Digital News

The Nightjar (AMV BBDO)

Somethin’ Else is giddy to announce our new iOS game, “The Nightjar,” is going to become officially available on April 26, 2011 in the UK and Ireland.

It’s a unique project, and we are incredibly proud of it — not just the game itself but the nature of how it came to market. We wanted to share some information about both sides of the game before release.

So: what’s it all about? If you’ve been following @VoiceOfNightjar and her sister ships on Twitter, you’ll know we’re in space. You’re going to find yourself on a dying spaceship, circling a black hole, in all kinds of trouble. The game features the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s terrifying. And it’s our second “video game with no video,” the entire experience rendered in binaural 3D sound.

Producing high-quality games is enormous fun, and it’s also risky and costly. People expect great games, but in the world of iOS, expect to pay very little for them. There was some criticism of Papa Sangre’s launch cost of $5.99 — less than a sandwich, cinema ticket or paperback book — but it took a small and independent team over a year to create an entirely new mode of gameplay, and the technology to drive it. We are dedicated to producing truly beautiful games based on ideas that only an idiot would attempt, because … well, just because, and something had to give or it would never have been made.

So we’re delighted to have worked with AMV BBDO, who enabled The Nightjar to be made by exploring an innovative funding model — effectively really smart collaboration and sponsorship. We had total freedom to make the game we wanted to make, with no artistic compromises whatsoever beyond a terrifyingly short production cycle (10 weeks!), and best of all, the game will be free to download. In return, the game is part of Wrigley’s “The 5 Experience”, which is all about sensory experiences and an obvious match for how our audiogames work.

AMV were more than just a financial partner though. They have been collaborators: the guys who first suggested setting the game in space, and responsible for the stunning graphic identity for the project too, which also fits the 5 Experience look and feel (actually, helped define it).

They also enabled Benedict Cumberbatch to board The Nightjar.

Now, we learned a huge amount about telling stories inside the Papa Platform in our first game. For this new game we wanted not just to knock that particular ball out of the mythical park, but smack the sucker into orbit (sorry). Being able to call on the talent of someone who is surely one of the UK’s best actors has brought something very rare to The Nightjar.

“Dead Space with the lights off” it is not.

It has the presence and intimacy of the very best audiobook or radio play, only the main guy is talking to you. Not to your avatar in a game. You. The pace, the depth, the relationship between story and gameplay — the performance itself — we were able to explore all these things because we knew we had a totally bad-ass actor on the team.

Posted by Steve Ackerman at

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