Galacticare interview: “It’s taken a lot of work and love”

by on May 20, 2024

Galacticare is a sci-fi hospital-simulation that we’ve been following for a while now. Nearly a year ago, we first got our hands on the game for preview, so given the opportunity we were keen to speak to Lee Moon, Community Manager, and Dante de Glanvill, Narrator and Acoustic Wizard about the ideas behind the game, inspirations, post-launch support, and the team’s hopes for the game going forward.

Read on to find out more about the game, and where it all started.

Where did the idea behind Galacticare come from?

All the way back in 2015, as we just finished pushing War for the Overworld out the door, we naturally started to think about what was next. One of the ideas was to look at other underserviced genres from studios that inspired us, and Theme Hospital was an obvious game to re-envision. Making a spiritual successor to that meant we’d be making something quite different from our last game, but still in the ballpark of what we wanted to do.

The contemporary setting of Theme Hospital wasn’t a good fit for us, so we thought about combining it with other things we enjoyed. Startopia, a game about managing a space station with aliens, was one of the inspirations. It just made sense – an opportunity to have a lot of fun with the idea of healing people, rather than building dark, dingy, evil dungeons.


There’s a lot of humour in Galacticare, was that always the aim?

Definitely. The kinds of games we love and are inspired by are all full of humour and satire, and typically in a very British way. There are also lots of great sci-fi comedies out there, and it was pretty clear that drawing on those inspirations for the writing would be the best fit for Galacticare’s colourful, exaggerated, bizarre world.

It took a lot of balancing – it’s important that the player doesn’t feel pestered while they’re managing their hospital, and we desperately wanted to avoid being too “zany” – but we’re pretty happy with how the tone of the game’s writing has turned out.

Is anything in Galacticare based on real world medicine?

Very little, in all honesty. One key reason for the sci-fi setting was to allow us to detach Galacticare from reality.

We didn’t want the player to be dealing with contemporary diseases and treatments – primarily because we didn’t want to be making light of serious, real-world problems that people face, but also because there’s a whole lot more you can do with outer space and aliens as your backdrop.


The difficulty is quite laid back for the most part, was that intentional?

We definitely wanted the game to be approachable – an experience where players could take their time “gardening” their hospital with features and decorations, investing in it and making it theirs. Being overly difficult or punishing ran counter to that goal. Unless you’re deliberately mucking around, it’s very hard to “lose” a scenario in Galacticare, by design.

In addition to that, though, there are plenty of systems to master, and ways to maximise your hospital throughput, effectiveness, patient satisfaction, and so on. Actually getting to grips with Galacticare’s systems is the only way to achieve the maximum Hospital Rating, which in turn gets you unique rewards.

In short, the baseline experience shouldn’t get in the way of players who want to make the coolest looking hospital they can, but the systems of our simulation are rich enough that there’s a pretty high skill cap for those who’re looking for a challenge.

What made you decide to switch from the dungeon management style, to hospital, albeit in space?

We’re obviously heavily inspired by all the classic Bullfrog titles – making a spiritual successor to Dungeon Keeper is literally why our studio began – and “Theme Hospital, but in space” was a pretty easy pitch. The dungeon management/hospital management genres also have a lot of overlap, so the design space made a lot of intuitive sense.

Aside from that, though, it was also quite interesting to shift to a zero-combat game design where the challenge players face is very different from what we’ve made before. It was also an opportunity to make something more narratively driven, with a very distinct personality, and the concept let us go bonkers with our conditions and room treatments. The opportunity to make space healthcare as flavourful as possible was a really intriguing idea.


It’s been around 10 months since we previewed it, what’s changed?

All the edge cases where characters swore are now bleeped out, and we’re all significantly more tired than we were 10 months ago.

In all seriousness, a whole lot has changed. Level balancing, core mechanics, UI, art, animation, pathfinding, narrative – pretty much everything has been updated, upgraded, or reworked to some degree. As a specific example, we’ve spent a lot of time working on controller & console support, and the game is now actually fun to play on those devices. That seemed almost impossible, given Galacticare’s genre and design, but the code and UI teams have managed to make it work fantastically.

It’s crazy how much a game’s overall “feel” emerges in the final stretch of development. All the rough edges get smoothed out, the unnecessary bumps and interruptions get solved and, bit by bit, change by change, the game slowly comes together as a coherent experience. It’s taken a lot of work and love, but Galacticare’s now the game we always wanted it to be.

Do you have plans to support it after launch?

We’ve been known to stick to our games for some time after launch and there’s always the very much anticipated iterative improvements and features that can only come from the feedback of actually getting the game into player’s hands. But what lies beyond that is up in the air until the game is out there. Needless to say we know there’s so much more that Galacticare can give.

One of the important parts of building up the narrative for Galacticare is ensuring it feels like it’s a living, breathing and continuing universe, filled with characters who are more than just cardboard cutouts who serve a one-and-done purpose.

We built the universe to enable us to tell more stories, and we hope we’ll have the opportunity to tell some of those stories through expansions. There’s plenty of space to explore and so much more to learn about our cast. And though we’re satisfied with the conclusions to the story thus far, there’s a very big galaxy to explore.


What games inspire you? Has anything you’ve played recently lit the flame?

Of course we’re heavily inspired by the classic titles in the genre – Theme Hospital and Two Point Hospital – and we’re forever inspired by all of Bullfrog’s titles. Mucky Foot’s Startopia is also a very strong influence for Galacticare’s setting.

More recently, we were impressed with Jurassic World: Evolution in a number of ways. Their approach to persistence was great and has served as a foundation for some of the, er, evolutions we’re making to the genre. Outside of games, we’re also heavily inspired by science fiction across the board. Star Trek, Futurama, Red Dwarf and The Orville are all key influences for us.

What are your hopes for the game, in general?

As always, we just hope people have fun with it, and enjoy its gameplay, characters, and the world we’ve made. Galacticare has been in the works for a long time now and actually getting it into the hands of players and seeing their responses is the most exciting part of the journey.

We hope that in particular people will take to the characters and narrative, we think it’s one of the things we’ve taken the most different approach on. It’s a little comedic space opera in a management game wrapping. Which is hopefully going to come across as unique and fun!

Galacticare is coming to PC via Steam, PS5, and Xbox Series S|X.