Solo : A Climbing Adventure

Solo Splash

STANDARD AND OCULUS-ENABLED DEMOS NOW AVAILABLE!

Solo is a game where you must climb sheer rock cliffs to complete an arcane quest. It is currently in development but progressing well as you can see in some of the screenshots below. Videos and more information will be added to this blog as development moves along, so please check back in, feel free to leave comments, and if you’d like to show your support, use the Share This links on this page to tell your friends about Solo!

The Story
You, the player, assume the role of a young archaeologist on an adventure set deep in the rugged mountains of northern Afghanistan. Along the way you must not only avoid falling to your death, but contend with hostile weather, unfamiliar wildlife, and dwindling supplies. On rare occasions you will meet the local inhabitants, and their hospitality may make the difference between your success or failure. You will never be truly alone, however, as you will have the company of your boss and mentor—an expert in this field who tried and failed on the same mission 30 years ago. Acting as your climbing guide and “manager,” he will be in constant radio contact with you, a camera feed letting him see everything you see. He is the only one with the knowledge of what’s in these mountains. His guidance along the way will be essential to your success.

The Gameplay
Rock climbing is a complex sport, involving not only precise balance, movement, and of course strength, but also mental focus, route-finding skill, and safety gear…lots and lots of safety gear. Solo simplifies the mechanics of climbing by removing the typical safety gear completely – your character must “solo” up the rock faces. Likewise, controlling your character’s physical climbing movements will be made as simple as possible, while preserving such elements as grip strength, difficulty of holds (and route-finding), stamina, and body position physics.

Gameplay will include realistic day/night cycles and weather patterns to make the experience as immersive as possible. Night climbing, by moonlight or headlamp (if you’re lucky enough to find one) offers an exciting alternative to climbing under the clear light of day, and may contain surprise discoveries critical to your quest.

Night climbing

Night climbing by headlamp

As you climb, the strength and climbing skill of your character will progress as well. Which is good for you, as the mountains only get more rugged and difficult the deeper you explore. Caches of “booty” will appear that will assist you, sometimes found at the base of a cliff, sometimes hidden in caves or crevices halfway up. And sometimes a small village or other outpost along the way will offer goods or services you may need…for a price.

Oculus Rift Game Mode
In order to make the game as immersive as possible, Solo will include support for the mind-blowingly cool Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset, allowing you to feel as if you are truly hanging from your fingertips hundreds of feet above the ground. Users will therefore be able to select this first- person VR mode, or if they prefer (or have a fear of heights) can select the more “relaxing” third-person mode.

Oculus RiftIn addition, the game may offer natural gesture support, using such devices as the Leap Motion controller or the Razer Hydra controller, to allow the user to control their character by using gestures that mimic actual climbing. Coupled with the Oculus Rift this could be an especially powerful experience for the player.

About the Developer: Maxim Antinori

Max hanging out on Inferno, North Conway, NH

Max hanging out on Inferno, North Conway, NH

Since Max was introduced to the sport of rock climbing in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park over a decade ago, he has been struck with its ability to test one’s physical and mental toughness in a setting that is often breath-taking, and to which you gain entrance only through focusing those qualities. Could that same excitement be replicated in a computer game? Thanks to the advancement of tools like Unity, resources like those in the Unity Asset Store (the screenshots above reflect the amazing 3D scenery crafted by “Michael O“) it is now possible for a small team to create such a game without a huge budget and an army of developers, 3D artists, and designers.

What’s Next?
There’s lots of development to be done on all aspects of production – from the story, to the design, to the coding – so it will be a huge metaphorical climb to get this game completed. The short term goal is to produce a playable demo to give people a taste of Solo. While the screenshots here show the current state of development, much will change. So stay tuned! In the meantime, here’s a video of the author climbing some real live rock, speeded up to the tune of “Cavemen Rejoice” by The Bags.

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