I've been meaning to write about this for a while, because it just tickles me pink. If you were paying attention to PC gaming in 2005 then you'll probably remember Deep Shadows' spectacularly open-ended FPS, Boiling Point. It remains one of my favourite games of all time, partly because it was an astonishingly ambitious game of the kind I can't seem to get enough of, and partly because it it was an accidental surrealist masterpiece of outlandish bugs and terrible production. Few games were as weirdly broken as Boiling Point, and there were plenty of commentators who came away with wry smiles and unhappy brains as a result.
It's worth remembering, before we continue, that Boiling Point's first patch had one of the most interesting bug lists of all time:
- fixed: the snake wasn’t able to bite you while you were crawling;
- fixed: size of the moon;
- fixed: posters in bar vanish as you turn away from them;
- fixed: dog does not cast shadows;
- fixed: a metal clanking sound plays, if the user’s character stabs the curtains;
- fixed: jaguar floats across screen at treetop level;
- fixed: npc die on contact with grenades, and not from the actual explosion
And, as I recall, there's plenty more where that came from. (I like to play unpatched, for the pure, undiluted experience.) This was aside from the general wacky atmosphere created by the way factions interacted (being attacked by pedestrians with hand-grenades because you'd accidentally run over some towns people was a constant hazard) and the bizarre dialogue and voice-acting. All this wobbliness of verisimilitude seemed to be symptomatic of the fact that the little Kiev-based development studio had tried to create a fifty kilometre zone which was freely explorable and filled with faction-driven conflict, random wildlife, and wide ranging faction-status-depending missions. It was a game that was evidently too big for its developmental boots.
Nevertheless, whether this was true or not seems not to matter: Deep Shadows are continuing their quest to create a huge, open-ended, factional game world, and they're doing it in the most remorseless fashion. They're seemingly intent on being even more ambitious the second time around. Instead of scaling down the expectations they'd struggled to live up to with Boiling Point, they're now going for something even bigger: a game of intergalactic scope, with exploration, spaceship battles, FPS combat, and a huge quest-driven RPG-mechanic'd factional game world. Yes, it's like Boiling Point in space, with even more game mechanics to play with. Hell, where you had a stolen Trabant in Boiling Point, you now have an upgradeable spacecraft. It's called Precursors, and it's scheduled for release on PC and Xbox 360 in 2008.
I, for one, can't wait.
Here are some screenshots that you can enlarge by clicking on them:
But that's not the end of Deep Shadows ambitions for creating a follow up for Boiling Point, no sir. They're developing a second game too: White Gold. White Gold will be an RPG-FPS set on a number of Caribbean islands, using the same engine as Precursors. And it's probably got something to do with Cocaine. (It's just a guess.)
And I can't wait for this, either. Let no one tell you that the size of the moon can't be fixed and remember: dog does not cast shadows. Not necessarily, anyway.