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Curio' sparks curiosity (no cats harmed)

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Local game developer announces project

BANGOR Worlds are being built in downtown Bangor. Chuck Carter, the creative director of Eagre Interactive situated at 31 Central Street in Bangor, has officially announced the first game to be released: 'Curio.' 

'I wanted to tell a story. How do you tell a story through a single item or a person who uses the item? I came up with the idea of a young girl who when growing up was given the gift of being able to create her own universe,' said Carter. 'Following her life was a good way of telling her story and to show who she was through the graphics and gameplay.'

And Curio does just that. The player is given a mysterious key that allows them to enter the world the woman created. They have to unravel the clues of her past, find her and try to save her from. Well, we can't give too much away so early in development. But much of the game is about immersing yourself in her world. It is non-violent (no shooting or monster killing) - just you and the world and exploring. 

'There is a resurgence of the non-violent kind of genre There is a real interest in games like this. Cyan is doing Abduction' and Sony is doing Dear Esther,'' he said. 'Big companies like Sony putting a lot of money into games outside of shooters and sports games shows there's an interest.'

There is also the cult following to consider. Carter has serious artistic and game-design chops. He was one of the artists who created some of the Ages in the iconic puzzle-game 'Myst,' which, when it was released in 1993, was a cutting-edge and immersive game that set the bar incredibly high for similar games to follow. It was the best-selling game on PC until 2002. 

Carter has been involved with graphics and illustration in the years between 'Myst' and he has worked for National Geographic, founded Eagre Interactive and has become heavily involved in the burgeoning downtown Bangor scene.

He noted that the concept for 'Curio' started back in the 1990s as a different game called 'The Magic Shop' where the player could interact with each different item as a 3D exploration game. But then 'Myst' came along and it hit the back burner.

Until about a year ago, when Carter decided it was now or never.

'Curio is planned to be a brand, and I want to tell numerous stories through it. The shop has different things that he can give to different people, and that lets us do a lot of things from the gameplay. [Curio] is the first in a series of games,' said Carter. 'In order to make them, I wanted to create a game company in Bangor. With the students at Husson and the University of Maine and the High School Charter system there are a lot of people who want to get involved and be able to build something here in Bangor. It gives the students something different to look for here after college. It's a desirable place to grow a couple of other game companies. It's a slow process, but it's happening.'

Talent from across the country and the globe are networking to make 'Curio' into a reality. Though in the concept phase, Carter has contacts in Idaho, Tennessee and Connecticut and as far afield as New Zealand working on different aspects of the game. But he's also thinking local, tapping several local actors to play roles as the Curator and the Woman who created the universe in various stages of her life.

'A lot of that has been from being in the game industry for 20 years and developing connections with people of a long period of time. A lot of veteran artists feel like the game industry is moving beyond them in some ways. I want to do something that hearkens back to where it started,' Carter said. 'You can be a small garage game company and have a way to get your work published. That didn't exist 5 or 10 years ago.'

Games with central female protagonists are, sadly, still newsworthy. Carter said that he was a long-time fan of Hayao Miyazaki, acclaimed director of animated films including 'Spirited Away' and 'Howl's Moving Castle,' all of which include female protagonists.

'You have to twist your mind around a different perspective,' he said. '[A girl's world] is a volatile world. It's different than a boy's world. Curio isn't just for hardcore gamers; I want other people to play the game because it really transcends the genre.'

Carter was one of the semi-finalists for The Big Gig, and even though his concept wasn't ultimately chosen, it has always been his goal to continue with the project. He is currently hoping that an Angel Investor will step out of the woodwork and help fund the game, as it would speed the process along. He is adamant that the game will be moving forward, regardless of outside funding.

'People can help by spreading the word about the idea of the game and if there are any Angel Investors that might want to help out, we could use the help,' he said.

To follow the game, you can find them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/curioworlds), Twitter (@ChuckCarterART) and Pinterest (ChuckMCarter/Curio).

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