Mass Affect: Ambrov X Boasts BioWare Talent

By Nathan Grayson on September 6th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

I hope that bottom choice means I can always solve my problems by poisoning somebody.

If I had to guess, I’d imagine that the Mass Effect series probably cost EA and BioWare somewhere in the realm of $17.53 to produce. That said, I am terrible with numbers and am willing to allow a slight amount of wiggle room up to, say, $999 quadrillion. It comes as a bit of a surprise, then, that developer Loreful hopes to achieve similar (though decidedly lower-fidelity) scope in Ambrov X with a mere $500,000. On the upside, it’s working with the exceedingly fascinating Sime~Gen sci-fi universe and may well manage to procure the services of former BioWare senior creative type Jennifer Hepler. But there are a few bumps on the lightspeed wish-upon-a-(kick)star(ter) highway to completion – not the least of which is the fact that Hepler won’t be on board unless this non-legacy game franchise can beam up $750,000.

Yeah, it looks a little rough at this point. Then again, Loreful’s been very upfront in pointing out that this is pre-alpha footage, so it stands to change pretty massively before its planned 2015 release date. But still: that running animation. Yikes.

The game’s universe – which is set in the decades-old Sime~Gen saga created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah – sounds exceedingly intriguing, however. The story is an ambitious multi-chapter effort that spans all sorts of worlds, ideologies, and political systems, but the pulsating fissure at the heart of the universe is one of a distinctly personal nature.

“Our character-driven story is fueled by yourself, your companion and the unique bond you share. It focuses on a single but incredibly deep relationship that varies depending on your race and gender. As a Sime, you play a character of tremendous power and driving need. You depend on your companion to feed from their life energy, and gain incredible power from doing so. But there is violence in your very nature – can you refrain from the thrill of the kill?”

“As a Gen, your power over your companion is both absolute and terrifyingly fragile. What are the limits of your ability to give of yourself to strengthen your power as a team?  The bond between Sime and Gen is a powerful one, but far more dangerous than anyone admits. Failure to maintain this delicate bond may risk losing yourself, your companion and peace amongst your people.”

The rest sounds like the stuff of fairly standard BioWare-inspired space opera role-playing, so think action-based combat, choices that boast a lack of good/evil binaries, and lots of objects that hum with a soothing blue glow for no apparent reason.

For obvious reasons, Hepler’s talents would be quite useful in orchestrating this space opera, but she’s currently off in the far-flung reaches of Stretch Goal Hyperquadrant II. You might remember her as the BioWare employee who dared to suggest that RPGs don’t always need combat, which prompted unending, utterly gross harassment from gaming’s nuttiest of peanut galleries. Recently, she left BioWare “for family reasons” and to pursue freelance work, and now here she is. Will she actually join the Ambrov X team full-time? It’s tough to say at this point, though the Kickstarter’s (as of writing) total of a bit more than $30,000 doesn’t bode particularly well.

Still though, the universe sounds interesting, and I’d love to see a less EA-ified take on the galaxy-trotting outer space contemplaction genre. Think you’ll end up backing it?

__________________

« | »

, , , , , .

144 Comments »

  1. Lars Westergren says:

    I wonder if they might be aiming a little too high here. Mass Effect scope, with a couple of orders of magnitude smaller budget.

    • Nick says:

      The scope in Mass Effect is pretty small thanks to the budget. You do remember the endlessly reused assets and mission types right?

  2. Gap Gen says:

    Again with the mis-reading, it took me a long time to figure out this wasn’t called Slime~Gen.

  3. BTAxis says:

    Considering this game seems to focus on a number of things I disliked about Mass Effect, I’m less than enthusiastic.

  4. Rather Dashing says:

    Her clothing is official fleet uniform?

  5. Bhazor says:

    Well The Witcher 2 was made at a fraction of the cost of Mass Effect and was better in every way. So it’s possible to make big ambitious games on the cheap.

    … but Jennifer Hepler was a lead Bioware writer on Dragon Age 2 and that’s their ace in the hole. The lead writer of Dragon Age 2.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.. Why the hell would her involvement be a plus?

      EDIT.. After watching the vid, it looks far too much like Mass Effect, that vid could have taken place on the citadel for god’s sake.. that’s not a plus either, I never considered ME’s visual style to be very imaginative or creative.. and this is very clone-ish.

