Former Deus Ex And BioWare Devs Announce Sienna Storm

By Graham Smith on August 20th, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

The lead writer for Deus Ex, the senior designer for KoToR 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2, and the designer of Magic The Gathering: Tactics walk into a Kickstarter project to make a hand-drawn, non-linear techno-spy thriller with digital card mechanics called Sienna Storm. “Why the stretch goals?” asks the potential backers. “Because we want to also hire Deus Ex and Unreal Tournament’s composer to do our music and Obsidian’s creative director Chris Avellone.”

Rimshot. Crowd laughs. Applause. But – record scratch – it’s not a joke and a Kickstarter video for the cool-but-confusing game awaits below.

Confused? I was. The takeaway is that I guess it’s about a near-future society of high surveillance and you, or someone, is an operative of some sort for some sort of group that is hunted and/or hunting others. Sweet. As for what you actually do:

Sienna Storm is a unique interactive comic-style video game. Every scene is a hand drawn, animated work of art and there are multiple actions points the player may select to progress the game. Dialogues are rich and non-linear, and choices you make throughout the game not only have consequences, but also influence your standings with certain characters and involved parties

There is a fair amount of challenges to resolve such as combat, hacking computers, and tailing an enemies. When you enter these challenges, you play a short strategic card game using a customizable deck.

Each time the card game is triggered, you’ll have an opportunity to select the deck best suited to your current situation, and new cards can be earned through the decisions you make during the choose-your-own-comic adventure portion. The abilities the cards enable you to perform include “trickery, gadgetry, or straight-up violence”, and it sounds like there’s a real effort being made to tie the strategy of your fights together with the branching story. It sounds, at least in my wishful brain, like a cross between Masq and Netrunner.

There’s enough compelling tone and talent behind the project that it’s worth forgiving the slight ambiguity on the project page or in the trailer. That aforementioned lead writer of Deus Ex for example is Sheldon Pacotti, and since his days scripting electronic old men he’s made a series of interesting indie projects, including Cell: Emegence and a tool for helping teach people game development through branching narrative.

The team are looking for $179,00 to make the game happen, and $34 will net you a copy of the finished game when it’s released in (it’s estimated) December 2015.

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67 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    That is damn awesome sounding. And it is not cheap.

    EDIT: Annnnnd I’ve backed it. Sigh. Do not see this succeeding, but damn it sounds like Alpha Protocol meets Masq meets Deus Ex, so hooray for ambition.

    • subedii says:

      I would love to see an unofficial sequel to Alpha Protocol. The fact that it won’t be an action shooter is actually probably a note in its favour.

      More-so if they actually manage to get Chris Avellone on-board.

  2. SRTie4k says:

    By “near future”, I take it they mean now? Because a Ducati 848 was discontinued in 2013, and would never reliably last into the “near future”.

    Bonus comment: that is NOT the sound of a Ducati 848. V-twins have a very distinctive rumble, they don’t sound like 2-strokes.

    • RARARA says:

      I dunno whether this is better or worse than a 1990 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11 in the year 2258 being restored by an alien in Babylon 5.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        They probably chose it after conducting an exhaustive search for “Most dangerous vehicle to ride on a space station.”

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      In the near future they will, though.

    • Arglebargle says:

      In the slightly further ‘near future’, you’ll be able to print one up. Dang printed versions never get the sound right though…..

  3. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    The fact that this game is asking for a target which is not a real number (points, shakes head at Graham), and that it’s at that price when we know fuck all about it other than that trailer….can’t see this going ‘that’ well.

    • JFS says:

      You know, “non-real” numbers make people who are about to give you money think you thought them out very well. Same thing in salary negotiations. “58.700″ is much more likely to be accepted as “about 60.000″. It isn’t very different on a tangible level, but it sounds as if a lot more thought went into it, thus making your boss more prone to accepting.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      So what your saying is that they should ask for “pi dollars” instead?

      (For those who don’t get it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_number )

  4. Jason Moyer says:

    Massive list of great names to make…an interactive comic? Yeah, no.

    • mvar says:

      my reaction exactly. I’m all in for DeusEx-like storyline etc but $35 for an interactive comic (at least thats’ what it looks like), no thanks.

    • willy359 says:

      That part didn’t bother me as much as the “card mechanics” part. A Deus Ex writer and KOTOR designer get together to make a near future techno-thriller and it’s…a card game? What a waste.

      • dontnormally says:

        Have you even tried any of the great deckbuilding games about at the moment?

        I’d much rather play an awesome deckbuilder with intertwined story than *another* FPS/3PS.

        • Kentauroi says:

          Some people just don’t like card games. I never have, and yes I have tried some of the games currently flooding the market, they didn’t change my mind.

          It’s not that I want every game to be a single genre, or that every game even needs to be a genre I LIKE, but there’s nothing wrong with disliking deck building games.

