PixelJunk Developer Reveals Details of Genre-Bending PS4 Exclusive The Tomorrow Children

Q-Games quirk.

Confused by the reveal of Q-Games' The Tomorrow Children during Sony's Gamescom press conference? You're not the only one. Despite being impressed by the unique-looking visuals of the game's trailer, I had questions. Many questions. Most pressing of all, just what exactly are you supposed to do in that quirky, cold war-inspired world? I got answers, but in typical Q-Games style, I was left with more questions. The Tomorrow Children is quite unlike anything else out there, combining elements of of shooting, world-building, resource gathering and management, tower defence, strategy, and multiplayer co-op into a unique experience of its own.

Tying it all together is a story set in an alternate post-60s timeline, beginning at the height of the cold war. A Russian experiment that attempted to meld all the minds of the human race into one global consciousness goes disastrously wrong, wiping out most of earth's inhabitants. 90 years later, the surviving inhabitants create "projection clones" to help rebuild the world's cities and restore humanity to its former glory. The twist is that the society those clones (and so you) are helping to rebuild is based on a twisted form of Marxist ideals.

That means all the work you do is ultimately in aid of the state. You work for the state, get paid by the state, and try to rebuild it. The work you do revolves around the void, a vast expanse of nothingness outside of your hometown where many of the world's former citizens are trapped inside Russian Dolls. The ultimate aim is to build up the population of the town you're a part of, balancing the number of citizens with the amount of resources you're able to collect to feed them and power their homes.

Resources, like the humans you rescue, largely come from the Void. Inside the vast white nothingness of the Void, islands appear. These are procedurally-generated objects--an example we were shown looked like a giant upturned head--which you and other inhabitants of your town can mine for resources. Basic tools like pickaxes and shovels let you dig out stairs and holes to clamber inside the objects, and get at the sweet resources and trapped people within. This is where the multiplayer aspect of the game comes in, but like the rest of The Tomorrow People, the multiplayer is hardly traditional.

Up to 100 people can join each town, but you don't see them walking around in the usual sense. Instead, red silhouettes appear when those players are completing certain key actions like digging for resources. You can interact with them via limited actions such as saluting or whistling; quite why you'd need to isn't yet clear, though. There's a big focus on light in The Tomorrow Children, both from a technical and gameplay perspective. Notably, if you wander into, or dig into areas that are too dark, your character disappears from existence and is reset back at your hometown.

Helping to make those dark areas obvious to you is a spot of rather impressive lighting technology based on voxel cone ray tracing. A similar technology was initially supposed to feature in Epic's Unreal Engine 4 before it was removed. Essentially, the technology attempts to make light behave more naturally by using complex simulations to calculate its position in real-time within a scene, instead of pre-calculating it. In the case of Q-Games' implementation, light is able to bounce off of objects up to three times in order to illuminate a scene. It results in a cinematic, natural look, with light pouring into a scene when you dig through an outside wall of an object, and shadows naturally falling as you move around. This is a mighty fine achievement, particularly as Epic dropped the technology from Unreal Engine 4.

Aside from gathering resources, you also have to contend with monster attacks on your town. Stopping these hulking, metallic creations is something of a team effort, with all the red silhouettes of your fellow inhabitants springing into life as a monster approaches. There are weapons like rocket launchers that can be used help defend your town, as well as the option to build defences like turrets. There are other neat items that prove helpful during an attack too, including the always-entertaining jetpack. Monsters, once downed, can then be mined for resources, just like islands. There's a time limit to get at all the resources before the monster disappears, though.

To speed things up you need either more people, or better tools. Better tools are acquired with rations dished out to you from the state. How many you get depends on how many tasks you complete before you visit your town's labour office, and how important they are to the state. Aside from new equipment, rations can also be used to buy bus tickets so you can visit other towns and help them out with their own tasks. You can even permanently relocate to another town, if you have enough rations. Q-Games mentioned that it's also possible to go to other towns and totally troll them by destroying buildings, or by constantly whistling at them.

To combat this, there's a policing system built into the game that lets players give a thumbs up or thumbs down rating to a player. Get too many thumbs down and your player turns a darker shade, letting others know that you're bad news, and forcing you out of towns. Players can even build police stations to hold repeat offenders, although, they are able to get out of jail if they have enough rations to buy their way out.

And if all of that sounds a little complicated, well, it is. Even after being given a rundown of the game, I'm still left wondering just how multiple towns will be able to interact with each other, and how the procedural generation engine works. But that's to be expected of Q-Games. It's a studio with a history of quirky, and sometimes brilliant games. The Tomorrow Children may just continue that trend. If nothing else, it's a game that'll be like, well...nothing else.

