By Jeff Neuenschwander / September 16th, 2013
It’s kind of crazy how one thing can lead to another. Around 2005, my cousins invited me to their home to watch Stargate SG-1. It was pretty good, but it led to me watching another show called Farscape, currently my favorite show of all time. Venturing through the remix community on YouTube led me to a number of anime franchises. Going through Wikipedia led me to The Last Story, which, in turn, led me here. And, in a way, starting the Crowdfunding Spotlight led me to Ambrov X and the Sime~Gen Universe.
Ambrov X is an episodic science fiction action RPG being developed by Loreful, a small development team out of Cincinnati, Ohio, in the United States. The game is set in the Sime~Gen Universe, a series created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. The idea for the universe actually came to her as part of a creative writing class in the late 1960s. That idea would go on to span twelve novels and two short stories, most of them written in the 1970s and 1980s.
For those unfamiliar with the set-up for the Sime~Gen Universe, here is a quick crash course. In the distant future, humanity has been divided into two subspecies: Gens (pronounced jens), who look like normal humans but produce life energy called selyn (pronounced seh-line), and Simes, humans who have grown tentacles on their wrists and need to take selyn from Gens to live. This change from normal human to either Gen or Sime occurs around the time of puberty.
Simes actually raise Gens in pens as if they were cattle. Gens who live free will actually kill their offspring if they grow into Simes in order to protect themselves. This is because Gens can die when selyn is taken. However, there are a few Simes, called “channels,” who can take the selyn from Gens without killing them. These channels can then pass it on to other Simes.
|A male Gen Agent, a female Sime Endowed, a male Sime Monk, and a female Gen Sentinel|
In Ambrov X, you will become either a Sime or a Gen, as well as one of four classes—Agent, Endowed, Monk, or Sentinel—as you and a companion delve into the themes of the universe. As for the story, here’s a little bit from the Kickstarter page:
The Ambrov X story places you on the Unity One, Earth’s most advanced Starship, tasked with planting beacons which allow for FTL travel. However, in reality, you are on a covert mission to discover the truth behind Jumper 10—the ill-fated predecessor of the Unity One, which returned to Earth with only one crew member alive. While on this covert mission you discover an ancient alien space station, dormant for thousands of years. While the truth about Jumper 10 lies within the station, there is a greater truth that threatens to divide Sime and Gen—potentially ending an alliance that has stood for over 350 years.
In the end, it is you and your companion against a hostile universe. If the two of you cannot survive the truth, no one can.
Ambrov X will be a five-episode game that will come DRM-free for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, with potential releases on iOS, Android, the PS4, and the Xbox One. The game will be available in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish and have fully voiced cinematic dialogue scenes. Designs will be led by Ben Steel, whose résumé includes work on Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Guild Wars 2. Also, if the campaign reaches its first stretch goal, Loreful will bring on Jennifer Brandes Hepler, writer for the Dragon Age series, to help write the story for the game.
Ambrov X will also feature something called the Paradigm Conversation System. In the game, you will be given choices at certain points to influence how the story plays out, similar to Mass Effect, another sci-fi action RPG. However, instead of choosing between good and evil choices (or, in Mass Effect, Paragon and Renegade), you make decisions based on four paradigms: Military, Scientific, Philosophic, and Diplomatic.
Military deals with combat (generally) and strategy. Scientific will lead players through exploration, discovery, and knowledge. Philosophic will take players down a more story-oriented path to achieve a larger goal. Diplomatic deals with trying to achieve peaceful resolutions.
In order to complete Ambrov X, Loreful is looking for $500,000 (USD) in funding. There are even stretch goals in place to bring in Jennifer Hepler ($750,000), larger maps ($1,000,000), deeper crafting ($1.2 million), class-specific storylines ($1.5 million), and companion story lines ($2,000,000). Unfortunately, the project has only received about $64,000, with 21 days left.
Reward tiers start at $10 with a backer badge. Pre-orders for the full game (all five episodes) start at $25. (Don’t be alarmed by the first $25 tiers—there is a second tier with plenty of backer space available). You’ll also be able to get the digital soundtrack ($35), a graphic novel ($80), a special t-shirt ($100), beta keys for every episode ($150), and an in-game likeness of yourself ($1,000), just to name a few rewards you can get.
If you want to see Ambrov X succeed, go to its Kickstarter page and donate. The campaign will run until October 5th. Check out some of the images from the game below. (All screenshots come from an early pre-alpha build of the game.)
Ambrov XKickstarterLinuxLorefulMac OSRPGSci-FiSime~GenWindows