Second Screen Shotgun: Salvaged

By Ben Barrett on April 17th, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

Despite how we, you or some ridiculous “they” may rant and rave about the legions of samey military shooters or other popular genre, games are the realm of the new and PC gaming most of all. Salvaged is right out there towards the edge of the new. It takes the tactical action of XCOM and places it on a touch device, controlled in real-time, with the first person views of soldiers showing up on your monitor. It’s a properly two-screen game, trying to simulate being an elite commander more accurately by getting rid of our so 20th century control mechanisms. I first saw it at Rezzed this year, where twelve member nu-team Opposable Games positively filled up the Leftfield Collection’s hallway, along with the sizable crowd. It’s now up on Kickstarter, chasing $125k, and you can see the pitch video, as well as my thoughts having spoken to them a little, below.

As said in the video, it’s very definitely a game that people need to play to judge properly. The simplicity of the concept doesn’t make up for the years and years spent learning where buttons are on our keyboards, mice and gamepads. Usually the information for the location of characters is on-screen rather than in our hands, and many people that I watched playing the game missed most of the FPS action. I unfortunately didn’t manage to have a shot myself but spoke to members of the dev team on the last day of the show. They mentioned that they weren’t satisfied with how much this was occurring and wanted to add in more reasons to look up.

The most interesting thing that the developers mentioned was the short time spent on development so far. The Rezzed build had only been properly worked on for six weeks, so it’s incredible how much is in place. However, the build (and some of the footage now available) did betray that occasionally – it broke a few times while I was watching, with soldiers firing at walls or simple game crashes. There’s little micro control in the game, Opposable saying it quickly became far too difficult to handle, so there was no way to tell confused soldiers to stop firing. A player can direct the focus of the mission and decide movement paths, but can’t supply precise commands to soldiers during combat.

Despite the issues, it was hard to walk past a game with such a unique concept. Plans for the future of the game are ambitious and, as with any game with such a modular structure, there are several directions to expand into. I’d like to see what they do, but I’m worried the footage isn’t high quality enough to attract backers at this point. A demo might be a necessity, but the difficulties of distribution on so many different platforms are going to be large already. I’ll certainly keep an eye on their page though and see how they face the challenges ahead.

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23 Comments »

  1. psuedonymous says:

    If the game includes a section where a character asks “what the heck is that, sir?”, has me look up at his virtual-helmet-cam-feed, recognize the nesting alien horror he’s stumbled upon, and the volume as which I panickingly yell “Get out of there Jenkins!” into tthe mic determines whether poor hapless Jenkins escapes with his skin or becomes space-fertiliser, then I’m sold.

  2. Jhoosier says:

    I really, really want this to succeed.

  3. SecondDimension says:

    I couldn’t get a turn on this at Rezzed, but I had a good chat with one of the devs and he was a really lovely guy

  4. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I always wanted the ability to wander round an open world game and have the live map on my smartphone, without needing to switch to it in game. Or check my inventory or something. Some of the razer hardware had that worked in, secondary screens.

    How hard would it be to make an app that could do that? So for example, in Far Cry 2, the ability to have the ‘magic map’ always on your phone or tablet (say, Android)?

    • roryok says:

      Its definitely the way it should be. ‘course if your phone was acting up you’d have no map, but you could have a backup in the game.

      Take the metaphor further though – when you get a call (again, like in Far Cry 2), how awesomely amazingly shit cool would it be for your phone to actually “ring” and have the dude talk to you on it?

    • SuicideKing says:

      I’ve always wanted a touchscreen as a supporting control interface in a space sim, for things like weapon selection, etc.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      DEVELOPERS: ^^^ DO THAT STUFF UP THERE ^^^

  5. NTmS says:

    ok so far so good but whats the point of using the tablet for the map/controls?
    why not just display it on the normal computer screen? Because unless they have a really good reason why a mouse wont suffice for their game it’ll be just a tacked on gimmick.

    • Opposable_BenC says:

      We want using dual screens to be part of the gameplay experience. In-game, that’s your control interface and you’re looking through the eyes of your squad, and you need to coordinate between them to get an idea of what’s happening on the ground.

      In practical terms this means that salvage won’t be marked out on the tablet, you’ll be relying on your eyes and the audio cues of your team to let you know where things are. You’ll be able to see further through the eyes of your team, and look out for clues on door codes, where the black box is or what type of enemies you might be encountering. There’s a host of other features that depend on dual screen play we’re planning too!

  6. GentlemanRaptor says:

    Are there any other games that use this mechanic with multiple first-person cams? I remember the first Space Hulk game did it, but I’m struggling to remember any others.

    • Moorkh says:

      Hired Guns comes to mind. There was another, where you controlled a bunch of robots in an abandoned space mine.
      However, in these examples, those individual screens actually had some interactivity. Here, it’s just a visualisation of what is displayed on that rather simple 4-unit tablet rts, isn’t it?

    • islipaway says:

      Signal-Ops

  7. Shodex says:

    I’d love to see something like this, but with 5-player co-op. One person on the tablet is watching the helmet cams of his four friends, he has a map and radar to tell them where to go and if any enemies are coming. Maybe he’s the only one with the vitals of his allies and has to tell them when their health is low.

    I worry that if the AI isn’t good enough this game will be very frustrating.

  8. The Random One says:

    The idea was interesting, but somehow I’d like it better if you were cozy in your base directing a F.E.A.R. style military unit entering Amnesia land. Essentally I want a game in which I’m the base simulating this.

  9. islipaway says:

    I think I played the whole demo without looking at the big screen once. Control was very awkward with the touch screen often not recognizing I had selected a marine or confirming where I wanted them to go. Would benefit from waypoints or drag path with doorkickers style interaction points along path maybe.

    Obviously very early but if anything the demo made me think this multi screen thing wasn’t as much fun as I imagined it might be.

    • Opposable_BenC says:

      Hi islipaway,

      Presuming you played the demo at Rezzed, we’d been in development for under 8 weeks at that stage. Order confirmation blips are now in (as will audio confirmations eventually) and the tolerance on selection has been adjusted. Multiselecting your squadmates, setting stances and other more advanced controls are to be added in soon too!

      Regarding looking up at the big screen, we’re tweaking and adjusting the information you get on each. Clues to loot locations when loot is implemented properly will be seen on the big screen, and with fog of war implemented it will be more useful to know where you’re going.

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