        • Premium User Badge

          keithzg says:

          I love many card games, but I’d rather play them IRL. Video games being constrained in such ways as to ape what is necessary for physical games? That doesn’t enthrall me.

      • Muzman says:

        I imagine the point is making games is hard; artists, coders, modellers and level designers don’t grow on trees.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Eureka, you figured out the thing that has been bugging us for nearly a month. We’re a bunch of nobody-you-ever-heard-ofs that made an interactive comic, and RPS totally ignored our launch press release. I’ll go back and put some bullshit made up “famous” names into the trailer. :)

    • Polifemo says:

      Not everything needs to be a walkable 3D enviroment. With the huge number of posibilities that videogames can offer you it would be silly to not experiment with diferent formats.

      • Emeraude says:

        Myself I don’t care about the 3D environments, but I am far from wowed by the art.

        My main issue: as soon as it announces a card game, in my mind it comes in competition with board games. And Kickstarter board games quite often comes with fully fledged mechanics ready to be explained – they just need the last push for the actual physical product..

        I mean most board games I could be interested right now I can just and download the full rules to get a feel of it. And I get it’s totally unfair, and I may be in the minority, but because of that they’re going to have to present things with a lot more detail, a lot more design notes before I’m interested. What level of non linearity/granularity can we expect for the narrative ? What can we expect of the game itself ? A more focused Alpha Protocol that cut off the 3D combat and mini-games and replaced them with a unified deck building card game and action point system ? A boosted visual novel, something more close, to say, a more serious, non-romance focused Sakura Taisen ? Something like one of those narrative enfolding board games, but adapted in video game format ?

        Individuals in the studio have a lot of mileage, they clearly deserve the respect and the chance to do their thing, but the Studio is untested. We have no game attached to it to form an opinion of what to expect. This is a rather small budget, but given the game seems like it is going to be pretty sparse on the technical side, it can go a decent way, but how much game can we expect (not playtime, not length, *game*) ?

        I’m certainly going to keep an eye on it, but I have a feeling they’re going to have a hard time selling their idea if they don’t find a way to make it stand out.

  5. Muzman says:

    A Storm of Yellowish Brown. Like flipping through a 70s fashion magazine really close to your face…

    (Well good luck to them. Pacotti comes up with interesting stuff. If Invisible War had any saving grace it was the ideas at play in there somewhere)

  6. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    Errbody wants Avellone.

  7. Enkinan says:

    I hope they make their goal, but I’m pretty sure the steep price on this is going to kill it.

  8. Pazguato says:

    Watched the video and I still don’t know what kind of game we can expect.

  9. Geebs says:

    It’s a bit early to take umber-age at the price, but, hey, internet: people always seem to get madder than necessary.

  10. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    170k goal – 35$ minimum pledge?
    Why?
    Wouldn’t a high entry point make way more sense for a more expensive project?

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Just checked the kickstarter page: they made a new pledge level including the game but without the soundtrack for $25.

  11. Keyrock says:

    The steep entry point ($34) may well kill any chance this has of making its goal. Too bad, because I like the sound of this.

    • dontnormally says:

      Or the sort of folks interested in this are willing to pay more, and those that aren’t interested wouldn’t pay at all.

  12. RARARA says:

    Chris Avellone sure gets around.

  13. WJonathan says:

    “The lead writer for Deus Ex, the senior designer for KoToR 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2, and the designer of Magic The Gathering: Tactics “… and the janitor for the building where id first wrote Doom code, and the guy who catered Gabe Newell’s lunch in the 80′s, and…

    Sorry but I’m no longer even remotely enticed by vague promises of expensive projects by Men Who Once Did Something Great.

    • Premium User Badge

      golem09 says:

      Why?
      So far none of the big kickstarter projects by Men who were once great is even out.

    • gabrielonuris says:

      I lol’d hard at your comment!! You’re extremely right and that’s exactly my thoughts regarding this project. Do you remember Areal? From the “creators” of Stalker series?! Ok, riiiiight…. We’ve already seen bad games being developed by entire “good” teams, why should I back a project just because a couple guys happened to be at the right place, at the right time? No. And also, non-linear techno-spy thriller…. (But) with digital card mechanics that is… An interactive novel?! Naah…

  14. Anti-Skub says:

    Wouldn’t the senior designer for Kotor 2 and NWN 2 be from Obsidian Entertainment rather than Bioware?

    • Wulfram says:

      He was at both Obsidian and Bioware. He worked on Dragon Age 2, which I guess isn’t the game to put prominently when you’re selling yourself.

      (Though I like DA2 more than KotOR2)

  15. PAK-9 says:

    I did not follow a gravely word that he said in that video.

  16. mwoody says:

    This looks and sounds almost exactly like Seduce Me, only not porn.

    But yeah, this will fail, without question. $34 for a comic with a card game, and they don’t have anything to show of the card game at launch? That’s borderline insulting.

