Award-winning development studio Unit 2 Games recently announced that Crayta, its collaborative game creation and publishing platform, will launch in summer 2020 as a First on Stadia title – and have followed up that news with word of tie-in comic, Crayta: Sunset, written by Dan Abnett with principal art from Gustaffo Vargas, alongside Mark Harrison, Emma Vieceli, Valentine De Landro and Paulina Ganuchea. Neil Roberts will provide covers.
Issue one of Crayta: Sunset will be available shortly after launch of the game this summer, and the company will be releasing new issues monthly of the six-issue title until the end of the year.
Just like the game itself, it’s suitable for a teen audience and above.
“You’re probably wondering why something that’s essentially a game development platform needs a metastory,” note the team on Medium. “You’d be right to ask but we’ve long been passionate about making the creative process of making games into a game itself. It shouldn’t be a hard and complicated slog — it should be fun! So since the start of Crayta’s development, we wanted to make it feel like you were part of something bigger (and you are!). That’s why we’ve included elements like the Hub world and the fact that you customise your avatar which travels between games, rather than you as a player entering a game and inhabiting a new character each time.
“There’ll be more of that to come, but we know that while some of you may well be happy to just come into Crayta, create or play a load of games, and get involved that way, there’ll also be some of you who like to feel part of a broader endeavour, and that’s where the comic adds some context.”
Over the course of the first six-issue run, the comic will be delving into the fictional backstory that led to Crayta’s existence. It’s something of a scene-setter that looks at why a platform for creative expression becomes a critical part of humanity’s drive for individuality and distinctiveness. The first story is a near-future sci-fi tech thriller set on an Earth that’s governed by a benevolent AI known as gAIa.
“We wanted to avoid a lot of the standard clichés, so this isn’t about a struggle against a cruel cybernetic overlord,” say the team, “it’s all about people discovering that the utopian world they built is not as perfect as they thought, because of a few inherent flaws that are now beyond their capacity to repair, unless they can all come together…
“We’re also really proud of the fact that the comic features a diverse ensemble cast — each character has their own storyline before they’re pulled together in an exciting climax to this initial run. We especially love Nuna, a Peruvian ex-AI designer who is the foremost character driving the story.
“Right from the start, we wanted to make sure that we approached the creation of the comic seriously – we weren’t interested in just producing a flimsy marketing tool with no real substance. So we’ve partnered with a good friend of mine, the best-selling author and award-winning comic writer Dan Abnett, to help us craft the story. Over many years at the top flight of comics, Dan’s written for Marvel, DC, 2000AD and a host of other publishers so he really knows what he’s doing!
“But Crayta is all about showcasing diverse voices and experiences so we also worked with a band of five incredibly talented artists from around the world to create the look of the comic too. Principal artist Gustaffo Vargas created an amazing world that’s a great blend of traditional, modern and futuristic.”
Gustaffo Vargas, a Peruvian comic artist and writer based in Edinburgh, will need no introduction to longtime downthetubes readers, as we have been extolling his work for a while. Since 2017, he’s been self- publishing his Peruvian cyberpunk comics, TRUJILLO, L1MA and MANU and the latter won the “2019 Best UK Independent Comic of the Year”.
“We wanted the overall universe to feel realistic, in that the addition of technology to any world just appends the existing fabric – it doesn’t completely re-invent it in a high-concept and sci-fi way.
“The other four artists each take their own distinctive style to reflect the different elements of the story and the various real life and VR locations and environments. We love the way the styles vary throughout the series and give a different feel to various parts of the story, and we were thrilled to get such an impressive array of artistic talent on the project.”
Crayta the game will be available for free in Stadia Pro and allow players to create and play multiplayer games across TVs, laptops, desktops, and select tablets and phones. Novice players can create and publish simple multiplayer games in a matter of minutes without the need to code or use other specialised skills, while more advanced developers can create complex games limited only by their imagination. Creators will also have the potential to earn money within Crayta from day one, initially via a monthly prize fund.
