The Astronauts: ex-Bulletstorm devs no longer phased by ‘mammoth-sized’ games

By Dave Cook, Monday, 4 March 2013 12:19 GMT

The Astronauts, a new studio comprised of ex-People Can Fly developers has stated that it’s no longer phased by large games, and has opted to focus on smaller experiences. The team’s debut project, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter aims to revolutionise story-telling in games, despite its smaller stature.

Speaking with, The Astronaut’s co-owner and director Adrian Chmielarz explained that the triple-a market was no longer of interest to his team.

On the team’s goals Chmielarz stated, “It’s the same idea: get the best in business under one umbrella, have a studio with a very flat structure, be 100 per cent responsible for the glory and the shame, and work on games that get our hearts beat faster. One thing is different, though: we’re no longer excited by mammoth-sized games. We’re still very interested in high quality, but now and in the future we want to focus on smaller projects.”

However, Chmielarz was keen to make clear that this new-found shift in attention is not a reflection on his team’s collaboration with Epic Games, first on Bulletstorm, then on Gears of War: Judgment. It’s simply a natural progression, he suggested.

“Working with Epic was the best school of professional game development one can imagine, but we are simply fascinated by different things currently. We had a blast working on the foundation for Gears of War: Judgment, but after our part was done we just thought it’s time for us to go for, to quote Monty Python, ‘something completely different’. Quite literally, as the game we’re making is not a shooter.”

He’s not kidding either as The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is drastically different from the punch and heft of Bulletstorm. It casts players as a detective with psychic abilities that help them visualise crimes long after they’ve occurred. Along the way they will try to crack the case of a kidnapped boy.

“We think that video games are not all they can be” Chmielarz continued. “Actually, most of them are the same formula in a constantly updated skin. And that’s fine, but we think there’s room for more variety, for paradigms challenged and for the formulas reinvented. Ethan Carter is evolutionary, not revolutionary, but we still hope it’ll be one of the examples of a different kind of experience that video games can offer.”

Chmielarz closed in saying that if the game is a success then The Astronauts will carry on as usual. If it’s not, then the team may need to look to Kickstarter to fund whatever they decide to work on next.

What’s your take on Chmielarz and his team’s new direction? Let us know below.

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Adrian Chmielarz

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The Astronauts

The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter