After leaving BioWare in 2017, former Mass Effect senior gameplay designer Manveer Heir said he wasn’t getting out of game design entirely, but that he wanted to focus on new types of stories–ones that focused on diverse voices. Earlier this month, with a Medium blog post, Heir revealed what he has been working on: an indie studio called Brass Lion Entertainment. The team’s first project is Corner Wolves, a narrative-focused game set in 1990s Harlem. In an interview with Game Informer, Heir spoke on further details about the game.
“We definitely want to get that authenticity,” Heir told Game Informer. “It allows us to write a lot of different characters from lots of different backgrounds so we can have lots of different lenses on the same problem, to let the player kind of choose what angle they like to approach things from or what their thought processes on how to solve these issues [are].”
Today, we are excited to officially announce Brass Lion Entertainment, a studio focused on making games, film, TV, and other media from a diverse, inclusive perspective. Our first universe, @CornerWolves, is featured in the Dec 2019 issue of Game Informer.https://t.co/1TxAcniR9M
— Brass Lion Entertainment (@brasslionent) November 5, 2019
In Corner Wolves, you play as Jacinte, an Afro-Latina woman who works in her father’s bodega–only to arrive at the store one day to find him murdered. She decides to find out who his murderer is and discover the motives behind his death. Jacinte is intelligent, so you can talk your way out of most of the problems you’ll encounter in-game, but she can brawl in melee-based combat if needed. However, because of her race and economic status, you will have to learn how to handle certain people and how to adjust your vocabulary when encountering others.
“What I think you do is create the systems in a way that supports your thesis, that supports the themes and motifs of the game, of the story,” Heir said. “And then you make sure that it is embedded in all the different systems of the game. If you think how racism works in the real world, it’s embedded in all of our real systems. It’s embedded in the school system already. It’s embedded in the policing already. It’s embedded in job applications already.”
“I think that higher-level point of view, and that control [players] don’t have–I think that’s what I want people to experience,” he continued. “You don’t always get to be the hero in our world because literally the rest of the world doesn’t let you.”
Brass Lion was co-founded between Heir, former Sleeping Dogs project manager Bryna Dabby Smith, and former Bethesda environmental artist Rashad Redic. Whereas Smith is primarily handling the business side of things, Redic is building Corner Wolves’ in-game world–one that will feature an anime-inspired look. DJ and Jay-Z producer Just Blaze has signed a contract with Brass Lion to help design Corner Wolves’ musical tone and “Rise of the Black Panther” writer Evan Narcisse is penning the game’s story.
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Author: Jordan Ramée