Most people have never heard of Zero Point Software. If you're one of the few who has, you're part of a small handful of people who have witnessed the genius business model of crowd-sourcing firsthand, long before Tim Schafer made over $3,000,000 for his adventure game on Kickstarter. Zero Point, responsible for the upcoming sci-fi FPS Interstellar Marines, turned to crowd-sourcing when they realized that they needed the community's help to build their dream shooter. This is their 'proposal'.
Early alpha footage from the Unreal engine version.
Taken straight out of the pages of a future novel about space marines, Interstellar Marines is the evolution of the space shooter. Full immersion is Zero Point's goal, and if the teased gameplay is anything to go by, they've done an excellent job. The Unity-powered game shines with excellent particle effects, great lighting, and a visceral feel to movement. The camera bobs and the HUD (which is actually a marine's helmet) completes the picture of immersion. And the best part of all this? You can try a demo of the game right now without any downloads or paying a single dime.
Zero Point believes in letting the community evaluate their work before allowing them to make donations. Interstellar Marines has been sectioned out into what Zero Point calls 'slices'. Each slice samples different elements of the game, from the marine and alien designs to the multiplayer combat mechanics. Don't want to pay for the game just yet? Don't worry! You can try several other demos, including the Running Man combat training exercise where players go head to head against enemy drones in a large obstacle course. If your internet is fast enough, you can also play the game straight from your browser. That means Instellar Marines is available anywhere you go.
If you do decide to donate, there are tiered rewards. The game is planned as a trilogy and becoming a Spearhead member grants you access to all three games (should they be released). In the mean time, all paying members enjoy early access to each slice and have extra benefits, including special status on the forums and unlockable support medals. Zero Point wants to make sure donors are rewarded for supporting Interstellar Marines. The developers have also made a point of making the coding and development cycle transparent, posting regular status updates from the team each week. It lets gamers see inside the process, from concept to execution. Have a suggestion? Ping it off them and it might make it into the game!
While Interstellar Marines isn't guaranteed to be released, the crowd-sourced development cycle allows gamers to see inside Zero Point's work. It creates a level of transparency that most studios don't offer when they build their games. It's also novel that Zero Point releases slices of the game for curious players. It's a chance to demo what they have to offer before you commit to a hard purchase. Hopefully, more Kickstarter projects follow Zero Point's example and involve the community. It's the best way to keep the project open and alive.
Want to try the game for yourself? Head over here and pick up a free account! It'll get you access to several slices of the game. Not impressed yet? Watch