Control Time in Gemini: Heroes Reborn, Out Tomorrow on PS4

31 4
Control Time in Gemini: Heroes Reborn, Out Tomorrow on PS4

Hi! I’m Steve Bowler, lead designer on Gemini: Heroes Reborn. I’m here to share a few things about our game (which launches this week on PS4) and the way we designed it.

The Interface Should Be So Natural You Don’t Notice It

Gemini has what designers refer to as diegetic UI. Which means the game’s UI “has a reason to be displayed in the game world.” When we first started on the project, the fitness wearables market was heating up. So we did a prototype of what “Apple Glasses” might look like as the player’s main visual user interface.

I imagined SMS text bubbles as a way to cover subtitling, health apps running in the corner could monitor your vitals, etc. We wound up with something that is unobtrusive and effectively communicates the game data the player. It’s also cool how the player comes across the interface in-game. It’s natural and happens in a way that adds to the excitement of the moment when they’re sprung on you. It’s not every day we get to tie the UI into the game’s mechanics and narrative, so this was a really fun experiment.

It’s Like Portal + BioShock Infinite + Mirror’s Edge

You’ve seen Everything is a Remix, right? No one invents something 100% original, so when people ask what influenced design decisions, I like to be honest. We didn’t want to be a direct damage powers game. Be it guns, laser beams, breathing fire, etc. To stand out we had to not compete with other best-of-breed first-person combat games.

Environment Navigation: A Lighter Mirror’s Edge
We hate it when the player runs into one of those “I could easily get over this obstacle in real life” game-isms. And I’m not just talking about railings. If there’s a 6 foot high wall, any remotely athletic individual should be able to grab and pull themselves up. Our solution was to “look into” Mirror’s Edge (one of our favorites) to see how they were solving edge-finding for player navigation.

They used a no-mark-up system of ray and box traces to find real-world edges, and if the player pawn bumped into one in the correct way, the game would pull the player up. We mocked up a similar system and were scaling cargo containers and grabbing perilous ledges with our fingertips in no time!

Gemini: Heroes Reborn on PS4Gemini: Heroes Reborn on PS4

Time-shifting: Yes They’re Portals
To differentiate Gemini from other super power based games we use a Time Travel ability. When first-time players shift from the ruined Present location to the pristine Past, everyone gasps. It definitely leaves an impression. It also allows us to craft some neat puzzle elements that players probably haven’t experienced yet.

For example, making them go back in time to a point where a blocked door in the present was left open in the past. It also allows for a quick retreat when necessary. It forces players to think spatially, and temporally, similar to how people would play Portal. Stop. Think about where you want to go and how you would get there. Then execute the plan.

BioShock Hands; Elizabeth’s Tears
Every time our player’s hand comes up to do an ability, everyone likes to point out “So, BioShock, eh?” Yup! Look, BioShock didn’t invent waving the player character’s hand in front of the face, but they took it to new communication heights. So we leaned on what they started and went from there.

We also borrowed from BioShock Infinite. Our Time Scout ability lets you peek through time so you can “look before you leap.” Infinite has this with Elizabeth’s Tears. However, hers happen at an explicit point in a level and the narrative. Ours is a game mechanic that you could use however and whenever you want, not a narrative plot point. For example, follow a guard who is walking in the Past while you’re in the Present in order to time your jump.

Gemini: Heroes Reborn on PS4

No, You Can’t Use a Gun… On Purpose!

From day one we decided to make a conscious game design decision: the player can’t use a gun. Period. If you suddenly had amazing superpowers that allowed you to bend reality, stop time, catch bullets, and throw vending machine sized objects using your mind, you shouldn’t need to use a gun. They’re way beneath you on the power scale. And if you were an everyday college student like our character, could you even use one effectively?

This isn’t Our First Superheroes Rodeo

Our desire to have player intent and game mechanics (vs. Narrative) drive the minute-to-minute player choice is because of our pedigree. While at Midway games we worked on a project called Hero. After founding Phosphor Games we decided to try and recreate it as “Project Awakened.” It was a game about hero character customization and ability choices. As it turns out Tim Kring saw it and approached us to do Gemini as a result.

Comments are closed.


4 Author Replies

  • Well, consider my interested piqued. I thought this was going to be a 3rd person generic shooter. But the trailer looks cool. Hopefully this has a demo, or a cool price!

  • Look cool!

  • How much is this game gonna be? I really want this game

  • “Launches this week” means it will be in the store tomorrow, right? So what’s the harm in telling us the price, today, for that extra bit of planning? It’s always frustrating when new game announcements don’t include the price – it’s a relevant detail, and I’d like to know.

    That said, the trailer looks interesting, as does the description here. Any chance of a short demo, to see how well it all works together?

    • Hey there! Great question, as I don’t think the final price or date was locked down back when the trailer was created!

      Gemini is $14.99 on all platforms, and it should be out for PS4 tomorrow, Jan 26th!

  • So the show is now a game?

    • Not quite! Gemini is a side-story that takes place within the Heroes Universe. You don’t need to know a single thing about the TV series to understand what’s happening in Gemini. We start things off with all new characters having new stories and new adventures, so you don’t need to be a fan of the show coming in.

