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Project Genesis Interview — A Chat with James Mayo of 8 Circuit Studios

Gaming article by Robert N. Adams on September 27, 2019 at 11:00 AM
Interview

Following my preview of the game, I got to sit down and do an impromptu Project Genesis interview with James Mayo of 8 Circuit Studios. I knew about the game, but I knew very little about the company or the man behind it and I was keen to find out more about what they were doing with this game.

What I discovered was somewhat surprising. A man who had been in the industry for the better part of three decades. A game with the latest in blockchain technology being used for the most mundane things. A refreshingly consumer-friendly take on microtransactions. Read on to find out more about 8 Circuit Studios and their upcoming game Project Genesis!

project genesis interview not hoth
There are certainly space battles, but Project Genesis has no problems going planetside, either.

Project Genesis Interview — 2.5D vs. 3D

When I kicked off this Project Genesis interview, I had one burning question: Why go with a 2.5D flight system instead of true 3D, omnidirectional flight? In short, it's largely due to the fact that you have to transition between flight and first-person shooter gameplay.

A good few people at 8 Circuit Studios are fans of games that require you break out a flightstick, but Project Genesis is a little bit different. After all, once you take down a capital ship's shields, you hop into a breaching pod and go into first-person shooter mode on the ship. Trying to do 3D space combat with a mouse and keyboard is rough, and trying to play a shooter with a joystick is also rather difficult. (I beg forgiveness from gaming's old guard, some of whom quite happily played the original DOOMDuke Nukem 3D, and the like with a keyboard and joystick.)

I had personally figured out this problem long ago while playing Eternal Silence—I simply took my hand off my joystick and put it on the mouse for the shooter sections. Project Genesis, unfortunately, is a bit different. You see, ships have a turret that you can aim with your mouse. You'd need three hands with true 3D control (or a second person acting as a gunner), so that's why the game has this system for now.

project genesis interview basic customization
Customization in the pre-alpha is pretty basic, but it's there.

Project Genesis Interview — Why is 8 Circuit Studios Using Blockchain?

Project Genesis makes use of blockchain technology. Reading about this immediately piqued my curiosity. I had seen some games that mine crypto in the background (either overtly or, worse, covertly) and wondered if cryptocurrency was somehow going to be a part of this game. Thankfully, it was not.

"The biggest intention [for our use of blockchain technology] is to create a character that lives on the blockchain forever," Mayo said. "A character between the games that we create or like our partner projects like Mankind Reborn. They're sort of building a cyberpunk MMO, so we're talking about whether or not it makes sense to use characters between our [games].

"The other thing we've talked about is sharing property," he continued. "Planets, or solar systems. You can scale that down to continents or cities. In our case, we're looking at sharing like, an apartment building between our two games that has data that we can both access. Those are kind of the main features that we're looking to leverage out of blockchains. The sort of public data or property or characters."

In short, they're working on a public database so that characters and other player data could potentially be used across multiple games. I had to be sure, though, and asked outright whether or not there would be any cryptocurrency used in the game with this blockchain system.

"No, no intention to do that," Mayo asserted. "In fact, there's a lot of regulatory overhead that comes along with mining, with cryptocurrencies generally. For us—right now at least—it's purely about storing [character data and similar things] on the blockchain, not a currency or cryptocurrency or even virtual currency."

He also had some choice words about developers who surreptitiously mine cryptocurrency without their players' knowledge.

"I think that's illegal—or if it isn't, it should be."

project genesis interview capship
Capitals ships are appropriately large. There's a lot of room to move around on the inside, too.

Project Genesis Interview — The Road to Pre-Alpha

"It's probably taken us about two years [to get Project Genesis to where it is]," Mayo said. "A little over a year ago, we rebooted the title. We actually started Project Genesis as sort of an overhead space roguelike game. It just wasn't working."

Realizing that their initial prototype had some problems, 8 Circuit Studios went back to the proverbial drawing board and decided to rely on their strengths, scrapping the old prototype and building it into what's currently in development.

"We're starting to scale the team up now because we really like the direction that the game is going, and we can really feel the mechanics really working. Those are kind of functioning as an anchor, so we're bringing more folks in," he said.

project genesis interview ship hangar
Players can select from quite a few ships, and these ships can be equipped with two of several different weapons prior to playing.

Project Genesis Interview — The Genesis of Project Genesis

A casual glance at the listed projects at 8 Circuit Studios' website shows three games that are all leveraging blockchain technology, all in development. I had thought that Project Genesis was their first game, but it seems that wasn't the case. I was curious where exactly they're getting their funding for this game.

"It's self-funded. I'm funding it," Mayo said plainly. "I had saved up a bunch of money and really was—I fell in love with block chains and I've always loved video games. I've been a video game developer or at least in video games since 1990. So, [it was] sort of a dream of mine to start [8 Circuit Studios]."

James told me how he began his work at Nintendo right around the time that they were making the transition from 8-bit (the Nintendo Entertainment System) to 16-bit (the Super Nintendo Entertainment System). He says he's got some legendary titles under his belt (Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country among them), and now he's leveraging roughly three decades of industry experience into making something altogether different from his past works.

"Getting the build into people's hands as fast as possible—that's really advantageous for us because we can get community feedback and iterate on that directly." — James Mayo, 8 Circuit Studios

Project Genesis Interview — When Can You Get It, and What Will It Cost?

So, let's get down to brass tacks: When is Project Genesis coming out, and how much is it going to cost?

PC players will have a bit of a wait, but it won't be all that long. Mayo says that you should be able to get your hands on it sometime next year. From what I could tell in my playtime, a lot of the fundamentals are already taken care of; now it's all about content creation and firming up the core systems.

As for the financial side of things, the news is pretty good for gamers on a budget.

"We're actually thinking of free-to-play with microtransactions," he said. "It will be cosmetic-based. You can play to your heart's content and never have to spend a dime."

For the rest of the gamers out there, you won't necessarily be left out in the cold; 8 Circuit Studios is looking into getting their game onto the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One at some point in the future. The Nintendo Switch is a possibility, but Mayo ultimately said that they couldn't be certain about it at this stage of development.

project genesis interview slice

Project Genesis was already a game that held my interest, but the things I learned in my chat with Mayo got me much more interested.

I'm really looking forward to sinking some serious time into this upcoming game from 8 Circuit Studios when it launches. You can find out more about them and their projects in progress over at their official website, and you can add Project Genesis to your wishlist on Steam.

About the Author

A photograph of Robert N Adams

Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!