Arma dev Bohemia has unleashed a new early access platform called Incubator, and on it are two new games: Project Argo and Ylands. Both are made by small teams at Bohemia.
Project Argo represents about a year's work. It's a total conversion of Arma 3: a 5v5 competitive multiplayer game based on teamwork and tactics. And it's available to play for free as an open prototype now.
Ylands, meanwhile, is a bit like Minecraft: a colourful, multiplayer sandbox survival game based in a voxel world with building and hunting and so on. It soft-launched a year ago but is now ready for a bigger audience. It's a £7.99 but there's a free trial available.
"While there are similarities between Bohemia Incubator and Steam Early Access," the email blurb says, "a key difference is that Incubator games can be much more basic, experimental, and rough. Moreover, Bohemia Interactive might even decide to cancel or stop supporting an Incubator game.
"To reflect this, people will often be able to play the games for free while they are part of Bohemia Incubator - or, if it's already certain that the Incubator game will see an official release (such as Ylands), it might be sold as a paid product but always at a much lower price than it will be at release. In this case, the aim is to still make a free trial version available."
In other words, this is Bohemia's new place for testing out small-team games and ideas.
"The primary goal is not to generate income," a post on the Project Argo website added, "but rather to allow for a greater level of creative freedom, to try new things, and gather feedback on what works and what doesn't. The Incubator games may never even reach the alpha or beta stage in development, but we consider it a great way to validate concepts and help us make decisions moving forward."
Bohemia has a long history of supporting other people's experimental mods based on its games, and giving them the tools with which to make them. DayZ began life as an Arma 2 mod before Bohemia turned it into a standalone game, and Bohemia's Take on Mars space simulation has experimental roots too. This Incubator idea feels like a fairly natural extension of that. It could help alleviate some of the repetition involved in constant Arma and DayZ development too.