Warco: first-person shooting without a gun

In Warco, players wield a video camera instead of a weapon.

by

Original ideas are hard to come by in an industry built on familiarity. Game publishers often rely on recycled concepts to ensure profitability, while developers find that they have to step outside of traditional business models to create something unique. But that's not to say that it can't be done.

Australian studio Defiant Development is currently developing a first-person shooter that relies on plenty of recycled concepts: a first-person view, a standard cover mechanic, and a realistic military setting. Yet, what this first-person shooter is missing is the genre's main attraction: shooting.

Warco is a game about war correspondence. Players take on the role of reporter Jesse DeMarco, who must make her way through a third-world civil war, recording images for her nightly news reports. Instead of a gun, players will be staring down the barrel of DeMarco's camera, capturing and recording footage of different objectives throughout the campaign. The gameplay itself is nothing new--Pokemon Snap did much the same thing on the Nintendo 64 back in 1999--but the idea of building a military shooter explicitly to highlight the impact of social, political, and technological change in third-world countries is something of a rarity.

In Warco, players must capture and edit footage for daily video news reports.

The idea for the game was originally conceived by former ABC and SBS television war correspondent Tony Maniaty, who wanted to create a training game for potential war correspondents that would allow players to develop skills of shooting video in hostile environments while learning to avoid injury. Maniaty then brought the project to film director Robert Connelly (The Boys, Romulus My Father, Balibo), who saw the potential to create something that stretched far beyond a simple training prototype. He asked Defiant for help.

"The military first-person shooter genre is completely filled with games cut from the same cloth," founder of Defiant Development, Morgan Jaffit, says. "If you want to play those games, then there are plenty of studios making them for you. If, on the other hand, you want an adult narrative, complex decision making, a new perspective on war, and a tale that puts black and white morality aside in favor of a realistic viewpoint, then you are our audience."

Defiant has spent the past two years honing the game's concept, fleshing out the interactive elements, and building a playable prototype with the aim of arriving at a full-length, single-player game for consoles and PCs. The development team--made up largely of former Pandemic Studios employees--soon realized that the game would need to do a lot more than simply allow players to be idle spectators in a civil war. While there's strictly no shooting (you can't pick up a gun no matter how hard you might try), the game does allow for other types of interaction within the gameworld, from interviewing civilians and searching military a commander's desk to sneaking into the camps of local warlords.

"The game covers a broad range of action, from being embedded with local forces to covertly attempting to cover arms deals," Jaffit says. "Over the course of the game, players will witness a city under siege and move across both sides of the battle. There's also a chance for quieter moments, visiting civilians at their homes to ask about the war and engaging with other journalists at the hotel."

Jaffit says that the game is aimed at the subset of first-person shooter players who appreciate a different take on the genre. Traditional methods of defense are completely done away with; the emphasis is on vulnerability and uneasiness. The best example of this is the way the game handles moral choice. On paper, a war correspondent's only task is to objectively observe the conflict and report the truth. However, things are rarely that black and white. If a journalist stumbles upon a wounded civilian, does he or she have the right to interfere? Should the journalist risk his or her own life to save someone else's?

"We're keen to provide players the opportunities to go places they've never been in games before and experience things they've never experienced in games before. I believe that it's hugely important that games provide choice and that those choices have consequences. The key factor for us is that it's not about getting the right choice or winning. In fact, in these scenarios, there's rarely a clear right choice, and for the players, it's a case of seeing where their actions lead through the unfolding gameplay."

If you stumble upon a wounded civilian, do you have the right to interfere?

Defiant doesn't shy away from the realities of war. That's why Warco is not about killing but about surviving. The game is an unglorified depiction of what hundreds of war correspondents around the world face each day. It's also the reason why Warco's protagonist is female.

"It's increasingly common to see reports from female war correspondents in the field, and as we fleshed out the characteristics that were important to us in a protagonist, Jesse emerged as a natural choice."

Convincing international game publishers to back a game whose aim is to teach rather than entertain is not an easy task. There's no track record of success, no previous projects, and no guarantee that anyone will even find the idea of a first-person shooter without guns appealing. But Jaffit remains unperturbed.

"New is always harder than a simple rehash of an old idea, but that's one of the things that makes it worth doing. I hope we have built an experience that people enjoy, precisely because it offers them something new."

Discussion

133 comments
slainbaby
slainbaby

I am really looking forward to this, a fresh idea for this console generation. As other mentioned before there are games similar but some may find it hard to get passed the old looking graphics and I think for this game to succeed it will have to look mighty pretty, considering it is all about capturing your surroundings.

