After seven short weeks on Steam's Greenlight program, the hovercraft racing game called SmuggleCraft was officially given the green light.

"We were excited to discover yesterday that, thanks to the help of friends, family, and fans, SmuggleCraft has been Greenlit on Steam," indie developer Happy Badger Studio writes in a blog post. "We know that Steam will be a great platform for SmuggleCraft, and have a brand new wave of energy to pump into the game's development."

SmuggleCraft is a quest-based casual racing game where players control a hovercraft as they speed their way through the world called Dirah—which is "falling apart" since travel, technology and trade are tightly regulated, so citizens struggle to survive.

"The goal of SmuggleCraft is to create an experience that deviates from the predictable circuit racing of traditional driving games and provides a deeper, more purposeful context through quests which direct a branching storyline," writer and character artist Carol Mertz told us.

The player must smuggle technological contraband in order to tweak their craft to improve speed and handling, making it easier to run away from the authorities during chases, while trying to pay off their debt.

"We're taking a lot of inspiration from political cultures where there's a lot of a big brother thing going on...so looking at places like North Korea where smuggling is so hugely important to the mental welfare of their citizens, and places where education and technology aren't readily accessible because it's regulated," Mertz says. "We're really fascinated with that and want of explore story wise what might happen in a science fiction world."

Because the developers at Happy Badger Studio wanted the give gamers a real sense of purpose while playing, the player gets to decide who to help during the quests, which, in turn, will give them the upgrades they need. This means they may be asked to do favors for a character with poor intentions.

 

The player also learns stories about the various inhabitants of Dirah during the quest-based missions and high-speed chases. The storyline includes alternative endings based on the player's choices to make each gaming experience original to the player.

Mertz says she has used various historical points, such as world revolutions and conflicts, in preparation of writing the storyline.

"There are classes within the story itself, so you get quests from different castes," she says. "Essentially the storyline is going to explore the conflicts that are occurring between the different caste systems in the world."

Another unique feature are the randomly generated tracks, which give a unique racing experience with varying conditions each time.

 

The world of SmuggleCraft features 3D abstract graphics and 2D interface elements that is simple, yet stylish. Artist Dana Huth created the randomized worlds using a track generator to put together the worlds piece by piece so they are consistent, yet different. Mertz describes the graphics as being a "minimalist polygonal 3D style, enhanced with bright colors, soft lighting, and unique environmental features." The sci-fi meets art deco world is vividly colored with purples and seafoam greens, as classical meets '80s synth pop music plays in the background from Bravendary.

Steam Greenlight is a platform that allows the Steam community to vote on the indie titles they want to see on the site. Consequently, the developers not only get exposure for their game, but they also are guaranteed that their game will be published on the platform. (It's important to note that games submitted to Greenlight must be completed or nearly completed before entering the program, but most games are typically months away from its release.)

"The Steam community has been a great support for development of the game," Mertz says. "People on Greenlight have provided us with a lot of positive feedback and encouragement, and several community members have made great suggestions that we have taken into consideration during development."

From now until the the game's release, the team at Happy Badger Studio will add new features, like a deeper ship upgrade system where players can further customize their crafts, as well as adding a deeper narrative, more variety within the quests, and support for more multi-player modes to add to its existing single player and multi-player (2) modes available now on the demo version.

SmuggleCraft will be released on PS4 and on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux in 2016.

Gamers looking to check out the hovercraft game before then can play it at the Saint Louis Science Center on Friday, June 5, or at Indianapolis' Indy PopCon on June 26 to 28.

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Photo: Happy Badger Studio

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