Wing Commander creator talks new project
Advancements in technology and a desire to champion PC as core gaming platform lure Chris Roberts back to industry; teaser trailer released ahead of unveil on October 10.
Over the past decade, Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts has worked in the film business, serving as producer on movies like Lord of War and The Punisher. Now he has returned to the game industry with a new mystery project set for an unveiling on October 10. A teaser trailer was made available today, and is embedded below.
GameSpot caught up with Roberts today about his new game. (Though not confirmed, the project's website has strongly hinted at it being a space combat simulator) He said one component of his return to the game industry was a result of technology being capable enough to suit his creative and technological desires.
"A couple years ago, I came to the point where I was playing stuff and I was feeling like the technology was getting to the point where I could do some stuff that I was interested in again. The level of immersion and realism that you can do [today] is significantly higher," Roberts said.
Roberts said that the project's visuals may be slightly ahead of what next-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony will offer, and this visual prowess has always been an aim for the developer.
"I want to get back to the roots of what I did in the old days with Wing Commander, which was, if you've got a really badass PC, this is going to show it off," he said.
One way in which Roberts' new game will leverage current technology is through its use of an online component. He said his new game will allow the community to connect in ways that Wing Commander or Freelancer players never could.
"In the old days of making games…you built everything, put it on discs; it went out and shipped to a store. You hoped people liked it. Then they played it for a month or a week and then you're off for another three years making a game. Right now is a really good time to re-enter because I feel like there's opportunity now that maybe there wasn't even a few years ago," he said.
Roberts' new project will also leverage its online presence to boost its story-telling. He explained that his new game will not mirror other online games in only offering one or two updates a year, but rather it will release a host of "micro-updates" on a frequent basis.
This effort has already begun through the project's teaser website and its Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Tumblr accounts. The social portals have poured out, in cryptic fashion, news about what the project may have in store for gamers.
Though Roberts was out of the business for the past ten years, he says he's acutely aware of the changes that the industry has gone through, thanks to communication with friends, and tracking the business himself. One of the biggest differences he has taken notice of is the role of publishers.
"The appetite of the big publishers to take a chance…it's like the movie business…it's all about these huge, big events in the movie business. And it's all about these huge, big event games in the game business. They want to do fewer titles; they want to do [games] that cost a lot more; they want to have them all on very safe, existing brands. So it's great if you're doing another Call of Duty."
Roberts does not plan to have a publishing partnership with companies like Activision or Electronic Arts for his new game. Rather, the financing for the project has been arranged privately.
Another reason Roberts is keen on returning to games is that he sees it as an opportunity to champion the PC as a core gaming platform, as opposed to using the platform for social games.
"I don't want to do a mobile game. I don't want to do a social game. I'd shoot myself. And I know people are getting paid to do it, but I like to do these big splashy, jaw-to-the-ground…get-lost-in-the-fantasy-of-it-all [type of games]."
Regarding his future, Roberts did not rule out a return to the film business some day, but said right now games are more capable than ever as an entertainment medium.
"I can build and tell [a more interesting story] in a game world than I could do in a film. Like everything, never say never, but at the moment I am focused on coming back and doing some great stuff [with] games."
Roberts will unveil his new game in full on October 10 at the Game Developers Conference Online in Austin, Texas. GameSpot will live-stream the event.
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