GeigerdolylWodd
GeigerdolylWodd

@Apastron They should at the very least try that game out and review the criticism it received in tandem with their own judgement to help them make a better game.

Apastron
Apastron

Reminds me of Michigan: Report from Hell, as others have said before me. Worth playing but I wouldn't say it was brilliant. Hopefully Defiant Dev know that game backwards so that they can have an idea of where to really improve.

ax49
ax49

lets hope its not another attempt by the mainstream media to push their "there's no black and white" bs on us. Yes of course not every conflict is narrowed to a simple description of black and white... but that should not be an excuse for us not to take a side and stand by and watch....

1drphil2
1drphil2

I do not see this game generating any revenue for the company. The developers should save themselves the trouble and drop this project.

ghoward79
ghoward79

will it be biased like most lamestream media is today?

FlyingKoopa
FlyingKoopa

Yea, Pokemon Snap was one of the better for 64... about this game, yea, seems nice, and about the "new ideas discussion", yea, it really needs to be discussed.

robertwarnes91
robertwarnes91

This is not an original concept, Gamespot. There was a little game called Michigan: Report From Hell on the PS2, which got a limited release in Europe, Australia and Japan only. You played as a new camera man who had to film the hellish horror unravel in the city. Great game, I recommend people play it.

SNESNOSTALGIA2
SNESNOSTALGIA2

I remember reading about this on Wiley WIggins website. Never thought it would come to fruition, just thought it was a passion project with lofty ambitions. P.S. Loved Pokemon Snap more than any other Pokemon game ever!!!!

God_Emporer
God_Emporer

I'm with @ChaosUndivided here. This game had better look great. Is that a working title? Warco? War Correspondent, I get it, but there has to be something more original than that.

ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

Thumbs up for something new. Will it be a 10 doubt it. But surely worth a look. They will really have to out do them selves with graphic quality cause if the purpose is to be an observer you want to be observing some stunning technical achievements and not feel like your running around COD or Battlefield on Free Camera Mode.

AloeVera4
AloeVera4

I smell an "anti-war" message with some of America-bashing sprinkled throughout. While it looks good and is a fresh idea.....it would be better if you were given the option to pick up a weapon once in a while. Also....I don't ike games where I'm force to play a female character

brok
brok

"The development team--made up largely of former Pandemic Studios employees" Say no more. I'm sold. If this is in any way like Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction I am so there. I always liked sitting back watching the skirmishes, trying to guess who would come out on top, and the grey and grey morality of all the factions in that game. Bonus points if, for once, the US military is nowhere to be found. You know, just for a change.

TylerVanderyt
TylerVanderyt

Very interesting. I will definitely be checking back on this game every now and then. But, I see this game having potential but failing miserably. But only time will tell.

zinoalex
zinoalex

Interesting. Reminds me a bit of the 1st Bioshock. Or Pokemon Snap.It would be nice to see this title work well.

JusticeFromSeed
JusticeFromSeed

While it's original... They'll really have to break their obsession with realism to make it at all interesting...

Ryozo
Ryozo

Got to agree: this is interesting enough to merit further observation (rather surprised Miss Parker mentioned Pokemon Snap, but not Afrika). I am also reminded of Macross II and the lessons its protagonist - one Hibiki Kanzaki, as I recall - had to learn. I would imagine folks who went for a no-alert total-avoidance (bosses aside, naturally) playthrough in the MGS games would have a leg up here. Spahettificator's point is, thank you, exactly the kind of thought process the developers - whose pedigree includes The Saboteur and both Mercenaries games - seem to be trying to evoke here. Also have to point out that there _is_ an official site ( http://defiantdev.com/warco/ ) with links to further coverage.

NightFox313
NightFox313

Okay, now THIS could redefine the first-person genre.

drumma1
drumma1

Wow, that actually sounds interesting. It wont sell well though, which is too bad, this is something pretty unique.

Bane_09
Bane_09

Sounds interesting, I may have to pick up a copy of this if and when it is released

blazon340
blazon340

NOW THIS IS FIRST PERSON WITH INNOVATION!!! im not gonna get it, but i like the unique approach to a genre whitch lacks any scent of innovation

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@Sniper "By the way, stumbling upon a wounded civilian and not helping means the journalist has no humanity." What if the civilian was in the middle of a street after being shot by a sniper from an unknown building? The civilian might be being used as bait and you can either try and help and possibly be shot as well, in which case you now have two dying people in the road, or get out of there and save your own life. If you're lying bleeding in the road along with the other civilian then you are of no help to anyone, if you can get to the police then you have a chance of being able to do some good. Anyway, it sounds interesting and I hope it manages to do as well as it can.

crossdudu
crossdudu

It's a very interesting idea, but it's a shame the gameplay probably won't be fun enough to keep you hooked. The game probably won't have enough buyers to actually change something in the game industry either, but still, it's a good idea.

