It's difficult to find a title that encapsulates the current zeitgeist of the games industry as much as Edge Case's Fractured Space.
The indie studio's debut release is a 5v5 MOBA-esque space combat title that has been developed in Steam's Early Access.
The game ticks all the modern buzzwords. Yet not everyone at the Guildford studio was confident with the ‘Early Access' bit.
Before we went on Early Access, some of the team were begging me not to do it. They thought it was going to be terrible – the game was not finished,” CEO James Brooksby says.
But I had a strong inclination that this was the right way to go. We are working with people playing your game to make it better. And now, every member of staff is coming to the work with one thing on their mind – that they have a good game and now they are making it better. That is so different from the way we used to do things. We used to come into work thinking that we had something good but not knowing whether it really was good or not.”
"The team thought releasing Fractured Space
on Early Access was a terrible idea."
James Brooksby, Edge Case Games
Edge Case was formed out of Born Ready – the team behind space combat game Strike Suit Zero – which in turn was founded by staff from Kuju's Double Six who performed an MBO.
Its debut game, Fractured Space, is part of the space combat genre, which was made famous in the 1990s via X-Wing vs TIE Fighter and Wing Commander. The sector now appears to be on the comeback trail: Fractured Space joins new titles like Frontier's Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen from Cloud Imperium.
Digital distribution has meant that some old genres have come back,” Brooksby explains. Tank simulators, like space simulators, like train simulators, like hardcore racing sims just vanished around the mid to late ‘90s. When we started Strike Suit Zero, we saw that the world was changing and we went: ‘okay, so space games are a niche, but we think we can do something reminiscent of X-Wing vs Tie Fighter, Wing Commander or Elite, and we can create that, within a reasonable budget'. We could do this with digital distribution; before we could not.”
As well as being a space combat title, Fractured Space is a MOBA. But with its sci-fi aesthetic and space dogfighting combat, it isn't like the giant MOBAs such as League of Legends and DOTA 2.
The MOBA market is really interesting. Part of it comes back to what a MOBA is,” he explains. The people doing League and DOTA clones with a different skin have found it really tough because people playing League may only play League. You'll be lucky to drag them away to a new MOBA.
But the MOBA genre has a long, long way to go and lots of legs. The key with Fractured Space is we always looked at a whole bunch of different games. Is it a copy of League set in space? No, it is not.
We've described Fractured Space as a MOBA, because what that does is tell people what the game isn't. We're saying it isn't trying to be Elite or Wing Commander, it's something different. MOBA is going to be far more broad. If you had said MOBA a few years ago there's only a few games you'd have thought of.
We – and other studios – are expanding what games can have the MOBA moniker.”