Just a few weeks before an election that could decide the future of the United Kingdom, a North Lanarkshire-based game developer Stormplay Games is gearing up to release a game in which the union never happened in the first place.
Operation: Pinkeye is a modern day homage to early console FPS games like Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark and TimeSplitters in which Scotland and England are independent countries and tensions between the two are running high. Fearing a takeover plot may be in motion, the Scottish Secret Service have sent their best agent, Ken Maxwell, to infiltrate the conspiring force’s headquarters for the safety of the Scottish nation. You play as Maxwell, shooting baddies, disarming security cameras and retrieving confidential files just like in Rare’s N64 Bond classic.
It’s a knowingly daft premise and certainly a little provocative, almost verging on Red Dawn territory. But it sprung from a genuine interest in what a un-united Scotland might look like. We caught up with Stormplay’s Cobra! to find out more.
“I just thought of the idea one day, you know, what would have happened if the UK never formed?” Cobra! told us. “So I did my research into what other people thought and I just thought that all these ideas would make for an interesting premise for a game.”
In particular, Cobra! is interested in the impact that autonomy might have had on the languages spoken in Scotland today.
“People predicted that it might be where the US is today, maybe like a French and Scots and Gaelic speaking place, just crazy stuff like that. The way I see it, I think Scotland in this alternate universe would be like how Belgium is. There’d be different regions, like one for Scots, one for Galeic and one for Norn.”
I’ve Always Enjoyed Studying a New Tongue, Professor
Cobra!, who is currently studying Gaelic at college, is fascinated by languages. In fact, their interest in preserving Scots and Gaelic was one of the main reasons they started developing video games.
“My aim is to try and promote Scots and Gaelic through media because I think because there’s not enough not enough things out there in either languages, especially Scots. So I thought, well I can make games, I can try and do something about that.”
“It’s sort of like how anime has helped a lot of people learn Japanese. If anime wasn’t around, there’d be a lot fewer people learning the language, so I thought, I want to try and recreate that sort of thing with Scots and Gaelic because those are unfortunately dying off. I want to do something to make people want to learn them and embrace them.”
The current demo for Operation: Pinkeye is playable in six languages – Scots, Gaelic, English, Italian, French and Russian – most of which Cobra! wrote themselves.
“I did the Scots and the English one and I tried my best at the Gaelic and Italian but I’ve not had those proofread yet.”
The French and Russian were written by friends they made through games and language communities on Discord.
“The cool thing is, if language is the aim of something you’re making you end up attracting people who are also promoting certain languages. I’ve had the first trailer translated into loads of languages like Alzatian, Ainu, Cornish and Breton.”
For Scotland, Ken?
Operation: Pinkeye isn’t the first project Cobra! has made in Scots: as well as having made several other homebrew games for the Sega Saturn, PS1, Pokemon Mini and even a Blu-Ray Player, Cobra! has also localised Driver and The Simpsons: Hit and Run into Scots through mods. You’ll find some of that work catalogued on Cobra!’s fantastically retro NeoCities website, but they’re also in the process of compiling a more thorough online database of their work in Scots called Aye/O, which you can find here.
Operation: Pinkeye will be available both as a digital download and physically via CD-ROM when it releases later this year, with plans to explore other formats further down the road definitely on the cards.
For now, the three level demo is available now on itch.io, where you can download the game for free or donate to the project if you wish. You can also support Cobra!’s work via their Patreon and help them to fulfil their goal of hiring actors and producing green screen FMV cutscenes for the game. I mean, how could you refuse?
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