A Sense of Time: TimeShift Interview
Control time while bringing down a fascist regime. We chat with Sierra's Kyle Peschel about the hot console and PC shooter.
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When we met recently with Kyle Peschel, a senior producer at Sierra Entertainment and the man to talk to about temporal shooter TimeShift, he mentioned that he was on his 76th demo of the event. You wouldn't know it from his enthusiasm.
That Peschel has managed to stay so boisterous about his game is a testament to his character, because TimeShift has seen more turbulence that most games coming out this year.
First there was the publisher switcheroo when Atari handed the game over to Vivendi last year, and of course there was the little matter of the gutting the game underwent - when it was just weeks from being finished.
About a year ago, with less than a dozen technical bugs still to stomp, TimeShift was about ready to go. Then Peschel was asked what he would do with the game if he had another year to work on it. "I'd change everything," he said.
From the graphics and the physics to the phoned-in voice acting performances by Hollywood names looking to up their game-cred, Peschel wanted to rip it all out, eviscerate the game, and create the experience that had been in his head all along.
And that's exactly what he's been doing since then.
TimeShift takes place in a authoritarian future lorded over by the despotic Aidyn Krone. He wasn't always called Aidyn. That's one of the more subtle changes brought in during the revamp, made "because Aidyn sounds like the kind of name that would get you beat up a lot in grade school," says Peschel.
Krone is a scientific genius gone mad. After training as a quantum physicist, he's hired by the government to work on creating a suit that is able to control time. And he succeeds. Not long afterwards both Krone and the $6 billion alpha suit disappear, only to return to a world plunged into its current dystopian state, where 1984-style propaganda blares from giant screens, assaulting the senses of the oppressed masses.
That's where you come in. Your mission is to command a quasi-sentient, upgraded beta version of the time suit and bring down Krone, in the progress joining a ragtag rebellion in their struggle to overthrow the Big Brotheresque madman.
As for your character, he's pretty much a blank slate. "The main character in the game has no voice, no face, no identity, no history, no background, no ... nothing. It's about you holding the controller being in the game," Peschel says with a glint in his eye.
This suit does more than just allow you to control time. It comes equipped with an artificial intelligence called the Strategic System For Adaptive Metacognition - or SAM. SAM will help you out of tough spots and handles some of the temporal abilities you're endowed with. It also prompts your actions at times.
Peschel gives us a rundown of the suit's moves, taking us through what will likely show up as a publicly available demo later this month. It's a rain-drenched setting, offering opportunities to show off not only how you'll be able to control time to outwit your enemies but also how much work has gone into making the game look the part.
The time suit allows you to both slow and stop time by tapping on a shoulder button. Tap once and you slow time, giving you more time to avoid incoming rockets or disable clusters of opponents. Tap again and you can stop it completely.