When consumers imagine indie games, they tend to think small: mobile titles, or games inconsequential enough to stake their fortunes on the Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Store, where only the best of them are going to get the promotional pushes of the big titles.
However, a new project from Vancouver’s Interdimensional Games is poised to shatter any and all pre-conceived notions of what makes an "indie" game with Consortium, a first-person sci-fi epic that’s set to sprawl over 21 titles—if it can succeed on Kickstarter first.
Greg MacMartin, CEO of Interdimensional Games, has waited a long time for the opportunity to make this game. The first notions of the game came to him in 1996, and a lot of the game’s core concepts began evolving while he was working on the never-released Amen: The Awakening for Cavedog Entertainment.
The project was cancelled at the 60% mark due to the game’s epic scope—it was just too much for the technology of 2000. Twelve years later, the world is ready.
Consortium begins in the real world, in present day, before transferring the player’s consciousness into a man named Bishop 6 who lives in an alternate dimension 30 years in the future. When Bishop awakens, he’s a member of an elite peacekeeping troupe called the Consortium.
Unusually, its version of the future is utopic: many of the problems that face us in the here and now, like pollution and over-population, have been resolved. The drama of the game instead comes from character interactions, the consequences of the decisions you make, and the fact that the game’s plot is a good old-fashioned mystery.
In the age of Mass Effect and Deus Ex, that alone might not seem like an original proposal. MacMartin remains adamant and excited for what players have in store, and that all of the influences on the game have been fused into something new.
“Take a game like Half-Life, a full-blooded FPS action game. You never lose control, you are you," Greg explained to Techvibes. "The game’s not making you pretend to be someone else. Now take a game like that, and splice it into Mass Effect, or any RPG where you interact with a bunch of people. You are you, and you get to talk to people around you in real conversations. It’s a completely narrative-driven action adventure with RPG elements. We have a lot of differentiators—all items can be converted into energy, which is what’s used for equipment rather than just armour or guns."
"There’s a lot of customization possible there," he adds. "Even books and random items can be turned into energy. And the NPCs you encounter are capable of full, human conversations. They’ll dislike you over time, they’ll like you, each is completely unique. A lot of the things you can say in the game are things you would want to say as the player—we are letting you be you.”
Ultimately, this is a game about possibility. In a world where you don’t have to kill your opponents, or believe NPCs, or betray them, the sky is the limit. (Quite literally, as the game is set on a gigantic aircraft.) MacMartin’s positivity is undeniable, towards life, the future, and the game’s success on Kickstarter.
“I’m sick and tired of the same old post-apocalyptic death and destruction, everything’s all messed up in the future, everything is grim, and the whole Walking Dead type universe," Greg sighs. "It’s prevalent and it’s depressing. We believe there’s still a lot of potential for us as a species to overpass and resolve the problems we’re faced with right now. And that’s why we’re confident in our product. A game that promises to take you to a bright place, a happy place, instead of a dreary place? I know there’s people out there who want that. We want it—we want to play what we’re making.”
If you want to play it too, check out the Kickstarter here. With one month on the clock, it’s worth investigating before the year is out. Because with 21 titles being conceived, it’s going to be the biggest next big thing Vancouver’s ever seen.