Summer shooter BlackLight: Tango Down features the Hyper Reality Visor - an advanced imaging system that uses augmented reality to deliver battlefield intelligence. Lead game designer Jared Gerritzen tells Kotaku about the real-life inspirations behind the game's tech.
BlackLight: Tango Down is more than a video game. Ignition Entertainment and developer Zombie Studios' futuristic first-person shooter for Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, and PC already has a feature film from Twentieth Century Fox and comic book series in the works.
Set 25 years in the future, Ignition describes the game as part Blade Runner and part Call of Duty. The player takes control of an elite covert ops team that is sent after missing American Colonel Klein and his BlackLight squad. The game will feature four single-player story missions with support for four-player co-op, 12 multiplayer maps, seven game types and "millions of weapons customization combinations."
One of the key tools in the game is the HVR - Hyper Reality Visor. As you can see in the trailer, it overlays information on the battlefield, acting as a sort of advanced heads-up display, transmitting intelligence in real time.
You'd think this sort of technology was inspired by cutting-edge military tech, and in part it was, but the impetus, according to lead game designer Jared Gerritzen, is much more down-to-earth.
"The birth of HRV wasn't 100 percent from military technology. The idea came from an iPhone application someone had in a bar," Gerritzen explains. " It pinpoints the location of the bars or restaurants in the area in real time. We spent the night using it and started to talk about how crazy it would be to connect to other people's phones, GPS devises, and satellite intelligence. It is kind of like tracking an enemy if they forgot to turn off the phones in their pocket. "
Taking existing technology and twisting it around is a theme in BlackLight: Tango Down. Gerritzen gives the example of protective tank armor used by military forces that explodes on contact from rocket-propelled grenades. The team took that tech, and strapped it to the player.
"It's weaponry that is in use, but not in the way intended. We have altered the current use to make it awesome. Hell, maybe next well strap bazookas to the player and make it into a rocket pack."
The end result of finding interesting new ways to use existing tech is a game that, while futuristic, is still firmly grounded in reality.
"We based the tech off of real life to keep the ideas focused. It was definitely a challenge not to go down the road of laser guns and force shields, but we are very happy with how it all turned out. "
BlackLight: Tango Down is due out this summer on Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, and PC.