Update: The Wildman Kickstarter is up. After a scant couple of hours its already at $21,465 towards its $1,100,000 goal with 32 days to go before its 15th February deadline. Not too shabby.
Original story: Gas Powered Games - creator of Dungeon Siege and Supreme Commander - has unveiled a new title called Wildman.
It's a PC game that hopes to merge RPG and RTS gameplay. You'll be Wildman, a Homo sapien who bludgeons other people with his giant bone, learning new technology from your vanquished foes as you go.
Jovial studio founder Chris Taylor told me the plan was to fund Wildman via Kickstarter. He'll be asking for just over $1 million. The Kickstarter page should be up today.
"It was becoming more and more apparent that RTS is really great," Taylor told me, "but it was starting to get long in the tooth. I saw that having a hero, a central hero - a Braveheart, or a Wildman in this case or your Wildwoman - was essential because you have a character that you can grow and build and persist, just like in action-RPGs. But we also had those sensibilities from Supreme Commander and Total Annihilation with the commander.
"You start off, you're very primitive," he explained. "You've got a bone, a giant femur bone like [growls] rarr! Smash skull! And your enemies don't have much better, but they might. They might have a rock and a sling that they're using to hit you from range. And you beat their brains in and you go [grunts] oaarrgh - Technology Found: Sling! Now you have a ranged weapon, and you evolve your character with technology, because you're Homo sapien and you defeated all the Neanderthals and you're fighting giant bugs that have evolved and things like that."
That's the foundation of the game. The RTS elements kick in when you enter another person's territory. "And they're like, 'No.' And subsequently you go to war," he said.
"Now what we have is a war zone, and that war zone sort of looks like RTS. You now have your hero out on that field rallying the troops, so to speak, being the most effective fighter. Structures you build back at your [base] spawn, in the early game, melee fighters, and they're going to go out and stream onto this field and fight the enemy who is streaming out."
Now you have a kind of MOBA experience, and there's a rival hero character you must defeat to win. When you do win, you can steal their technology. There's even a Soap loot type.
"There's this little thing called Soap," Taylor said. "What the hell is Soap? Oh, Soap was kind of a fun historical thing that when man invented Soap, he lived longer. His health went up because he was clean."
If you die during that battle you'll respawn back at base.
The aim for Wildman is to progress through eras of technology, eventually and potentially moving up to laser-beam guns. Exactly where the tech tree goes will influenced by the Kickstarter backers, Taylor said.
"We have our backers and we go to them and we say, now, we're building this game and here's the structure, we're going to show you what we've got. We've got Homo sapien who starts off with a bone and he grows. Should he go into the Middle Ages, and should we have guys in armour and with swords and cool shiny Sir Lancelot kind of deals; or should we go to you're finding a call gauss cannon, laser pistol or what have you?" he said. "Because we can go as far as we want."
"I want blood all over the ground, I want guts flying, I want bones, skulls, brains."Chris Taylor
The way the game's built means Gas Powered Games can keep growing the game after it's launched. It's a bit like a toy train set that you can keep laying bits of track down in front of.
Wildman will have co-operative play and battles. You'll need to save online if you want to use your character online; save offline and the game's servers will refuse your save file.
Apparently Chris Taylor has been working on Wildman for about a year. The rest of the team joined him in November, once work on Age of Empires Online ground to a halt.
Taylor will use homegrown Gas Powered Games tech to build the game, and it sounds like it's in some kind of shape already.
"There's no messing around," stressed Taylor. "Character's up and running around - the Wild Man. He's animated and he's got some combat moves, and we hope to be able to demonstrate and talk to the environmental destruction we'll have in the game.
"One thing I'm kind of amazed and excited about is that there hasn't the been kind of environment destruction in an action-RPG game... You can walk up to some prop and smash it, but I want to set fire to all the trees, I want blood all over the ground, I want guts flying, I want bones, skulls, brains. I want the green grass to get trampled, turned to mud.
"I want to really make it look like movies where they show the two armies on either side, preparing for battle, and it's a gorgeous summer morning with the beautiful grass. But when the battle is done the grass is gone, the mud, you know, thousands of guys running back and forth, screaming, with swords and cannon firing and blood flying - it looks like something from hell!"
Launch could be "as much as a year" away. Or "it could be out there as early as six months". But 'the when' is also something the fans will help decide.
"Would they rather us build the game faster with a little more, I don't want to say reckless abandon, but really get the game done fast and get it into their hands and then we can start iterating on it or protract out the development and have them wait?"
"We think a year is pretty safe but a little less would make me happy."
Only a PC version is mentioned at the moment, but by using OpenGL, Gas Powered Games has left the door open to adapt for Mac and Linux as well. Taylor said "it will run on anything", so your old PC should be able to keep up.
Wildman will also offer a toolset via the new Project Mercury website/platform Taylor has been working on for a while.