      Anyway, the way to get me interested in funding a sci-fi RPG ISN’T to mention Mass Effect as an influence.

    • Anthile says:

      The writing was the least of the game’s problems.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        Hell, the writing is the best part about Dragon Age 2.

        • Ravenholme says:

          That’s really not saying much, you know.

        • Lars Westergren says:

          I thought the best part was that they for once went away from the “You are the chosen one and only you can save the world from complete destruction with your awesomeness” template for the main storyline.

          The execution of what they replaced it with left something to be desired though.

          • RedViv says:

            So is plot not part of the really broad “writing” category? :P

          • Lars Westergren says:

            Consider my answer a specification of Drake Sigar’s post, not a refutation. :)

        • Neo says:

          Can’t say I agree with this, the only part of the game that was remotely well written was the Qunari(sp?) chapter.

          All the characters were cliched, the Mages vs. Templars plot was exceeding awful and the ‘romance’ that Bioware is praised for so often was ham-fisted and executed so poorly that it was very easy to accidentally trigger love scenes with party members when you were just trying to be a decent person.

          Of course, none of it can top the fact that just about every single mage in the game complained about the supposedly false assumption that they were blood mages, only to turn around and use blood magic within seconds.

          • Drake Sigar says:

            You don’t agree that the writing is the best part of Dragon Age 2?

            I never actually said it was great. Only that it’s the best part in a game that was designed from the ground up just plain wrong.

          • Neo says:

            I have to admit that I enjoyed playing a warrior with every possible mobility skill to some extent, which is more than I can say for the writing.

    • Lanfranc says:

      “… but Jennifer Hepler was a lead Bioware writer on Dragon Age 2″

      No she wasn’t. David Gaider was the lead writer. Hepler was a member of the writing team, just as she was on DA: Origins and The Old Republic. But for some reason, some fans seem to have decided that DA2 was all her fault personally, for reasons that I will abstain from speculating on.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        We’ll far be it from me to to come across as a sexist.. so I’ll state Gaider is a dick also.

        See.. I’m an equal oppotunities hater.

      • Neo says:

        Some people think that way because of her statement in an interview that playing games is her least favourite thing about the industry and that she would support the inclusion of a “fast forward button” to skip through everything that wasn’t dialogue.

        Of course that doesn’t justify the insults that were directed at her from the masses of the internet, however I do think that choosing to work in the games industry might not be the best decision for an individual who admits to not actually liking games.

        • Neo says:

          She also didn’t do herself any favours with comments like “I just figure they’re jealous that I get to have both a vagina AND a games industry job, and they can’t get either.”

          • RProxyOnly says:

            She said that?

            FUUUUUUU……

          • magos says:

            I don’t think that we can really judge a person for failing to respond perfectly to bullying.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            psh! People will judge others for anything

          • RProxyOnly says:

            @Magros

            Maybe, maybe not.. but we can certainly judge them based on the outrageous thing they say (:P), especially making it a public statement.. and it would seem to point at her opinions, so judgement, here, seems appropriate.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Oh no look out everyone, a WOMAN made a dirty JOKE (that also happens to be kind of true and possibly makes me insecure about my cocksmanship) BURN THE WITCH

          • InternetBatman says:

            It’s a stupid, stereotyping, lazy, sexist joke. I wouldn’t accept sammich jokes from a male writer, and I won’t accept lonely virgin jokes or mother’s basement jokes from female writers.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            How is it sexist?

            Anyway, she was responding to bullying and harassment, as I understand it- others had already tossed out the rules of civilized discourse, and she just decided to give as good as she’d been getting. So…

            [puts on sunglasses]

            Bully for her.

          • The Random One says:

            Yeah, that wasn’t sexist, just, uh, nerdist? And nerds are as quick to condemn any perceived assault on our subculture as they are to shrug off any time displays of prejudice on games or by games people as overreactions or empty pleas for attention.

          • Jenks says:

            I don’t understand. Nerds are jealous that she has a vagina? Nerds are closet trannies?

        • jrodman says:

          Why do you feel it’s wrong for someone who doesn’t love to play games to work in the games industry?
          Is it wrong for someone who doesn’t love money to work for a financial services firm?

