Neil Wiser, President & Founder
January 19, 2003
Evolvers: A well selected name for what could constitute an entirely new
perspective on massively multiplayer gaming. For years there have been
videogames that have attempted to mimic the look and feel of Hollywood:
vampire slayers, star trekkers, bounty hunters slews of voice actors
trying to mimic other people in the name of a good videogame. Its
amazing how rarely they succeed. Similarly, there are times when
storylines built with the controls of a console or played out on the
screen of the PC are used to produce a feature film. Resident Evil.
Evolvers (tentatively due for release in 2004), from UltraPrime Network,
aims to leave all that behind, and boldly go if youll excuse the
cliché where no game has gone before. The Evolvers seeks to blend two
medias into a single form--not just two separate entities with similar
settings and characters, but a TV series and a massively multiplayer RPG
that act together to help mold and shape both to a common goal. Imagine,
as a player, helping to determine the outcome of The Next Generations
finale in 1994. Imagine helping decide if the Borg invasion of
Federation space was successfully repelled. For the first time,
UltraPrime hopes to offer gamers the opportunity to materially influence
the outcome and plot of an ongoing TV series through a perpetually
living online world. Neal Wiser, the president and founder of UltraPrime
Network, was kind enough to sit down with us and answer a few questions
about the project.
GamesFirst!: What a great concept. Knowing that the plans are still
in the works, and constantly evolving, what style of game is Evolvers
going to be? Is it FPS? Real time strategy?
Wiser: The Evolvers is primarily going to be an RPG, although were
hoping to incorporate some FPS options into the mix. Whatever the final
form is, were just hoping that we can offer the most exciting,
entertaining and compelling game possible. If it isnt fun, whats the
GF!: The Evolvers aims to utilize both the TV and the computer to
more involve the players. Will the television show serve as simply a
window into the Evolvers world, or will it also be used as part of the
gameplay itself (such as calling players together for mass battles, or
organizing various invasions)?
Neal Wiser: All of the above. While the game is the center of the
whole franchise, the TV series is indeed a window into that universe,
and were going to make use of it. However, its not just going to be
used for battles. Weve got other things in mind.
GF!: You have quite an impressive list of credentials associated with
the project from Farscape to Star Trek TNG. How much influence will
the game designers have on the look and feel of the TV aspects of the
series, and visa-versa? Basically, will the TV dictate how the game
behaves, or the other way around?
Wiser: Were actually going to have a joint design period which will
focus on the franchise as a whole, not just the game or the TV series.
This is not only going to save us money, which is a good thing, but help
to ensure a unified experience across platforms. Were also going to
have two writing staffs, one each for the game and the series, but
theyre going to work closely together to coordinate the stories between
platforms. However, the writers will mostly focus on their areas of
expertise because the required skill sets involved, although similar,
are actually very different due to the differences in the mediums. In
the end though, both platforms will influence the other.
GF!: If you were forced to choose, would you say that Evolvers is
more of a TV show with an interactive gaming element, or a game with its
own TV show? Is the game going to drive what happens in the TV series,
or are events in the TV series going to be driving what the players find
themselves doing in the game?
Wiser: Actually, The Evolvers is a fully unified entertainment
franchise. Although the game is the core of the franchises universe,
both the game and the TV series exist in their own right. So its kind
of the chicken or the egg scenario because they both will affect and
drive the other. However, there will probably be things that players
will understand better than the viewers because theyre living the game
and participating in creating the events, but the viewers wont get
GF!: There is very little released information out there about the
exact form the Evolvers TV series is going to take (its a very
competitive world). Can you give us any hints as to what to expect? Will
we see fictional characters acting out the events that took place
online? News broadcasts with sports-like commentary? Actual clips of
Neal Wiser: A lot of that is a closely held secret. What I can say is
that the TV show is going to look "normal", but what happens wont be.
GF!: Will people be able to play the game without watching the TV and
have it still make sense to them? And vice-versa; will people be able to
enjoy the TV series without actually playing the game? Or are they
pretty co-dependent on one another?
Wiser: Like I said earlier, the TV series is a window into the
franchises universe. As such it will often reflect whats happening in
the game, but its not mandatory to watch it in order to follow the
game. Nor it is necessary to play the game to understand the show.
However, there will be times when watching the show will help the
players perform certain tasks in the game. Regardless of how you do it,
both the game and the TV series exist in their own right.
GF!: Many massively multiplayer games focus on freedom, emphasizing
the players ability to behave however they like, and do as they will.
Will Evolvers be similar in that regard, or will there be more
structured goals that help make it easier to integrate into an
interesting TV series? (ie. Giving the player the option to attack base
A or base B, as opposed to the option of getting a job in the city
making deerskin underpants or joining the military.)
Wiser: Our job is to create an environment where the player can
experience the franchises universe in the manner of their choosing, so
they will have considerable freedom to get involved as much or as little
as they like. They will have the option of getting involved in missions
and performing other tasks, but Im not going to make that mandatory.
GF!: I appreciate your taking time to talk to us. The Evolvers is a
very interesting project that well be watching for come its projected
2004 launch date. As a final question, is there anything you havent had
a chance to discuss that you want to brag about? To you, whats the
coolest thing going on with the project as it stands now?
Wiser: The coolest thing is how well both the setting and the story
compliment each other and allows the game to work with the TV series. As
I was developing the various elements of the franchise, everything just
seemed to fit, and that was very exciting. After all the hard work, its
very rewarding to see how everything clicks.
The Evolvers is due for release in
2004, with the developer yet to be determined. For updates on the
developer selection process, beta testing, and other news, be sure to
the check out UltraPrimes web site at
and of course, keep reading GamesFirst!.