Crayta, an upcoming "collaborative game creation, sharing, and play platform" developed by Unit 2 Games and exclusive to Google Stadia, is getting its very own comic series. The six-issue run is written by Dan Abnett, who should be a familiar name for anyone that reads comics thanks to his work on titles like Guardians of the Galaxy and more, with art from principal artist Gustaffo Vargas as well as artists Mark Harrison, Valentine De Landro, Paulina Ganucheau, and Emma Vieceli. The comic's creative team is rounded out with colorist Andrea Izzo, lettering by Simon Bowland, graphic design by Emma Price, and cover illustration from Neil Roberts.
"It’s a near-future sci-fi tech thriller set on an Earth that’s governed by a benevolent AI known as gAIa," Unit 2 Games' Richard Smithies says of the comic in the official announcement. "We wanted to avoid a lot of the standard clichés, so this isn’t about a struggle against a cruel cybernetic overlord — 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…"
ComicBook.com recently had the opportunity to interview Unit 2 Games and Abnett about all things Crayta, and you can read all about why the company decided to do a comic at all, how Abnett got involved, and whether there is more planned below!
ComicBook.com: For folks that maybe aren’t familiar, how would you describe Crayta? What’s the elevator pitch?
Hannah Waddilove, Operations Director at Unit 2 Games: Crayta is a collaborative game creation and sharing game that allows people to design, build, share and play an enormous variety of games in a fun and accessible way. The goal is to open game creation up to the masses, so anyone of any experience, background, age or ability level can create something fun for other people to enjoy.
Why do a comic series at all for a collaborative game creation platform?
The first answer to that from my point of view would be “why not?”! It’s enormously cool to be working on a professionally written and produced comic and it makes my geeky heart extremely happy! Aside from that though, we always wanted the Crayta world to feel like there was more going on under the surface than might first appear. We know that not everyone will be interested in engaging with a metastory but we also know that a lot of people love having an additional purpose or reason to what they’re doing. Creating a comic was a brilliant way of adding some of that context without swamping the game experience for everyone else.
What do you hope that folks take away from the comic once they have it in their hands?
First of all we hope that people will simply enjoy it as a great new comic. It’s a fantastic story with a really diverse cast of characters that we hope readers will enjoy on its own merits. But for those who are interested in taking it further, then the game’s there for them to explore too. We’re also hoping that fans of the game will get inspiration from the comics, and feed that into what they go on to create – we’re looking forward to seeing how players start to riff off bits of the comic story within their own game creations.
Now obviously it’s only just been announced, but could we possibly expect to see future comics in the same world? Or maybe even a different world, but the same name?
Never say never! We currently have a six issue run created, that we’ll be releasing monthly til the end of the year. Dan and the team certainly have a tonne of ideas of ways we could take the story in future so if there’s interest in it then I’m sure we’ll be getting together to discuss series 2 at some point!
What do you think about what we've seen of Crayta so far? Are you interested in the comic series? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things gaming! And keep reading to see what Dan Abnett had to say about the project as well as several pages from the series!
DAN ABNETT INTERVIEW
ComicBook.com: How did you get involved with the Crayta comic? Was it something you pitched, or something you were pitched?
Dan Abnett: Unit 2 asked me to develop the project for them. Aside from my work in comics and novels, I do quite a lot of work for the games industry, and I’ve worked with the people at Unit 2 several times in the last decade or so, usually world-building for other games. They invited me in to look at their new project - Crayta - and asked me to brainstorm some ideas. That was an interesting meeting.
What about Crayta made you think, "this story is the one I want to tell?"
I was immediately impressed with the game, because it’s very unusual and very innovative. Crayta (the game) isn’t really a ‘game’ at all, it’s a way of making games, both simple and complex, and playing games that other players have devised. It’s an incredibly simple and brilliant idea, and encourages creativity and collaboration. I was impressed from the outset, as I said, but my first question was, “what am I doing here? Crayta is amazing, but it has no internal ‘world’ to build, so I don’t know why you’ve brought me in.”
How does the comic fit into the overall intention of the game itself?
In very over-simplified terms… some gamers just like to play, and have little interest in story or ‘world lore’. Other gamers care very much for the lore, and like to be immersed. When you work on a game, you have to maintain a careful balance so it caters for both of those inclinations. Crayta - the game - has a distinctive style, but it has virtually no internal world-building. It’s more of a tool, or a game-making instrument. So Unit 2 was interested in imagining a context for it, something that could exist outside the game in the form of comics or stories or supporting data, and which could build a world in which Crayta the game might exist… specifically for those players who look for and relish the immersive feel. That’s what we’re doing with the comic: it creates a world in which Crayta can exist.
For lack of a better term, is the comic somehow “game”-ified in some way, or does it mostly eschew that to do its own thing?
It generally does its own thing. From the outset, we wanted the comic to be an entity in its own right, to tell its own story. It’s not - it can’t be - a tie-in, and we didn’t want it to be a flimsy piece of marketing content either. We wanted the comic to be a good comic, full stop. Just a great story that could be appreciated for its own qualities, where you didn’t even need to play the game, or even know about it, to enjoy it. It’s a SF techno thriller set in the near future, imagining a world that appears to be a technological utopia but which has darker problems beneath the skin. Crayta - the game - is a key component in the story, and the comic explains why the game exists and why it matters. Our hope is that the comic is good, compelling, well-executed and involving, and that people can read it simply as ‘a great new SF comic’. It just happens to connect to a game. You can read the comic and then, if you like, you can play the game and, in a way, become part of the story.
How involved was Unit 2 Games with the comic?
Very. Presenting the world-building ‘off site’ in a comic was their (very meta!) idea, and they’ve been very excited about publishing a comic alongside the game. We’ve recruited some fantastic artists, and a great designer, to help us put the project together, and it’s been enormous fun starting from the ground up. Unit 2 is a games company, so they have no prior experience in publishing comics, but they have learned fast, well, and with immense enthusiasm. We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. I think Crayta is a fine comic that deserves to be published on its own terms, whether a game exists or not.
In terms of work you’ve done previously, how does working with Unit 2 Games and Stadia compare?
It’s been great, and I hope we can continue to build on this. In some respects, it’s been very liberating. We’ve been able to really focus on the story, on the characters, on the look and feel, without having to worry about how it fits into an established comic universe continuity or a publishing plan of other titles. There’s a kind of creative strength to that - what matters is this story, and how it stands on its own two feet, and how it compliments the game. I think we’ve made a properly good, compelling and thought-provoking series, and I can’t wait for people to read it.
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