A couple of AAA-developers teaming up to make games that actually innovate. Their first project: a game to make your sci-fi fantasy come true. According to them pioneering is much easier in the indie space – ‘In fact, I would say we’re at a point in the games industry where it’s almost impossible to innovate in the AAA space, for a lot of reasons’. What innovation do these Triple A guys bring to the table?
Their 3D game Astrobase Command is inspired by their favourite sci-fi TV series and films (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Stargate Universe, Alien, etc.) In the game you build a space station, recruit characters for your team and… grow attached to them. How? The game is programmed to make you care, by giving the characters personality traits. On top of that, the AI-Storyteller builds a customized narrative based on the traits of your team and the actions you choose to take. Making the story different for every gamer.
Another way to truly immerse you into the sci-fi world is their use of artefacts. The Jellyfish producers believe the use of the classic sci-fi devices such as cartridges and envelopes, as found in ’70s sci-fi, helps to lure you into the game world. Much more than modern sci-fi characteristics which is based more on software developments. A nice example of ’70s inspired hardware tool, see below for their ‘Bioscope’, made to define species’ characteristics.
The guys of Jellyfish have a lot of experience in designing game systems, AI, and technology in general. The skill sets they felt needed to pull off a game as deep as this. “At the core, we’re really a game about being inside your favourite sci-fi tv shows and movies, and playing out the science-fiction fantasy living in your brain. And it’s different for everyone..We don’t want the player to be railroaded into our story. We want to give them the tools to make theirs.” (Dave Williams, founder of the Canadian startup game studio Jellyfish Games.) Have a look at their video below.
‘Everyone we talk to gets excited about this game’ according to Williams. Indeed, Astrobase Command scores great numbers on steam. Clearly it’s a game that people want to buy. But unfortunately, whereas developing innovative games is easier as indie, marketing games turned out much harder…
When Williams was working as producer for AAA, it was really easy to get gaming press. He would get a response the same day. But to get the word out, as indie, has been a challenge – “the irony is that now I’m actually doing something super-interesting, but because I don’t have that @triple-A.com email address, it’s like I’m emailing into black-holes. And I have to point out that this is the same mainstream gaming press that laments the lack of innovative titles. And it’s like… go out and find one! Even if it’s not us.”
The Astrobase Command Kickstarter campaign has 445 backers pledging for $21,424 of the 145,000 goal at the time of writing. Deadline: December 20, 2013.