Real-Time Strategy game developer Petroglyph Games have announced their newest endeavor, Grey Goo, a science- fiction game that will be designed with classic RTS elements as well as modern game design and tools. The developer will also be aided by award-winning special effects company Weta Workshop, whose credits include The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Grey Goo takes its rather unusual name from a real-world concept coined by engineer Eric Drexler in his 1986 book Engines of Creation. It is a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario in which out-of-control nanomachines replicate themselves at an exponential rate and thus consume all matter on the planet.
Although not much information about Grey Goo exists at this point, the game’s official website reveals that it will take place in the far future on Planet Nine, where three playable factions, the humans, Betas, and the Goo, fight for control of the planet’s resources. Petroglyph have emphasized that the game will focus on allowing the player to play strategically without having to be bogged down by micromanagement. The official website states: “By freeing players from having to issue hundreds of orders in a match, each decision is made more valuable and can mean the difference between victory and defeat.”
In an exclusive preview of the game, PC Gamer noted that “Grey Goo uses a simple tiered menu system. So you have a choice of producing buildings, light units, heavies, air—and once you key into that next submenu, you get a new set of options using the same keys. With practice, it becomes fast and effortless.” The game’s factions are also extremely varied in terms of gameplay, with the Betas employing artillery, outposts and heavy armor in a turtle-like fashion, while the Goo “play a Tetris-like expansion game of laying down conduit, planting new structures, and teleporting existing structures closer to the front line.” The diversity of the game’s factions brings to my Petroglyph’s first game, Universe at War, which also had three vastly different races to play as.
Perhaps most notably, however, is that Grey Goo’s artificial intelligence will be based on concepts from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, a branch of the United States Department of Defense responsible for designing advanced military technologies. This should make the game’s AI able to adapt to a player’s tactics, instead of running off predetermined scripts that a human player can identify and exploit.
Petroglyph’s staff contains numerous alumni from Command & Conquer developer Westwood Studios. Founded in 2003 when Electronic Arts assimilated the remnants of their studio into EA Los Angeles, Petroglyph developed titles such as Universe at War, and Star Wars: Empire at War. The studio recently faced difficulties when they were removed as developers of the now-canceled MMORTS game End of Nations and a Kickstarter campaign for their action-strategy game Victory failed to raise enough funds.
Grey Goo is being developed for the PC and will be released on the fall of 2014.