          I work for a company that makes tools used by syadmins and IT departments, and I don’t like sysadminning or IT departments (from experience). Is that wrong?

          The reality is that various skillsets needed to make various products and various companies go are associated with various interests. The idea that everyone who works on games should love games is kind of putting our hobby on some silly pedestal.

          • Neo says:

            Fair enough, people who don’t like games can work in the games industry all they like.

            But they shouldn’t be in creative positions.

          • Emeraude says:

            I don’t really care whether she likes games or not. Nor should anyone really.

            What I do care about is that she is in a position where her opinions can directly inform, and in my opinion hurt, the end product.

          • RProxyOnly says:

            But the money industry, to use your example, doesn’t rely on creative inspiration, you do a job and that’s it.

            Not so for an actual creative endevour, and inspiration CERTAINLY suffers when there is no personal motivation.. so yeah, for the sake of quality she absolutely shouldn’t be in the industry.

          • jrodman says:

            That’s a half-backpedal but it’s still the same stance.

            “People who don’t like games shouldn’t work in creative positions on games.”

            First of all, that wasn’t her position. What she was really saying is lots of things about games as she currently experiences them, she doesn’t like.

            But in any event, requiring everyone to sing the company song in order to participate is bollocks. Requiring it only for “creative staff” is also bollocks. Sure, if you’re going to write for games you should *probably* be familiar with the medium. But all this complaining about her comments is based around demonstration that she IS familiar, just not fond of of it.

            The cliche says that gadflies and malcontents drive things forwards. I don’t know if it’s true, but if all you can do is hire “hoo-ray” employees, you’re a dumb employer. But that’s your right to be a dumb employer if it’s your company.

            If it’s someone else’s company, you should really shut up about who they should hire.

          • Volcanu says:

            Admittedly there are certain industries where you’d expect the people who work in it (at least in the ‘product’ creation side) to be highly passionate about their medium – fashion, film, etc. You’d expect this to be the case for ‘creatives’ in the games industry too.

            That said, if her role is as a writer, then there is nothing to say that that she couldnt do a sterling job of writing dialogue/developing a plot despite not being into playing games herself. I dont see that as an absolute necessity – providing she isn’t there to shape the way the game ‘plays’. If she’s there to ‘do the story’ and stories are what interests her, I dont see that as a major problem (providing of course she’s good at it).

            On the flipside, I know plenty of people who are incredibly passionate about games who wouldnt be able to write compelling stories and dialogue.

            Probably not the smartest thing to vocalise your lack of interest, but I’m not sure it deserves quite this level of vitriol.

          • The Random One says:

            If my main accomplishment was Dragon Age 2 I wouldn’t like games either.

            THANK YOU I’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK

          • gwathdring says:

            “Not so for an actual creative endevour, and inspiration CERTAINLY suffers when there is no personal motivation.. so yeah, for the sake of quality she absolutely shouldn’t be in the industry.”

            I think this is a misunderstanding of the creative arts. Some people rely heavily on inspiration, sure. But even those without the luxury of collaboration–your typical playwright, author or poet–quite often relies on craft first and inspiration second. Among the most respect writers of our time there is a mix–those who relied on sheer practice to hone their craft and those who from a very young age captured a specific zeitgeist that in turn captured their audiences. Acting as though only the later sort can ever be properly “creative” is just plain silly.

            Games are a collaborative medium. People working on different pieces have to be able to coordinate without necessarily having personal investment in each other’s pieces of the project. Ideally, everyone is at least appreciative of the work everyone else does and understands where it fits into the project as a whole. As long as you are willing and able to create writing that fits with the other design pieces, it doesn’t especially matter if you personally enjoy the shooty-slashy parts that result. If your dislike of playing games gets in the way of you understanding how to integrate your writing into the mechanical design process of your particular team … then we have a problem. But I’d wager there are plenty of writers that love games and struggle with that, too.

            Think of it this way. I can get a corny joke, and make a corny joke that makes all my friends laugh because it’s just the right combination of corny and surprising and absurd. I don’t have to find such jokes funny to do that, do it well, and do it consistently. I just have to understand why OTHER people find it funny and hone my craft.

            I don’t know much about Jennifer Helper but every time I hear her criticized, I see her mis-attributed to a more powerful position than she actually held and I see her blamed for everything bad about whatever work she was attached to. This makes me uncomfortable.

