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Half-Life 2 mod developer doesn’t abandon roots in producing its first commercial release

The Internet has allowed for all kinds of amazing things. A lot of our team at GamesBeat is spread all over the map, but we still work together to create unified project.

A new developer that started as a loosely knit group that created Half-Life 2 mods is now doing the same thing on its first original game, Party of Sin, which should be available on PC through Steam by the end of the year. Gamers can head to the official site to preorder.

Party of Sin is a colorful take on the Christianity’s seven deadly sins. It’s a side-scrolling action game in which players switch on-the-fly between seven different characters to solve puzzles and combat situations. The designers based each playable character on one of those seven sins.

Greed uses a hookshot to grab items and enemies. Sloth slows down time. Lust charms enemies into submission with her looks. Players must use a combination of these skills to completely conquer the game. Multiple players can also choose a handful of characters and play the game side-by-side using couch co-op.

And the developer, Crankshaft Games, created the whole thing with members of a staff located in different cities around the globe.

“Party of Sin is our first commercial release,” Crankshaft Games founder Daniel Menard told GamesBeat. “Before we worked on a Half-Life 2 mod called Eternal Silence.”

Eternal Silence is a very hardcore space-action game. Players took control of a space marine commander. The game depicted a battle between two giant capital ships. As the commander, players could fly in a smaller ship and dogfight with enemies and then even dock with the opposing craft to attempt to overtake the it on foot.

“That game was five years in development,” Menard said. “After that was done, I kinda wanted to make a smaller game with an easier art style. Something that didn’t require cutting-edge graphics.”

Three years later, Crankshaft is just about ready to release Party of Sin, the result of that change of pace. Menard was expecting things to go a little bit quicker than they actually did.

“It’s surprising how long these things take,” he said. “We went with the same structure as we did with the mod team. Mod teams tend to be people all over the world. You communicate through forums, and everyone agrees to work on certain stuff. Then everyone goes out and makes the art or works on the code or whatever.”

For Eternal Silence, Menard did all of the programming, but he was relying on a team of 16 people to come through with the rest of the work.

“That was the experience, and we did the same thing with Party of Sin,” Menard said. “We’ve met in person, but our art team is in Washington, D.C. Our sound guys are in California. We just use Skype and speak regularly.”

Menard explained that this structure is a double-edged sword. His small studio took advantage of talent located all over the world, but it’s difficult to get everyone on the same page.

Although, it appears that everyone was on enough of the same page to get the game prepared for release.

Menard and Crankshaft originally designed the game for Xbox 360. It has a single-console multiplayer experience that doesn’t make a lot of sense on PC, but it’s designed to take full advantage of Steam’s Big Picture Mode which brings controller functionality to browsing a game library on a PC. Unfortunately, the game does not support online multiplayer.

As new tools lead to the democratization of game development, and thriving marketplaces like Steam continue to accept more independent games, we’ll likely to see a lot more of these types of telecommunicating teams. Regardless of how Party of Sin performs in terms of sales or critical acclaim, it is at least proof that a group of loosely aligned, dedicated creators can produce something and sell it with a legitimate potential to earn an income.


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