SYNCED: Off-Planet revealed at Gamescom 2019

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As Gamescom kicked off last night, NEXT Studios unveiled their next initiative, a player-versus-player-versus-environment (PvPvE for short) sci-fi shooter called SYNCED: Off-Planet.

The game features teams of survivors fighting against each other and thousands (!) of AI-controlled, cybernetically-corrupted humans, known as Nanos, for a seat on the Ark Shuttle and the chance to escape from a post-apocalyptic Earth.

We’re excited to be collaborating with the dev team, as well as with Studio GOBO, to bring this dangerous new world to players. And what’s being shown this week is just a taste of what’s to come.

An open beta is scheduled for early 2020, but if you’re interested in learning more, visit the game’s site — https://www.nextstudios.com/sop — or watch the cinematic trailer below.

And for even more footage, including a six minute gameplay demo, head over to the official YouTube page.

Eavesdrop on rehearsals of “The Lethal Script”

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Sixteen individuals meet in an isolated hotel to revisit a deal gone wrong that ended in murder. Betrayal and revenge ensue, yet nothing is quite as it seems. Do they know they’re being watched? Do they know every word they say can be overheard?

The first DLC for NEXT Studios‘ acclaimed audio-detective adventure Unheard, ominously titled “The Lethal Script”, is out today. And not only is this case a doozy of a head-scratcher, it’s FREE.

I was really lucky to once again collaborate with the team in Shanghai — working closely with writer/designer Xiaoliang Shen and creative director Nick Zhang — and the voice talent in LA to help bring the English language version of this new chapter to players.

If you don’t yet have Unheard, it’s 30% off until 28 August, so head over to its Steam page to grab it at a great price. Then turn down the lights, slip on some headphones, and get ready to listen to a killer mystery.

BIG wins for good friends

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Hey everyone, we hope you’ll join us in congratulating two of our collaborators who took home awards from the Brazil Independent Games (BIG) Festival, held the evening of 28 June in São Paulo.

Though they were up against a bevvy of equally high-quality international competitors Forgotton Anne by ThroughLine Games won for Best Narrative and Unheard by NEXT Studios won for Best Sound. Cheers to both teams!

Also kudos to the other nominees (full list here) and obrigado to the festival jury!

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the winners, they’re available at a discount as part of the Steam Summer Sale, which runs until 9 July. Links below.

Forgotton Anne
50% OFF
(Collector’s Edition also available.)

Unheard
30% OFF

And we want to share two pieces of project news before we say até a próxima (that means “till next time”)…

  • You can now play Forgotton Anne on the go! Working with Hitcents.com Inc., the game is now available on iOS and features a free demo area, with the full version for $9.99. Please note: the app requires iOS 9 and a device with 2 GB of RAM or more to run.

  • There’s a cool new case in the works for Unheard, with more details to be revealed in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Unheard available for your listening pleasure

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When it comes to modern mainstream video games it seems like there’s a trend to use as much processing power as possible to pursue higher graphical fidelity and faster frame rates… and the results are often spectacular.

But there’s another kind, usually independent productions, on the opposite end of the spectrum that utilize simple, abstract, or occasionally no visuals… and instead rely on the power of the player’s imagination.

These experiences primarily use audio, like dialogue, sound effects, and music, to set the scene in what’s sometimes called “the theatre of the mind”. With just the sense of hearing, they can paint vivid pictures, bring to life a host of characters, and create gripping situations.

If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of this type of storytelling. So when the developers at Shanghai-based NEXT Studios explained they were developing something that leveraged not only classic radio drama, but immersive theatre and adventure games — two of my other favorite pasttimes — I was eager to help however I could.

The end result is Unheard, which casts the player as an “Acoustic Detective” in a series of cases. By listening to recordings multiple times, they will navigate different floor plans in an attempt to identify who’s who and figure out whodunnit.

For my part, I worked with the creative director, Nick Zhang, to revise the English-language translation of the script and, later, remotely assist with voice-over recording sessions. I say remotely, because these took place in Los Angeles but with Nick and I phoning in from Shanghai and New York respectively; thanks to modern telecomm technology, it really is a small world after all.

Unheard is out today on Steam for Windows (OS X version coming soon) — and it’s 27% off during its first week. If you’re curious to hear more, visit the official website — www.nextstudios.com/unheard — or watch the trailer below.

P.S. If you’re at PAX East 2019, Unheard is playable at NEXT Studios’ booth — #10023 on this gigantic expo hall floor plan.