You can look at indie releases in the past few years and see that old-school first-person shooters are among the most popular. Games such as Dusk and Amid Evil are making the old new again by paying homage to the FPS' of yesteryear. Prodeus, currently on Kickstarter, has the potential to be another excellent example of this FPS renaissance.
Prodeus is a Brutal, Hyperviolent FPS
Prodeus is helmed by Jason and Mike, two industry veterans, who've worked on titles such as 2016's DOOM and the Bioshock series. They are currently surpassing their goal of $52,000. They've reached several stretch goals already, too. The next goal is at $80,000 to add weather into Prodeus, with an entire flesh-themed texture pack and more if the project gains additional funding.
Prodeus is a hardcore, highly-customizable FPS experience. If you've ever played a "Brutal" mod for games, such as the original Doom or Heretic, Prodeus is a lot like that. It's hyperviolent and brutal. It includes "more action, more explosions, more blood, and more over the top visual effects," according to the Kickstarter campaign page.
I was able to ask the Prodeus team some questions about their game. Their inspirations for Prodeus include Metroid Prime and 1990s FPS favorites like the aforementioned Doom. The modding community is also quite robust for classic FPS titles and served as great reference material. "Since we both come from a modding background," said Jason, "we’ve also dug into a lot of mods that we thought were cool and enjoyed playing."
Level design is integral to retro FPS games. Jason and Mike are combining their talents with a Doom modder to maximize Prodeus' potential in level creation. Jason said:
"Taking lessons learned from old school layouts and applying a mixture of modern design knowledge. It’s one of the reasons we also brought on Joshua “Dragonfly” O'Sullivan to balance out the equation. He’s been making map in the Doom community for over 10 years. Between Jason and Josh, there’s going to be quite some magic!"
While there is a basic premise to the story, it appears that the focus is almost entirely on delivering the most adrenaline-fueled gameplay possible. You'll take on demon-like enemies with an arsenal of FPS favorites such as the shotgun and mini-gun.
Prodeus Weapon and Enemy Design
When approaching weapon and enemy design, Jason says the team wanted to have a balance of play styles in their design choices. "Player expression is at the forefront," said Jason, "and something we’re always considering when working on new enemy types."
Take this fearsome foe in this GIF as an example of the enemy design. Jason says this is called a Prodean. "Lots of mystery surround their origin," said Jason, "but if you see one, best not waste time and take it down first."
Prodeus' Visuals Are Highly Customizable
Jason mentioned player expression, and along with Prodeus' variety of enemies and guns are also visual options. The visual style itself highly customizable, so your experience may look different than others. You can play in 216p up to 1080p+. Switching from the retro-looking Sprite Mode to 3D Mode will clean up the look for those who want a more modern experience.
Additional tools to adjust the field of view from outrageously far to ridiculously close are available. Prodeus allows players to have an immersive HUD or a subtle one. You can even completely disable it. Jason explained a bit more on their approach to this:
It’s important to us that we only add features and options that fall within our vision of the game. Within that frame of mind, we’re also able to keep the style consistent without accidentally creating 10 new games at the same time. For example, being able to switch from Sprite mode to 3D mode was something we were happy to support.
And don't worry, he assured me that HUD and FOV modification won't affect the balance of the gameplay; however, it might set you back in Prodeus' eventual multiplayer mode.
Last but not least, Prodeus will feature a robust level editor. Players have the ability to share and access creations across the web. The campaign says:
We've been crafting the tools so they're easy to understand and quick to use. Here is an example of our hot-spot tool in action. It automatically finds the best fitting texture for the face you just created, and continues to auto size when stretched or moved. This cuts down on a lot of tedious texture alignment, and speeds up the art phase.
Much of the project's funding is going towards developmental art. Reaching $75,000 will also allow for Prodeus to have a soundtrack composed by Andrew Hushult. And Jason and Mike are quite blunt about the project risks: the only thing stopping this two-man dream team is if one of them gets sick or seriously injured.
Prodeus Early Access Is Coming This Year
But, have faith in these two. With a lot of game development experience, Prodeus is shaping up to be a hardcore FPS experience, launching in early access in September 2019.
"We’ve both grown a lot as developers since our days in the modding community," said Jason. "Being at the forefront of some of the coolest games to come out in the last 10 years has really taught us a lot. Not to mention, all of the great friends you meet along the way that pass on their knowledge onto you. It’s a humble feeling."
You can pledge $20 for the full game and get your name in the credits. Sequential tiers will give you digital goodies and some physical ones like a physical box and keychain. The tiers to take part in the creation of a level and weapon are currently filled, but the one slot to design an enemy is still available at $2500.
Right now, Prodeus has less than a week left until the project ends. It's reached its goal and is racking up those stretch goals, so if Prodeus interests you, be sure to jump on this project soon before it ends.