Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gaming 2.0

day3 Ok, nerd post coming.  Consider yourself warned.

I stumbled onto this cool game being developed called Love.  It’s an indy game, more specifically an indy MMO.  Watch the trailer here:

After watching that trailer, know this:  It’s being made by ONE GUY.  I am really excited about this.  Basically how the game works is it takes place on a planet (server) with about 200 other players on it.  You collect different artifacts found throughout the environment on the planet which lets you edit terrain and build your own base.  The base building system looks very intricate.  You team up with others to build your base/community and attack/defend from others.  The world changes dynamically, meaning the changes you make to the world, added with the changes that occur spontaneously over time, create a unique planet per server.  So every server would look completely different, with a very different history.  It has a story telling mechanism which focuses on your actions.  So let’s say you do something really important for a community, the game may name the cavern leading up to your base after you.  Then when other players go “why is it named DALE CAVERN?” the other player can say “Oh, he fought this epic battle here and won us this artifact”.  Then, because each server only has about 200 players, they may actually meet me and go “Hey, you’re that guy the cavern is named after”.  So the game creates and perpetuates its own lore, per server.

The entire game is procedurally-generated, meaning the game resources, landscapes and graphics are all created in game through algorithms instead of file resources.  This is the same technology that allows all the games resources to evolve over time, AROUND the players actions and reactions.  One interesting side effect of this technology is there is no textures, all graphics are rendered on the fly, so grass, trees, rocks, etc all have textures made on the go.  It creates a very interesting look for the game that you either love or hate.  Personally I love it, I think it gives the game a very unique feel, and the ONE GUY making this game definitely designed an art-style around the limitations.

To me, this is the kind of thinking the gaming industry needs to start looking at for the future.  Here we have a gaming environment where the player truly makes a difference.  There are 2 types of gaming stories.  The stories we were told, and the stories we tell.  A story we were told is something like “Man, I can’t believe Aerith died!!!” and stories we tell are more along the lines of “…and I shot him at the last second, and that’s how I won this weapon from him, it was awesome!”  And this game makes its lore around THAT, so that the story we’re told IS the story we tell.  And it evolves, along with the environment, around the players and their experiences.

And it creates replayability.  Suppose I make a base, it gets destroyed and I leave it behind.  The ruins of my base are slowly overgrown and eroded, the surrounding terrain shifts over time.  Some other player comes along, finds my ruins and decides to build his base around them.  A month later I return to where my base had been and it looks completely different, and yet oddly familiar.  The entire world will be like this.

If this is sounding at all interesting, watch this video on gameplay mechanics.  It’s best to watch it fullscreen.

Web 2.0 was revolutionary.  But it wasn’t just the technology that made it possible.  The technology had been around for a while.  It was the realization of companies that internet users wanted to leave a mark, not just observe the internet.  Once they realized this, and the profitability it inherently had, that’s when web 2.0 really took off.  I think we’re ready for gaming 2.0.  It really says something that I’m more excited about an indy MMO being made by ONE person with no funding than any of the big budget MMOs being developed right now.  Now if big budget companies can start recognizing the genius in projects like this, we’ll really enter a new era of gaming!

Another game that seems to finally “get it” is City of Heroes.  In their last update they included something called Architect, in which players can create their own missions and entire story archs which have real in-game rewards including experience.  Within the first week, more A-grade content was released than the developers had created in its entire run.  Developers need to realize that players will love their games for same reason they love their job.  It’s fun to create.  And gamers, as a group, are generally creative people.

For more info on the game LOVE, I very strongly suggest looking over the official site.

1 comment:

Dave said...

You know I don't game online, but this is the first thing that's actually made me want to. Awesome idea and I'm pretty hyped for this.