        • Christo4 says:

          Games are meant to be played, as in have an actual gameplay, not only dialogue, so i can understand why some people have resentment over her.
          If she doesn’t like to play games why doesn’t she just go write for visual novels?

          • Lars Westergren says:

            Dialogue “battles” can be valid gameplay, just look at Alpha Protocol or Planescape: Torment. So can exploration of a fascinating world and a good storyline. If you define “gameplay” as just shooting stuff, why don’t you play paintball instead?

          • Neo says:

            Nice strawman, where exactly did he mention combat?

            In the quote from Jennifer Hepler she mentions, as well as combat, that she also dislikes inventory systems, anything that requires strategy, anything that requires hand-eye coordination and navigating maps.

          • Emeraude says:

            Narrative control can offer pretty good gameplay. The thing is that we want it to intersect with and complement other systems. Not be segregated from them (a thing Alpha Protocol did fairly decently… Torment less often, but it did do half-bad either).

            There’s a very good piece on this very site about where The Witcher, while being pretty rough around the edges, excelled from a design standpoint: the autopsy case.

            Overall better integration of the various systems into one another is desirable. Wanting to segregate them – that is wanting to merge two different games, one of combat/exploration/skill uses and one a visual novel, while keeping them unrelated on gameplay standpoint is diminishing the overall possible experience.

          • jrodman says:

            @Neo: Lars already identified a major game mechanic in the games she helped to create which is not on that list.

            This is not what “straw man” means.

          • Neo says:

            Lars asserted that Christo defined “gameplay” as “shooting things”, thus misrepresenting his position. I think you’ll find that’s exactly what straw man means.

          • jrodman says:

            It was a conditional, to make a point, in the style of the comment being replied to.

            Reaching into the random internet argument basket isn’t really very convincing.

          • dE says:

            Conflict is a central part of stories. A young child growing up and having to come to terms with itself is a conflict. Someone falling in love and trying to tell their feelings, is fighting a conflict. To name but two examples of conflict.
            Deep within the heart of a game, every input you make is weighted on a simple set of rules, further simplified by the example: If something in relation to something else has this value, do this, else do something else. Games compare values. These values are part predefined, part player input. How then, when every story has conflict (social, emotional, physical and many other shapes) at its heart and when at the heart of the game, it’s nothing but values and numbers you influence, does it matter if you’re only getting dialogue or some other gameplay mechanic? It quite literally does the same: Influence values at the programming level of the game. Influence conflict.

            The sheer notion that this person should stop working in the industry, because she prefers one gameplay mechanic over another, is about as idiotic as it gets. /edit:
            To be fair, you didn’t explicitely mention this, but hinted at it with your closing comment.

            Tell me, did you ever moan about brown FPS Shooters or the state of the industry? Maybe didn’t like platformers or a certain type of indie games? Heck, you hinted at your disdain for visual novels. Well, get out of the industry, by your very own logic.

          • Emeraude says:

            @dE: is your post addressed to me ?

            If so, you’re either misunderstanding, or misrepresenting my point.

          • dE says:

            Referring to Christo.

        • Drake Sigar says:

          Fahrenheit, Metal Gear Solid, the gaming industry is full of wannabee movie directors, authors, etc, who’ve given us some masterpieces. It’s not so uncommon that some of the people in these creative positions aren’t really that into the whole gaming thing.

    • Emeraude says:

      She’s getting a bad rap for the wrong reasons methinks.

      Some of the stuff he wrote for DA:O was decent enough – nothing great, but nothing awful either.

      Now, her position of wanting to segregate narrative-focused gameplay from other gameplay elements, that irks me the wrong way.

      • gorkomatic says:

        Well, not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it?

        On one hand:
        “Help us bring Chris Avellone to the team! He is famous for, among other things, Planescape Torment and Mask of the Betrayer!”

        On other:
        “Help us bring Jennifer Hepler to the team! She worked on DA2 and her writing can sometimes be kinda decent!”

        Also, it’s worth noting that untill yesterday all you got (from $25 onward) was 3-5 hour long episode 1. Though now apparently it changed to “all the episodes”.

        • bleeters says:

          Eh. I personally found the parts of Origins she wrote – the dwarf commoner intro and much of the Orzammar section of the game proper – to be two of the best parts of the whole game.

        • I Got Pineapples says:

          Yeah. I mean, she’s not responsible for all the problems with Dragon Age 2′s writing, which mostly suffered from just condensing most of the weak points in the standard Bioware book of writing tools into one place and being kind of pander-y, and she’s not really all that terrible. Her issue is mainly that they found an interview where she was advocating as a plus a lot of the things people thought were an issue with the game and shit got out of hand, as it often does on the internet.

          However, and I wish I wasn’t using another female writer here, it reminds me of when people got excited over Rhianna Pratchett writing stuff and I honestly cannot for the life of me see why. As in there is no actual reason for it unless you’re really a fan of kinda workmanlike writing.

          • bleeters says:

            Out of interest, is that the actual interview she did, or the one that people faked in an effort to discredit her.

            I ask because the last part was a thing that happened.

      • Keyrock says:

        She wrote the dwarven parts of DA:O, which, as far as I am concerned, were the most interesting parts of the entire series.

  6. BobbyDylan says:

    Am I doosh for not liking the set design. why the hell are the environments so big. Those doors look like they were meant for cargo, not people. I get it’s a camera limitation (3rd person) but it smacks too much of MMO to me. As a prolific Kickstarter junkie, Im’a pass on this one.

    • Jonfon says:

      After watching the footage you’re right. I can also assume that every character was also shrunk in the wash. Other than terrible-looking-MMO-dog-boss-thing that is.

      Not really impressed with this, reminds me of the non-ship bits of STO more than anything.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Not only that. Developers, please, a word of advice: if you don’t have the budget or skills to make good realistic graphics (ala most AAA games), then don’t make them at all! There’s nothing worse than seeing an uninspired boring mess of a “realistic” art style where all the characters appear to be made out of plastic and all the environments are so forgettable you’d manage to get lost in the three rooms of your own ship.

      There’s so many possible art styles that it always pains me to see time wasted on an art style that seems entirely incompatible with the budget or skills of the team.

      • gwathdring says:

        I agree in principle. But … that requires getting a capable and distinct visual artist on board who can also model and animate, which is MORE difficult as getting a capable modeler/animator on-board for the “realistic” style. I suppose they could go for a DIFFERENT kinda-dull art style, but if visual art isn’t the focus of their project, I’m not sure how much trying a more original style without highly skilled artists on-board is going to help.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      I agree, I long for some claustrophobic spaceships.

  7. kwyjibo says:

    The SimeGen universe seems lame and contrived.

    Humans split into two subspecies, only one of which produces a “life energy” which the other needs to feed off?

    It’s just space vampires, but with stupid terminology, and none of the dark sexiness.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Yeah, I don’t see the love for the ‘Sime-Gen’ universe either.. She wrote good Trek.. but SG just seems silly, yes, ‘contrived’ is a very good word.

    • Schiraman says:

      Absolutely agree – I’ve never heard of it before this Kickstarter and having read the Wikipedia page on it, it just sounds like dreadful, contrived fanfic.

      Can anyone more familiar with the series explain why we should be excited for this?

    • gwathdring says:

      Yeah … it pushes all of my “This doesn’t make any sense” buttons without pushing any of my “but it’s so awesome” or “suspend disbelief because internal consistency” buttons simultaneously.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Yeah, it just seems like a dumb way of forcing two characters together.

      • gwathdring says:

        How do we get these two groups of people to need each other? THEY PHYSICALLY NEED EACH OTHER TO LIVE.

        Oh. Well that’s … one solution.

  8. RProxyOnly says:

    I’m a sci-fi lover and rpg addict, I do not approve of this message.

  9. karthink says:

    A third person “cinematic” action RPG with fully voiced dialog for $500,000? They’re either fooling their backers or fooling themselves. From the current state of Shadowrun Returns and The Banner Saga, it doesn’t seem like you can even make a 2D isometric text-only game for that much money.

    • Makariel says:

      Let’s not forget Broken Age, or shall I say Broken Financing, which shows that making a simple point & click adventure (only partially voiced by Jack Black) can cost a bit more than 500k.

      • karthink says:

        But Broken Age is cinematic and fully voice acted, and (apparently) comparable in scope to Grim Fandango or Brutal Legend. So it makes sense for it to cost what it does.

