Poland-based studio Hypnotic Ants will develop the game John Carter: Warlord Of Mars. It will be based on the transmedia franchise originally created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912. It will be the first licensed video game based on the highly influential science fiction series, which has spanned multiple media formats, from print to film and beyond, for over a century.
The studio, led by veterans from The Witcher series and Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2, will work with creative director Louis Savy of SCI-FI-LONDON. Savy spoke on our Beyond Games Futureworld panel in May about the future of interactive entertainment, and at Pocket Gamer Connects in July on science fiction predicting the metaverse.
John Carter, originally a planet-hopping American Civil War veteran, first appears in the novel A Princess Of Mars. He is transported to the red planet and becomes entangled in the disagreements of warring political factions. Combining elements of science fiction, fantasy and westerns, the novel and its ten sequels have been cited as an inspiration by leading 20th-century sci-fi authors such as Ray Bradbury and Frederick Pohl. Burroughs’ legacy is evident in blockbuster films from Flash Gordon to Star Wars and Avatar.
Science fiction on the big screen
Beyond Burroughs’ own works, the character of John Carter went on to appear in numerous comic strips from the 1930s onwards, as well as many other works of fiction, and even a Disney film in 2012, his centennial year – to date one of the most expensive films ever made.
While numerous video games have recreated – and reimagined – the adventures of late 19th- and early 20th-century fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, early science fiction has had less of an impact on the gaming world so far, aside from occasional adaptations of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds. The recent box office success of properties like Dune and Planet Of The Apes, however, suggest an appetite for pre-Star Wars sci-fi franchises that may well translate to interactive media with similar success. John Carter, with its swashbuckling action, giant ape-like monsters and interplanetary romance, seems a natural fit amongst the roster of game heroes like Lara Croft, Indiana Jones and James Bond.
Original transmedia hero
Frazer Nash, of the game’s publisher FNCPR says, ‘In many ways, John Carter is the original fantasy action hero, thrilling readers and fans well before the likes of Flash Gordon, Superman and Luke Skywalker. Most superheroes have already made their transition into the gaming world; it is high time that John Carter makes his debut.’
In this new game adaptation, the first part of John Carter’s story is different. He is now a US Army Captain in WWII rather than a retired Yankee soldier. The change in time will enable John Carter to meet Ian Fleming. In another first, this will be the James Bond’s author’s debut appearance in a video game.
Adrian Sobieraj, director of Hypnotic Ants studio, says, ‘We are very happy to become a part of this journey to Mars. It’s the beginning of a great adventure with a fantastic entertainment industry franchise .’
The game is set for release in 2022, and a crowdfunding initiative will appear on Kickstarter soon. It will be built by Hypnotic Ants using Epic’s Unreal Engine. Information about how to register for updates can be found at jcwom.com.