'Awakened' In Development at Phosphor Games from Former Midway Chicago Members

By Steve Watts, Jan 28, 2011 1:30pm PST

When Midway went bankrupt, the team at Midway Chicago were forced to halt production on a super-powered title known as "Hero." Since then, a number of ex-developers from the windy city formed Phosphor Games, and began working on a new game that shares the original Hero vision: entitled Awakened. In a lengthy interview with Gamasutra, Phosphor head Chip Sineni has gone into detail regarding his new team's creation.

Hero was an open-world superhero game that began production in 2006, long before titles like Prototype and inFamous. The team had been working hard as rumors of closure circulated, and Sineni claims that "for the longest time everyone was in denial that Hero wouldn't get made, somehow."

Once Warner Bros. bought Midway's assets, the team was left with nothing. "We just totally started over," Sineni says. "We don't have any connection to the old codebase, story, assets, whatever. What we have is the very cool idea that create-a-player is this really awesome opportunity to change your character and your abilities to whatever you want them to be."

Phosphor started doing work-for-hire for Epic, and provided its services to Microsoft for Kinect Adventures while gathering capital for its own projects.

The concept of a D.I.Y. superhero game is usually reserved for MMORPGs like Champions Online or DC Universe Online. Awakened has a campaign single-player element, which gives Phosphor more freedom to play with the game balance. "We have a point system in; we're constantly refining what we're letting people do," Sineni says. "Maybe for the campaign mode, the first time you do it we want to make sure people are just having fun. Why not just let them do something and have fun with it?"

Senesi says the team wants to explore moral gray areas and deep customization features with Awakened, but the game is still early in the process. So early, in fact, that Phosphor wasn't planning on talking about it yet. The spread of "weird disinformation" prompted the team to start addressing it now, before they've even found a publisher.

Still, Phosphor feels confident that this is the right direction to take. "It's just really neat knowing we're going to do the things that we set out to do," he said. "It's just the right thing to do at this point and it's pretty clear."

Check out a 15 minute walkthrough of Midway's canceled "Hero" below and see the similarities between it and Awakened for yourself.

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