Thursday, April 12, 2012

Camouflaj Revolutionizing Interactive Entertainment

So it's a relaxed Saturday night in. You're chilling on your couch, flipping through 1527 channels of the same old garbage, letting the monotony and bullshit of your corporate persona slowly run off of you like so much molasses.

Then something breaks the routine, something unexpected. Your phone rings – an unknown number. Instincts tell you better, but your curiosity gets the best of you. Let's be honest here, it's not like it'll make your evening any more dull.

The terrified face of a girl flashes in your screen – young – late teens or early twenties. She says her name is Hope and she's trapped inside a city you've never heard of.

Congratulations, your Saturday night just got more interesting. Heart pounding, you soon realize that you are this girl's confidant and savior. Somehow, your phone becomes a second set of eyes and ears for this girl as you attempt to lead her through the Metropolis, taking control of security cameras, hacking computers, and setting up distractions to mislead guards who want to keep her locked up.

Now let's step away from this nice bit of fiction. Or better yet, what if I told you this was real? No, I haven't been peeking in on your miserable Saturday nights, but this is an experience that you can have – a reality that you can participate in.

Last fall, Ryan Payton was struck with a fury of inspiration. It was one of those lightning spark moments that drives people into madness. Dropping everything including leaving his job with Microsoft and liquidating his assets, he pulled together a handful of trusted individuals, called on Alexei Tylevich, founder of world-renowned production company, Logan, and set to work.

Under the name of Camouflaj, Payton's new independent company set out to change the way gamers view their phones. With the casual game market the dominant leader, Payton's vision was to create an entirely fresh experience, pushing the visual boundaries and interactive capabilities to the limits.

The game, Republique, is his brain-child. Inspired by literary masterpieces such as George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, the game is set in a fictional dystopian society, one that's part of our world, but locked away.

The girl, Hope, was designed not to be some bad-ass chick or sex-bunny flaunting her digital curves and canyons. Instead, the character herself is meant to bring about a feeling of sympathy with the player – with you. Instead of setting it around grinding up points, money, gear, or kill cards, Payton's desire is that the player will build a bond with Hope, making each decision that you make in the game more stressful as you want nothing bad to happen to her in her attempts to escape.

When I first heard about this game, I got the chills. The concept of attempting to lead through surveillance has been attempted in games before, but never with this level of technology and never implemented into your own hands. Honestly, I don't even own an iPad or iPhone – I've got an Android. But there was no way that was going to stop me from picking up a new personal goal – seeing this project through to fruition.

As more companies are moving to Kickstarter to seek funding for original ideas instead of major production houses, Payton saw this as an opportunity to move away from the strict guidelines and see his dream become a reality.

Being a bit of a penny-pincher myself, I would never dream of asking anybody to run over to the site and pledge money for something. What I will ask is that you check it out if any of this grabbed your attention or pass the information along. 

Some people get giddy over apps that let you buy coffee from your phone. I get excited about the prospect of the next step in interactive entertainment. If funded in time, expect to see the finished product hit iOS stores in Summer 2013.

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