I once worked with a guy that was attempting to single-handedly create his own MMO (“massively multiplayer online”) game. He tried to recruit me to his small team of developers who were helping to work on the game. I politely declined for a couple of reasons… 1) At the time, I had never played an MMO and had no personal experience to draw from, and 2) I thought he was a little bit crazy.
MMO’s require a tremendous investment of time, money, and manpower not only in the development of the game, but also to support on-going hosting and maintenance of the game servers once the game is finally released. The credit screens for these games roll on almost as long as most big-time Hollywood movies.
Which brings us to the subject of this entry… I found (via Digg) a Website for a new game called Genesis put up by a guy trying to accomplish the same Herculean task of developing his own MMO. However, the difference is that I think he might actually have a chance of getting it done.
This guy has already put a lot of work (more than two years) into designing the game and developing large portions of the software engine. He recently published the Website to ask for help in developing the game, by way of monetary, artistic, and coding contributions. And that’s why I think he might possibly succeed. The emergence of open source software development makes it possible for teams of developers in disparate locations (sometimes completely different countries) to work together on a common project. In fact, the Mozilla Firefox browser that I’m using to write this blog entry was developed in this very way.
Anyway, back to the game. The Website goes into much more detail about the overall philosophy and design of the game, but here are a few of the highlights…
Distinguishing Features at a Glance:
- Dynamic, Player-Created Environments: Build and destroy houses and other structures, one wall at a time (no pre-fabricated buildings). Dig out terrain and pile it up elsewhere. Plant seeds, watch them grow, and harvest plants and lumber. Anything that can be created in the game can also be destroyed.
- Volumetric Terrain: Terrain can be hollowed out to form caves and tunnels, versus simply raised or lowered like most games.
- Dynamic, Player-Created Storylines/Quests: All quests and storylines are generated naturally based on the current state of the world, its political structures, its economy, its ecology, and so forth. A very advanced expert/logic system analyzes the state of the world and its inhabitants to create motivations and aspirations that drive your character to play their role. For once, role playing truly lives up to its name, as players even go so far as to assign personalities to their avatars that actually affect gameplay dramatically.
- Reproduction and Permanent Death: Players have the ability to reproduce, but are also mortal (and can only be resurrected under very rare circumstances). However, player’s offspring absorb a mix of their parent’s traits, so they aren’t forced to start from scratch necessarily. The player permanently resides in one spirit throughout the entire game which can assume control of any available humanoid or creature.
- No AI controlled opponents or NPCs: Every player and creature (with the minor potential exceptions of fish, game, and livestock) is controlled by another human. Players can play as creatures that can evolve any manner of traits, allowing them to assume forms of classical mythological beasts or other creatures.
- Open Content: In addition to building content within the game using the game’s engine, players can contribute base content for the game (entities which must be built outside of the engine), such as music, artwork, models, and even some code and scripting. Of course, all content is approved for quality and appropriateness before it is included.
- Open Funding Model: Players can decide how they want to fund this game. If I receive enough donations to support myself (and potentially a small team of people), I will release the game for free. If I must find alternate methods funding to continue developing the game I will (as a last resort) accept a publishing deal. I am hoping that players will donate enough money to support this project independently, that way the game could be given out for free, and I would not be under a publisher’s budget/time constraints. I am not a greedy person, but I do need to put a roof over my headÂ…if there were some way for me to develop this game on zero dollars now that I am out of college, I would.
- Unique Graphics Engine: the engine used to power Genesis has an old-school isometric look, but is enhanced by new-school technology. Unique rendering algorithms are used that allow millions of polygons per scene, with displacement mapping and per pixel materials (not to be mistaken with texturing). The engine is designed from the ground up to facilitate procedural content creation.
Sounds interesting… I hope this guy is able to see it through. I know I’ll be keeping an eye on it.