Joker_851
Joker_851

I guess we'll just wait and see how it DEVELOPS!

chechak7
chechak7

" what this first-person shooter is missing is the genre's main attraction: shooting." this is so RIGHT

TheProfileth
TheProfileth

This could take the idea that Farcry 2 played with and actually give real meaning and context to foreign internal conflicts. Additionally the idea of how you cover the news and what news you cover could be very interesting if it had impacts on things ingame, unfortunately I think that this kind of game will end up boiling down to Shoot picture of rioters being beaten +1 for rebels or Shoot pictures of rebels burning flag +1 for regime or something equally as trite and pragmatic.

brownyyy
brownyyy

omg WHT THE **** just cause its original does not mean its a good idea i wonder if yor footage is subject to governmental censorship like in real life. DONT BOTHER DEV TEAM THIS ALREADY IS WORSE THEN LOOKING AT GARY BUSEY

LoG-Sacrament
LoG-Sacrament

thats an interesting idea. an arcadey shooter is fun and thats fine, but i think developers' goals of making fun games have inhibited their ability to make serious statements on war at times.

Darkreaper_1
Darkreaper_1

Hats off for them trying something new with a old and very full genre. Wish more companies did this sort of thing.

SatampraZeiros
SatampraZeiros

yeah this is real innovative just like fatal frame was -.-

Bhemont
Bhemont

Same developers that made "street cleaning" game? If so, this must be EPIC!

holtrocks
holtrocks

Hey im excited just to hear about a new game that is not copying the CoD formula

Pikdum
Pikdum

Taking tips from Pokemon Snapshot like a boss.

Pawfalcon
Pawfalcon

Hope they can actually make it engrossing though. It would need pretty realistic graphics and some seriously gray choices (not like "save the kid with a bullet wound or get a better camera battery") in my mind, most games tend to be pretty obvious. The choice whether or not to shoot the drug dealer in Heavy Rain was pretty good for example. But this game could be a buffet of morally ambiguous possibilities.

mystwade
mystwade

this would perfectly with the Wii-U system. handling the controller as the camera and seeing byond the tv screen

rasputin177
rasputin177

I think its great that they are taking a riske. The whole industry still has so much unreached potential. On the other hand they have to really be creative with how the reporter interacts with the environement. I can't think of many games where the protagonist has no means to fight back. Perhaps, a camera that can be upgraded? Zoom, night vision stuff like that. I feel like to make the game "fun" they can not have ulta realism and must find creative ways to interact with the environment and story.

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

dovonob
dovonob

@Phil-teh-Pirate ahaha love a pun. how about.............Canon Fodder

DarknautXXX
DarknautXXX

Im a little annoyed that this game is being compared to FPS. Its like when Metroid Prime came out, and everyone called it a FPS because it was in first person and Samus had a gun. If you were actually providing damage by "shooting", like Fatal Frame, then it would be more appropriate.

Roland3710
Roland3710

I like the concept (after more than a decade of playing shooters a change in pace is always welcome) but I wonder how linear this game would have to be. While I despised the time limit in Dead Rising (I think that's the one) it seems like it could work well in this game by forcing the player to make decisions. Do you help the injured civilian or cover that black market deal? Plenty of choices to make and at least a semi-open world structure (possible but admittedly unlikely) could make this game worth playing and replaying. Otherwise, it seems consigned to an early relegation to the bargain bin. On the question of multiplayer, I can't help but chuckle at the thought of 32 players armed only with cameras filming a dozen militants fighting it out.

StealthUS1
StealthUS1

You know whats funny though, about 75% of the players will be wishing they had a gun and be trying to shoot bullets from the camera if the game isnt done right!

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

@Samgaspar Just because it's in a first-person view point, it doesn't make it an FPS. Portal 2 isn't an FPS, but rather a 3D puzzle game.

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

Actually...this a clever idea. Why hasn't there been many games implementing this idea?

SchlaY0R
SchlaY0R

"...to teach rather than entertain..." would be good if they could do both teach and entertain ;) It would also be cool, when they have an emotional story like "Heavy Rain" had.

V----V
V----V

I think this is a great idea. Unique games are the best. FPS is not my genre of choice but I'd play this. V^^^^V

jonzilla_basic
jonzilla_basic

WOW, this is a cool Idea. I loved Pokemon Snap when it came out! If this is done right it could be incedible. Here is a suggestion - have a sandbox mode where there are no objectives, time limits or restrictions and let us capture what we want and discover things happening in the area. Endless possibilities!!