Yesterday, in our preview of The Scourge Project, we talked about some of the features and co-op experience players could expect from the game when it's released next month. Omar Salleh, the game director, provided us with a few more tidbits about the game after our play session that we wanted to share with you, including what inspired the team to develop a narrative that was completely co-operative, some of the challenges when the team faced when designing a co-op game, and Omar's feelings on co-op gaming (spoiler: he really likes it).
Co-Optimus: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us and show us The Scourge Project. First off, could you tell us some about the game and the premise behind the story?
Omar: The Scourge Project is part of a new line of products that Tragnarion Studios is launching, where the focus is on creating the core gameplay that people expect from a genre, while at the same time adding some of our own special elements. By following an episodic formula and digitally distributing these games, we're able to offer a really high quality experience at a significantly lower price compared to many other games. I think it will be hard to beat the value for money offered by The Scourge Project, which we're making available for $19.99 via Steam and Direct2Drive in early April.
The Scourge Project follows the exploits of a small group of mercenaries called Echo Squad, who have been contracted by a group called the Tarn Initiative to carry out missions of sabotage against the mega-powerful Nogari Corporation, who is the main enemy faction in the game. It takes place in the year 2036, at a time when Nogari Corporation has developed a mysterious new energy source called 'Ambrosia' which has quickly become the most sought-after commodity in the world, giving them immense influence. The Tarn Initiative has a spy inside Nogari that has recently reported some alarming finding that must be brought to light immediately, so Echo Squad has been tasked with infiltrating Nogari Island to extract both the spy and the proof he has found. The game begins with a pretty serious betrayal, leaving Echo Squad stranded amid a war-torn Nogari Island. Only by venturing forward will they find out what is really going on!
Co-optimus: What inspired the development of a narrative that is focused on a co-operative story campaign and why did you choose to develop a co-op title?
Omar: For many years I grew increasingly aware of the frustration on gaming forums all over the net from Players who loved this or that game, but lamented the lack of co-op functionality. From a developer's perspective it's obvious that creating a co-op game is a lot harder than many people think, so it's understandable that most shy away from incorporating such a significant feature. In the examples that did exist, co-op seemed to be kind of 'bolted onto' the main game, in the sense that everything in the campaign was the same for each Player in a co-op session; everyone played a 'clone' of the main character, and differences rarely extended further than having a different character model. This is where we realised that we could do something different to evolve co-op gaming.
Tip From Experience: See that green gas? It's not just a sci-fi effect, so don't talk a stroll through it
Co-Optimus: Were there any other co-op games that served as some kind of influenced the game’s creation?
Omar: Not so much in terms of things that we wanted to emulate, to be honest. In the last few years there have been some co-op games that took the route of defining 'co-op gameplay' as simply being events where two Players button-mash to open a door together, but although we experimented briefly with that kind of thing we didn't feel like it added much to the experience. Instead, we focused on the core gameplay that people expect from a third-person shooter, and tried to make sure that the game provides enough variety in terms of situations and challenges to encourage Players to find ways to use the various weapons and special abilities to survive as a group. In terms of our co-op narrative, we didn't have any other examples to go on so we forged ahead and designed what we thought would make an intriguing co-op spin on an already deep and layered story.
Co-Optimus: What about the characters? There are 4 different playable characters to choose from, and each has their own unique background/story, right?
Omar: Yes, there are four playable characters, all of which are present throughout the game regardless of whether you play it in Singleplayer or in Co-op. When there's no Player controlling a given character, the AI will control it but you will be able to issue orders for things like movement, attacking, using objects, reviving team-mates, etc. The four characters are Stonewall, Amp, Mass and Shade, each a veteran mercenary in their own right who has their own agenda for signing up with the Tarn Initiative in their fight against Nogari Corporation. In the character-specific flashbacks that each Player sees, you get regular glimpses into your past that hint at what happened before the beginning of the game. All of the flashbacks have been designed so that they can be interpreted in more than one way, and we're really eager to see what theories people come up with in forums regarding what is 'really going on'!