      • welverin says:

        Broken Age has a scope problem, Tim grossly over designed and wrote a game much bigger than the budget he had.

        The intent for the original Kickstarter concept was for a much smaller game.

    • Leb says:

      wouldn’t making a 3D game be easier?

      Banner Saga is a pretty bad comparison since everything in there is hand drawn.

      3d games you can make a model, have it move around, don’t need to draw every frame of movement.

      Perhaps I’m oversimplifying but I always thought 3D was easier – the difficulty comes from making it look any good

  10. Emeraude says:

    Pre-Alpha UI Design – Disciplines of the Endowed

    The smut. The puns.

    They write themselves.

  11. Deadly Habit says:

    Yes the genius writing of Jennifer Hepler, the genius behind M.I.T.H.: Operation Smoking Jaguar.
    Go ahead google that one.

    • RedViv says:

      It is simple scientific law that states that writing as a skill is being handed to a human through genes, without any potential to alter its quality after years.

      • tellrov says:

        But a writer still learning his craft (putting it lightly) should practice it in the proper environment. That environment not being the development team of a major product.

        • The Random One says:

          I hope then that they won’t hire the manager that hired her and put her to work on this game! (He’s probably a stretch goal.)

      • Deadly Habit says:

        She’s known for her controversy on twitter and gaming journalism sites, not her quality writing.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      In the games industry, that’d probably be worthy of an award. Well, as long as you’ve paid your membership fees.

    • dE says:

      Did google it. I saw a lot of 1 Star Reviews dated after the whole thing blew up, a website filing her under “whore” claiming the book got bombarded because of what she dared to write on Twitter, and similar even less “friendly” comments.
      The book though, I still know almost nothing about. Google doesn’t help in this regard. Is this what you’re refering to? The lynchmob bombarding one of her books with bad ratings?

  12. Emeraude says:

    I don’t think this Kickstarter is going to do too well, if only because I fail to see what under-represented niche it aims to fill, and could attract payments from. Or what new grounds it’s aiming for.

    (Just look at the difference between Project Phoenix and Mighty N°.9, I guess.)

    • InternetBatman says:

      The difference between Project Phoenix and Mighty No. 9 is more structural than anything else. Project Phoenix has a bunch of question marks for key positions, a bunch of unknowns with an unimpressive history, added more physical rewards as a stretch goal, is going on Sony consoles too (testing fees), has only updated concept art to include sketches of people in armor over the course of the campaign, and is promising a hell of a lot for a tiny amount of money. In short, everything about it screams risk.

      • Emeraude says:

        Only anecdotal data, but the enthusiasm for a product like MN9 – not to mention a kind of revengeful attitude toward Capcom – seems to be the deciding factor for people I’ve known to back the project; it trumps the apparent lack of risks if anything (though I keep wondering whether Capcom would take Comcept to court – even knowing it would lose, just to kill the product. Wouldn’t be a first in the industry).

      • LionsPhil says:

        MN9′s kickstarter is pretty dang vague in tone, too, with “this is the kind of thing we might make, maybe? It’s an idea!”

        But presumably backers trust the people involved to fill out “thing” with something they’ll like based on their previous “thing”s.

        • InternetBatman says:

          It is vague, but they have a more impressive resume, a well-rounded team, have already updated their concept art, are specific about exactly how much they’re doing (nine levels), have a more realistic cost structure, and are picking a far less technically challenging project.

        • Baines says:

          MN9 is pretty detailed for a game that is at concept stage.

          The page itself is well designed, with a lot of information. They’ve got a solid list of devs on the project, listed by name, with a good set of credentials. The whole project looks like something that has been thought out and well planned.

          And while the game might still be at an early concept stage, it is a known concept. Everyone knows that Mighty No. 9 is a non-Capcom take on Mega Man, and Mega Man has been established for decades. And is a series with an established history of people making their own versions of the game that turn out decent, from rom edits of the original games to fan works (like Mega Man Unlimited and Street Fighter X Mega Man, or games like Rokko Chan) to games that just use the formula (like Rosenkreuzstilette). People have shown time and again that they can make games similar to Mega Man on a variety of budgets.

        • Keyrock says:

          We know exactly what we’re going to get with Mighty No. 9, we’re getting “not” (wink wink) Mega Man, and there’s no question the people behind the MN9 Kickstarter can make “not” Mega Man and make it well.

