Arcen Games, creators of AI War: Fleet Command, The Last Federation, and Starward Rogue, is coming out with its first stab at a first-person action game In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor announced earlier this year. Or would that be “first-raptor”?
In In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor you play as the titular velociraptor, genetically manufactured as humanity’s final salvation against hordes of murderous robots. Storywise, this is something of a sequel to Arcen’s Bionic Dues, though the two games otherwise bear no similarity to one another. Jump, lunge, bite and claw your way to freedom, which will probably end with humanity wondering if your cure is worse than the robot disease.
Planned to launch via Steam’s Early Access program, In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor is also an open attempt at keeping the company going. Despite critical and commercial success with some of its past games, Arcen has undergone some major downsizing and production on its ongoing Stars Beyond Reach project has largely stalled. In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor could be big for the company, if they can pull of their main goal: “making you feel like you’re a raptor”. Arcen’s Chris Park also appears to be well aware of how a bad Early Access experience could adversely affect their reputation:
The problem with Early Access is that once we do that sort of thing, we’ve taken your money and are committed to it. So we can’t go “oh, nevermind, that actually was a bad idea and we’ll stop development now to avoid bleeding money while we finish something unsatisfactory.” We just have to instead rush it out as fast as possible to get it to a state that we can call done, to cut our losses while at the same time hopefully minimizing fallout in our reputation with you. You’ve seen other developers do this, and it’s not because they are bad people — it’s the situation they put themselves in, accidentally. I don’t want to put myself in that situation.
Park and his outfit seem determined to avoid hitting that wall, in part by combining the value of Unity store assets with his own studio’s artistic capabilities. The raptor currently in-game, for example, is a massively reworked purchased asset, which looks far superior to the original. Levels appear coherent and smooth, rather than looking like the mishmash of conflicting aesthetics common to “asset-flipper” games (which Park personally says he despises). Financially speaking, the strategy in use is to offer In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor very cheaply at launch ($5 USD), raising the price as more content is perfected and added, though even the final version isn’t expected to cost more than $20 USD when it comes out “later this year”.
Another factor that may help bolster confidence is Arcen Games long history of supporting games, even when not commercially successful. Starward Rogue had a lot of issues with sales despite being regarded as a good game (including by us!), but managed to provide a series of updates that added a lot of new content to the game, as well as fixing some bugs. The Last Federation was a far greater commercial success and had numerous updates as well, including two paid expansions and numerous free updates to the base game that complemented them.
TechRaptor will certainly be tracking this title with interest… as pack hunters, it’s just in our nature.