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20 comments
jark888
jark888

Let me guess. From the look of it, it is like a refined version of Minecraft.

vackillers
vackillers

You just need a good compromise. The problem is that PCs have been gaming at 1080p for over a decade now, and the last gen games struggled to get past 720. Now we are here, the new gen is here and were believed to be 10x the power of the last generation, yet, they still cannot deliver games at 1080 without seriously hampering the frame rate. It doesn't matter how smooth a game is the fact of the matter is if you game or hook up your new console to a tv thats anything bigger then a 32inch you are going to get a seriously de-graded picture because all those pixels have to be sooooooooooo stretched. This is simply because consoles are too cheap so they slap a way below par graphics card in there to help keep the overall cost down.


I think we will get to a point with the next gen in 8 or so years time where gamers needs may just simply have to suck it up and fork over a $100-150 more then they did this new gen in order to realize the performance/visuals that gamers need. You will never get superb resolution and great looking visuals with flawless performance on a GPU that barely costs around 140$ its just simply not going to happen and gamers simply have to accept that. If you want to game on a console at 1080 with 60FPS you are going to have to pay more then 400$ for the system its just that simple, even a 400$ PC graphics card alone doesn't always net you that kind of a performance so to think that the GPUs that are inside these new consoles should be able to do that is never gonna happen.


There are some games that will be able to do that, and those games are like Little Big Planet, where there isn't so much demand needed on the GPU than say a Battlefield game. The PS4 will be able to achieve closer to this than the X1 because it simply has a slightly better GPU inside it.  Perhaps the next gen consoles should be $600 where that tiny extra cash can net you EXACTLY what you expect (and want) out of new gen console technology. I personally think paying an extra 150-200 for a console that nets so much more performance is really asking too much out of consumers these days.

Mega_Skrull
Mega_Skrull

This definitely sounds interesting, but I'm worried about the multiplayer. Do we know if it's forced/online only or it has singleplayer?

DarqStalker
DarqStalker

More indies for ya PS4 users.  Whats the ratio of indies vs non-indie on ps4 now?

homey_d_clown
homey_d_clown

This was pretty bad ass, I will need more info, but looks promising.

xantufrog
xantufrog

This sounds bloody awesome - I wish I hadn't missed the shows yesterday.

anaplussetup
anaplussetup

Title says "People," article says "Children."

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@vackillers Where exactly does it say exactly how much more power you are going to need to play a game at 1080p? The only thing that matters is that the new consoles ARE 10x more powerful than the old one and both are only JUST hitting 1080p. It isn't that it was expected to hit that, it is a benchmark to see if you can hit. The new consoles can but only just. Does it matter? No. Does it make games worse? Not when previous gen was barely even hitting 720p. Anything over 720p is an improvement.

Both consoles will have great games and that is all a real gamer cares about.

tc0072
tc0072

@vackillers This has been a party political broadcast by the PC Master Race.

gokartmozart89
gokartmozart89

@DarqStalker How is having more games a bad thing? Is it possible that more people have bought the system because it gets games like this and Transistor, instead of just CoD:XXVI? Are annualized AAA games that repeat the same formulas every year really better than new and refreshing ideas?

AgentOfAwful
AgentOfAwful

@anaplussetup Easy enough mistake to make. I was genuinely hoping this was going to be a licensed game of the TV show The Tomorrow People (the trippy 1970's one, not the modern CW crapfest), but alas it seems to be trippy in it's own way.

vackillers
vackillers

@Dannystaples14 @vackillers Never said they didn't have great games and its pretty obvious in order to get a GPU to hit high frame rate and high resolution you need a higher end graphics card. If you cannot understand that math then you don't really need to be commenting on something you don't know too much about. This is how things work, this is the technical specs of computing hardware and you're seeing the difference between playing a game on PC and then playing the same game on console. Reason it does matter because as i mentioned before, if you are playing a game that has a low native resolution and then play that same game at a higher resolution screen, each pixel gets de-graded and stretched, which shows a massive loss of picture clarity and quality, and you can clearly see it. 10x better than the past generation but thats not the issue here we all know the limitations of the last generation as that is running on 10 yr old hardware.  These are supposed to the best of the best consoles ever made but they still cannot do 1080 properly which is hardly new technology.


This wasn't a dig at either platform, I just think peoples expectations are so dramatically high for this new generation which both Sony and MS are at fault with all their crap before release that you just simply cannot do what people want it to do on the sort of budget that consoles are made for. You cannot put a 3-400$ GPU in a console and only sell the thing for 400 when you have CPUs, RAM Harddrive and the rest of the hardware to pay for at the same time, its just simply not gonna happen unless you the players are willing to pay more for the system as a whole.


Only to some it doesn't matter but this is a huge debate for a lot of people and to be frank, neither console has the power to push 1080 with high frame rates. Not meaning to say either consoles aren't good or to give that impression or any of the sort, far from it they are very good indeed and as you say Danny both consoles will have fantastic games this generation has only just started. You do have to realize though there is only so much you can do with a limited GPU.

gokartmozart89
gokartmozart89

@cokeko @vackillers Which can hardly be reached within the first 12 months of a console's life span. Compare a PS3 launch game like Ridge Racer 7 or Resistance to The Last of Us.