In the early days of alphafunding, long before we settled on the term "early access", Zero Point Software came up with the loathsome "AAA Indie". In 2009 they started crowdfunding Interstellar Marines, a type of game impossible in AAA Dependent: an FPS about space marines. Oh, but I'm too cruel. After years of prototypes and milestones ranging from a shooting gallery to competitive multiplayer, Zero Point updated it on Friday with the first iteration of what they've teased since 2006: single-player and co-op story missions.
The 'NeuroGen Incident' mission pits space marines against robots that have gone a bit wonky and angry, foes who are sadly less jawsome than the long-promised landsharks. Hey ho. It's a solitary mission, not from one of the three planned core campaigns, and looks pretty placeholder-y. But it's here. I'm slightly surprised this finally happened. It's been a long haul.
Reading Zero Point's AAA Indie manifesto now, it seems a concise but obvious explanation of crowdfunding and early access. Back then, mere months after the first alpha of Minecraft, the idea of paying for a game that was not only unfinished but you couldn't even play yet was pretty dang weird.
And all this foresight centred around an FPS about space marines shooting robots and aliens, of all things! Part of ZP's point was that indies could make anything without publisher money, of course, but it was hardly an empty genre. Perhaps that's why it's taken them so long to reach this point. They tried a Kickstarter in 2012, but fell far short of their $600,000 goal. A few months earlier, the far-more-exciting Shadowrun Returns and Double Fine Adventure had each only sought $400,000.
Anyway, to mark the launch, it's 25% off on Steam Early Access, down to £10.49.
Here's a bit of co-op from some folks who, as as far I watched, are relatively polite: