Reactor Interactive, the team behind the award-winning space combat game Sector 13, is a multi-occupational, multi-generational, multi-continental indie game development studio. Originating as the college dream of Drew Clark and Ryan Buhr in 2001, Sector 13 began taking shape as Drew and Ryan invited volunteer developers to dream with them, eventually including team members from North and South America, Europe and Asia, ranging in ages from their 20’s to their 60’s, who hold day jobs in fields as diverse as programming, medicine, military and religion. The team’s long-term commitment to the dream has allowed us to meld our different experiences and tastes into the final product of Sector 13, resulting in a space combat experience that’s as exciting for nostalgic fans of the great space combat games of the past two decades as well as those new to a genre that hasn’t seen adequate service since the late 90’s. We got the chance to chat with the team and asked them a few questions about what they’ve been up to with their Myo Alpha unit and why they’re excited about the future with wearable technology.
What are you working on right now?
Art-wise, we are currently working on a new arena asset for Sector 13 that we’re referring to as the “gun platform” – a large floating mini-space station that will house large guns to ward off attacking capital ships in our “Hell’s Porch” arena. It will serve as level geometry for players to interact with, as well as an objective in certain game modes.
On the programming front, we’re currently implementing our missile lock-on function to be more intuitive and context-sensitive, as well as enabling more elements in our head-up display and hooking those elements up to game data.
What have you built for the Myo armband?
The genius behind the Myo is that we didn’t build our game for it. Myo just works. We’ve always avoided new and trendy platforms and interfaces that we felt would fundamentally change the game we are making. For example, to give Sector 13 gyroscopic controls would require a fundamental change in our game design, so we’ve never elected to compromise our gameplay by re-engineering it for a tablet or smartphone.
The Myo is different. Myo is an interface that’s so natural and intuitive that we didn’t have to re-engineer our core gameplay in order to support it. Myo can do almost anything a traditional controller can do, so it’s completely seamless. This is a first for us, and we’re excited for what it could mean for Sector 13 and for games in general.
What do you envision for the future of wearable tech?
The first wearable tech, the wristwatch, was not immediately perceived as a technological augmentation of human ability – it was as much a fashion accessory as it was a useful piece of technology. This is where wearable tech needs to be in order to enter the mainstream. A technology like Google Glass needs to look more like a normal set of eyeglasses and less like a bionic robot eye from the future. We see the potential for these technologies to vastly change the way we interact with each other and our environment, but in order to be accepted to the point of ubiquity, they need to integrate as seamlessly into our wardrobe as a wristwatch or a pair of glasses.
What’s one tech trend that really excites you?
As video game developers, we’re always excited about trends that advance the gaming experience. We, like many other people and developers, are very excited for the potential of the latest generation of Virtual Reality interfaces. We’re also very excited for what technologies like the Myo could mean to the world of VR gaming. We are very much looking forward to a future where we get to plug into the matrix and experience our games as if they were reality.
What are your three favorite online tools?
That’s easy. We couldn’t do what we do without Skype, Google Docs and Dropbox. Our team is global, and most of us have never met one other in person, despite having worked with each other for almost 10 years. Communication and document and file sharing have been key to our constant and close-knit collaboration.