A look at the upcoming, multiplayer online game and a chat with the developers, Beatnik Games.
Plain Sight, the game of suicidal Ninja Robots, has been a long time coming. After a major meltdown when interest in the open beta went through the roof, the game is rapidly approaching its release on Steam and other digital distribution sites. But why has it taken so long? Where did the idea come from? And where were the developers when the beta broke?
Plain Sight is an online multiplayer game in which players take on the role of Ninja Robots and attempt to achieve the highest score possible. To do this, players must simply destroy other robots and steal their points. Each robot that they kill will result in the players robot growing and becoming far more visible to others.
This is where things get interesting. In order to make the points that they have gathered count towards the end of the round, players must blow themselves up. Temptation is to gather as many points as possible before blowing up, but by doing this the player will become a larger and more obvious target for their adversaries. Blowing up whilst in the vicinity of other players is preferable though, as each robot destroyed in your suicidal explosion will apply a multiplier to your points.
The game will feature up to 20 players across the 13 maps that are available. Players can practice against AI robots in an offline mode. There will be a selection of in game power-ups and players will be able to gain experience that can be spent on the 30 different robot upgrades.
There are five different multiplayer modes in which to embrace your inner suicidal ninja robot:
Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch will feature battles of up to 20 robots.
Ninja! Ninja! Botzilla! will task a team of Ninjas to take down the gargantuan Botzilla.
A time based, turf war mode is offered by Lighten Up. Players must race to collect as much energy as possible before detonating in the target area. The best detonation gets the points for that round.
Finally is capture the Flag. This favorite mode offers the same rules as always, but with a suicidal styling.
GGUK got to ask Robin Lacey of Beatnik Games a few questions about the game:
GGUK: Tell us a bit about Plain Sight.
Beatnik: We formed about two years ago. There were originally four of us and we didn’t know what type of game to make. We thought that we wanted to make a multiplayer game and we wanted it to be interesting and unique. We wanted it to accessible and, at the same time, have depth to it. We also wanted it to be in third person, to stand out from the average first person game.
The game mechanic of having to steal points and blow yourself up has been borrowed from Every Extend Extra, which Lawrence (Lawrence Bishop, Programmer) was playing at the time. We really liked that and wanted to put it in a different environment. We had obviously been playing Super Mario Galaxy at the time aswell, from which came the idea for the low gravity and jumping around. We wanted something that was fun to play and that people can enjoy in short bursts.
The look of the game came from the fact that we didn’t really have much of an art department at the time, so we just made it up. The robots were just something we liked and that’s pretty much how we designed the game. We don’t have a big design doc, we tend to just have opinions and then argue the case for everything. Also Lawrence, who has been with us pretty much since day one, just squirrels features into the game.
GGUK: What was the inspiration behind the game?
Beatnik: Apart from the games we mentioned, a lot of this stuff was just things that we like. We really like Art Deco styling and we like Jazz, so we threw it in. We generally put stuff in because it amuses us. I found a video from 2008 and the style has pretty much stayed the same. We have stuck doggedly to the original vision we wanted for this game and I am pretty happy with that.
GGUK: Plain Sight is coming to PSN ans WiiWare, but not XBLA. Why is that?
Beatnik: To be perfectly honest, it is because Sony are just around the corner. They have been really helpful, really supportive and really nice to us. Microsoft are based in Seattle and we never see them. Also, we all own PS3’s and it seemed to fit. They got very excited about the game, very early on. We have been signed up to them for nearly a year and a half now.
GGUK: Why has Plain Sight been in development for so long?
Beatnik: Firstly, we put it out and it was broken. Then we were commissioned by Channel Four about seven months ago and that took pretty much the entire studio.
GGUK: Can you tell us about the Channel Four project?
Beatnik: We are working for Channel Four Educational Projects, they specialise in doing interesting things with new media. When we were first told about it, we were really excited. The idea of using games to, not teach in a sense of like “I’ve learnt how to do something”, but actually inspire. We realised that girls were not into science and we really wanted to make a game that focused on that. So we are making it. It is a single player, adventure, puzzle game which is coming out for the PC and Mac. It is the exact opposite of Plain Sight in pretty much every way. We wanted to do something that would stretch the studio in different directions. It has been a massive learning curve and Channel Four have been incredibly supportive. In the same way that Plain Sight uses a quite minimalistic approach, the Channel Four project is quite lush.
GGUK: Were you shocked at the popularity of the ill-fated open beta?
Beatnik: We thought only a few people would download it. We were more shocked at the fact that we were sitting in the pub, watching our iPhones, saying “oh, everythings broken”. Then we were like “you know what? We’re drunkÂ so we might aswell sit this one out and fix it later”
We were shocked, but now we realise that of course people are going to download a free game. Just the other day, someone on the forum said they could not believe that the game was not free anymore. Well, you know, its like ten bucks. I am sure you would spend that on a McDonalds, so don’t get all upset.
Also, when we did the beta, we were expecting to churn out this fun little thing. But we felt that it had real potential so we went away and added five gameplay modes and powerups and upgrades. We have included dedicated server stuff with the game. We have basically put our love into it and we are happy with it. Obviously there is still lots of stuff that we want to do, but it is something that we can expand on. You will see lots of gameplay tweaks as a result of feedback. We pretty much rely on feedback.
GGUK: Why call it Plain Sight?
Beatnik: The original concept of the game is something very fast moving and we wanted something where people couldn’t stand still because we really hate people who camp in a game. So the whole lighting up and stuff, like that he is a giant hyper coloured thing, means everyone can see him so he’s always in plain sight. It was Lawrence’s idea to call it that and we all agreed that it works.
The risk/reward thing means that the more points that you get, the better you are. But its a gamble because you must decide to keep going or blow up, as everyone can see you. At the moment we have a system where you see a cross hair on someone and then you click and the charge builds up. It actually plays more like a flight sim than anything else.
GGUK: What kind of audience is Plain Sight aimed at?
Beatnik: The twitch based online crowd really like it because it is fast and it does play like a first person shooter in many ways. We are trying to make a twitch based game that is competitive and accessible at the same time.
GGUK: Are there going to be any add ons or dlc?
Beatnik: Definitely for the console versions. For the PC we are quite keen on just giving stuff away. I think to keep the multiplayer game fresh with patches and stuff like that. We have got 13 maps that made the final cut, but we have got a lot of others that just need a little work. We are also looking into the ability to let people make their own maps and things like that, which would be awesome. It is an awful lot of work, but it is something that we would really like to do.
Whilst at the studio, we managed to have a look and see Plain Sight in action. We were impressed with the speed at which the game plays. The simple visual style combined with the bright colours and frantic gameplay certainly gives the game a unique look, which I think is one of the things that Beatnik Games wanted to achieve.
Plain Sight will be available on Steam and other digital distribution platforms from March 22nd for just $9.99.
We would like to thank Beatnik Games for their hospitality.