Crikey – Take A Look At Miasmata

By John Walker on November 7th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

One guy! On his own!

Having successfully fought its way through the Greenlight lion pit, Miasmata is a first-person survival game, created by just two guys – brothers Joe and Bob Johnson (under the silly name of IonFx. Eyeonphnx?). And when they say created, they really mean it. This game in which you must survive on an island, pursued by only one strange creature, has been built from scratch. Take a look at the superb graphics in the trailer below, and then be somewhat amazed that they built the engine too.

I think so much of whether this will work out depends on whether they can make that absolutely intriguing idea – just one enemy – be compelling. As amazing as seeing those lovely squirrels may be.

You’ll be playing as Robert Hughes, infected with a plague and searching for a cure on an island rather unoriginally called Eden. The island was formerly inhabited, and remnants of their civilisation remain, and now features a scientific research outpost. But attempting to rejoin your colleagues, you’ll not be too surprised to learn stuff’s gone wrong.

So it’s open, an island you can explore as you wish, all the while doing your best to avoid a creature that wants to kill you. Because you know what you’re like. It’s capable of stalking you for miles, they say, using what will hopefully be impressive AI and a multitude of senses to keep on your tail. But you’re motivated to keep exploring by the desire to discover a plant that could cure you of your lurgy.

The idea pokes me directly in my want gland – careful, meticulous survival, but with a very specific threat, rather than everything everywhere trying to kill me all the time. But right now I don’t have the faintest idea if it’ll work. There’s still three weeks to wait to find out, with the game due out on the 28th November.

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67 Comments »

  1. AmateurScience says:

    Eye On Fucks?

    Edit: watched the video, full of desire.

  2. Snids says:

    This is literally mindbowling me. In that my brain is being rolled down amazement alley into 10 skittles of disbelief.

    Really impressive.

    • S Jay says:

      TWO guys can do all this? Either they are geniuses or I am very dumb.

      Thinking this through, probably both statements above are true.

  3. Qwallath says:

    Crikey indeed! And so close!

  4. clive dunn says:

    If this game lets you stab squirrels then I’m out.
    If it lets you just watch frogs jump about in a pond for hours then count me in!

  5. eks says:

    This looks incredible, I always love “player vs environment”/survival type games.

  6. sophof says:

    Making a pretty engine isn’t necessarily so hard, making it run well is the challenge.

    • luukdeman111 says:

      According to what reviewers are saying about this game, you hit the nail on the head with this comment!

  7. Carbonated Dan says:

    Last great game of 2012?

    could be, so long as their mouse controls are smoother than whatever lethargic crud was guiding that trailer

    • AmateurScience says:

      looked like a gamepad to me?

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        Actually looked more like the arrow keys were being used in place of mouse look. Imagine using WASD for back / forward etc, but looking around is the arrow keys, like back in the days when games had only just been invented and ID software hadn’t figured out how to plug a mouse in yet. Even gamepads are smoother than that.

    • Aankhen says:

      They commented to say that they were indeed controlling it with a gamepad, as using a keyboard and mouse caused the video to stutter with the specific technique they used to record the footage; the game itself is built for the keyboard and mouse. Odd, but there you have it.

  8. HexagonalBolts says:

    It’s a bit odd how some things look AMAZING and then other things look really awkwardly out of place, like those silent clunky seagull animations – of course it is a miraculous feat that they managed to make the engine at all though

  9. noodlecake says:

    Makes me think of the smoke monster from Lost.

  10. jhng says:

    Gosh that looks impressive. And it seems like there are puzzle/investigation elements as well — kind of Myst meets Far Cry.

    One criticism, though: was the creature seen about half-way through the trailer the monster that is hunting you? If so, for goodness sake, don’t show the monster!

    This looks like a classic case where the atmosphere will be so much more effective if the monster remains an implied rather than direct threat for as long as you can get away with. It can’t be that complicated to code its behaviour so that it moves out of view or hides as you turn to look at it (or whatever). I really hope they think about it.

    • El Stevo says:

      I was thinking that. I feel like I’ve spoiled it for myself now just by watching the trailer.

    • Soon says:

      Yeah, the trailer showed way too much. We should have been stumbling across evidence of its existence; footprints, dung, abandoned lairs, dead squirrels.

    • Urthman says:

      This is one of the problems with Kickstarter/Greenlight. Unless you’re Tim Schafer, you have to show the meat of your game to get people interested enough to vote or pledge support.

  11. Morlock says:

    This is a game I want.

  12. Archipelagos says:

    Wow, this has really caught my interest. Hope it goes well for them.

  13. Avish says:

    Look interesting, except for that microscope animation, which reminds too much of a certain puzzle in the the 7th guest.

  14. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Looks really impressive.
    Two guys making it from scratch? It’s a tech demo then. Can’t see them focusing on much else than the engine.

  15. faelnor says:

    At 0:41 – Looks like it’s going to suffer from the “gather X, Y and Z ingredients and use the cure-o-tron 4000 to create the remedy” plague. With today’s technology, we can afford something a bit more elaborate than that such as realistic lab equipment to extract, synthesize and mix components, even an animal testing session. This could add some interesting gameplay elements (using natural resources to create realistically a makeshift solvent, cultivating cells in a right environment, repairing equipment) instead of looking goofy.

    Suspension of disbelief and all that, but I really think we can do more interesting things today. Hope it’s not a central element to the game.

    • Morlock says:

      Yes! More survival games should include randomised control trials. May I also suggest peer-reviewed publishing?

      • Rawrian says:

        World of Science, the most scientific mmorpg ever.

        • MrLakestream says:

          Are witnessing the birth of the First Person Sciencer? In that case, I’m very much looking forward to Call of Knowledge: Modern Methodology.

