Part 1: Introduction and Gameplay

Monday, 9:30PM, Cologne / Germany - I walk out of the offices of Westka Interactive, the makers of Y Project. After Thomas Schaefer, the producer and art director of the game gave me a 5 hours private presentation my head is about to explode from information overload. I'm tired, but very impressed. I've just seen a game that can very well compete with games like Deus Ex 2, Unreal 2, or even Doom 3, both technically and from an art standpoint.

Okay, lets skip 5 hrs back and start from the beginning ...

For those of you who have not yet come across this game, let me give an idea: We're talking about an Unreal engine 1st person view single player game here. It is a hybrid between a shooter, an RPG and an action adventure.

ScreenshotBeyondUnreal: I know we have a lot of fans of games like Deus Ex among the BeyondUnreal readers, but still the bulk of people like fast paced fragging action. Which of the two groups does Y Project appeal more to?

Westka: There are different ways to play through the game, choosing a scientific or a military approach, and depending on which side you pick, the game will play more like a shooter or more like an RPG/adventure. The game "analyses" your way of playing and will lead you in certain directions that suit more for your style. But overall our game is clearly closer to Deus Ex than UT. You can play Y Project like a shooter, however, you’ll be missing a lot. We’ve categorized the game objectives into what we call "Main Quests", "Sub-Quests" and "Fun-Quests". You can play through the game by solving only the main quests, gunning down all the monsters and rushing through the levels. This way the game will become a lot harder and more challenging for you, because you do not get the little rewards that a player would get who takes his time and solves all the riddles. Those rewards will be weapon upgrades, tools, nano-energy, useful hints, ...

When Thomas talks about the scientific and the military side; this is meant literally. The story of the game is based on the conflict between a group of scientists and the military, who at the same time fight a common enemy: Mutated giant insects.

This is the story of the game, copied straight from the Y Project homepage:

ScreenshotThe game takes place in a unique science fiction fantasy setting 200 years in the future. 70 years before the game begins, humans on board a large spaceship land on a peaceful, foreign planet.

The humans begin settling the planet and the development proceeds quickly. However, before the landing, a mutant type of insect was accidentally created in a laboratory on the spaceship in a genetic experiment. At the time of the landing, this insect escaped and proceeded to develop a culture consisting of an enormous number of hostile, giant mutated insects. Due to the insects, the humans were after some time forced, for their own protection, to move into one huge, monolithic city under a glass dome.

At the beginning of the game (70 years after landing), the giant glass dome over a monolithic city has been destroyed. Massive insects have entered the city and most of the inhabitants have been killed, leaving chaos and destruction in place of peace and prosperity.

You’re caught in the middle of this mess. The insects are ugly, they are big, there are LOTS of them and they KILL. The insects have taken over the colony and the scientists and the military blame each other for what happened. You interact with the various remaining fractions in the city, the military, the scientists and the underground gangs, in order to solve the big riddle. To find the truth, defeat the insects and save the human colony is the task that you have been given in Y Project.

When you play through the game you will join either the scientists or the military, and depending what side you’re on, you’ll have access to different tools and weapons. There are areas of the maps that you can only enter if you belong to the right fraction, because the other fraction is missing the necessary access tools.

Westka: For most quest there are two different ways to solve the problem: The military and the science approach. You can use brutal force or you can use your brain. And both ways can be successful. Up to a certain point in the story you can switch side, like a double agent, but you will always be missing one part of the game. Y Project is really like (at least) two games in one, and everybody should play through it (at least) twice to experience it fully.

Looking at the pure numbers it looks like Y Project will offer a lot of variety and fun:

16+ Characters: There are 10 fully unique characters, plus 6 "set characters":

Cyberpunk Lady Medusa Leader of the Military Set Character with Gadgets

Westka: Our "set characters" use the same basic model, but we can vary the look a lot by applying different skins and faces, and by attaching "gadgets" to the model, like a helmet, a backpack, a tool, a different piece of clothing, etc. So you’ll hardly ever seen two characters in our game that look exactly the same, although you will meet many different scientists.

16 Monsters Types, each coming in 5 sizes (stages of development)

Nsectaurus Nailbug Worm

Westka: You’ll face a large variety of opponents, crawling, jumping, flying, slow, fast, some rather dumb, some intelligent, some small, some giant.

And I’m only talking about the insects here. You’re not supposed to fight with humans. Certainly you can kill humans too and they will fight back too, but negotiations are always the better way to deal with humans. If you attack them, they will remember and will be hostile the next time you meet them. And the next time you meet them you may need their help, so you better be nice. ;)

10+ weapons and tools, each coming with multiple upgrades

Big Military Gun Big Scientists Gun

Westka: You have only 10 slots in your "inventory", so you can carry only 10 weapons and tools at the same time. But there are a lot more in the game, so at some time you will have to make decisions which object to keep and which to leave behind.

One thing we spend quite some time on is our upgrade system. For each weapon there are multiple modules for upgrade. Some modules can be used for different weapons. And an upgrade will not only increase the damage of the weapon by a bit or so. That’s boring. No ... an upgrade will change the look of the weapon model as well as the visual and sound effects when firing the weapon. An upgrade really gives you a new weapon.

3 main areas with unique style and multiple maps

Westka: The city has 3 main areas with a very different look: The dirty, industrial lower area; the clean, technical middle area and the stylish, modern upper area. Plus there is the outside area around the city. The areas are linked non-linear to a certain degree, so you can move back to an area that you’ve been in before and depending on what happened meanwhile the area may look quite different now. Plus, it will be populated with insects again if a lot of time passed since you last cleared it, unless you've "disabled" the "source" of the insects. What that source is, you'll have to find out. ;)

About 25% of the game is outdoor and 75% is in the city. We think that indoor environments suit best to create the special atmosphere that we want for the game. And also this is still where the Unreal engine shines most with its great visuals and tech features.