Brianna and Frank Wu didn’t set out to make a statement.
They just ended up creating a full-on spy-meets-spice-girls mobile game with the most distinctive look you’ve ever seen, and all the roles that matter are filled with women.
“I love the idea of powerful girls who are blowing stuff up,” says Frank Wu, “flying spaceships, diffusing bombs, and doing all the stuff that you associate with space marines, but it’s kind of irrelevant to the story that they’re girls.”
Irrelevant to the storyline, maybe, but in an entertainment media that is short on strong, normative female lead characters, upcoming iPad game Revolution 60 is a breath of fresh air.
One of the complaints in the male-dominated gaming industry is that there aren’t enough female characters. Many (typically male) developers have said that including female characters would cost the teams a lot more. Most of us critics dismissed that idea. In our phone conversation, Brianna Wu, CEO and lead designer at Giant Spacekat Studios, confirms that adding new gender models does, in fact, add a significant cost.
“The choice to have all female cast was a cost saving measure,” the one time politico turned developer says. “Once the (female) model was created and brought into Unreal, to bring in a second, ‘male’ would cost another $10,000.”
That’s all well and good, but is Revolution 60 a great game? From the pre-release code we’ve been playing, it’s pretty great. The art style is bright, colorful, and super sci-fi looking. That’s because Frank Wu is a four-time Hugo award-winning artist with a ton of book covers to his name. His distinctive style is all over this one.
“I’ve spent my whole life drawing spaceships, he says, “and so to be able to bring Brianna’s girl art with my spaceship art is just fantastic. I got to design a space station with rings rotating around – it was kind of awesome.”
“We designed every single area in its own style,” adds Brianna. “It doesn’t look as “pretty” as, say, Deus Ex, but you get a sense of location and environment.”
Maybe not as hyper-realistic as the current style in console gaming, Revolution 60 is still amazingly pretty. Check out the video below to get a good idea of just how gorgeous.
Written by Brianna Wo and lead animator, Amanda Warner, the story in Revolution 60 is inspired by shows like 24 and Homeland. “The reason 24
Warner also added the humor to the story. "Amanda is the biggest Joss Whedon fan," says Brianna, "(add a) tense situation, then set up a joke."
It's a good fit with the exaggerated character models and graphics, lending a very modern feel to the storyline. It's Whedon-esque in another way, as well, in the dialogue. "They're not talking about who's dating who, and who's going to the prom," says Frank. "It's all about secret organizations, nuclear war, nano-bots, the mission, and all this cool stuff."
The team uses Epic's Unreal Engine, and she has nothing but high praise for the third-party API game engine developer. "It hurts me physically to not see more people using Unreal Engine," she admits. "The reason we can deliver quality is that Epic has written a perfect system to tell these stories."
The team is currently waiting to get new tools for porting their code to the new 64-bit system architecture in the iPhone 5s, but her unofficial tests with the new iPhone 5s inspire real excitement. "The frame rate increase is incredible," she says. "I cannot break this phone."
Revolution 60 is still in development, but you can see the fine work in the video above and the screenshots below. Be sure to keep an eye on this game and the Giant Spacekat team in general, as they take on the gaming industry and–just like the characters in the game–probably win.