    • Jimmy says:

      Good point, though. Suspension of belief is increasingly more difficult, and few single-player games have any sort of sophisticated ideas informing their existence (though The Void). The trailer shows a gather all the stars to get a power-up mechanic, while the “monster” looks a bit Nintendo-scary, but it looks promising and I’m sure it will have an audience nonetheless.

  16. pblackburn says:

    Purdy. Gives me hope for getting a game project going someday with minimal crew.

  17. sparna says:

    Not sure this is graphically as impressive as people think, it’s a little hard to tell in the video but there is very noticeable pop-in at around ten feet from the player at all times.

    Still, it’s a nice-sounding concept and I’m always up for the prospect of a great survival game.

    • The First Door says:

      I’m guessing it is partly to do with the fact the engine was coded by one guy!

  18. Jabberwocky says:

    With all the free or low-cost engines out there, I’m not sure why someone would want to make their own (unless it’s for fun). But regardless, absolutely super impressive for two guys. Cool game.

  19. Stevostin says:

    Do want to play this

  20. BathroomCitizen says:

    Looks very atmosphere-y. Good, good.

    It ‘almost’ feels like the olden times of pc gaming (the golden age for me was the end of the ’90s), where everything developers put out felt new.

  21. SlappyBag says:

    The single antagonist worked for Slender and Amnesia, though both of those are humanoid (which imo is more frightening as it implies the possible human motivations, not just being nom nomy) and they also hide the villian from view a lot.

    If another plague victim was stalking, tracking you for the cure than that would be interesting.

    Also I love the idea mentioned above of having to do your own clinical trials, maybe on the squirrel or rats .

  22. CountVlad says:

    I so want this game! :D
    I like the idea of just one enemy. It’ll give you much more time to actually appreciate the scenery instead of missing it because you have to keep an eye out for enemies the whole time.
    I think I may have seen this game on my list in Greenlight but I skipped over it. Turns out you shouldn’t judge a game by its Greenlight thumbnail.

  23. Scare Tactics says:

    This game looks sooo much better and promising than the other open world stealth game that just reached its kickstarter, if you know what I mean, Sir.

  24. Highstorm says:

    I love the physicality in all the players interactions with items and even HUD elements. Was he doing some kind of triangulation there to reveal points on his map? Awesome stuff!

  25. loganlemmon says:

    There was a game prototype posted perhaps a year ago that reminds me quite heavily of this. It had you scavenging and chopping vegetables and putting red flower specimens you’d found in nature into strange pressing machines. And something about a robotic lady you were rebuilding? Am I crazy?

  26. sk2k says:

    The video looks zoomed in or something. Tiny FOV or just me? :(

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Not just you. Was like the character had accidentally glued binoculars to his face.

  27. Freud says:

    Fantastic concept. Hopefully execution will be as good.

  28. Bart Stewart says:

    To what extent does being stalked by an enemy you can’t defeat directly work against exploration gameplay?

    One of the reasons I didn’t try FTL was the description given here at RPS. Apparently there’s a Rebel fleet that’s pursuing you. From the sound of it (especially in the late game), you have to weigh looking for resources against the risk of being caught by the Rebel fleet.

    That risk, as a deliberate design emphasis, sends the message that “we don’t really want you exploring this world — better get to the exit!” There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; certainly it makes for tense gameplay if you care about winning. But it’s not pro-exploration.

    A similar argument applies to “real-time strategy” games, in which the real-time part breaks any strategic fun by constantly interrupting the thoughtful concentration necessary to perceive patterns and explore strategic possibilities. For that matter, timed games like Scramble With Friends and speed-up arcade-style games like Tetris also penalize exploratory play.

    Which brings me back to Miasmata. Is exploration under time pressure, where you never know if you’re about to be jumped by something that can insta-kill you, as much fun for someone who enjoys exploration play as a game that doesn’t have that kind of uncontrollable challenge?

    • hypercrisis says:

      FTL isn’t open-world or exploration focused, it is a linear RL with a very clear and precise goal, so I’m confused as to what you picture the game as in your head. The FTL diary was misleading, I suppose.

      • Bart Stewart says:

        FTL isn’t open-world or exploration focused, I agree. But it does have what appears to be opportunities for exploration — there are places you can consider going when you enter a new sector.

        What I find odd about that is, at the same time that the game shows you places you might explore, it also warns you that if you do go exploring, the Rebel fleet might get you. That’s not pure evil as game design goes; it’s setting up risk-based choices.

        What I’m pointing out is that this kind of choice discourages exploration as a playstyle. That shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of FTL, since it’s obviously not meant to be “an exploration game.” It’s simply an observation that FTL is an example of a game with some exploration content that then discourages exploration of that content.

        And the point of that observation is to highlight the thought that Miasmata is doing something similar. It sounds like it’s creating an interesting world to explore, then basically discouraging you from doing so because the big bad monster might get you.

        Again, that’s not necessarily a general flaw. Maybe it’s that way by design.

        But for someone who particularly enjoys exploration in games, that kind of “look but don’t touch” thing is a bit of a tease — more frustrating than pleasurable.

  29. VileJester says:

    And you say the engine was made by a single guy…
    Very impressive, also this is the kind of game that would work perfectly with the Oculus Rift.

  30. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Would be cool if you can go swimming to search for sea-based planty / animal things.

  31. captain nemo says:

    Reminds me of collecting plants in Oblivion.

    Nevertheless, it looks excellent. A day one buy for me

  32. Jupiah says:

    I was sold at the point where you had to look for landmarks and triangulate your position in order to fill in new areas on your map. This game looks so incredibly immersive.

  33. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    I was interested until I saw that all the journals were in Comic Sans.

    At least the main character seems to dislike it too, based on the way he dismissively tosses them to the floor when done reading.