One of the standout titles at this year’s Play Expo in Manchester was Beyond Flesh and Blood, a particularly gory third-person shooter. Set far into a nuclear-ravaged future, the game places you in the role of a mech pilot who is fighting against rebel forces in a rather dilapidated version of Manchester. We caught up with two of the developers behind the game, Philip Muwanga and Lee Blacklock from Pixelbomb Games, who were on hand to provide us with more information on their upcoming shooter.
Power Up Gaming: First of all, congratulations on getting your game greenlit through Steam. How did you find the Greenlight programme and did this give you the opportunity to get a lot of feedback from the community?
Lee Blacklock: Definitely. I think of all the processes we’ve been through, greenlight has been the best. The feedback and comments we’ve received from people have been fantastic. A lot of comments have been positive; what people liked about the game, which we’ve focussed on even more because of that. The feedback has been really good so far and most of our fanbase have been established through greenlight.
PUG: So would you say that the community has come together and helped influence a lot of the decision-making behind the game?
LB: Yes, definitely. A lot of the things that we hoped would be winning elements such the levels of gore and violence in the game. The T.C.F. [Tactical Combat Frame, the larger mech in the game] has the ability to tear people to pieces, and people thought that was really amazing.
Phil Muwanga: We have a long list in the office of quite terrible ways to kill people.
PUG: That’s definitely something we noticed earlier with the demo when we managed to pull a guy’s head off with ease. Could you describe a little bit about the game’s dystopian setting?
PM: Okay, it’s set 200 years in the future, and 100 years after a nuclear war has destroyed the surface of the Earth. Humanity is living in a space station on the limits of the planet’s atmosphere. You are returning to Earth, specifically Manchester, to try to reclaim the surface as a mech pilot. If you die in the game then another mech is sent down from orbit so that you can continue, and that’s how you respawn.
PUG: So you said that the game is set in Manchester. Would you say that the city itself has influenced a lot of the level design?
PM: We are a Manchester-based studio and most of our game takes place in Deansgate, so we are trying to accurately represent the area as much as we can. Obviously, it’s 200 years in the future and after a nuclear war, so it looks like Deansgate on a Friday night!
LB: It allows us to be creative with our imagination and what the city will look like in the future. As Phil said, what will [key buildings] look like after a war; will they have been damaged? We’re peppering the place with landmarks, so what will those landmarks look like in the future? Of course, there are many buildings that don’t exist today and new skyscrapers, but we’ve had a lot of fun creating the city.
PUG: On your community forums you were asking your fans what landmarks they would like to see in the game. Are you going to expand the city to incorporate people’s favourite areas?
LB: The interesting thing about that is, when we ask people to suggest landmarks, they often ask about their local takeaway or corner shops that they like to frequent. That’s something that we’re always looking into and seeing what interests people in Manchester.
PUG: What state is the game currently in and when do you plan to release?
PM: The demo we are showing here today is pre-alpha. We will be going into early access at the end of next month [November], and we’re aiming to release on Steam in the first quarter of 2015. We are also aiming for an Xbox One and PS4 release too, so we will be porting to next-gen consoles.
PUG: So will the early access include story content?
PM: The early access will involve the wave-based map that we are showing here today, plus the first map of the campaign. We don’t want to show off too much of the campaign straight away.
PUG: Are there any plans for multiplayer content?
PM: Not currently, although there may be co-op available in the wave-based mode. We’d rather spend the time and effort making a highly polished single player experience.
PUG: Are there any other features that you’re hoping to add to the final release that you haven’t yet unveiled?
Phil: Lots of features; this is just a taste as to what’s in store for the single player campaign.
PUG: Are you planning to franchise the game and are you looking towards sequels in the future?
LB: Yes, we are planning to release different chapters, and this will be the first of what will hopefully become chapters.
PM: The main aim is to make the best game we possibly can here, and then look at developing new chapters.
The playable demo for Beyond Flesh and Blood is available from Pixelbomb’s official site now.