From Tiny Brains to Huge Ideas: Spearhead Games Revolutionizes Game Development
You look down at the massive crowd in the Boston Convention Center as it's brimming with gems to be found. The average gamer will look at the big booths set up by 2K Games or Ubisoft and stand in line for hours to see the latest impending holiday release. The real gems of a show like PAX East won't come from these huge displays of marketing dollars, it comes from the small booths littered with indie developers nervously showing off their games to consumers. A lot of these developers are showing off their games for the first time and there is a lot of pressure to have the best showing possible. For a lot of these small developers, PAX can be a place to catch the eye of a rabid fanbase or a publisher that will help keep the lights on.
Simon Darveau is one of those developers looking to show off his team's hard work at a live show for the first time. Simon is one of the co-founders of Spearhead Games and one of 12 team members who only started developing their latest game, Project Cyber, 12 weeks ago. Nervousness set in before the first day of PAX East, but that didn't keep him from being the most enthusiastic person in the building. Rarely, if ever, would you find Simon without a huge smile on his face when talking about Project Cyber or the team that he is so proud of. The moment you talk to him you can tell he wants to make the best game possible and he wants you to help him. You see, Project Cyber is unlike any other game in development as the whole development process is streamed daily on Twitch. This is something no one else has done before, and completely changes the way games are made. Project Cyber is a game for the community, by the community.
Project Cyber is a competitive multiplayer game with two teams featuring three players with their own unique roles. It looks a lot like table hockey with a cybernetic twist but it's so much more as you use an amazing amount of teamwork along with maximizing your special abilities to defeat the other team. Currently, you have three characters to choose from as you have the offensive Vexwrecker, the robot goalie known as The Negotiator, and Vengeful Star who is responsible for the mid-field. Each player has a specific role to play and the better you understand that role the better your team will perform. There are more characters in the works as well, including a parody of Spiderduck's own Indie Luchador that will be called the Indie Luchadwarf. These new characters will change the game completely as each will come with their own new special abilities forcing players to make a decision on who they want to use in their position on the field. It will be fun to see which combinations take off once we have a deeper roster.
The gameplay is very simple to pick up with each player controlling their abilities via the mouse while moving with the keyboard. Not only does this make it easier for someone to just pick and play, it keeps the game fun. One of the best things about Project Cyber is that the developers aren't bogging the game down with unneeded extras, but instead asking the community what they want to see out of the game. This is truly a game made with the people that play it. In fact, you can sign up for a beta key right now on the game's website so that you can give your first hand feedback on the game. After playing Project Cyber, I felt that it was easy to grasp everything that was going on in the game. One thing I didn't realize was how fun it would be to watch people play the game.
The communal aspect of Project Cyber is what revolutionizes this experience. Not only can you voice your opinion during the development process, you will also get the chance to change the match you're watching by choosing an event. Right now there are two events to be voted on by the community which are the wind turbines and the chasm of death. The wind turbines will increase the way the ball moves towards the direction the wind is blowing which completely changes the way you play while the chasm of death splits the arena in two as you have to dodge the chasm and the only way to get to the other side is by timing your sprints. This aspect can completely change the way the match progresses and can really hurt or help players based on their skill level. It truly is a game changer. Spearhead Games plan to release more spectator features including more events as well as a popularity meter which could have a huge impact on the game. These interactions and the length of the matches, around 6 minutes, makes Project Cyber a blast to watch. I was able to record footage of the tournament from the final day of PAX East 2014 that you can check out below.
Spearhead Games is absolutely doing something special with Project Cyber, and you should keep your eye on this game. They are truly changing the way games are being made while making an interactive eSports experience alongside the community that will be supporting it for years to come. Spearhead has a winning formula for building a community from scratch and making something that you'll want to both play and watch people play. That's hard for a lot of teams to accomplish in years, but this team has done it in months. You can keep following along with the development process on the team's Twitch.tv Page, which is live every week day at 12:30 and 7:00 PM eastern time. I look forward to seeing you all participating and making this game even better!
Trevor Osz is the editor-in-chief for the Spiderduck Network and started the site a few years ago as a podcast network before branching off into videogame coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @trevorosz as well as talk to him about videogames and pop culture. Thank you for reading!