  17. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Agree with most of the comments above. I’d go for a good card game but Magic is just cheaper – if only they’d flesh out the story between the battles some more.
    Interactive comic? Don’t need it – I like to walk around in games not scroll through still pictures.
    34$ is already high for the finished product but being a castle in the air kickstarter you could as well throw the money out the window.

  18. mr.black says:

    Customizable-card-decks is the new turn-based-isometric..

    Also 179 000

  19. Distec says:

    “Because we want to also hire Deus Ex and Unreal Tournament’s composer to do our music”

    Please. Yes. And more. Thank you.

  20. Danda says:

    -Deus Ex lead writer.
    Yes!!!
    -Alex Brandon and Chris Avellone.
    Yes!!! YES!!! Take my money, please!
    -Card game.
    What? I HATE card games!

    I’m supporting it anyway, but I get the feeling that a project like this would get MILLIONS if it was pitched as a straight RPG. As it is now, it’s probably going to struggle.

    • Scurra says:

      On the other hand, some of us like card games, and especially ones that take account of the digital environment. Sadly, I suspect that there aren’t enough of us to make this viable, but it was enough for me.

  21. spacedyemeerkat says:

    Entry level pledge for a copy of the game now appears to be $25. And for that price I’ll take the gamble.

  22. haarp says:

    Pledge $25 or more
    –!NEW PLEDGE LEVEL!— PACKS: SIENNA STORM STANDARD GAME + WALLPAPER LITE + HALL OF FAME (Supporter) ——————- Backers will receive 3 digital wallpapers plus a DRM-free digital copy of Sienna Storm. You shall be remembered in our Hall of Fame at the Supporter level

  23. Frank says:

    I hate card games, Obsidian and Bioware, but I’ll buy the soundtrack and the part of the script written by Pacotti (and not Avellone).

  24. Premium User Badge

    psepho says:

    Umm… Isn’t ‘Sienna Storm’ the name of a porn star?

  25. jellydonut says:

    An ‘innovative’ card game. No, it’s not innovative, it’s the only thing you can do when your game is an interactive comic.

    No thanks. This is what we played in the late 80s while we dreamt of the games we have today.

    ‘Can you imagine a world where you actually control your character and can explore the environment?’

  26. derbefrier says:

    So uh maybe I missed the memo but since when has 35 bucks for a video been “steep”? I see a lot of comments about the price and it just doesn’t make sense to me. 35 bucks seems reasonable. I mean your funding a game here not a steam summer sale.

    • soco says:

      One reason for the reaction is comparables. Take a look at some of the other big name video game kickstarters. They tend to have starting tiers in the $20 range.

      Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, Project Eternity, Torment, Planetary Annihilation, Mighty Number 9, Dreamfall Chapters…all had starting pledges that included the finished game for $20 and under.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    “Sienna Storm will be dubbed in English and will be accompanied with English subtitles.

    As stated above, if we surpass the second stretch goal, Sienna Storm will be fully voiceovered in English.”

    Wait … what’s the difference between it being “dubbed in English” and it being “voiceovered in English”?

    • Arglebargle says:

      Probably the number of people doing the voice work. ‘Dubbed in’ might mean something like one narrator doing the entire thing, vs each major character having their own voice.

  28. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    Really, really hoping that stretch goal gets met. The entire project’s cost could be justified even if it’s a flop as long as it results in an Alexander Brandon soundtrack.

    Hope he manages to get something worked out with Epic for the new UT, too… :D

  29. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    It sounds interesting, but not like the type of game that should cost more than $10 on release. Asking $34 or $25 to back the kickstarter is unreasonable.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      Why?

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        Backers accept the risk of the game not getting made, so the pledge granting a copy should be lower than its price.

        • Premium User Badge

          Hanban says:

          But pledging is not pre-ordering. The idea with Kickstarter (supposedly) is that you accept the risk and hope that the game gets made with the contribution you leave. It’s only unreasonable if your argument about pricing is objectively true, which it is not.

          • Premium User Badge

            Don Reba says:

            It’s always good to reiterate that Kickstarter is not pre-ordering. However, the sense of helping to bring about the creation of the game is not enough for everybody. And the creators seem unappreciative of moderately enthused supporters.

  30. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    There’s way too little information for me to back this, especially considering that although I like card games, there are also a lot of awful ones. But hey, if it works out, I’ll gladly buy a copy later.

  31. racccoon says:

    Nice intro, at least its not over done, over graphical & over the top.
    So this may be a good game in the end.

  32. Premium User Badge

    Jackablade says:

    Dagnabbit, Graham, you had to go and mention Netrunner. Now I’ve gone and given them a bunch of my money.

  33. sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

    $179.00 that doesn’t sound like much to develop a game, just over a hundred uk pounds.

  34. yeastcapp says:

    Electronic old men are the future

  35. agitated_android says:

    Just watched the trailer. I’m terribly sorry but I had to “nope” out at “beget your own storm”. Seriously?