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[Interview] Christopher Lee Buckner talks about Dark Storm Ascension

Dark Storm is an ambitious indie game.

Earlier last month I covered a Kickstarter game by the name of Dark Storm: Ascension. The game was heavily inspired by Metal Gear Solid and promised a strong female protagonist by the name of Amber Kingsley. Unfortunately, the game was not funded and fell short of their $50,000 goal. But that did not keep the developers down at Fenrir Studios. With the help of an unknown publisher and the release of Dark Storm VR Missions on Steam, Dark Storm Ascension is development is still pushing on. I caught up with lead game designer/ lead writer Christopher Lee Buckner to talk about Dark Storm: Ascension.

Gameskinny:  In your last Kickstarter update, you mentioned a major publisher standing by your development. What publisher is this? Also, will they be supporting you financially to help the game see its completion?

Christopher Lee Buckner: I can’t talk about that right now because no paperwork has been signed. Needless to say, we were very happy that they took an interest in us, and it was something we never saw coming. During our Kickstarter we featured Dark Storm at Casual Connect in San Francisco, where the representative from (publisher X) showed up just to see us after another individual, who played our game was so impressed by what we’ve done with no money, and a staff of volunteer developers that, he made a phone call that very day on our behalf. Hopefully, we’ll have more information soon – but the wheels do turn pretty slowly.  

Gameskinny: Dark Storm: Ascension is heavily inspired by Metal Gear Solid, in what ways will the game differ and/or improve from the Metal Gear Franchise?

Christopher Lee Buckner: That is always a difficult question to answer. I don’t want to say we are going so far from Metal Gear Solid that no one will notice that we take a lot of inspiration from it, but we aren’t a MGS clone either. We do draw a lot of influence from other games as well: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Half-Life series, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, to name a few. It seems every player has their own take on what our game reminds them of. Nevertheless, there are some things we want to expand on, or improve from MGS such as a strong story, but not one that is so confusing, or a futuristic sci-fi setting, but not one that can be a little too much on the weird side. Ultimately, I’ll just have to say, wait and see what we do and judge for yourself.  

GameskinnyHave you played Metal Gear Solid V? If so, has the newest edition to the series add any new inspiration you would possibly add to Dark Storm?

Christopher Lee Buckner: Speaking only for myself, no I haven’t played MSGV, or do I plan on playing it anytime soon. I do like the series, but it isn’t among my favorite as I’m more looking forward to Star Wars: Battlefront and Fallout 4. Nevertheless, there are some MSG nuts that lead this project and they even had a work stoppage for a couple days so they and a few others could spend a solid 48 hours just checking the game out. So far, MSGV has some amazing AI from what I’ve been told, and it is the AI that we are mostly looking at when it comes to adjusting what we have planned for Dark Storm: Ascension. 

Gameskinny: One of your game features is “True First-Person”, can you elaborate on what this means? How would it differ from other first person games?

Christopher Lee Buckner: It is basically something that helps the player feel like they are the character without being confined to a particular camera setting like most FPS’ have. The player can freely look around without having their weapon be the center of the player’s view, as a small example. Games like Mirror’s Edge do a pretty good job of making you feel like you are the character, and we hope to do something very much similar to that experience with Dark Storm: Ascension

Gameskinny: Your Kickstarter advertised the game to be on Steam and Xbox One, is this still true for the platforms the game will be released on? Also are there any plans to release the game to PlayStation 4?

Christopher Lee Buckner: Currently, Dark Storm: VR Missions is on Steam Early Access. The VR Missions were Greenlight in 7 days by Valve just last month, and being an Early Access helps us get some money to fund Dark Storm: Ascension. So far the response has been quite positive, we are happy to say. As for the Xbox One, we do plan to release Dark Storm: Ascension on the console, and would like to also release on PS4 soon after if possible. For right now, Steam (PC) and Xbox One are our primary focus. 

Gameskinny: Are there any plans for Multiplayer in this game? Or will it be strictly single player?

Christopher Lee Buckner: Easily the most asked question fans have wanted to know from us. Sadly, it is a profound yes and no. Yes, we do hope to include a standalone Co-op game sometime after we finish production on Dark Storm: Ascension. But no, we aren’t planning any competitive multiplayer for the game. Creating a competitive multiplayer brings with it a mess of complications that we really don’t want to deal with. Furthermore, the story is our primary focus for the series and we would not want to fall down the Call of Duty or Halo rabbit hole of dividing fans between multiplayer and story content. 

Gameskinny: Amber Kingsley seems like a strong female lead. How would you stack her up against other female protagonists such as Lara Croft or Jill Valentine?

Christopher Lee Buckner: Both are fantastic characters, with Lara Croft is my favorite female protagonist ever (video games and comics). Speaking just for myself, I joined Fenrir Studios because of Amber. I love that our game will feature three strong female leads, heroes and villain, and for my own personal writing style I tend to focus on capable female characters quite often, which was partly why I was asked to join the team. Time will tell if Amber can measure up to Lara Croft or Jill Valentine, but I do feel the audience will agree with me that Amber is a very human character. 

Gameskinny: Are there still plans to be able to play as She-Wolf?

Christopher Lee Buckner: We really hope so. She was supposed to have her own storyline for an expansion if we reached a certain amount of money during our Kickstarter. For now, since the Kickstarter failed, we have to focus on what is most important, and that is the primary single player game for Dark Storm: Ascension. If the game is successful, we do hope to do a She-Wolf storyline within the Ascension timeframe, but we’ll have to see what happens in the long run. 

Gameskinny: Is there an estimated release date for the game? 

Christopher Lee Buckner: We are hoping, as long as everything stays on schedule, releasing the game sometime in 2017, depending on if we get funding or not.  

GameskinnyLastly, tell readers why you believe they should be paying attention to Dark Storm: Ascension. Why should they be excited?

Christopher Lee Buckner: We at Fenrir Studios strives to bring an AAA level of quality to indie gaming. Dark Storm: Ascension is ambitious, perhaps more so than a lot of indie games you see released. We already have a strong story, amazing characters, and a wonderful concept that has managed to turn some heads, both among gamers and the media. If we stay on course, hopefully very soon, players will start to see Dark Storm come to life, and from that, the work will speak for itself. 

Dark Storm: Ascension is ambitious and promising. Fenrir Studios hopes to bring a game with a strong story and dominant female protagonist. If you want to learn more or help support developement on Dark Storm: Ascension you can visit their website here. Stay tuned for more coverage on Dark Storm: Ascension

Published Sep. 11th 2015
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    "...The player can freely look around without having their weapon be the center of the player’s view..."

    So what the Arma series has been doing for a very long time, and pretty much all FPS games should have that as a feature.

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