Spearhead Games, a small indie studio based out of Montreal, has just kicked off the Early Access period for their upcoming ‘MOSA’ known as ACE or, Arena: Cyber Evolution. ACE pits players against one another in physics-based 3-vs-3 cyber soccer battles, where each player can choose to play as one of several specialized characters. Think air-hokey meets Tron’s Disc Wars, in a team environment.
So just what is a MOSA? According to Google, a tile manufacturing company, but for Spearhead it describes the Multiplayer Online Sport Arena genre of which ACE is the only inhabitant. We actually covered ACE at this year’s Pax East, back when the game was known as Project Cyber. The game has since undergone a huge number of changes, with the developers streaming the entire process and taking feedback from the community along the way.
Making a popular MOBA, even one which departs from the traditional combat oriented formula, is certainly difficult right now and Spearhead seems to know this. Simon Darveau, Spearhead’s co-founder put it bluntly stating, “building a legitimate e-sport – especially when the market is as MOBA-saturated as it is right now – is an ambitious endeavor.” It’s for this reason he says the team has made their development process 100% transparent, “we’ve streamed our design meetings on Twitch every day since we began, and that open feedback loop has ensured that the game we are building is something that gamers want.”
The end result is an Alpha which features five cyberpunk superheroes and dynamic arena-changing shifts – giving way to earthquakes, gravity reversals, black holes, arena rifts and other hazardous traps. Interestingly, Spearhead eventually intends for these elements to be directly controlled by viewers spectating the match.
Players can already download the Alpha for free through Steam Early access and can choose to support the developers by purchasing non-obligatory DLC content. Depending on how much players contribute, Spearhead has outlined several tiered stretch goals, including ranked play, dedicated servers and eventually, an international tournament.
Spearhead has even made it a point to mention all character implant upgrades found in-game can only be purchased with a special “Cyberbux” currency, earned exclusively through leveling and completing missions.