  • Even if the $15 will be $20 or $25 in Canada, it’s still an amazing price. I’ll get it for sure tomorrow. Was looking for something to play anyway, since “Until Dawn” is still $75 here and I’m not paying that much for a game that isn’t even that new anymore.
    Also, the new Heroes season has been a terrible disappointment. Kring apparently didn’t learn anything from the mistakes he made in the original series. Hopefully the game’s story will be better. :)

  • Hm, on it’s own this sounds pretty cool, you definitely seem to have had fun with it, I hope that communicates to something crafted lovingly and that we can expect at the very least smooth gameplay and mostly glitch free :p I hope people like it, I know I’m interested.

  • Is this a mobile port to PS4? I asked because the video and screenshots show quite a few low-res textures that are really close to the camera, and many of the models look quite chunky.

    I saw the Unreal logo in the trailer, so I would assume that LOD streaming for textures and models is present in the engine.

    I’m interested by the gameplay references, but not looking to drop more than $5 on a mobile port that takes no advantage of the PS4’s compute power, RAM size, or controls.

  • You can rest assured that this was developed specifically for Current Gen Consoles and PC, then! We made sure it feels great on the PS4’s controller and I promise you we are using all of the RAM and teraflops the PS4 has to offer!

  • I already got Gemini: Heroes Reborn on Steam. I’ll testify: it’s a blast. I can most definitely see myself getting it for my PS4 to get the trophies and enjoy the ride again.

  • I went to try and preorder this game, it isn’t on the playstation store at all

  • how is this related to the mobile game, Enigma? i haven’t bought it cause i wanted to see if it would come to consoles. they look similar but not the same.

    • Both Gemini (PS4) and Enigma (iOS/Android) are related to each other, in that both stories take place in the same facility, but at different times, and star different characters. We like to say that in Gemini, Cassandra starts in the Present, and explores her way down. In Enigma, Dahlia starts in the Past (at least OUR Past), and works her way up. Their paths cross each other, as they both have similar abilities, and you can see/play the points where they meet in both games! Their stories, because of the facility that they’re in, are intertwined.

      Gemini is more of an action adventure style game, where Enigma is a premium puzzle mobile game. Both are amazing! (I’m biased!)

  • This is what I’ve been waiting for! I’m a fan of games like Breakdown(Xbox), Mirrors Edge, and superhero games in general. I’m glad Tim Kring took interest to this. Your trailer sold me :)

  • Wow, never heard of the game but it just became my number one with a bullet…and it’s out tomorrow! Score! Thanks for the great information Steve, I love the fact that you’re addressing the obstacle issue that’s been bugging me for years. It’s a wall, climb it! Nice! You’ll have my $15 in 24 hours! Good luck with the launch and I hope it’s a great success for the team!

  • I’ve played about two hours of it on Steam and so far it’s pretty cool. It’s clearly a budget game, but the graphics are above average and the abilities are cool. Being able to time jump almost whenever you want is cool and although some “puzzles” only have one solution (at least in the beginning), there are definitely other opportunities that can be tackled in different ways.

    You definitely don’t need a be a fan of the show, but I am – and they waste no time making sure you know it’s the same universe by dropping the Renautus name in the first five minutes :)

  • appx how long is game?

  • I feel bad for Phosphor that this has the Heroes Reborn branding on it; a miniseries that disappointed everyone and that NBC announced they were not going to bring back BEFORE the game launched. Way to support the brand, NBC. :P

    Oh well, Gemini looks like it should be able to stand on it’s own quite a bit. Even though it’s not a “AAA” budget/schedule at play here.

    Still, the game looks surprisingly good, and has gotten surprisingly good reviews… plus Phosphor IS ex-Midway Chicago guys that worked on Psi-Ops (and Hero/Awakened looked amazing every time the studio showed it). It’s awesome that Tim Kring saw those videos too and that got you guys the job! I want to give this a try, for sure – backlog be damned!

    • Wait, Phosphor is the “Psi Ops” developers? Best game of the last, last generation and still proudly in my Xbox collection. Can’t wait for this game now even though never watched the show. I’m not one of those “licensed game snobs” there have been tons of great games based on existing properties I’ve loved, so I’m good to go!

    • I loved the show. Second best season of Heroes after Season One.

  • Picked this up on steam based on a review from Kotaku. Despite it’s tie in to the sub par show, this game actually is a LOT of fun and worth the money.

  • I cant find it on the psn store? Is there a release date yet? I live in EU. :)

    • I’m pretty sure it isn’t released (yet) for EU, which I’m upset about as its a game I REALLY want to play. I hope they can make a release for EU.

  • Is the game only released for US, because it’s not on the store and i’m EU (clearly).

  • Okay Steve, I gambled a stamp on Gemini: Heroes Reborn and I’m not disappointed in the slightest. Great game so far! Very entertaining and highly playable. Kudos to you and the talented gang at Phosphor! Thanks! Now back to the game…

  • This game looks great, just watched the Giant Bomb quicklook. Its a super funny game to mess with, looks best to play not seriously. Im totally buying it and i usually only go for physical releases only.

  • Why can’t I buy it in Germany?

Please enter your date of birth.