Like many indie developers, TimeGate Studios' origins are humble. "We set up a card table and called it TimeGate. That was a little over 12 years ago," president and CEO Adel Chaveleh recalled during our recent meeting. "We knew the game we wanted before we knew how the hell to make a game," he added with a wide grin. That game was Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns
, which went on to earn an 87 Metacritic score
and a handful of awards.
Today, TimeGate isn't far from launching its first digital-only title, Section 8: Prejudice
-- the sequel to 2009's Section 8
-- and Chaveleh is noticeably excited about the prospects of the company's future in publishing.
"In the midst of a year, not only did we finish development of the whole sequel, but we've switched our whole business model, and we've built that internal publishing infrastructure," he beamed. "Now that we've got that pipeline established, we're looking at more content -- both internally, and we're starting to talk with some external developers, as well, about being a conduit for either their content or helping us develop content." Chaveleh wouldn't reveal any of these collaborators, but it's clear TimeGate understands that, whether physical or digital products, the publisher still holds all the cards.
That's not to say TimeGate has sworn off doing projects for larger, third-party publishers, like the F.E.A.R. Files
expansion it worked on in 2006 for Sierra (now part of Activision). "Definitely," Chaveleh quickly answered when I asked him if TimeGate would still be doing contracted work in light of its new publishing business. "We have a very big project that we're working on separately from [Section 8: Prejudice]
that has not been announced yet." He noted that the project is "playing to our team's strengths" and would be announced "this year" (most likely by its publisher -- you know, the one holding the cards).
In the meantime, Chaveleh and his studio are focused on the impending launch of Prejudice,
a downloadable shooter that he believes stands out from the multiplayer-centric competition. "The digital-only FPS games that we were looking at as our competition -- the Battlefield 1943s
and the Blacklights
and Monday Night Combats
-- they're all built from the ground up for this $14.99 price point. So when you look at the quality that you're getting, the amount of content, the whole experience -- they tend to be only multiplayer focused. You get a couple game modes and a couple maps, and that's your $15 package. What we're offering, just from a package and experience perspective, completely blows that out of the water."
Section 8: Prejudice
features several multiplayer modes with character customization options, as well as a "full" single-player campaign. The bit of the campaign I saw back in October
had its moments of corny dialogue, but the gameplay itself was fast and varied. TimeGate will test the competition when Section 8: Prejudice
is released in the next two months through Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and PC digital retailers.