  13. Lenderz says:

    I chucked some money promises their way, then watched that video again… “mmo inspired boss fights” and cancelled my pledge, I hadn’t caught that be initially I was just excited for Sci-Fi RPG and I thought the story was interesting.

    But I’m not a fan of massive NPC hitpoint spunge combat with little tactical options, I find it the least fun part of MMOs (although I’m a big fan of EVE’s PVP).

    So I think its not really for me, shame.

  14. Lemming says:

    Am I the only one that thinks the sin-gen universe is uninspired generic rubbish? At least the Morlock/Eli split made a bit of sense in the The Time Machine.

    • botonjim says:

      No sir, you’re not.

    • gwathdring says:

      Yeah … the Two Kinds of People thing has been done much better elsewhere. This particular variation seems kinda crap. Maybe the books are good anyway? I’ve liked things with stupider premises … somehow I doubt this would be one of those, though.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s generic.. it is imaginative, however it’s the shitty, nonsensical imaginative that makes bad fiction.

      I’m not surprised Ronald Moore has found it an inspiration, I always thought the same about his stuff.. ESPECIALLY BG.

  15. imagine says:

    I think the reduced budget is at least partly due to the fact that the game is released in episodic format and the first episode is 3-5 hours long. As for Hepler, I think having an experienced writer on the team would be beneficial for them; in any case, it is not the writer who decides the plot of a game, but the lead designer (in this case, subject to the constraints of the existing IP).

  16. InternetBatman says:

    It’s like they put everything I didn’t want in an RPG and made kickstarter pitch for it.

  17. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    I’ll have to be a killjoy and say I really think Hepler is a pretty well, bad writer and the project looks fairly uninspired. I hope they all do well nonetheless but ho hum.

  18. TsunamiWombat says:

    I’m a little torn, because on the one hand Sime-Gen is a universe which runs on what is essentially tentacle molestation (look it up – Sime-Gen, not tentacles for the love of god) but on the other hand this presentation is hopelessly whack and Hepler is an awful writer.

    Wait no, not torn. Whats that other word?

    Ah yes, Disgusted.

  19. MasterDex says:

    I stopped at “This is the sci-fi RPG we’ve all been waiting for”. Thank you, Cincinnati’s Peter Molyneux. I’m totally going to pledge to this project now.

    d-_-b

  20. Keyrock says:

    The most ridiculous thing about this Kickstarter project is the high entry point. $25 is the lowest tier that gets you a digital download of the game… not even the whole game, just episode 1.

    $25 for a single 3-5 hour long episode from a team I’ve never heard? Wow, that sounds like a sweet deal.

    As for Jennifer Hepler, I have nothing against her. Yeah, DA2 was a mess and a huge disappointment, but she did also write the dwarven stuff for DA:O, which, to me, was BY FAR the most interesting thing the series has ever done. In fact, the dwarven storyline from DA:O is the only thing in the series I found interesting and compelling.

    • InternetBatman says:

      They changed it so now you get all five expansions. However, now they want to make a 15-25 hour voiced 3D RPG for > $500k. I consider Shadowrun an impressive achievement as an unvoiced, 2D isometric game with no voice acting and few choices at $1.8m. Even with the amount of work they’ve done, the math is all wrong on this.

  21. strangeloup says:

    Don’t call me a Mass Effect ripoff, it’s just what I Ambrov.

    (Also, this setting looks terrible)

  22. ffordesoon says:

    I don’t know what parts of Origins or DA2 Hepler wrote, nor do I care all that much. There are hundreds of reasons why any given scene in a game on the scale of the Dragon Age series may not end up working, and writing is only one of them. I will say that I found the harrassment of Hepler over a statement that was actually quite intriguing, if poorly phrased, to be appalling.

    All that being said, knowing who backs RPGs on Kickstarter, this project feels like a perfect storm of everything that market doesn’t want, and the invocation of Hepler’s name may end up driving people away from the project, not to it. But even leaving Hepler’s potential involvement aside, everything about this campaign screams “doomed.”

    It’s a shame, because I’d quite like to see someone try to improve on Mass Effect and give Bioware a real fight for the third-person space opera RPG crown. A Kickstarter-funded title that attempted such a feat would be especially impressive. Ah, well. Perhaps Consortium will scratch portions of that itch.

  23. H-Hour says:

    So, if the first stretch goal is an extra $250,000, and it just brings one extra writer on board, and they indicate the development process will take 18 months, does that mean her annual salary is $165,000? I have no idea what typical salaries are like in this industry, but that number definitely surprises me.

  24. The Random One says:

    I have no interest in here, especially now that Consortium (also advertised as the thinking man’s Mass Effect) is almost out.

    Also, am I the only one who, due to exposure to Japanese culture, reads Sime~Gen as Simeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee… Gen

  25. Shooop says:

    Oh gee, an RPG where you can become more powerful by abusing your party members that’s supposed to make you consider morality on Kickstarter?

    This seems familiar for some reason, but I can’t say exactly why. Other than that feature it seems very plane and lacks the scape of most other RPGs.

  26. GoateeGamer says:

    Title is a bit misleading, when I saw “Bioware talent”, I interpreted it as “someone from Bioware who has talent”. Such as one of the original Bioware founders returning to work, for example. Not so much “A busy mother doesn’t have time to play games, men wouldn’t understand”, fanfic writing, “press X to skip gameplay” Jennifer “Hamburger” Hepler.

  27. AlienMind says:

    Someone’s trying to let you experience a universe with a simple premise, a race depending on the other, in a different way than a novel by building a game and gets all hated for it here. WOW.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Yet another netz idiot oversimplifies something in order to make themself seem reasonable and everyone else unreasonable. WOW.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      Ohhh, they’re LETTING me experience it, huh? So, I imagine it’s a free-to-play game right? Otherwise, you’d be a liar by saying they’re “letting” me do anything. If I have to pay them, there’s no “letting” involved.

      • AlienMind says:

        You seem to be the kind of guy hanging on the tits of AAA studios, eating their garbage and the one who buys games late cheap for a few nickels and have absolutely now clue about the magic involved in creating a good game, which is kind of sad.

  28. Sarkhan Lol says:

    Guess they couldn’t get the Twilight license, huh?

  29. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’ve got an article in me about the Hollywood Accounting going on in the games industry inflating budgets to hilarious levels, you can count on 1 hand the number of games that genuinely cost more than $2 million to make.

    • InternetBatman says:

      They might have shaved off a few or even tens of millions in their figures, but a AAA game costs a lot of money to make now. $2 million would be salaries averaging $60k alone for 33 people for a year, which is a fairly low average, and some games have hundreds of people. Additionally there’s electricity, healthcare, equipment, middleware licenses, and other miscellaneous fees.

  30. PegasusOrgans says:

    They need to decide what they’re making. Torment, Wasteland 2 and Project Etertnity did so well because they knew exactly what the games were going to be. This is trying to sound like it’s going to be very action-game oriented with MMO boss fights… right away, those are huge red flags to me, and I’d rather support a game that won’t be using MMO gameplay in a single player game. Also, the sime-gen thing sounds kinda gross and forced. And we already have a game on Steam called Forced.

    • ffordesoon says:

      I think they did decide what they’re making. It’s just that what they’re making is basically everything their target audience loathes. They might as well add microtransactions, a year’s worth of DLC, an always-online requirement complete with intrusive social features, and SecuROM at this point. It won’t earn them any less money.

  31. lebbers says:

    I’m just confused as to why they’d include ANY of the writers from the Dragon Age series as stretch goals.

    I mean, I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that it’s not David Gaider, but still…

  32. Beyond the Sea says:

    “Now for the matter at hand. What is your recommendation for proceeding?”

    That should win a lifetime achievement award for generic dialogue (which looks exactly the same as the award for every other kind of writing, no matter what angle you view it from). I believe the translation is:

    “Press any button to choose your next cut-scene. Not that it matters.”

  33. MonkeyKing1969 says:

    There is so much good sci-fi out there in the world and what they license Sime~Gen? Why? This Sime~Gen universe was created by two people who have not been published in a decades except in self publish books. The wiki pages on these two authors seem at best deceptive since many of the books listed were self published by vanity publishers.

    My guess is Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah found this dude and convinced him to do this Kickstarter. He didn’t find them because Sime~Gen is some hot property, they found him to run this publicity stunt to advertise their self published books.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>