s and ’80s. For instance, Blade Runner, Alien, Cosmos – Lunar Lander: Beyond’s universe had just been born!
Finally, we had to periodically synchronize the story with the gameplay so we could be sure it was backed up by lore. As the gameplay and level design evolved, the story did so as well. We tried our best to make them complement each other.