Books are one of humanity's oldest storytelling mediums and video games one of our newest. Matt Thomas, CEO of Storytellers Entertainment, wants to merge the two in his epic series, Imperium Omni.
The first volume in the four-part series is available in bookstores and Thomas is preparing to launch a Kickstarter for the video game at noon Monday, Jan. 28 to raise $25,000 to finalize the first serialized chapter of this edition.
"The book and the game are one and the same," Thomas explained, adding the books could actually be seen as a detailed walk-through of the video game.
"It's a full story told in four books and four games," Thomas continued. "It's not serialized like other games. Imperium Omni is a single storyline told through four books."
It's a classic fantasy RPG
For the retro gaming fan, Imperium Omni is a map-based game. Modern gaming is known for repetitive open-world exploration, whereas Storytellers Entertainment want to introduce a new style of gaming. Real adventurers would not only rely heavily on maps, but they would share them, and maps themselves would become valuable.
Thomas described the story as inspired by classic fantasy work Lord of the Rings and tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons.
The game is set in Aeris Pri, a fictional world where Elves, Humans and other races coexist. Born to a Human father and Elven mother, the games hero, Shadow, sets off from Explorer’s School on an adventure. After stumbling upon the remnants of an infamous group of explorers, The Changers, Shadow joins the group and their quest to discover a terrible artifact with extraordinary power has come back to haunt them. Or, is this new Eastern King unrelated to the demon Raunos who originally brought the artifact with him from an ancient world?
The game and novel start with Shadow, a half-Elf from the Kingdom of Sashire graduating from The Explorer’s Academy who sets out on a series of military campaigns rising through the ranks until at last challenging Empress Illissa, the powerful protagonist in the series.
The story then follows the characters' adventures over the next 30 years.
The players' goal in the game is to move all the way from the lowest ranked character to eventually be crowned Emperor or Empress of the world, taking that honored spot from the current Empress.
"It's like no other video game that I know," Thomas said.
They used Bryce?
Another way Imperium Omni stands out is that Head Artist Bill Munns, an award-winning Hollywood SFX expert, uses Bryce 3D to create the art for the game.
Bryce is mostly known for creating fractals and landscapes but for Munns it can be used for anything, including most of the renders in Imperium Omni.
"All of it is done in Bryce," Thomas said, "except the 3D combat it's done in Unreal4."
When Munns started with computer graphics in 1997, Bryce 3D was the latest and greatest so he picked it up and developed a fast affinity for the program.
"Most think of it as a landscape generator but I found it had professional-level capabilities," Munns said. He loved it so much, he scheduled a meeting with the Bryce CEO just to tell him how much he loved the software. At the meeting, he offered to create an ad campaign based on the 7 Wonders of the World with Bryce as the eighth wonder.
When Thomas saw the render of the Hanging Tower of Babylon at night, he knew he was looking at something special. And that was in 2017, 20 years after the first campaign and 13 years after the program was bought by DAZ 3D.
Back in 1997, when Munns was creating the images for the campaign, he said he discovered a new technique for creating 3D graphics.
Usually, games are based on low-poly surfaces with detailed maps. Instead, Munns used Bryce to create texture maps.
"The textures it can make are nothing short of amazing," Munns said.
Then the textures are mapped on low-poly primitives to create rich and complex renders.
Munns said each scene starts with Thomas, who gives him a sketch, like a map or character. Then Munns recreates it in Bryce.
For example, Thomas sent Munns a simple drawing of the alchemist in the trailer (see video above). Munns took the picture and animated the light to bring it to life.
"The feeling of this being a real world is overpowering. I've never seen anyone in the industry doing it," Munns said. "We are definitely looking to push the envelope in storytelling and in how artwork is created."
After the Kickstarter is completed, Thomas said they plan to release updates to the storyline every 18 months.
"If you think of it that way, it's going to be six years of consistent releases in 24-36 episodes," he explained.
After its introduction on PC, the fantasy retro game will be launched on two major consoles, PS4 and Xbox, before being released on mobile devices.
The Storytellers Entertainment team have commenced the first series - Imperium Omni: Captain’s Edition. The novel is available now for immediate download on Amazon here.