Hi Reddit!

We've been in games for a long time. Gregory MacMartin aka GreatBird is heading up the team creating Consortium: The Tower, which has so far raised $330k on the crowdfunding platform Fig.

Dr. Greg Zeschuk aka GregZeschuk, best known as co-founder of BioWare, retired from games a few years ago to focus on his other passion: beer. He travels the world meeting brewers and drinking their craft on his YouTube series The Beer Diaries and is working on opening a brewery. He is the lead investor in Consortium: The Tower.

Consortium: The Tower is a single-player, first-person sci-fi simulation set in a hyper-futuristic, alternate dimension London. It is a immersive story-driven role-playing experience, where players can choose to fight, sneak, explore or talk their way through a winding narrative shaped by their own actions and decisions.

Imagine...the original Deus Ex videogame combined with the first Die Hard film!

Ask us anything!

Comments: 254 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

Bronxsta17 karma

  • Any possibility that the stretch goal concepts/content could be revisited for post-release DLC/expansions/updates if they aren't reached?
  • What kind of stealth tactics and mechanics are planned besides cloaking? Takedowns, decoys, silencers, etc.?
  • The environmental destruction during the free fall assault looked pretty impressive. How advanced will destruction be (i.e. could you destroy the supports of a balcony to take out a patrol)

_GreatBird_11 karma

re, Stretch goals re-visited later: Yes, that is indeed possible. We obviously want to make the best game we possibly can so we'll be looking into all ways of expanding the scope and features of the game.

re, Stealth mechanics. Lethal and non-lethal takedowns are planned. "Microphone rounds" for the Kinetic Assault Rifle are also on the drawing board, details to be released later but they tie the stealth system into the diplomacy system. If we hit our first stretch goal you will be able to upgrade gear to further support Stealth as well.

re, Environmental Destruction: Yes, situations like you describe will be found in the game. Certain parts of the world will be destructable and they will stand out from parts that are not.

BigBadBeluga14 karma

How did you guys feel after your Kickstarter campaign wasn't funded? I was a backer, but I felt super bad when you guys didn't make the goal. Glad you guys are back on Fig though!

_GreatBird_15 karma

Well, a week before the campaign closed we felt pretty darn sad, as you could imagine. This is easily the most exciting project of my career so facing the possibility of not being able to make it was creatively draining. But before the last week ended Dr Greg brought Fig to our attention and everyone quickly realized it was a great fit for all! So when the campaign actually ended we were still rather hopeful about getting a second chance...

Delsana2 karma

You could have funded the project on your own I'd imagine. I don't see you as the typical person Kickstarter is meant for.

_GreatBird_12 karma

This project is entirely Interdimensional Games Inc, of which Greg Z is NOT affiliated with. We are a fully independent game developer and we are not wealthy....the ONLY reason we're able to make this game is because of the backers and investors that have supported us on Fig and PayPal...including Greg Zeschuk.

Delsana3 karma

If Greg is on the IAMA that means he's a bit more than the random investor and so that gives the impression that like a venture capitalist, he'd be funding quite a hefty sum. At least that's the impression I get.

_GreatBird_7 karma

He is the lead investor of our Fig campaign, and Fig works completely differently than any VC funded venture. His contribution is generous compared with most, but still relatively small compared to traditional investments. See https://www.fig.co/about for more information on how it works!

Bobzer-6 karma

They have no confidence their game will sell.

Which is fine imo. If people want to pay to play a game that otherwise would not be made I don't have a problem with it.

It's on their own heads if they get scammed.

_GreatBird_6 karma

If who gets scammed? For the record, we came to Kickstarter before and successfully funded and shipped the game we promised everyone. We also shipped out all of the promised rewards. We're in this for the passion of making unique, original and innovative videogames, nothing more.

Khourieat1 karma

Huh, I didn't even know these guys had a kickstarter :( I would've backed!

_GreatBird_1 karma

If you were still interested in backing us, we are still accepting pledges using PayPal for the same rewards as found on our Fig page. Help us work towards reaching our next stretch goal?

CodyBye12 karma

For Dr. Z (hey man!) and Mac (I hope it's okay if I call you Mac) -

BioWare was the first gaming company to offer romance and (gasp) sex as a core part of a game's storyline. BG2 probably had the most diverse assortment of characters and each was different and really helped provide a mirror for the roleplaying of your main character.

Is this something that will be included in the Consortium and will romance/sexual encounters actually drive the story and not be a simple add-on (like God of War)?

_GreatBird_11 karma

Folks at Fig call me GMac, so that's pretty close. :-)

Great question, and one we've been asked several times (no surprise there!). The iDGi-1 Trilogy (of which Consortium: The Tower is the second installment) takes place over a relatively short period of time. Typically, real romantic entanglements require at least days of time to pass to be allowed to grow.

