Steam Greenlight Spotlight: Project Awakened
Project Awakened is an ambitious action game that promises to allow you to be who you want to be. I would understand if you dismiss such a bold claim as marketing fluff, but don't be so quick to judge based on that alone. Like I said, it's ambitious, but if the early prototypes are any indication, that claim may not be as farfetched as you may think. It may also explain why the game isn't even planned to hit beta until 2014 and there's a $500,000 Kickstarter campaign to help with the funding.
Let's start with a little background. Project Awakened is being developed by Phosphor Games, a Chicago-based game studio. The studio has developed two critically acclaimed mobile games, The Dark Meadow and Horn, but also comprises of many people from the now defunct Midway Chicago studio, so there is plenty of AAA development experience on the team. It was at Midway where the idea for the game originated, where many of the core ideas behind Project Awakened came from a never-completed project called Hero.
What's really impressive with Project Awakened is its sandbox approach to character creation. It's essentially a build-your-own-superhero game, with near limitless possibilities and combinations. Aside from choosing the look of your character, you actually get to build your abilities as well. Using an ability creation tool, you select the targeting type, what effects will occur (of which you can choose multiple), and the type of each effect. After you're done creating the "functional" aspect of your ability, it's on to the aesthetics – choose where the ability emanates from, what animation will play, particle effects, sound, and the visuals after impact. You'll also get to choose "the energy cost per second, recharge timer, and ability 'power' cost," though I'm unsure how that comes into play; if there will be restrictions based on what abilities you choose or if there's no limit to your power.
All those abilities wouldn't mean a thing without a world to use them in. Phosphor Games promises a "present day world with tomorrow's technology, a world that responds to player creations/characters, [and] missions that can be completed from multiple approaches." Phosphor Games is building what it calls a "hub-and-spoke game world, where players will explore a rich city environment, and then venture off into more linear storytelling areas that have specific puzzles and combat scenarios that can be approached differently depending on the character." If you want to go into the nitty gritty of the game world, I strongly advise you to read the "Immersive World" section of the Kickstarter page, because this Spotlight is already getting rather lengthy!
The initial base game will feature a replayable single player campaign, basic Create-A-Player functionality, and "unsupported" multiplayer (meaning no lobbies). Various Kickstarter stretch goals promise to expand the experience well beyond that of the base game. The first stretch goal ($650,000) brings a deeper Create-A-Player, with "more skills and appearance options, more abilities, weapons, and gear options." At $800,000, basic modding support will be added. At $1,000,000, the game gets "basic multiplayer support, small number of multiplayer game objectives, and basic matchmaking." At $1,500,000, we get many more abilities and costume pieces, as well as "an extended single player campaign with a deeper story." There are also three additional stretch goals that are currently hidden.
Though all the current prototypes have been using the Unreal Engine 3, Project Awakened is going to be an Unreal Engine 4 game, which should mean even more amazing graphics, physics, and particle effects in the future. Work on UE4 has already begun, so Phosphor Games said we can expect a UE4 character demo soon. It's a shame that mod support is listed as a stretch goal and not something automatically included, but even without mod support, this game offers a lot. Besides, even without official mod support, you know that hasn't stopped the PC modding community before!
So, "who do you want to be?"