How does a two-man indie development studio create a game with the sort of gameplay and visuals one would normally associate with seven- or eight-figure budgets? That must be the question on at least some of the lips of the 400,000 or so people who've watched the trailer to Finnish studio Theory Interactive's Reset, a first-person puzzle game said to be very much in the mold of Portal.
The concept of a low-budget indie title with blockbuster production values was inspired by relatively recent indie sci-fi films such as Moon and Cube. But Reset developer Alpo Oksaharju points out that what is challenging in cinema is even more so in the gaming industry.
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"Generalizing a bit, to create a believable fictional world on film, one basically does not need more than a camera. In games everything has to be built, which by today's standards doesn't come cheap," Oksaharju writes on the Theory Interactive blog. The comparison may be open to question (blockbuster film budgets are also enormous), but the central point is well made: the development of modern, 3D games is both difficult and expensive, not to mention requiring a complexity of specialists that must daunt the most gifted and versatile polymath.
"What if we just ignore all that?" That was the solution Theory Interactive came up with, and they've been plowing on regardless ever since.
The game itself is comprised of "mostly spatial reasoning puzzles," Oksaharju told Edge. According to Edge the player will take control of a robot in an small open-world city. As well as physics-based problems, time manipulation will also figure, adding complexity to the puzzling. Solving puzzles will apparently further the game's narrative rather than simply unlocking further puzzles.
More clues can be had from the somber trailer itself which depicts a robot sitting motionless in an apparently abandoned city as time passes around it. The trailer ends with the hint of a hitherto dormant routine on an apparently city-wide computer network, which apparently sparks the robot back into action. Perhaps part of the narrative will involve discovering what led the city to become abandoned and derelict. Shades of WALL-E too, then.
Theory Interactive's trailer, rendered entirely using the game engine and therefore indicative of its graphics, has amassed over 400,000 views on Youtube. Not shy of ramping up expectations, the video description encourages viewers to expect "a little bitter since we're not even in alpha yet."
Trailers are one thing; completed games quite another, and there's no sign of a release date for the game, which at this stage is being developed solely for PC. The positive response to the trailer has led Theory Interactive to consider crowd funding to safeguard the game's ongoing development.
That Reset trailer in full:
Sources: Theory Interactive, EdgeView gallery - 11 images