Back in 2005, our team was an online group of hobbyist developers under the company name, Phoenix Concepts. We began with a project called X-Shift, a cyber-noir MMO. While we worked tirelessly, having no funding and no experience ultimately wore the project too thin.
In 2009, the imagery and design of X-Shift caught the attention of a European investor. They approached us with an offer to purchase our company and fund the project. We gathered together the old team and reformed ourselves under the new company name, Pillar 4 Entertainment.
Working as consultants and freelance developers for our investor for more than a year, we built 3d cities and promotional demos for them which landed them millions in investments at conferences all over the world. Their company would later become Idea Fabrik, owners of the MMO engine, Hero Engine. Still, they never gave the green light to X-Shift and dodged questions as to the purchase of our IP.
In late 2010, we had a final, falling out with Idea Fabrik. The loss was sudden and unexpected, leaving our team in shambles. Foreclosures, evictions, repossessions and bankruptcy poured in.
Refusing to give up, we restructured ourselves into a software development company and began taking on contract jobs. We have designed and built software for several companies on platforms such as iOS, Facebook and webplayers, as well as standalone PC/Mac programs. This experience has helped us build a solid structure and pipeline for our team, though it barely keeps the lights on.
Pillar 4 was also in line to develop the new online game Total Recall, based on the upcoming movie reboot. We were ultimately beat out, however, by the Chinese developer, ZQGames who were able to produce it for less.
Our team consists of professionals from all branches of the software industry. Our members have done development work for government agencies, including the Department of Defense and Eduction. They have done programming for telecommunication companies and have been the sole contributor to two crypto-software patents. Our artists include graduates from Full Sail and Pratt Universities with multiple degrees in computer art and animation. They have done internships at Marvel comics and have won several awards for their work.
We have developed two in-house titles between contracts, including Starfall: Frontier, for Facebook and Kongregate. This game was essentially a glorified, multiplayer game of Battleship in space, and is currently offline. Our other title was Starfall: Aphelion Squadron, developed in a single week for the “Flash in a Flash” contest, and is available to play for free on our website.
We have been working to stabilize ourselves, all the while, keeping X-Shift on the shelf; undeveloped, but serving as a constant reminder of why we’re here.
Now, with the planets aligning and trends shifting, we are, once again, looking back to X-Shift.
Our plan is to seek a first wave of funding on Kickstarter. This funding will be used to develop a tech demo for the game. We will use all of our support there to build a presentation and send a message to other investors that our target market is strong, active, and committed.
We have not yet posted on Kickstarter. For now, we are simply looking to stir up some attention for the project and get an idea of the level of support we can expect. Please use this thread to pose any suggestions, questions or other feedback you have.
See below for information on the game itself, and thank you in advance.
X-Shift is an online experience that seeks to break ground in several areas. First, it is not being called an MMORPG.
Is it Massively Multiplayer?
Is it Online?
Is it a Roleplaying Game?
Yes and no. In X-Shift, you will take on the role of a character of your own design. The part of this that prevents us from using the term, however, is “game”. A game implies restrictions, an objective, winners and losers.
X-Shift is not a sport. You will not be running back and forth across a map, racing other players to objectives, killing 50 orcs or collecting 36 flowers to complete a quest and grind to “end-game” as quickly as possible.
We believe that the worlds of online games have focused too much on creating heroes. These worlds are massive, yet cater to every individual, leading them to believe that they alone will be the greatest champion in it. In the midst of this, we forget the world.
The main character of X-Shift is the world in which it exists; Heliex, an enormous city of a dystopian future. Organized crime runs rampant, technology has saturated society, and corporations and information rule the world. When it’s not raining, heavy fog clouds the streets and steam rises from the gutters. Nothing is printed or painted anymore. Everything is neon and projected holograms, carving hazy contrast against the shadows of towering skyscrapers.
Explore miles of urban streets, from the glitz and highbrow corruption of Uptown to the seedy underbelly of Downtown. Visit the perilous docks, the Subterranean Housing Projects or the government-condemned Underwater Suburb. Beneath the streets runs the subway transit as well as the sewer system, now populated with poisonous vermin. Or, if you’re bold enough, explore the abandoned freeway on the outskirts of town, now overrun with wild beasts and mutations from the wilderness.
You are a citizen of Heliex and your life is in your own hands. You can become a private detective, corporate CEO, crime lord, computer hacker, famous musician or artist, or nearly anything else you can imagine. Customize your apartment to suit your style, then rent a storefront and operate your own business. Visit the dozen different dance clubs and bars, attend concerts or watch the deadly new game of the future “FUSE” in the Midtown Arena.
MMOVIE stands for Massive Multiplayer Online Virtual Interactive Experience. This is the best description possible for this type of “game”. X-Shift is a world that we will have built for you to live in. It is not a collection of mini-stories, played out by every individual who enters. X-Shift is a world in which you create your own story.
We’ve all heard the term “cyberpunk”. It’s an overused phrase that is used to blanket all futuristic, urban genres. (Tank Girl is cyberpunk? Really?) This image typically comes complete with flying cars, facial tattoos and plastic clothing. While we originally labeled X-Shift in this category, it never sat well with me. This is why we moved to the sub-genre, cyber-noir.
X-Shift takes the world of grayscale private detectives, subtle saxophone music and thought-provoking, voice over monologue and pulls it into a dark, high-tech future. We are looking to infuse a broader scale of emotions into our worlds. Moving away from pride vs. frustration, X-Shift will harness the subtle emotions of its players. It will pull you in, make you think and make you feel.
X-Shift does not only exist inside the game world. It also does not cease to exist when you logout for the night. The corporations you see in the city will have their own websites and social media pages. If you’re a hacker looking for information or a way into the databases of a corporate giant, search their website. Find contact information and make friends with one of their employees. It may be easier to get passwords and credentials from them than it is from their secured network.
This is not a boxed environment. X-Shift is being designed to saturate the real world, blurring the lines between the two and giving you the true experience of another life.
For more information on X-Shift, please visit our webpage
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