Published on February 20th, 2012 | by Joshua Philipp0
‘Signal Ops’ Reinvents Stealth Gaming (Interview)
The team at Space Bullet Dynamics Corporation has set out to create games that “are a far departure from the ordinary,” according to their website, and their first game, Signal Ops, is well on its way to doing that.
Signal Ops is a cartoonish game that puts players in control of a team of government field agents, simultaneously, through the use of several different screens. We had the pleasure of speaking with Josh Enes from the indie game studio about the upcoming game.
TechZwn: The overall game concept is really unique—particularly the user interface. I’m curious what the inspiration was for all this?
Enes: The initial idea for the interface is based off of a piece of concept art. At first it was up in the air as to exactly what the gameplay would be. Were we looking at views from surveillance cameras, or something strapped to the agent’s head? As we threw around different ideas, the concept of a spy game took hold, and we liked that it was in contrast to the typical military-themed shooter.
TechZwn: The game seems to be based mainly around stealth, and lets players switch between characters and give orders. What type of gameplay experience do you want players to have?
Enes: The gameplay experience revolves around three core concepts. The first concept is that of split stimulus. We purposely divide the attention of the player between multiple perspectives. The idea is to use the different views to your advantage. When people try the game, their first reaction is “How do I make one of them full screen?”. After a while they start to see the value of having more “eyes”. We also build little puzzles into the game that are best solved by combining more than one perspective.
The second concept is stealth. Since the game literally splits your attention, the pacing needed to be slower than most FPS games. Combined with the espionage theme, the stealth gameplay was a perfect match. For example you can draw out an enemy with one of your agents, while sneaking up behind him with another.
The third element is combat. Your agents are not supermen with magically regenerating health. They go down just as easy as your enemies do. This requires you to coordinate your agents in order to come out on top. If you get pulled into a combat situation by surprise, the best option might be to retreat.
You can switch between controlling any of your agents at any time, and for quick tasks it is usually easier to issue orders as you would in a squad-based game such as Brothers in Arms or Republic Commando.
TechZwn: Just going by your trailer, it seems Signal Ops has some good humor. A lot games these days tend to go the other way on this. I’m wondering what benefit you feel humor can add?
Enes: Although the trailer does not reveal much in terms of the story of game, some of the subject matter is in fact quite dark. We include humor in the game in order to balance this out. Many games try to be too serious even though they have paper-thin plots; something we wanted to avoid.
TechZwn: You mention your company’s goal is “creating game experiences that are a far departure from the ordinary.” This sounds really interesting. Could you talk about this a bit – what do you hope to create for gamers?
Enes: Our company philosophy is to create gameplay-centric games, instead of heavily guided experiences. We want to give gamers something new with each game, something they haven’t seen before to rekindle that sense of wonder and challenge in our audience. Games have a natural flow of learning a skill, mastering it, and being challenged. If a game is simply a rehash of an existing game, the fun of learning something new is lost. We see this as a problem in the modern fare of games. We also have some really far out there ideas we want to try in the future.
[box_light]All images courtesy of Space Bullet Dynamics Corporation[/box_light]