Ambrov X is an episodic, relationship and choice driven, science fiction, space opera RPG in a similar vein to Mass Effect. The project is currently looking for funding through Kickstarter and it's just shy of their $50,000 goal with 27 days to go. If the game reaches its first stretch goal of $750, 000 then former BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler, who left the company last month after being the target of a campaign of online harassment and receiving death threats, will lend her talents to the project. Check out the pitch video above.
Ambrov X takes place in the Sime-Gen universe. The Sime-Gen universe was created by Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg 50 years ago and there are several books that already take place in the universe with the latest of these having been published as recently as 2011. In the Sime-Gen universe humanity has been split into 2 sub-species. The Simes look like normal humans except for the tiny tentacles sprouting from their wrists. Simes cannot live without the life force that is produced by the Gens. This has caused centuries of conflict in the Sime-Gen universe but Ambrov X takes place after a 350 year period of peace and harmony between the 2 sub species.
The game requires the player character to enter in to a "tight, emotional, both predatory and romantic relationship with a single bonded companion character" in order to survive.
Hepler explained what attracted her to the project because she was particular intrigued by the relationship-driven nature of the narrative. She wrote "How much more intense could your relationship be with your followers if they were more than friends, more than romances – if they were both a part of your soul and the greatest threat to it?"
"Over and over again, the majority of Bioware fans tell us that a large part of what draws them to a character is their involvement in the main plot of the game. Fans like to have the chance to put their lover/best buddy Alistair on the throne, or have Morrigan end the Blight by carrying their baby. In the writers' rooms, we spent long hours trying to respond to this by giving every follower a shining moment in the plot, but it's hard for a single story to support 8 or 9 equally important co-starring roles. And the reality is that on a large game, things change – followers get cut, or downgraded to non-romanceable, or gender-swapped. And in a party-based RPG, it has to be gameplay that guides such decisions – whether a follower is the much-needed mage or rogue is often more important than how well-written they are, or how much their personal arc might get under your skin."
Because of this, Hepler said she was particularly drawn to Ambrov X due to the focus paying attention to a single relationship would give the narrative. She went on to say "While there is also a sprawling space opera plot that players will navigate and world-affecting decisions to be made, the key moments hinge on the tumultuous relationship between the two main characters. Though they may fight, make up, take opposite sides and love and hate each other in equal measure, they cannot survive without each other...and humanity cannot survive without their alliance. But this doesn't mean the story is limited to a single playthrough with a single paired character. Our intent is to have a distinct paired character for each race/gender combination the player can choose. When combined with the choices the player makes in the plots, Ambrov X will be a deep story with extensive replayability. By producing the game episodically, we get the opportunity to develop these all-important characters in conjunction with the fans. By hearing fan feedback early and often, we can tailor the characters to players' interests, so that by the final instalment, any surprises in the ending should be the kinds that make you gasp...not groan."
The game will be a 3D, single player affair and the pre-alpha footage on show in the pitch video doesn't look half bad. Players will be able to create their own Sime or Gen character who will also be a member of one of four classes. Players will be accompanied by a character of the opposite species to what they chose but this companion character can be any gender. The game will be fully voice acted with cinematic cut scenes. It will be made up of 5 episodes with each one being between 3 and 5 hours long itself. Ambrov X will be available DRM-free for PC, Mac and Linux.
Hepler's involvement may draw negative attention but Hepler stands firm. She wrote "... I continue to firmly believe that we have not come of age as an industry or a hobby, until you no longer have to ask someone 'Are you a gamer?' because everyone plays games, and you only need to ask 'What kinds of games do you play?' With Ambrov X, as with Dragon Age and SWTOR, we are reaching out past the 'straight white male' demographic and trying to create a game for anyone who loves a good sci-fi story. Players can play any gender and romance any gender they want. Because who am I to come into your living room and tell you how to play?"
You can become a backer of Ambrov X here.