Ex-Bungie dev's Morning Star promises to deliver a deep sci-fi shooter to touch screen devices

Shaped by the writing of the author of Old Man's War and developed by the studio started by the former head of Halo-creator Bungie, Morning Star is the latest game aiming to recreate the shooter for touch-screen devices.

"The idea is to re-imagine what a first-person shooter can be on mobile," Industrial Toys co-founder Tim Harris told Polygon. "None of this porting type of thing. Even though our team is a mix of console and mobile developers, and comic book artists and writers, the way we are approaching this is from the ground up for touch."

The original sci-fi shooter is based on fiction created by John Scalzi, author of Old Man's War and Redshirts.

Set 120 years in the future, the premise revolves around a plausible future Earth, one that has developed near space flight, but nothing much faster. The story opens with Earth discovering a signal from an alien life. This discovery kicks off something called the Morning Star protocol, an agreement that outlines what to do if alien intelligence is discovered. The research vessel MSRV-Joplin is outfitted with military weapons and sent to Saturn, where the signal is coming from, to explore.


"When they get there they find an artifact that dwarfs the Joplin," Harris said. "They board the artifact, discover it can support human life and then accidentally activate it.

"When we activate it a bunch of awful shit happens."

The ship and its small crew are transported across the cosmos to take part in an alien war and to try and undo what they accidentally kicked off.

While Harris declined to specify how the controls would work for the shooter in detail, he did say that it's an entirely new approach.

"We have completely forgone anything like virtual dual sticks," he said. "When we sat down and started talking about the controls we decided that the status quo seemed dissatisfying. You're essentially porting a paradigm over from consoles.

"You won't see any of that with our game. Touch, swipe, pinch, all of those are being incorporated into the control scheme in an interesting way."

This new approach makes players feel like they're a part of the mayhem and action of the game, he said, not like you're viewing it through a window.

Ultimately, this new design approach impacted all levels of design for the game, he added.

"The way the touch controls turned out cascaded into all of our design," he said, "the way we do enemies, guns, everything is flowing out to how we create a shooter."

Harris said they've discovered that the best way to show off their new control mechanics is to put the game in a person's hand, something they plan to start doing for press right after the holidays.

For now the big push is on the game's plot and the fiction of the universe.

"It's a collaboration between us and John," he said. "He's working with us hand-in-hand. He's creating all of the background and story leading up to the gameplay."

Industrial Toys plans to deliver the story in a way that will allow people to experience it quickly, if they're in a rush to play a bit, or dive deep into the world they've created.

Morning Star will be developed using Unreal Engine, the same technology that created Infinity Blade 2.

"With Morning Star, we're looking to change expectations for what kind of experience core gamers get from their mobile devices," said Industrial Toys CEO Alex Seropian. "We're breaking new ground on everything from the visuals to the story to the ongoing support we'll provide in the way of content, events and player involvement. It's gonna be nuts."

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