That being said, if you were to import your game from Consortium Game One and it included very high alignment numbers for certain characters (i.e they REALLY like you), it may unlock "special" dialog for those characters, allowing you to get flirty with them. As to whether that eventually leads somewhere, it all comes down to how the story plays out, which is spoiler territory. Realistic human interaction is our goal, and so of course that should include intimacy in a realistic fashion....

cameronabab5 karma

I swear to god, someone is gonna broadcast on their CMC and then the whole crew knows

_GreatBird_5 karma

That's always a risk! ;-)

jwchen12 karma

To Dr Zeschuk, Ive been a fan since Baldur's Gate, Thank you so much for Bioware. My questions for you is what is your favorite common beer you can buy in any supermarket?

To Mr MacMartin, Currently what is the hardest thing your team have to deal with in Tower's development?

_GreatBird_5 karma

Great question. The most difficult technical hurdle facing our project involves our final solution for NPC choreography. We do have various solutions on the drawing board (including some new and relatively inexpensive motion capture solutions...). I'm positive we'll end up with something that improves upon what we did in Game One, but I must admit that Source engine's Face Poser tool was really great for making the first game.

NikusPokus8 karma

For Mr MacMartin : I feel like Consortium expanded on the BioWare formula for dialogue choices and took it to the next level with a very seamless and organic implementation. So, have BioWare games been a special source of inspiration in your work ? And which one have you the most enjoyed personally?

_GreatBird_10 karma

Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect 1 are among my all time favourite games. I was fascinated with the ways in which those games forged what felt like actual relationships with NPCs. There is no doubt whatsoever that those games were part of the inspiration for Consortium. :-)

GregZeschuk5 karma

Excellent choices...:)

Truth be told, I really like what I saw in Consortium's approach to NPCs. And even better when the design and ideas go new places!

_GreatBird_2 karma

:D

_GreatBird_7 karma

On behalf of Dr Greg Z and myself, thank-you so much for dropping by and asking such great questions! I will check in here in the near future and will continue to answer new inquiries as they arise.

Cheers everyone and thank-you again!

We hope you all consider dropping by our campaign page and consider supporting us to help make an awesome game!

GamingGems7 karma

Were you surprised by the high investment to [regular] backer ratio?

The campaign seems to have had a very strong start and then lost momentum after the goal was met. What is your take on why that happened? Is there anything you would have done differently in hindsight?

_GreatBird_7 karma

re, investment to backer ratio: With Dr Greg's investment and awesome endorsement and our great terms, I honestly wasn't all that surprised. Fans of the first game, I think, know the kind of game experience we're poised to make with The Tower and it's awesome potential.

re, campaign progress: It's pretty typical for momentum to slow down in the middle of a campaign, especially with a campaign that has already been funded like this one. We expect to see some excitement again over the next two days as the campaign draws to a close. Either way, we're just personally excited to see everyone who has come out to make Consortium: The Tower a reality. Thanks again for making it happen, all!

1BigUniverse5 karma

What are your thoughts on aliens and the possibility that they could already be living among us?

edit: HEY! It says I'm allowed to ask anything

Clone954 karma

I mean hey, technically this game is -about- aliens in a way :P

SEEKER IS GOD

WHO ARE THE GUARDIANS?

_GreatBird_2 karma

The answer to that question, BTW is complicated and would constitute a major spoiler.... :-)

_GreatBird_2 karma

hehehe. Is it? ;-)

_GreatBird_4 karma

I seriously doubt we have aliens among us now. Such a conspiracy, in this day and age, would be impossible to contain imo. :-)

I have no doubt whatsoever that there is extraterrestrial life in the universe, however!

1BigUniverse4 karma

what if they looked as human as you and me!? But seriously, have you ever been to Florida? If not it might change your mind.

_GreatBird_3 karma

The variation of the human species never ceases to amaze me. heh.

InhaleDankness4 karma

Did you ever complete a game, only to realize you could've done something different a year or so later?

_GreatBird_5 karma

I could say this about every game I've worked on, save possibly for one: "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets PC" was the closest thing I've had to a "perfect" project. In other words, I wouldn't really have changed much of anything in terms of my contributions to that project as Game Director, given our strict time and creative restraints.

GregZeschuk6 karma

Yep - every game. No matter what we made, and how good the release was, there were always things that we wanted to make even better. It's actually pretty hard to play games you work on after release for this reason.

_GreatBird_3 karma

I strongly concur with that last sentence in particular!

Hope_Burns_Bright1 karma

That game was my whole childhood. For me, it was a perfect game.

_GreatBird_3 karma

Oh, wow, that is so cool to hear. Thank-you. I am so glad you enjoyed it that much. It was a real fun game to make. :-)

exotic_lemming4 karma

I have backed this project since I first heard about it, the control you offer to give the player on the gameplay is absolutely amazing. Lately I've been really into RPGs, and love the ones that offer to customize my character, that let me really roleplay as the main character. So the question is: Will I be able to play as Lady Bishop, Or is he exclusively a he?

