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20,000 Leagues Above the Clouds is a beautiful aerial adventure

By folks who made LittleBigPlanet 2 and Bionic Commando.

Swedish indie developer That Brain has shown off footage of its upcoming ship-based aerial adventure 20,000 Leagues Above the Clouds.

It's quite the looker visually, which should come as no surprise given the pedigree of this indie upstart consisting of devs from Media Molecule and Grin who worked on LittleBigPlanet 2, Bionic Commando: Rearmed, and the 3D Bionic Commando reboot.

At a glance, it looks like the spiritual successor to Skies of Arcadia, but dig deeper and it appears to be more akin to Sid Meyer's Pirates!. Assuming the role of a ship captain, you'll take to the skies trading, gathering resources, pirating and accepting missions. You'll also be able to stop in shops, chat with the locals, barter, and upgrade your vessel.

Combat will occur in real-time with point-and-click controls. "We want to make the game friendly and easy to pick up and play, so we're exploring ways to spice up the gameplay even more for those who want to choose a peaceful route," That Brain's Jonatan Crafoord explained in an e-mail correspondence with Eurogamer "The design is not set in stone yet, though our next step is to make a playable build to get more feedback from the public."

When asked if you'd be bound to the ship or if there'd be on-foot exploration, Crafoord said "going outside of the ship onto the islands with your party of characters could be a feature for future expansions, though we are not planning it at this stage." Instead, the on-land bits are restricted to fixed locations.

20,000 Leagues Above the Clouds is currently slated for a PC and Mac release, though the developer said in its FAQ that "tablets like the iPad could be an option later on." It also noted that the game is currently only planned as a single-player only affair, but multiplayer might be added somewhere down the line.

As far as monetisation goes, That Brain explained that its current thinking is to make 20,000 Leagues Above the Clouds a pay-what-you-want affair. "We want as many people as possible to play the game, and we don't want anyone to feel that you need to pay extra money to get ahead. That's why we have this idea to let people pay however little or much they want to get the entire game. We'll see if we can make it work, but at least that's the plan for now."

A 20,000 Leagues Above the Clouds beta is planned and while no estimated release window has been announced, you can sign up for it now.

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Jeffrey Matulef is the best-dressed man in 1984.