How is Square Enix's Collective Program Going?

How is Square Enix's Collective Program Going?

The publishing giant's indie outreach program came out of its trial phase and into live service a while ago. What's it got to offer?

Square Enix's "Collective" program -- an indie outreach initiative whereby the publishing giant would offer support to independent developers if the public voted for them -- fully launched about a month ago, following a trial period with three new games.

The trial itself hit the headlines when it emerged that one of the games attempting to make it through the program and secure support for crowdfunding was from Crackdown 2 developer Ruffian Games -- but when Ruffian's project was revealed to be the Scottish-inspired physics puzzler Game of Glens rather than a new Crackdown game, the public responded with negative feedback. Meanwhile, the other two games that were also running through the program as part of the trial -- action RPG World War Machine and multiplayer open-world adventure Moon Hunters -- successfully made it through and will subsequently enjoy the support of Square Enix as they begin crowdfunding efforts and head towards release.

But what of the service since then? Have developers responded well to it, even though the real attraction -- the opportunity to develop new games based on dormant Square Enix IP such as Gex, Fear Effect and Anachronox -- is yet to be available?

Apparently so; at the time of writing, there are ten new games on the program currently soliciting feedback -- you can see them all here. Here's three of the most interesting; check the Collective's projects page for more.

Debugger v3.16

Somewhat akin to Double Fine's upcoming Hack n Slash, Debugger v3.16 is a game in which you need to use programming concepts in order to solve puzzles and progress. The game sees you navigating numerous environments in a platform adventure style, manipulating objects by using code functions and scripting. The game is designed to teach basic programming concepts as you play, and ongoing tutorials teach you the basics you'll need to know in order to succeed. Throughout, you'll be able to rewrite the code of obstacles, enemies and even your player character.

The game even promises a special reward for those who manage to make it through its 100+ programming puzzles: a full tutorial designed to help gamers create their own small standalone game.

The whole thing is apparently just 15% complete so far, but already looking like an intriguing prospect if the developers ensure there's enough variety in the puzzles. Find out more here.

Eternal Desert Sunshine

Eternal Desert Sunshine certainly cites some strong, compelling influences: Shadow of the Colossus, Dragon Quest, Journey, To the Moon and Future Boy Conan, all wrapped in elements of Egyptian mythology. And the trailer's already looking quite promising, too; the game takes the form of a third-person platform/shooter combo in which it's your job to prevent the return of mythological figure Seth, and features numerous environments inspired by real-world locations such as the Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple and Giza Necropolis.

The game is the work of Karnak Arts, a Milan-based studio founded in 2012 by Egyptian developer Ahmed Awad, who grew up in the village of Karnak. His self-stated aim with Eternal Desert Sunshine is to "bring the old magic sensation of ancient Egypt in a surrealistic game experience." Find out more here.

Leap of Fate

In Leap of Fate, you play a mage on the run in present-day New York, attempting to develop your own magical powers, face trials based on your own fears and make your way to a hidden arcane temple to realize your destiny. It's a 3D action game with roguelike elements -- a single life, no automatic health regeneration, randomly selected powers and procedurally generated levels -- and the aim is to provide an experience which is unpredictable and different each time you play. Different play sessions will see not only new level layouts, but also different magical powers for you to acquire and upgrade, meaning you'll have to be adaptable rather than relying on the same powers all the time.

The game is being designed to work online, so you're not taking on its challenges in isolation. Developer Clever-Plays hasn't given full details of the plans for this aspect as yet, but promises the ability to "compete and communicate," plus plenty of post-release content including new levels and characters. It also sounds as if Clever-Plays is keen to look beyond just PC as a release platform, citing the possibility of cross-platform play as something they're aiming for -- starting a game on Vita and continuing later on PC, for example.

Find out more here.

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