Make Film, Not War: Warco

Shakycam shakes.
Warco – which has been in development for a while but recently seems to have surfaced properly in a small surge of publicity – looks intriguing. Australian devs Defiant describe their UDK project like this: “In the role of war correspondent (‘warco’) Jesse DeMarco, the player must capture battle footage and edit together a news story, while trying to make it out alive.” The proof of concept video, which I’ve posted below, is quite something. Surviving this stuff could be genuinely more exciting than firing back. It’s like Beyond Good & Evil: Call Of Duty Edition, but apparently the real game will be in splicing together your footage at the end and deciding on the story you want to tell about the events you have filmed.

It’s shaping up to be something quite interesting indeed.


  1. Hoaxfish says:

    the player must capture battle footage and edit together a news story, while trying to make it out alive

    Then upload it to youtube with some j-pop or chemical romance dubbed over it.

    • povu says:


  2. CyberBrent says:

    This is interesting and all, but whatever happened to WARFACE?

  3. Brumisator says:

    I wonder if you’ll have to reload, or get fewer points for lower quality footage when you camera’s memory is full.

  4. pupsikaso says:

    These guys are setting themselves up for a LOT of painstaking scripting.

    • dadioflex says:

      Wouldn’t that defeat the point? I’m assuming it’s all procedural or, yeah, it’d be on rails almost.

    • yiqifeifei says:

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  5. Davie says:

    Yes! More of this! Plenty of real-world people have exciting and terrifying jobs that would make good games, that don’t revolve around shooting men. Very good.

    • Ghost of Grey Cap says:

      “War correspondent” is a job that revolves around ‘the shooting of men’. The difference is welcome, but it’s not like it’s a deep-sea welding or shark wrestling game.

    • Davie says:

      Fair enough. My point, I suppose, is that it is possible to have an interesting game, set in the real world, in which you never actually pick up a gun. I’d be curious to see more like this.

    • Craig Stern says:

      I would very much like to believe that there is a business out there which hires people to wrestle sharks professionally.

    • Temple says:

      Backyard Shark Wrestling is where it’s at!
      Professional Shark Wrestiling is fake, with unbelievable storylines.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      Yeah, the junior amateur scene is especially booming at the moment.

      link to

  6. James G says:

    If they manage to get the mechanics working convincingly, this could be very interesting indeed.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      But will it sell.

      Got to give them points for the ballsiness of developing what seems a commercially risky foray given the climate for game devs in Australia at the moment. I hope it pays off for them.

  7. CaspianRoach says:

    Prediction: By the third level this game will give you a gun and will become another shooter with a little quirk.

  8. Ghost of Grey Cap says:

    If CaspianRoach is wrong, I will love the hell out of this game.

  9. G-Sys says:

    I wonder if you’ll have to balance telling a compelling story with making sure that you portray the soldiers protecting you in a sufficiently sympathetic light that they don’t decide to leave you in the lurch somewhere.

    • circadianwolf says:

      Yeah, what happens if you take footage of war crimes? Do they take the footage from you? Does your editor pressure you to drop the story? Etc.

      Of course, this probably takes place in a video game war where the imperialists are the good guys, the bad guys are clearly identified, civilians don’t exist, and war crimes don’t take place. *shrug*

      ETA: I haven’t watched the footage here (at work), so if it mentions something about this, awesome! I saw the Kotaku story a while back. It’s exciting regardless–Pokemon Snap/BG&E had a great mechanic and I’ve always wondered why it wasn’t used more.

    • AndrewC says:

      There’s a big close up of a civilian.

    • dsi1 says:

      During one point you can also hear someone crying for help.

  10. Teddy Leach says:

    He’s covered wars you know.

  11. Savage Henry says:

    Definately interested. It also sounds a bit like a homage to the Suda 51 game ‘Michigan’ to me. If it could copy the idea where you can make moral choices to influence the game (Help to move the wounded little girl out of the firing-line or do nothing and film her dying for some juicy Reuters footage for example), I’d be very impressed.

  12. Koozer says:

    Pokemon Snap: Extreme Edition. Sold.

