ACE Team’s Astonishing Prototype: The Endless Cylinder

ACE Team, creators of unusual and extraordinary beat ’em ups Zeno Clash and Abyss Odyssey, have released a video showing a work in progress project. It’s the work of Carlos Bordeu, one of the studio co-founders, and it’s one of the most interesting things I’ve seen this year. Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg by way of Philip José Farmer, Icepick Lodge and Hieronymus Bosch, all set in the shadow of a hungry horizon. Watch.

Bordeu admits that he hasn’t worked out what he’ll have the player do from one minute to the next. The world comes first, with its intriguing population scurrying and stomping across it (the elephant-truck needs a new verb for its motion – ‘trundle-bumphing’?), and the cylinder rolls on. What we do know, thanks to the magic of Bordeu’s comments below the video, is that it isn’t a walking simulator:

rest assured this is not one of those “look around” games where you mainly wander through detailed environments with little more than the story

Nor will it be a Zeno Clash style punch ’em up:

Though certainly here you won’t be punching people in the face.

What about that egg?

I’m still experimenting a lot with the design of the game itself, but one direction I’m looking into is an interaction with the other egg. Pushing / moving it around would definitely provide a gameplay challenge and affect how fast you can move compared to the cylinder. In any case, the objective is not only running away from the cylinder (that would be too basic).

It isn’t set in the world of Zeno Clash and the world is “semi-open”. That’s pretty much all we know for now and I’m happy to chew over the video for a while longer. If you’re wondering how ACE Team move through development, this article by Duncan Harris follows the creation of Zeno Clash and is delightful.

The Endless Cylinder may not see the light of day for some time and Bordeu states that it’s a personal endeavour rather than an ACE Team project. The video is a demonstration of work in progress rather than a conventional “LOOK AT WHAT WE’RE DOING” reveal. ACE Team are no doubt concentrating their efforts on stop motion extravaganza Deadly Tower of Monsters.

38 Comments

  1. RedViv says:

    It went from “Aww, realistic Q*bert” to “OH GODS THE TITULAR” and then I was completely in love.

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      particlese says:

      Yup! That sounds about like what went through my head, with a pinch of o_O mixed in with that aww. Also, I somehow forgot about THE TITULAR until Q*bert walked up to it and watched it roll closer for a few moments. O_O

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    Neurotic says:

    The antidote to the recent Bat-debacle. Wonderful!

  3. MOKKA says:

    I think Bordeu said in the video that this game is a personal project of his and not an official ACE Team title.

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      Adam Smith says:

      True! I took that as meaning it was currently a personal project rather than something that would definitely see official release, but that if it did, it’d still fall under the ACE Team Endless Umbrella. Possibly not. I’ll add a quick edit to clarify.

  4. AriochRN says:

    I find that Pac-Man creature strangely horrific. The moment of attack is blind, like a Great White shark. The lack of depth-perception must be a right bugger when hunting, though.

  5. LTK says:

    When that car comes rolling into view, I thought “Huh, that’s anachronistic for this type of game, but then it’s not set in any particular place or time, so if there’s an infinite cylinder rolling across the planet it’s not weirder that there are cars as well.”

    NOPE. It was just a two-legged elephant using a car shell like a hermit crab. That’ll teach me to expect things about ACE Team.

  6. The Velour Fog says:

    This kind of thing definitely appeals to me…That cylinder! I wish more games made use of a sense of massiveness for want of a better word. Too many painted backgrounds or claustrophobic settings. Give us wide spaces that we can traverse and a sense of size and scale!

    Couple of recent example that come to mind: the giant wheel chase in Bulletstorm and the traversible mountains in Skyrim

    • Ross Angus says:

      Yes, it’s really unusual to see Horace from that angle, isn’t it?

  7. Wowbagger says:

    I love the art style of zeno clash and this obviously has the same idiosyncratic look, but I haven’t got around to playing it yet, is it still worth a bash?

    • Wowbagger says:

      I have to admit that abyss odyssey left me feeling cold though.

      • Grey Cap says:

        I heartily recommend Zeno Clash one (the sequel just didn’t grab me the same way). Should be really cheap by now, too.

