Robosaur: In Case Of Emergency Release Raptor

In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor has been released, which means there must be some kind of emergency. Perhaps the title of the game is a commentary on the situation of creators Arcen, who have been making inventive, weird strategy games for years, and found themselves in financial troubles earlier this year. Upsetting news, because not only were Arcen’s games great, their longevity as a company seemed like evidence that such an unusual portfolio could sustain a studio.

Raptor may or may not be the solution. It’s in Early Access now and it looks as odd as the title suggests.

As a long-time Arcen fan, I’ll admit that the prospect of a 3d game (the studio’s first!) that had a wacky title filled me with concern. If a Goat Simulator kinda thing would pay the bills, so be it, but it might well end up being the first Arcen game that didn’t even appeal to me as a curiosity. While there is certainly some zaniness in Raptor – it’s dinosaurs versus robots, after all – Arcen’s games have often been a little silly, and this isn’t a deep dive into nonsensical interactions for their own sake. There are rules rather than pop culture references.

Levels are stitched together procedurally, using handcrafted parts, and you lunge through them, raptoring robots into pieces. That’s pretty much the whole thing at the moment, though new modes are coming as the game prowls through Early Access. There’s a target to reach, once three stages have been completed, but there’s no persistence between playthroughs. Just the joy of raptoring robots. Arcen promise more robots and environments to go with the new modes, and their approach to Early Access has been shaped by their experiences with previous non-EA releases:

Our goal is to make sure that, no matter when you buy this game, it’s an appropriate value for your money right away. Based on that, our intent is to develop out increasing numbers of features, increasing amounts of content, and so forth so long as there is player support for that.

We’ve made the mistake of misjudging the market in the past (with awesome but obscure games like Starward Rogue that we poured money into making huge), and we want to make sure that the experience that we’re delivering is something that makes sense to people — is this something that people are going to see as a bite-sized game that they only want so much of? We’ll take the hint. Or is this something that they see themselves sinking tons of time into, where we just can’t get content out fast enough. We sure hope that’s the case!

Godspeed, furious raptor.

If you’re interested in what Arcen made previously, here’s my recommendations, with links to reviews or other articles:

Skyward Collapse

Bionic Dues

Shattered Haven

AI War

From this site

22 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Dorga says:

    the biggest problem for Arcen IMHO is that their games look aesthetically bland and unappealing.

    • Eclipse says:

      they look like the worst thing ever. My programmer art looks amazingly good by comparison

      • Premium User Badge

        JiminyJickers says:

        Their graphics has never been amazing that is for sure. But let is see some examples of your amazingly good by comparison programmer art.

  2. Ghostwise says:

    I assume that the procedurally-generated levels are assembled from a reptileset ?

  3. qrter says:

    This is the first Arcen game that really doesn’t appeal to me at all.

  4. Nacery says:

    So they are going full Cofee Stain Estudios? I mean their Sanctum series were actually pretty great but comercially they weren’t exactly a success until you know… Goat Simulator.

  5. mukuste says:

    This is just weird. Seems like a throwback to the meme-y, “lolrandom” game design that was popular maybe 10 years ago in the early phases of the growing indie scene. Doesn’t appeal to me, but then, neither does Goat Simulator.

  6. Faults says:

    I feel really bad for Arcen, because their games are all insanely ambitious, complex, systems-driven and pretty wonderful in terms of mechanics; all hidden behind some genuinely dreadful amateurish presentation and bizarre aesthetic choices.

    ICOE:RR seems to remove all the complexity, and double down hard on the dreadful presentation. Everything in that trailer just reeked of a 1st-timer UDK project. I hope they get back to making grand, complex, bizarre strategy games and hire an art director soon.

    • CMaster says:

      I seem to think the reason it looks like a “1st Unity Game” project is that it’s made of Unity Store assets.
      Which just goes to show that they’ve missed the point of all the “your games are ugly” criticism yet again.

      I’ve kinda lost faith in Arcen. Chris Park talks an amazing game, but, with the exception of the (still packed with flaws and ugly as hell) AI War, hasn’t ever really delivered for me. I thought The Last Federation sounded great. When I finally got it, it seemed to be a case of clicking a button to make numbers grind up. AVWW was great in concept, but the eventual result was very different from what was initially proposed, very ugly and just didn’t click with me. It’s possible I’d love Bionic Dues, but I’ve not tried it.

      • Dare_Wreck says:

        I too bounced off of AI War and The Last Federation, but I love love love Bionic Dues and Starward Rogue. Each of Arcen’s games, while pretty niche, is quite different from the others.

      • Shuck says:

        “Which just goes to show that they’ve missed the point of all the “your games are ugly” criticism yet again.”
        I’m not sure it’s so much “missing the point” as not having the resources to actually do anything any differently. If you’re making a game using relatively very cheap Unity store assets, it’s usually because you don’t have a choice, as is the case here.

      • lesslucid says:

        Part of being an “experimental” studio is that some of your experiments will hit and some will miss – and some of the “hits” for some people will be misses for others. For me, their two best games, hands down, are Bionic Dues and Skyward Collapse. Both are deep, rich, involving strategy games with extremely variable strategies and gameplay that is unlike anything else out there. The Last Federation, on the other hand, is a near miss: a few great ideas, but mixed in with a lot of mediocre stuff, with a result that just gets bogged down in tedious grinding when you play it.
        However, I disagree strongly with the idea that Park is a kind of low-budget Molyneux Deux; the games that work really do work as games. It’s not just “all talk, no substance”. What makes Arcen games different is that they work to innovate on gameplay *mechanics*, while so many other studios accept the most common mechanics as givens and iterate furiously over presentation, UI, graphics, ease-of-use, &c… All those things are important and Arcen could certainly do with a dose of that stuff – I’m sure they know this perfectly well and would work more on presentation if they had the budget for it. But if you’ve played a baker’s dozen of 4X games, some with better and some with worse presentation, you realise after a while that they’re all very same-y in terms of their fundamental design. “What the player is doing with their brain” while playing Pandora First Contact isn’t that different from what the player does with their brain in Endless Legend, to pick a couple of random examples. OTOH, Skyward Collapse gets you to do something *totally* different; it gets you thinking about what a 4X game is and what it’s about in a completely different way.
        The trouble is, these “different” experiences are also poorly presented and poorly explained. For the most part, consumers largely do want the same again, but prettier, please. Everyone is entitled to their tastes and I don’t begrudge anyone for not wanting what I want. But I really hope Arcen stick around and keep on doing the thing they’re doing, because I’ve played “the same again, but prettier” enough times now that it’s lost its capacity to excite me. A new Arcen game, though, hit or miss, is always at least something new to think about.

      • CMaster says:

        Just to correct a couple of misunderstandings:

        – I actually like AI War. It’s the only Arcen game I’ve unquestionably liked (I own only AI War (+ expansions) and TLF, but I played the demo of both AVWW, and have watched videos of the others). I just think it doesn’t actually do all the things it says it does, and could be even better than the great game it already is.

        – I don’t think Park is in any way like Molyneux. It’s not a case of big promises, kept until the final moment and then not delivered. It’s a case that he has a tendency of, at the announcement of a game, describing something I really like the sound of. Then, through development and playtesting, he slowly but surely turns it in to something quite different.

        – People given Arcen too much slack on the “ugly” side of things. AVWW had a very, very involved and expensive art process, even at the time of those first “oh god my eyes” screenshots. Park talks when explaining Release Raptor that they’re devoting time to customizing the unity store assets for it. The problem seems to be that the games are directed by people with some great programming and game design skills, and an aesthetic sense well off from the norm.

  7. lglethal says:

    I really don’t get the design meeting that went on for this.

    Team gathers in a conference room:
    Manager 1: Right, team we need a new game. Who’s got some ideas, lets throw them all out there and brainstorm this.
    Programmer: Well we could do another strategy game? We’re good at those.
    Manager 1: No, no that’s boring. We want something new, fresh, and exciting.
    Manager 2: well I’ve heard about this assymetric design stuff. That could be interesting.
    Manager 1: Yes! What else have we got.
    Manager 2: Well people like Dinosaurs.
    Programmer: Ark: Survival Evolved already exists.
    Manager 2: hmmm. People like Robots.
    Programmer: …
    Manager 1: I’ve got it! Dinosaurs vs Robots!
    Programmer: !!!
    Manager 1: Make it happen.
    Programmer: umm make what happen?
    Manager 1: Dinosaurs vs Robots! Geez I’ve done the hard work and come up with the idea, now go and make it happen. I’m off to the Country Club. Oh and don’t screw it up or your out of a job.
    Programmer: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m failing to see how else such an idea gets made… But maybe I’m just a cynic…

    • CMaster says:

      Handily, Arcen really, [b]really[/b] buy in to the whole “open development” thing. You can read about how they came to be making the game here (and in follow on posts for the full story): link to arcengames.com (Also, for what it’s worth, the programmer, manager and owner are all basically the same thing at Arcen)

      You could probably even ask Chris Park if you wanted to know.

  8. BuckFlanksteak says:

    I hope the title screen is accompanied by an out-of-place, bizarrely emotional theme song with female vocals that sounds like it was ripped from an anime’s ending credits.

  9. Eclipse says:

    I like how they kept their god-awful art direction with this title as well… Really, their games are interesting, but they are also always the most amateurish looking stuff around

    • Shuck says:

      It’s not a case of bad art direction, but literally no art direction. They’ve got such a skeleton staff now that if the owner weren’t a programmer, they couldn’t have afforded that, either. At this point, they’re relying on Unity store assets because that’s even cheaper than paying for piecemeal art contract work.

  10. ComradeSnarky says:

    Aaaaaaaannnd it’s gone.

    No, really.

    Dev: “I’m going to give all the customers of In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor a full refund and let them keep the game, then take the game off sale. The game is selling extremely poorly, even below what happened with Starward Rogue.”

    link to steamcommunity.com