Attack of the Fanboy

New game of former Infinity Ward dev. Robert Bowling will tie into the real world

by William Schwartz


Innovation and originality in the gaming industry has unquestionably become a rarity in recent years. As the industry’s biggest developers and publishers strive to create new and unique IPs in the hopes that they can creatively stray away from the most popular genres and trends, there are a few emerging movements that devs are inclined to learn toward. One of them, is the concept of cross-platform play, and one of the most renowned former employees of Infinity Ward is implementing it in his new game.

Human Element is the first announced project from Robert Bowling’s Robotoki, and Bowling recently told GamesIndustry that the post-apocalyptic action title will utilize both Google Maps and Foursquare in an effort to tie in the real world to the game universe. Bowling stated that depending on the supplementary device you’re using, your in-game experiences will change drastically:

“Say you’re at home, you’re playing Human Element, you’re out in the world, you get injured. You’re hurt and you need medical supplies. You don’t want to risk going out to forage in the game world, or maybe you did and can’t find anything, but you know that there’s a pharmacy four miles down the road in the real world. So you go out and you’re out and about in the real world. You open up Human Element on your iPad. We’re overlaying the world of Human Element onto the Googlemaps API, FourSquare business API, we’re taking your real world and merging it with your game world. So now you’re checking into places in the real world and you’re scavenging in those locations for supplies that are dynamic to those locations. We can do that anywhere there’s GPS map data.”

Bowling went on to describe how the game’s alliance system allows different players to perform specific roles which all add up to a coherent experience:

‘You’re feeding those supplies back to your character in Human Element – these are not independent experiences, they’re additive to each other. The cool thing is you can form alliances. So, say my girlfriend doesn’t want to play the console experience but she wants to play on iPad – she likes that experience. If we have an alliance she can play the resource management game, that scavenging mechanic, and she can be benefiting my game by sharing supplies with my survivors.”

As interesting as the concept sounds, you won’t be able to play Human Element on your console this year, or next year, or even in two years. The game is currently scheduled for a release in 2015, presumably well after next-gen consoles are on the market. However, Bowling notes that while the console experience won’t arrive any time soon, the developer has not ruled out providing initial phases of the story through other methods.

“That experience, from a story standpoint, takes place 30 years after the event, after the apocalypse. We can engage you in that universe a week, a month, a year after that event. Maybe through mobile, maybe through titles on the arcade, maybe through PSN, handheld titles. We can start telling that story leading up to that big event in 2015 where we tie them all together.”

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