Democratizing game development has long been touted as a new and original idea, every time a developer does it. From daily public releases to frequently updated Early Access editions, this has been done many times over many years. The difference with Dr. “Herschel Beahm IV”‘s next FPS project Disrespect, a battle royale-cum-extraction shooter from his Midnight Society studio? You have to buy a fucking NFT to play it.
The goal of Midnight Society, currently titled “Project Moon”, is to create “the next AAA competitive PvPvE first-person shooter”. what they say they will do “openly and transparently”, by posting what they call “snapshots”.
They are actually vertical builds of a game, which would more typically be created by a developer in pre-alpha to try and secure a publishing deal or to show off at events like E3. Such examples of what a game will deliver give some idea of the developer’s ambitions, but in this case they will apparently be used so that backers – sorry, “Founders Action Pass holders” – can give feedback and vote for features they would like removed or included. What is otherwise called “playtesting”, a post of developers or editors Pay people to perform, often poorly.
Midnight Society describes itself as a team of “ambitious gaming industry veterans”, with its management team consisting of Robert Bowling, original member of Infinity Ward and executive producer of Pussy without salad: Amuse-bouchefundraiser Sumit Gupta, and Beahm himself, a former community manager at Call of Duty Sledgehammer Games studio. It also includes Quinn Delhoyo, responsible for the design of the sandbox on Halo: Infinitewho also worked on multiplayer for previous Halo games and Gears of War IIIand previously had the honor of being a level designer for Duke Nukem forever.
They have already assembled another team of 10 experienced developers, as well as another team of 12 non-developers, a few of whom have the word “crypto” written on their CVs.
It’s a fairly small team trying to put together what appears to be a Battle Royale-meet-extraction shooter (think Hunt: Confrontation meets Plunkbat), the genres through which Beahm gained his streaming fame. Still, it will be very easy to see how they fare, given that every six weeks they intend to release a playable version for those who have invested in the project.
“Our high-level gameplay goals are to capture the essence of arena shooter level design,” says Midnight Society’s latest blog“with the sheer scale and player count of battle royale and the session-to-session gameplay mechanics of extraction-based shooters.”
The development studio before tried to attract attention a few weeks ago while paying for an expensive Times Square billboard. The name of the studio was teased there, and little else, beyond a suggestion that some sort of announcement is due on July 29. This appears to be the first “Founders Event,” where those who purchased before the game existed will meet up in Los Angeles to, uh, “discuss the game’s first snapshot.” What an era.
In March, Beahm and company sold 10,000 NFTs representing these Founders Active Passes, for the not insignificant sum of $50 each. Midnight Society says it has received 400,000 applications, and it is clear that further rounds of sales of these passes will be an anticipated source of revenue. Half a million dollars for this first round will not cover the salaries of the current team.
It is interesting to note that in all the vague descriptions of this Project Moon will in fact, there is no mention of additional cryptoshit. Whether this was clever marketing, to try to avoid the vast amount of negativity the topic rightly generates, is unclear. But given the hiring of crypto types, it wouldn’t be surprising to start seeing “Web3” BS possibly mentioned.
Of course, given promises of transparency and the fact that backers are allowed to release video content from the six-week releases, we’ll get a fascinating perspective on the project as we go. Thank you to those who make the odd choice to pay to play a usually paid development role.