Pioneer One

I just realized that I haven’t posted about Pioneer One. How come?

Pioneer One is an independent Canadian “TV series”. TV series is in parathesis because although the series resembles TV series like 24 or X-Files, it wasn’t actually made for TV. It is broadcasted for free on the Internet. It is also completely self-funded. The budget for each episode is mind-blowingly low. The little money they get by comes from donations and merchandise.

The premise is actually what caught my interest in the first place. An unknown space capsule crashes somewhere over Canada. It turns out to be Russian. They find a Cosmonaut inside. Trying to determine the origin of the capsule, the team of investigators discover evidence that it may have actually come from Mars. It’s an intriguing idea. A very low-key, realistic Sci-Fi that focuses more on political intrigue and scientific speculation rather than on flashy effects and outrageous fantasy scenarios.

To be fair, this is clearly low-budget and independent. It shows. The visual quality, the sets, the writing and the acting lack the polish and smoothness of mainstream productions. It may take a little to get used to it. But once you do, you discover a wonderfully ambitious project that hits a lot of it’s goals. A project able to deliver something that traditional TV thinking couldn’t. And finally perhaps a glimpse into the future where TV shows could survive without TV.

I’m mentioning all this because episode 3 came out recently. The show doesn’t have quite as much episodes as a regular TV show and they are released quite far apart from each other. I was enjoying the first two episodes a lot. This last one was a bit of a letdown. They introduced a new female character, which was a very good idea. Unfortunately, her integration into the plot was a bit bumpy. They tried to portray an emotional bond between two characters which I thought just didn’t work out so well. Sadly, the entire episode kinda centered on this. The scientific mystery was good but somewhat pale in comparison to the revelations of episode 2. Also, the first two episodes had some constraints in time and space. There were some dramatic 24esque deadlines and quarantines. It helped a lot to put everything under pressure and add some purpose and focus to the plot. They loosened it up in episode 3 and I don’t think that worked out in they favor.

But every show will always have it’s weaker episodes. I’m still looking forward to the following episodes and I hope to see some more projects like this.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

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The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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