_GreatBird_4 karma

A good question. Because of the nature of the meta-narrative, with players effectively "leaping into" the brain of Bishop Six, Quantum Leap style you don't really have control over the sex of the host.

However, we are very passionate about creating an experience where you can deeply imprint YOUR style and personality into Bishop Six, effectively making the character into someone that is unique to YOU. We will try to avoid too many instances where you'll be made to feel "like a man", and we'll definitely be providing dialog choices that are essentially omni-sexual and not particularly masculine or feminine, if you get my meaning?

exotic_lemming1 karma

Interesting, that does provide an unusual roleplaying experience, I like it! You really seem to want to push forward the narrative potential in games, I wish you all the luck to your team, for this game and the next ones.

_GreatBird_1 karma

Thank-you so much!

CombatMuffin4 karma

Hello.

Mr. Zeschuk, one of my favorite if not favorite) Bioware game ever made was Neverwinter Nights and its expansions. While its single player content was not as well received as other Bioware games, I think your willingness to give players the tools to create their own stories through custom worlds, DM modes and roleplay mechanics serve as a pinnacle of what games should strive for. *Do you think games with these sort of tools could work in today's industry? There hasn't been a game since then that has offered any comparable experience.

Mr. MacMartin: I've never heard of Consortium before, but I what I've read so far sounds ambitious and different. Is the game aimed at providing a lot replayability, or is it focusing in telling a well structured story, regardless of different player choices (sort of like Bioshock: Infinite)? Both ideas sound great to me, sometimes I want to build my own way and others I want to be told a focused story. What's the team's vision for Consortium?

_GreatBird_3 karma

I would say it's both, actually! Our approach is actually truly unique, in that no game quite does it like we do. Think of playing a Consortium game as being inside of a narrative web.

There is a general direction to the narrative, and all the characters you interact with have likes/dislikes, agendas, etc. There are events going on outside of your purview and control.

But the narrative web includes many different threads and situations based on YOUR decisions and actions. Some major and some subtle. I suppose it does lean more towards the former (replayability), but there IS a carefully structured narrative layered seamlessly into everything at the same time, taking into account ALL of your possible choices.

CombatMuffin2 karma

It sounds very interesting. I will be glad to support games that try to take storytelling to new boundaries.

_GreatBird_1 karma

cheers!!

SL1283 karma

Have there been any hilarious, bizarre, or otherwise interesting bugs/buggy interactions from previous games in development that you'd like to share?

_GreatBird_6 karma

I swear, neither of us read each other's responses to this question! heheheh. :-)

_GreatBird_5 karma

There is one that always comes to mind when folks ask me. Early in production of Consortium when we were getting the Kiril Angelov interaction working in Mission Ops, something very funny happened that I wish I had recorded for posterity, but it remains burned into my memory. The initial "holographic" Kiril was actually not much different from the "real" Kiril, and he was able to draw his weapon. However, due to how we had him setup in the Zenlil mission ops, when he drew his weapon it appeared to come out of his, uh...crotch area.

So, when testing the Kiril mission ops scene for the first time, the moment the "holographic" Kiril blinked into existence he rather quickly proceeded to whip out his gun from a dubious position and wasted everyone in mission ops. haha.

rogerdandy3 karma

Dr. Z... can you tell us anything about your new brewery?

Mr. M... For someone completely not in the know what's one key aspect that's going to drag me into Consortium: The Tower. I've never actually heard of it until now.

_GreatBird_2 karma

I would say that it's the extreme level of freedom you will have, as a player, to do whatever you want in the game and experience how both the characters and overall narrative bends and adapts to your actions and decisions. I will go as far as to say that Consortium: The Tower, by it's very design, will allow for the most player agency / freedom of any CRPG ever created.

[edit] One of our team members suggested I also mention the fact that in our game, you will be able to literally speak out loud, anytime and anywhere. Think of speech as a tool, every bit as useful as a weapon is in most games.

rogerdandy1 karma

sounds awesome! Good luck, I'll be watching the progress now that I know about your project. I've always felt there should be more freedom with the interaction aspect without completely breaking the game if you wanted to be really evil.

_GreatBird_1 karma

Awesome, cheers!

Infrared742 karma

To Both: Who is your favorite character from the Mass Effect Universe?

_GreatBird_5 karma

hmm. For me I think it would be a toss up between Garrus Vakarian and Miranda Lawson. Both just felt like believable and interesting realistic personalities to me. Likable.

Crankybob2 karma

Oh, I totally missed this. But I'll ask a question anyway. You guys have typically used top down turn based RPG style games that used narrative to propell the experiance. Why change to FPS? Did it have anything to do with the collection of code being owned by EA now or do you guys feel that this game is better suited to FPS?

