How Against The Current’s Chrissy Costanza brought her fantasy video game Starfall to life
Against The Current kicked off a new era last December with the fiery single “blindfolded.” It was the pop-rock trio’s first independent release since 2015’s Gravity EP, and later this year, the band are heading out on their Nightmares & Daydreams world tour, playing shows across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Against The Current are also working on more new music, but that hasn’t stopped vocalist Chrissy Costanza from taking on a “super ambitious” new project.
In January, Costanza confirmed she was CEO of a company called Everlight Worlds, which is currently working on a new massively multiplayer online (MMO) game called Starfall.
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Built in Minecraft, Starfall is “set in a world of adventure, magic [and] elemental dragons.”
“Explore a world where you can battle Sprites against Orcs in a dingy tavern, drink enchanting Elven teas and earn glory in the arena against Leoni warriors,” the official description reads. “In Starfall, you can join an airship crew and explore the lawless frontier of the Skylands, fight pirates, and make your home in the sky!”
“Is there anything you can’t do?” one fan asked Costanza shortly after the announcement of Starfall. “Sleep,” Costanza replied. “There’s too much fun shit to do.” We had to know more, so we called Costanza up to give us the lowdown.
So, Starfall. Tell us everything.
It started off as a lot less than it is now. My boyfriend had come up with this fantasy world, and I fell in love with it because it was all about airships, skylands and magic pirates. It was scratching all the itches of what I was missing in a fantasy world. He was just doing it for fun, but we started talking about doing something with it. The original idea was to start off with a webcomic, but we’re both huge gamers, so obviously, we started talking about how cool it would be to actually run around in this world. We ended up going from zero to 100, and now we’re building a massively multiplayer online, role-playing game, which is my favorite kind of fame. It’s no easy undertaking, though.
[Starfall / Courtesy of Chrissy Costanza]
How far are you along?
We officially formed Everlight, the parent company to Starfall, last May, and we started developing the game in August. Because building an MMO is quite the undertaking, we’re actually scoping in and releasing a closed alpha, five v five, player versus player battle arena within that world, this spring. That will scope out, and eventually, you’ll be able to walk out of that arena into the starting city of New Cambria and start your quests. We’re hoping to have the full beta out by the end of the year.
What do you want players to get from Starfall?
To me, one of the best parts about an MMO is the social aspect. I’ve made friends in games that I’ve kept in touch with, long after I stopped playing. We really want to appeal to the greater MMO audience. It’s built inside Minecraft, but I think people will be blown away by what we’ve achieved because we’ve brought things to a whole new level.
Talk to us about your inspirations.
I obviously grew up loving things like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. In fantasy, we’ve had pirate ships, we’ve had spaceships, we’ve had wizard schools, but we haven’t had a true IP that focuses on skylands and airships. It’s been flirted with, but can you name a famous airship in the same way you can name the Black Pearl or the Millennium Falcon? For us, we want the Calico to be that.
The world of Starfall is so beautiful, magical and fantastical. I really want people to fall in love with this world the way that I fell in love with some of my favorite fantasy worlds. My ultimate dream would be to have the books, movies, TV shows and theme parks. This is a world that I so deeply want to bring to life because it’s so deserving of it. I know people might think I’m biased because my boyfriend came up with it, but trust me: We weren’t dating that long when he showed me.
[Starfall / Courtesy of Chrissy Costanza]
And you’re CEO of it all. What does that involve?
Because we’re a startup, I’m pretty much involved in everything. I’m tech support, I’m admin, I’m payroll, I’m creative. I’m not as good at coding, so they don’t let me touch the back end, which is probably for the best. We’re a small team, but we’re powerful — and growing.
You’ve spent years building a community of fans with Against The Current. More recently, you’ve curated a community through streaming and gaming. How much pressure is there, with your name attached to Starfall?
There is definitely a pressure, especially when we launched the project on social media. I was worried about what people would think, but with this, I have the same mentality that I take with Against The Current. There’s always a risk that when you put a new song out, someone’s going to call it shit or say they hate the band, but at the end of day, why should anyone be a fan of your music if you're not a fan of it yourself? So, I am the self-proclaimed biggest fan of Against The Current, and I am the self-proclaimed biggest fan of Starfall. I truly believe in it more than anything in the world.
But the reaction already has been incredible. On the first day, we had over 1,000 people sign up to our mailing list, and honestly, I didn’t even think they were still a thing in 2023. Fans have already been asking such detailed questions about the lore, which is amazing. Having a hyperpassionate audience is far more exciting to me than having a big one.
You’ve set up an entire company. I take it there’s more to come from Everlight?
I’ve been playing games since I was 3. Starfall is our first adventure into gaming, but I don’t foresee it being our last. I don’t want to say too much about it, but there’s a game in my head that I’ve always wanted to play. I’ve spent years searching for something that will fulfill that vision, but I don’t think it exists. My goal would be to create that game, but I’m all in on Starfall right now.
Any regrets about taking on such a huge undertaking while also doing the rock star day job?
Sometimes I look back and realize, we really just went for it. But we’ve always just been driven by passion, and that's always how I've done pretty much anything in life. It wasn't really about what was best for me — it was more about what was best for Starfall. When you're really passionate about something, you make it work. You find those hours in the day. I'm really lucky that gaming and music are my favorite things in the world. That's what I would do with all my free time, if I had any.
I have a lot of interests, and I love exploring them. I also don't worry too much about what people think about it. If no one pays attention, I'm still having a good time, but if people like it and respond to it, that’s brilliant. I just chase down my passions and do the things that make me happy. The gaming community really embraced me after Against The Current did the League Of Legends anthem “Legends Never Die” in 2017, and now, there’s different parts of me that feel at home in those different worlds. What I have realized is that I’m not just one thing.
[Starfall / Courtesy of Chrissy Costanza]
We’ve obviously seen the rise of platforms like Discord in recent years, while bands like Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold are building communities in the metaverse. Do you think more bands will pivot their fanbase toward these more interactive environments?
I do think so because the world is becoming more globalized, and people like to hang out on the internet together. It makes sense to create virtual spaces for that to happen. However, I think the artists that do it really well will be the ones that actually care about creating something meaningful out of it all. It’s always been such a turn-off when people jump into gaming because they think it’s the hot new thing. That said, the gaming community is super inclusive and welcoming. I think new people should always feel free to jump in. There’s a game for everybody, really, and anybody can be a gamer. People should really give it a chance.
Against The Current released “blindfolded” last year. How is everything in that world?
Oh, there's definitely more to come. We're working on new music at the moment, and I personally think it’s the best stuff we’ve ever made. It’s that blending of pop and something a little heavier, which is our sweet spot, really. I think the plan is to stay indie. We’ve had such a great experience doing it on our own again and having all the freedom in the world to do things the way we want to do them.