  13. SpinalJack says:

    How good would it be if the game then gave you the option of reading the reporter dialogue out into a mic and then ending it with your own name

  14. LionsPhil says:

    I’m a little disappointed at the apparent regenerating health, and that is not “hurr console dumb down”—it’s that for a game that seems a little more harsh-brutality-of-war from a non-combatant role I think I’d rather see it treat wounds as really serious business. Less find-cover/find-medkit, more having your surrounding troops go “oh crap” and getting you to medical attention, which then has knock-on effects on the footage you take and the “relatable human interest” aspect of the story. Basically, not videogame hitpoints, either regenerating or from pickups, where being shot is a momentary inconvenience.

    Because, you know, it wasn’t already incredibly ambitious enough to make a game that tries to judge the quality of freeform footage and how that reporting may feed back into influencing the war.

    • CMaster says:

      Agreed – I thought that when I noticed the regenerating health. It kinda undermines the “get the best footage without being shot” schtick. It also seems to encourage footage by peeking out of the same cover as soldiers, which I don’t think many journos do.

  15. Lambchops says:

    Looks ambitious. Have to admit I’m struggling to imagine how this is going to work mechanically but if they pull it off it could be something special. Good luck to them.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Agree. Superb idea, and if implemented well, could be an absolute brilliant game that pushes back at the FPS man shooter genre with a hard left hook. I want this to be a success, but it could so easily flop if the core mechanic isn’t fleshed out properly.

  16. RagingLion says:

    Really interesting idea. I remember someone asking on the (Giant) Bombcast about a year ago if anyone had ever done a game which was just based around being a photographer or a reporter and here we go.

    Very hard to get right I’m sure, but good luck to these people trying to press forward in a new direction.

  17. nervouspete says:

    “Standing by, Douglas Hurd…”

  18. metalangel says:

    Maybe I haven’t been around enough, but I’ve never used a video camera where, when looking through the viewfinder, there’s a large white box around the outside and ‘REC’ and a flashing red dot. This trope has been around for years and years, before I remember ever even seeing a colour viewfinder (all the camcorders I ever used had B&W ones, and for some reason a ‘fade’ that went white rather than black)

  19. westyfield says:

    • LionsPhil says:

      Thanks to that link I ended up rewatching all of cassetteboy’s remix things.

      Which was nice.

  20. Sarigs says:

    Sounds like a great set up for a while, sure I saw something about this but would have been a year ago or so, not sure if it was the same one.

    Not usually a fan of the whole FPS thing but think I’ll definitely be checking this out based on first impressions!

  21. Ginger Yellow says:

    Purely speculatively, my guess would be that it’s going to work somewhat similarly to Dead Rising 1’s photography, in that you get points for capturing certain things (eg deaths, explosions, medics attending the wounded) in your edited footage, possibly with bonuses for composition. I wouldn’t be surprised if specific set pieces were involved, either giving you more points or a fail if you miss them.

  22. Kerbobotat says:

    that bit around 0:50 where an rpg kills several soldiers just outside the Airport door, one of the bodys gets what is possibly a glitch in animation and starts twitching. In my mind, even if it is a glitch and not intentional, its certainly adds to the effect.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Hunh, I found that had the opposite reaction. As a whole the way the soldiers are very clearly slightly buggy computer simulations kind of created an awkward tension between the fiction of the game and the presentation, because the former was supposed to be a very serious moment, and the latter was silly hee-hee-lookit-the-glitching-ragdoll here-comes-the-early-2000-physics-debris-landing-weightlessly.

  23. Hematite says:

    DeMarco de warco!

  24. Temple says:

    A lot of people’s hopes for this game sound like Peter Molydeux’s game suggestions…
    link to

    Feels like the hope Dead Island generated.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Probably because if it were just a game of pointing at the angry mans with the guns then not clicking, it’d be pretty lousy.

      We could crucify it based on preview material instead if you’d rather. But RPS tends to save that for games that aren’t even trying. (Like sequels.)

  25. sinister agent says:

    Ha, people were just talking about how interesting a game like this could be on the forums recently.


  26. Tei says:

    Some games have this as a minigame, or a activity to do in the game. Like Beyond Good and Evil, and (seems) Bioshock 2 and (seems) XCOM. I like it in Beyond Good and Evil, with the type of fun you get from achievements and collecting.

