When NME was duly invited to make their way to Edinburgh to get a first look at Build A Rocket Boy’s mysterious Everywhere, it wasn’t entirely clear what we were going to see.
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I think it’s fair to say the only thing we were expecting was an entirely secret second game, tucked away within Everywhere and designed to function as a showcase of what Everywhere can do, and it’s a heavily narrative-focused experience, a third-person action game jammed full of shooting and driving that wouldn’t look out of place amongst the titles game director Leslie Benzies produced during his tenure at Rockstar.
We don’t actually get to see too much of the shooting or the driving, and instead we were just shown a teaser and allowed to see behind the curtain a little bit at some of the production. MindsEye, we’re told, is something that anyone could have created using Everywhere with the powerful editing tools contained within, but within minutes of our tour it becomes clear that this isn’t strictly the truth: enthusiast game developers will no doubt make some amazing things using Everywhere, but very few have a motion capture stage in their shed or the ability to draft in a series of actors for performances or a composer to create new music.
However, viewed as the idealised representation of what Everywhere can create, it’s hard not to be excited by both MindsEye, which looks like a high fidelity version of the exact type of third-person shooter that used to be so common in console generations gone by and I now find myself constantly screaming out for.
MindsEye is clearly aimed at becoming the thing that demonstrates the sheer power of Everywhere and – if we’re being honest – could be the key to its success. As a result, it’s kind of confusing about why MindsEye is the secondary announcement, the one more thing tacked onto the end of a user-generated content platform like Everywhere that really needs to be able to show what it can do to convince people to invest their time and energy.
As it is, even after looking at some very impressive production pipelines and watching a longer cutscene as your character befriends a weird scientist and tries to get a handle on a mystery that’s still mostly obfuscated for the journalists in the room, it feels like this could just be the main event: something that could galvanise people and get them to try Everywhere for themselves.
Tethered to this is the promise that while your cosmetics and items from within Everywhere can’t make the trip into MindsEye, everything from MindsEye will be able to be used by anyone while editing in Everywhere and playing through the game will deliver unique rewards for players, too.
That’s nearly all we know about it. While the BARB team shied away from discussing Everywhere’s monetising, it’s easy to see that this is the premium part of the experience. You pay for the game, you inadvertently also buy in to the free editor. It makes a lot of sense and depending on the price will probably draw in a lot of people curious to see what Benzies and the team at BARB can come up.
While talking us through the entire Everywhere / MindsEye package, Benzies gleefully explained that while Everywhere was a platform that was being made for the audience, MindsEye was being made for the team at BARB. One for the players, one for the developers.
While there’s no real world on the overall story, Benzies also revealed that BARB is looking to develop several different titles, each of which that will feel distinctly different in terms of setting, time period and place even as they feed into one continual overarching story. Through this lens, perhaps MindsEye fits best as a vignette, a taster of the sort of worlds BARB want to create and a way to drop new content in for Everywhere players who want to design in specific worlds: the near-future sci-fi world of MindsEye will create a framework for players to develop their own areas, but it’s hard not to see new settings that could go for ever more outlandish settings, a AAA experience that drops in fascinating content for the more dedicated Everywhere players to use in now in interesting ways.
Of course, The reason for the jumping around in terms of settings and storylines could actually be a lot simpler: “We don’t want to become a sequel company,” says Benzies during a question and answer session at the end of the studio-based event. Later he hints that there are a bunch of episodes planned already and that they know what they want to do, but Benzies steers away from any specifics.
Although it’s early days, MindsEye feels like the best possible advertisement for Everywhere. Which is what makes it so confusing that the team at BARB seem the least ready to talk about this. Mindseye supposedly has a star composer behind the scenes, but the team aren’t yet ready to discuss who that is, and while there is shooting and driving, it’s impossible to glean any information about the game at this early stage.
Perhaps this lack of information is why in the time since I’ve left the studio I’ve put so much thought into what it might actually look like.