I guess I'm just wondering about Jade Empire 2 or games like it. I think we all miss good story telling.

EDIT: sorry if it was already asked. Calgarian here who was always fascinated that Alberta had a Video Game Company that made good games.

_GreatBird_3 karma

Consortium: The Tower is not a Bioware game. Greg Z is our lead investor. It is a direct sequel to our first game :-)

If you like good interactive storytelling you should definitely take a closer look at our project! :)

dotisinjail2 karma

What's your favourite band and film?

_GreatBird_4 karma

Favourite band = TOOL Favourite film = Braveheart

NikusPokus1 karma

To Mr MacMartin : a reddit AMA is great, but you know what would be even better ? To invite Mr. Zeschuk for an iDGi livestream ! So, will you still be doing those every now and then after the end of the FiG campaign ?

_GreatBird_3 karma

We will indeed be continuing to do Twitch streams after the campaign ends, yes! We've taken a liking to it. :D Perhaps Dr Z would be kind to join us as a guest sometime, that would be great.

masterpharos1 karma

With a plethora of games released in recent years claiming to have player driven narrative development and ultimately never delivering, what steps are you taking to ensure Consortium achieves it's aim?

_GreatBird_2 karma

The biggest step is that we're basing Consortium: The Tower on interactive narrative tech we invented for our FIRST game, which by most accounts actually achieves what you're talking about.

masterpharos1 karma

Thanks for your answer. I've not heard of Consortium or it's sequel until this thread. I'm skeptical of games which claim meaningful development of narrative but I'm going to look into this one. Very interested to see how the sequel turns out, good luck.

_GreatBird_1 karma

Thank-you! I promise, if you enjoy science fiction and single-player role playing games you will almost undoubtedly enjoy CONSORTIUM. (our first game).

sta19941 karma

How often do you guys play BioWare games? Do you watch YouTube videos of your games?

_GreatBird_4 karma

I'm in a middle of a playthrough of Mass Effect 3 right now, in fact...

sta19942 karma

Paragon or Renegade? What are some choices you make in the major decisions?

_GreatBird_3 karma

Paragon all the way for me, very few of the Renegade decisions had any appeal to me, and I honestly haven't even attempted Renegade playthroughs.

Deven2471 karma

Favorite video game of all time?

_GreatBird_1 karma

I honestly don't have one anymore - it USED to be The original Bard's Tale, but times have changed too much. My favourite game of recent years is The Witcher 3...

ZePwnzerRJ1 karma

What is your favorite game that you had no part in making?

_GreatBird_1 karma

As previously answered in this AMA, this is a very difficult question to answer. But I believe it is currently The Witcher 3, which is truly a breathtaking achievement and really set standards in the "huge open world RPG" department. :-)

IsItMeyoure_looking41 karma

what are your stances on the TPPA?

_GreatBird_1 karma

TPPA

I'll be honest, I don't know enough about it to have a stance. But it sure sounds controversial!

ArtemitheHunter1 karma

Hey y'all! I know this is both buried and way too late but I'd figured I'd ask - what advice would you give to a college student who writes scripts and builds worlds for television/movies/video games in his free time? This is of course a totally hypothetical question.

I'm sorry I lied, it's me. I'm the college student. And also Mass Effect has meant a lot to me since I started playing, thank you to both of you and BioWare for becoming such a big part of my life and shaping what I want to do with it.

_GreatBird_1 karma

Best advice: learn a game engine and it's tools (Unreal 4 and Unity are both quite cheap to just play around with) and create a vertical slice of one of these worlds.

Experiment with game tools and see what you can learn. Go from there...

TheSardinian1 karma

What's your favorite genre of game? What's your favorite game that you had no personal involvement with? What's your current PC setup?

_GreatBird_5 karma

Fave genre: Single-player RPGs, no question. Followed up by strategy games.

Fave game where I had no personal involvement: Very difficult to answer. Perhaps The Witcher 3? That game is a staggering achievement.

Current PC setup: i7-4790K @ 4Ghz, 16 GBs RAM, GeForce GTX 970. Recently installed an Oculus Rift CV1. :-)

SL128-2 karma

How blue would the game blue if the game had more blue with its blue? :D

_GreatBird_3 karma

haha. There is certainly no doubting that blue is the official color of the Consortium. However, fear not, The Tower will have much less blue and a ton more visual variation, by the fact of there being a very large environment to explore outside of Zenlil. :-)

SL1281 karma

I was originally going to [explicitly] ask about that, but then I re-looked at the screenshots and saw how much color variation there actually was. Everything's looking great so far, but it's also exciting to hear more about the color variety.

_GreatBird_3 karma

Yep, we're maintaining the style of the first but also bringing it to the next level. Also, there will be a few different sections of the Churchill Tower with each having it's own color style.