Unit 2 Games Publishing Director, Chris Swan, is excited to see what the indie development community can do with Crayta’s power: “Our Indie Fund developers were amazingly creative and have crafted some fantastic games already, so we can’t wait to see what the rest of the indie community will do with the tools.”
Richard Smithies, Unit 2 Games CEO, agrees: “Truly democratising game creation and consumption for the mass market has been the founding principle of our studio. The rapid growth of cloud gaming further strengthens that ability so we’re delighted to partner with Stadia to bring this vision to life.”
• Check out the new Crayta comics at crayta.com/comic
• if you’d like to see a few more sneak peeks at some of the artwork for Crayta: Sunset then head over to the newly-launched Instagram channel here
• Unit 2 will also be sharing a fantastic interview they had with Dan and Gustaffo over on our YouTube channel this Wednesday (10th June 2020)
CRAYTA: SUNSET – THE TEAM
Writer Dan Abnett is a multiple New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning comic book writer. He has written over fifty novels, including the acclaimed Gaunt’s Ghosts series, the Inquisitor Eisenhorn Cycle, and volumes of the million-selling Horus Heresy series. His many other novels include The Silent Stars Go By (Doctor Who), Rocket Raccoon and Groot: Steal the Galaxy, Triumff, and Embedded.
In comics, his 2008 run on The Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel formed the inspiration for the blockbuster movies. He is also noted for significant work on DC’s Legion of Superheroes, Justice League and Aquaman and, for the Vertigo imprint, The New Deadwardians. A regular contributor to the UK’s long-running 2000AD, he is the creator of series including Brink, Grey Area, Feral and Foe, Lawless, Kingdom and the classic Sinister Dexter. He has also written extensively for the games industry, including Shadow of Mordor and Alien:Isolation.
Follow Dan on Instagram: @dabnett
Principal Artist Gustaffo Vargas is a Peruvian comic artist and writer based in Edinburgh, UK. Since 2017 he’s been self- publishing his Peruvian Cyberpunk comics: TRUJILLO, L1MA & MANU. MANU won the ‘2019 Best UK Independent Comic of the Year’. He has also created sequential art for UK independent publishers such as Accent UK, Madius Comics, Future Quake Press, Time Bomb Comics and in Peru for In Planet Stereo and Carboncito.
Artist Mark Harrison is a British comic book artist and occasional writer. The bulk of his work has appeared in the magazine 2000AD, but he also worked for Marvel UK, providing covers for Overkill.
• Find him online at www.2000ad.org/markus
Artist: Valentine De Landro is a Canadian comic book artist, illustrator, and designer. His credits include titles from Marvel, DC Comics, IDW, Valiant, and Dark Horse. He’s known for Marvel Knights: 4 and X-Factor. He is the co-creator of BITCH PLANET with Kelly Sue DeConnick.
Artist Paulina Ganucheau is a comic artist and illustrator based in Virginia. She graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in sequential art.
She is the co-creator of Zodiac Starforce and Another Castle.
From self-publishing to some of the biggest book publishers in the world, artist Emma Vieceli loves telling stories with pictures and believes that comics should be “For anyone, About anything, By anyone”.
Currently the writer for Life is Strange (Titan Comics), she is perhaps better known as an artist, and her recent work includes Olivia Twist (Dark Horse), Alex Rider (Walker books), The Adventures of Supergirl (DC comics), Doctor Who (Titan comics)andBack To The Future (IDW). She also co-creates the critically acclaimed independent series, BREAKS, with Malin Ryden (collected editions published through Soaring Penguin), with Vieceli co-writing and ‘comicking’ (art/tone/letters).
Outside of comics, she worked on the A&E television series, Bates Motel, providing the sketchbook found by Norman Bates, and as an artist with tinyrebel on their Doctor Who Infinity games.
Simon Bowland is a comics letterer who has worked extensively for 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine, on literally hundreds of stories. He has also worked a lot for American companies including Marvel and Dynamite.