    I dunno about a whole game about the feature. What could be the gameplay? a open map,where you can choose where to go, so you try to be in the best spots, but if you decided wrong, you get killed, and you are paid by the violence of the images you make. But that would be better as a photographer, not video…

    But this… this looks like a script-fest. It could be nice, or terrible, but I doubt will change anything in gaming. At least is ambitious.

    • RakeShark says:

      I would say both video and still photography would work as tools for this kind of game. Stills would be more for the aftermath and the video is for the happening now. From what it seems, you’d be working for a television network, so obviously they want video.

      I suspect for how you go about war photographing is somewhat like actual war journalism. You go where there’s smoke and follow the fire. Either you work with the recognized government which either tells you to document specific things to garner sympathy and ignore atrocities, or you follow the rebels and run the risk of having to explain yourself to the royal guard when the attack goes bad. In either case, you can also get shot and die.

      If it is a strict script-fest, then I can definitely see why this could be a one-play game. If they somehow manage to add in some depth, as well as some small procedural events and alternate scripts for major set-pieces, then this could be interesting.

  27. Vitruality says:

    Are we going to see an article in the Metro about how this game is going to turn people into viscious, mindless journalists who can’t tell fantasy from reality?

  28. kuran says:

    Amazing nobody did this before.

    Journalist should be a class in ARMA 3

  29. Olivaw says:

    I’ve always thought this would be the ideal premise for a game, and in fact I’ve whipped up a few design ideas for it myself.

    I hope that this turns out exactly as good as it sounds!

  30. jeffcapeshop says:

    it’s pokemon snap, but the pokemons are men exploding – pokemon snap was ace and so are exploding men, therefore this game will be amazing.

  31. X_kot says:

    I’m definitely on board with the concept here and really hope it inspires other designers to explore different ways of using the shooter genre. But…couldn’t they have come up with a different name for their in-game news outlet? I can hear it now: “We don’t just report the news, we PWN it.” I suppose it could be read as “P(A)WN” news, depending on how they portray international news organizations.

  32. TV-PressPass says:

    I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and war correspondence is what I’m building my career towards.

    This game scares me a little, but in a different way from how incoming mortar rounds have scared me in the past.

    I just pray that I don’t get hooked on this instead of pursuing real stories.

  33. Gabbo says:

    I think the idea is incredible, but, in rolling the idea around further, I want the game to delve a little deeper than ‘Film footage. edit together. Watch footage. The end’ and that clip didn’t give much to go.

    Will your decision-making during the editing portion have an impact on how you’re treated by fighters on either side for later stories? Will there be soldiers committing violence against civilians (or basically anything in-game that would amount to capturing war crimes/atrocities on film), will it show the impact of editing footage a certain way on public perception of the battle? Will the fact that you’re constantly in a battle and then having to watch and re-watch those battles impact the player somehow?

    Interest piqued, but very reserved until more is shown

  34. JuJuCam says:

    I swear I asked for a game pretty much like this in RPS comments a while ago. Thankyou, universe, for reading my comment!

  35. aircool says:

    Wow! I wonder if you get to pinch the skin of the black kiddies to make them cry before turning the camera on?

  36. Tom4J says:

    The only worry i have for this is the developers staying focused on the theme, this is a really good concept, but at the same time if they get it even slightly off tone it could be disasterous. Saying that i’m so excited to see how this pans out!

  37. mejoff says:

    If you get to name your character I’m going to play as Peter O’Hanraha-hanrahan, and add nothing.

  38. Untruth says:

    This game is an utterly fantastic idea. That is all.

  39. evilplatypus says:

    There was an article on abc here in Aus this morning with someone claiming this game is dangerous because it encourages journalists to become war reporters to get ahead.

  40. Josh W says:

    This could be pretty plausible; they could decide what kind of message you are sending by checking what is “in shot” and using the variables associated with those objects to set the mood of the shot:

    Is she mostly filming troops firing, but angled so you can’t see who they’re shooting? Is she filming troops being shot at? Bystanders? Freindly fire? Damage to buildings? Moments of worried conversation? Moments of calm decision making?

    The standard occlusion and veiwpoint system could be used to signal which model is in shot, and so what events and themes will appear in the report.

    The thing I imagine will be hardest is doing the various voiceovers afterwards, giving them the flexibility to fit the attitude of the player.