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Respect for the player. Forgetting violence fetishism. Exploration. Notgame?

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I am prototyping a "non-traditional" game about free exploration without arbitrary limitations. Deterministic algorithms enable a procedural universe (potentially infinite) with minimal system requirements for the player. In the vein of abolishing arbitrary restrictions, I am using WebGL to allow anyone with a browser to play it, eschewing platform restrictions.

You control an organic entity through space. The universe is still young, unstable after the big bang. The laws of physics are having trouble making up their mind, putting space and time in an uncertain and malleable state. You encounter not only planetary systems, black holes and nebulae, but irregular, strangely behaving clumps of matter. As with all things in the world, you can only travel very close to the speed of light, but incoherencies in the curvature of space allow you to seemingly cover immense distances of space in seconds.

You are encouraged to pick a direction and interact with the world as you see fit. Rather than leading the player with a carrot on a stick, the experience seeks to evoke feelings of wonder, immersion and joy. The universe is alive, responsive and vibrant, inspired by the what-ifs and unproven theories of astronomy. It is enthusiastic about your presence.

I enjoy when there is trust and respect between player and developer. A sort of mutual understanding. My goal is to treat player as the intelligent, emotional beings they are. I am also very interested in including some level of persistence in the universe (not an MMO), in the manner of allowing player behaviour to result in data used to drive changes to the universe, allowing the algorithms to mutate themselves. This kind of world excites me, because even as the developer, I can never discover everything it is capable of.

Edited by Reruined
recruitment pitch

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Respect for the player. Forgetting violence fetishism. Exploration. Notgame?


It doesn't matter that some people might say it's "not a game." The concept is viable. By the way, I deleted the recruitment wording from your original post, because we don't permit recruiting in the discussion forums. Good luck with your project!

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I am also very interested in including some level of persistence in the universe (not an MMO), in the manner of allowing player behaviour to result in data used to drive changes to the universe, allowing the algorithms to mutate themselves. This kind of world excites me, because even as the developer, I can never discover everything it is capable of.

 

I'd explain this more in-depth, this is what captured my interest (I'm not aiming to join the project however).

 

Absolutely. Creating discussion is as important to me as finding collaborators.

 

I'll try to explain an example. Let's assume that a process periodically collects player data, such as their time spent in certain locations. This data can then be used to assign a weight to the most popular/unpopular locations, letting the algorithm generate more (or less, depending on what you are after) objects in that area. Maybe the temperature of nearby suns increases.

 

Another example would be a cosmic event, such as a supernova. If, during the explosion, many players perish, the star will be reborn larger and hotter than it was before its death, subsequently affecting other nearby celestial bodies. If, on the contrary, nobody perishes, the star may instead scatter its matter across the universe, providing more energy for other distant star systems.

 

Note that you still play locally, on your computer. There is just a process that sends data to a central server at infrequent intervals. When travelling, you download the few bytes of relevant player data for your location, altering how the game looks like for you. This kind of loose coupling requires not even a fraction of MMO infrastructure, maybe even less than a regular multiplayer game.

 

I am still in the process of prototyping and figuring out how viable all of this is. But I hope to inspire some discussion and new ideas in the meantime :D

 

 

Probably deals with a niche of potential players, but these are players nonetheless.

Good luck.

Definitely. I am making the kind of experience I personally want. My ideal is to include anybody (gamer or non-gamer) in being able to play, but not to appeal to a mass market.

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Absolutely. Creating discussion is as important to me as finding collaborators.
 
I'll try to explain an example. Let's assume that a process periodically collects player data, such as their time spent in certain locations. This data can then be used to assign a weight to the most popular/unpopular locations, letting the algorithm generate more (or less, depending on what you are after) objects in that area. Maybe the temperature of nearby suns increases.
 
Another example would be a cosmic event, such as a supernova. If, during the explosion, many players perish, the star will be reborn larger and hotter than it was before its death, subsequently affecting other nearby celestial bodies. If, on the contrary, nobody perishes, the star may instead scatter its matter across the universe, providing more energy for other distant star systems.
 
Note that you still play locally, on your computer. There is just a process that sends data to a central server at infrequent intervals. When travelling, you download the few bytes of relevant player data for your location, altering how the game looks like for you. This kind of loose coupling requires not even a fraction of MMO infrastructure, maybe even less than a regular multiplayer game.
 
I am still in the process of prototyping and figuring out how viable all of this is. But I hope to inspire some discussion and new ideas in the meantime

 

You'll still need to have constant online streaming to implement it however. i'd recommend making it optional in your settings, as a game that's predominately offline should be able to be played in offline.

 

Or you could make it simpler. If there is no access to the internet it simply doesn't update. It could check at regular intervals to see if the internet is back up or not, and act accordingly. It'd be seamless and no-one would be the wiser, it might make the players feel more involved in the world and think of it more as a world then a game, as they wont know the cause of the changes in the atmosphere.

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Absolutely. Creating discussion is as important to me as finding collaborators.
 
I'll try to explain an example. Let's assume that a process periodically collects player data, such as their time spent in certain locations. This data can then be used to assign a weight to the most popular/unpopular locations, letting the algorithm generate more (or less, depending on what you are after) objects in that area. Maybe the temperature of nearby suns increases.
 
Another example would be a cosmic event, such as a supernova. If, during the explosion, many players perish, the star will be reborn larger and hotter than it was before its death, subsequently affecting other nearby celestial bodies. If, on the contrary, nobody perishes, the star may instead scatter its matter across the universe, providing more energy for other distant star systems.
 
