nDreams and the Female Goldmine
Last year former Eidos/SCi creative director Patrick O’Luanaigh formed development studio nDreams. He tells Next-Gen of the company’s plans to invigorate the casual market with Venus Redemption, a game which will cater to a female audience that isn’t getting the attention it deserves.
O’Luanaigh has been in the industry for eleven years. At Eidos, and previously at Codemasters, he worked on titles including Operation Flashpoint, Hitman: Blood Money, Just Cause and Tomb Raider: Legend. Having been involved in the development of such male orientated games, his latest project is certainly risky, but O’Luanaigh felt it was the right time to branch out in search of greater freedom and innovation.
“It’s difficult being really creative when you’re at a big publisher because when you’re working on multi-million pound next generation titles, publishers aren’t inclined to take risks. I really wanted to try and build something myself that’s completely different.
“One of the interesting things about the casual games space is not only that it’s an exciting and growing area but it’s also where I think a lot of the innovation is happening right now.
moscallout“We believe women are not really getting powerful stories and powerful characters in games at all at the moment."/moscallout
However, according to O’Luanaigh, few games are adequately addressing the increasingly large female market.
“Numerous researches indicate that 70 to 75 percent of casual gamers are female and a lot are middle aged. We believe most women really like stories, real characters. Many women enjoy reading books and great novels, watching soap operas and movies, but they’re not really getting powerful stories and powerful characters in games at all at the moment.
“So our first title, Venus Redemption, aims to tap that void by incorporating these elements into a casual title that delivers strong emotional experiences and is at the same time super easy to play. That’s where the innovation is.”
Gameplay wise, players will take on the role of a female protagonist in a title that fuses exploration and adventure with some interactive puzzle solving, all of which requires a minimal learning curve allowing users to essentially pick up and play.
Because the title is being developed to perform on any PC, the engine being used “isn’t true 3D, it’s an isometric engine”. Asked whether this will hinder realism, O’Luanaigh spoke of the importance of creating an immersive atmosphere. It’s perhaps the engaging storyline that will set the game apart from the crowd most.
“We didn’t necessarily want to create realism per say. Still, it was highly important to create a truly immersive atmosphere that would suck people into the story and the game world.”
Key to this was the employment of a proven writer who could appeal to the target audience. Kate Pullinger, co-writer of The Piano, was given the role.
“She’s rightly getting a lot of credit for her work, particularly in digital fiction at the moment where she’s pioneering interactive stories on the web. The difference between her story and a typical game action story is quite marked. There’s a lot more emphasis on characters and relationships."