Recently, the State of Play had a chance to sit down with Jonathon Myers, one of the co-founders along with Matthew Albrecht and Bruno Batarelo, of Boston-based mobile game startup Reactive Studios to talk about his hot new game Codename Cygnus.
SoP: Jon, in a nutshell, what is Codename Cygnus and why is it capturing so much attention in the world of indie games?
JM: Codename Cygnus is an interactive radio drama for iPhone/iPad - players take on the role of a secret agent in a fictional world inspired by old time serial radio dramas like The Shadow. The app makes use of voice recognition technology for a speech-operated experience of voiceover performance, sfx, and music.
With their voice or a tap on the screen the player can progress through a story in multiple-choice dialogue moments like in an adventure or RPG game. The player selects between options to accomplish mission objectives and listens to the drama unfold as different characters react to the their decisions. We have some amazing voice actors playing those characters including well-known people such as Sarah Elmaleh (Skulls of the Shogun, Gone Home, and Resonance), Logan Cunningham (Bastion), Rob Wiethoff (Red Dead Redemption), Chris Ciulla (Fallout: New Vegas), and Chris Rando (Dance Central 3).
We came up with the idea this past spring. Actually, our first public test of the concept was at the MassDiGI Game Challenge in Cambridge in March. By pitching to the judges in that competition we were able to identify what was most exciting about the idea and focus on that. We let go of what didn't click and since then we have been working like mad to get to where we are today. It's been an exciting time. Something about the concept is really resonating with people well beyond our expectations. The player can portray the kind of spy that he or she wants to be in a world of action and intrigue. Turns out a lot of people really love the idea of being their own Jason Bourne, Emma Peel or James Bond.
SoP: Would you say this is a new game genre? And, where are you with the game today?
JM: Is this a new genre? That's not for me to say but it is surely a unique concept for a mobile game. There are a few folks out there, like the team at Zombies, Run!, exploring similar audio territory so, we're not alone, which is great.
The comment I most often hear is that we're taking a lot of known elements (radio drama storytelling techniques, choice-based interactivity, role playing game skill systems, and voice recognition) and combining them so the resulting product is new yet somehow familiar.
We recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and plan to launch our first set of episodes later this month. The support from local indies has been incredible as has the attention and coverage we've received from the games press. In a few weeks, we'll be showcasing as a part of the Indie Megabooth at PAX Prime in Seattle, then it's back home for the Boston Festival of Indie Games. So, until then, stay tuned...
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