      • Eery Petrol says:

        I recommend Zeno Clash 1 as well. I played it for the first time a few months back and it befinitely brings relevance today with its very unique world, characters and atmosphere and a surprising combat system. The level designs explore both creative scenery and fun angles on the gameplay mechanics.

    • Viroso says:

      Yes, it’s still worth many bashes.

    • Kefren says:

      It is a series of fights which are entertaining, backed by beautifully alien music and visuals. The game doesn’t overstay its welcome. There is a bonus set of arenas (tower levels) to play afterwards, which were also fun, especially the descending ones with destructible ground.

  8. wcq says:

    You have to respect the guys at ACE Team for bringing out the weird in this day and age.

    There’s been far too few studios making proper “Western weird” (as opposed to “Japanese weird”). I think the companies that used to make this kind of stuff are pretty much all gone: Shiny Entertainment, Planet Moon Studios, Oddworld Inhabitants…

    • LTK says:

      If anything, this is South American weird, and ACE Team is unchallenged there.

      • wcq says:

        I wouldn’t go saying unchallenged, since other “weird” games have come out from there, such as Papo & Yo. Anyway, what I suppose I really meant with “Western weird” is the “strange alien world” kind of weird, which has been much more prevalent in Western games as far as I can see. You know, as opposed to the “lol so random” sort of weird.

      • cpt_freakout says:

        South America (the whole of Latin America, in fact) is still ‘the West’.

    • Cerzi says:

      Funny you mention Shiny – this footage instantly made me think of Sacrifice.

  9. Ross Angus says:

    I love ACE Team’s world building. I bounced off Zeno Clash for it’s mechanics (I can’t beat em up to save my life), but the world was wonderful.

  10. Zallgrin says:

    This looks really fascinating.

  11. HorizonFoxtrot says:

    This reminds me of Spore a little, though I don’t remember Spore forcing the player to confront the spectre of their impending doom as much as this.

  12. Penguin_Factory says:

    “rest assured this is not one of those “look around” games where you mainly wander through detailed environments with little more than the story”

    I would totally still play it if it was one of those

  13. Alien says:

    The visual design reminds me of “Sacrifice”. Sacrifice‍ ’​s art was absolutely gorgeous!

    Wikipedia Quote:

    “Sacrifice‍ ’​s art reminded video game journalist Kieron Gillen of the works of Renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch.”

    “The designs were so unconventional that gaming journalist Michael Eilers remarked, “It is as if Salvador Dalí and H. R. Giger got together and played around with 3D Studio Max for a few weeks with a cooler full of Bass Ale between them.”

  14. cpt_freakout says:

    I love everything ACE Team, and this looks just as cool, even if it’s a personal project detached from the rest of the studio. It’s one of the few studios that really do very conceptual games right.

  15. Rizlar says:

    This looks flippin great. Can’t be the only one that thought ‘Neverending Story’. :P

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    teije says:

    Looks fascinating. I hope it evolves to have even more omniousity and less on the cutesy side.

  17. Urthman says:

    No Man’s Sky desperately needs some of their worlds to look more like this.

  18. Zenicetus says:

    That’s a great threat concept. If the terrain is set on a spherical planet or moon, that would have to be a rolling torus and not a cylinder, yes? Or the leading edge of what will eventually be a world-enveloping sphere. Anyway, very cool idea there.

  19. criskywalker says:

    Ah, the craziness from my dear Chile never ceases to amaze me!

    The atmosphere is amazing! I think this would be amazing as an exploration game.

  20. MrFinnishDude says:

    Didn’t we learn from Spore?

  21. Stackler says:

    Looks like the creature phase of Spore we never got.

  22. Neutrino says:

    Would be great if someone could get them to write the Zen level for Black Mesa.

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    particlese says:

    It isn’t set in the world of Zeno Clash and the world is “semi-open”.I might even venture to call it a halfopen world — perhaps that’s what he’s getting at there.

    At any rate, I love this concept. From the Yellow Submariney and somehow disconcerting surrealism to the creeping realization (for me, anyway) of the cylinder being what it is… Cool!!

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      particlese says:

      Apologies for the blockquote failure. The first sentence above was meant to be quoted from the article.