Note that you still play locally, on your computer. There is just a process that sends data to a central server at infrequent intervals. When travelling, you download the few bytes of relevant player data for your location, altering how the game looks like for you. This kind of loose coupling requires not even a fraction of MMO infrastructure, maybe even less than a regular multiplayer game.
 
I am still in the process of prototyping and figuring out how viable all of this is. But I hope to inspire some discussion and new ideas in the meantime

 

You'll still need to have constant online streaming to implement it however. i'd recommend making it optional in your settings, as a game that's predominately offline should be able to be played in offline.

 

Or you could make it simpler. If there is no access to the internet it simply doesn't update. It could check at regular intervals to see if the internet is back up or not, and act accordingly. It'd be seamless and no-one would be the wiser, it might make the players feel more involved in the world and think of it more as a world then a game, as they wont know the cause of the changes in the atmosphere.

 

Of course. Implementation details such as this crop up during development, but for now there are more pressing issues such as: Will it be meaningful? Will it matter? What kind of data should be collected? How far should I let the world change? How will people feel about having their in-game behaviour be tracked?

 

The semi-persistence part of the project is a non-essential feature I am leaving for later, as it exists to enhance the existing core design principles, rather than make or break them. The cherry on top, if you will. But I am happy that the subject interests you so smile.png

Edited by Reruined

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My first thought is that it sounds like Minecraft creative mode in outer space.

 

Now, how do people interact with the world? Is it possible to modify it? Can you create solar systems or terraform planets?

From your description I dont really know what does the player do in this game.

 

 

I enjoy when there is trust and respect between player and developer. A sort of mutual understanding. My goal is to treat the player as the intelligent, emotional being she is.

 

Are you assuming other developers dont treat their players as such? Also, are you trying to target the game to women specifically?

 

If you want to treat the player as an intelling being you should put some mental challenge, like puzzles or something. If you want to go for the emotional aspect, put something the player can relate and attach to. I think its hard to attach to some stars, planets and space phenomenon, unless they have inhabitants, but I could be wrong.

 

Finally, what other games have you played before?

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My first thought is that it sounds like Minecraft creative mode in outer space.



Now, how do people interact with the world? Is it possible to modify it? Can you create solar systems or terraform planets?

From your description I dont really know what does the player do in this game.

 

I am still figuring out exactly what the player can do, it's important that any kind of interaction is intrinsic to the theme (which I guess could be condensed to 'the wonder of exploring a world of astronomic weirdness'). The game is mostly about exploration, but I do know that the best kind of exploration is when you can touch and turn and prod at your environment and everything in it. I am considering simple eco-systems, primitive forms of life, with very simple input and outputs, that the player can knowingly or accidentally use for various purposes. I would love to hear any thoughts you might have, even negative.

 

 

 


Are you assuming other developers dont treat their players [with respect]?

 

As a small developer, there is a limit to what you can focus on. Every developer does not have the need, willingness, or resources, to create a bond with the player in a way that doesn't directly translate to more sales. There is also a somewhat common pattern in large productions (that I thankfully don't see as much of in smaller budget titles) to handhold the player excessively, through constant objective prompts or restricting the player to solving a particular problem in one specific way. I don't see that as giving the player much respect. Sometimes the developer has no choice because of project constraints, but in my specific game it is core to the game design process to respect the player.

 

 

 


Also, are you trying to target the game to women specifically?

 

I am taking the approach of making the game available to as many "target groups" as possible, but not targeting a specific one. It is designed after what my team would enjoy having in a game. But I have edited my initial post to clear that misunderstanding.

 

 

 


If you want to treat the player as an intelling being you should put some mental challenge, like puzzles or something. If you want to go for the emotional aspect, put something the player can relate and attach to. I think its hard to attach to some stars, planets and space phenomenon, unless they have inhabitants, but I could be wrong.

 

The human intellect is not all about solving problems and challenges, we are very multi-faceted beings who differ greatly in what brings us pleasure and satisfaction. I personally find it important to pause to consider the universe and my own existence, a healthy practice in our fast-paced modern world. I like going out in a random unexplored direction, just for the joy of seeing new places, or trying out and experimenting with new systems, to see how they will react. This is mostly what the game is about, difficult as it is for me to put into words.

 

 

 


Finally, what other games have you played before?

 

Gaming has been a large part of my life, and as a result I have played most kind of games since the Nintendo 64 and Playstation 1. Lately I have been mostly a PC gamer. In my experience, many games that get a lot of attention today follow same-ish principles and design moments... ideas are copied and iterated on until their original visions are barely recognizable. I am thrilled by games that go in a unique direction, making me re-think what I thought was possible to do with video games. This game is my attempt to design a thrilling experience that me and other likeminded people would love, the only way I see that this can happen is if I don't look at what successful games have done in the past. Game design while keeping your head clear of prejudice and preconceptions, if you will.

 

I hope that my answers are satisfactory and that they allow you to peer into my train of thought smile.png. I am happy to incite discussion!

Edited by Reruined

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Although I'm a space game diehard and especially a fan of anything that eschews the "warporn" that seems to make up the vast majority of space games, I'm having trouble giving feedback. Your idea is quite amorphous. I like the newly born universe and potentially strange pockets of physics as well as the idea of player persistence. I think such a grand setting may struggle with having a grand purpose. Open-ended exploration games can be beautiful  in their initial freedom then deadly boring once you exhaust the creative possibilities. With such a positive focus, what about casting the player in the role of curator / protector of this universe, maybe something like the Monolith from Arthur C. Clarke's 2001? Maybe you're some sort of evolved consciousness exploring this universe from another one, and being so far beyond your biological sensibilities you only gain by engineering space-time, uplifting life and discovering the nature of the new universe (which could be inhabited by volition at a fundamental level).

 

Just to further elaborate, you could take the angle expressed by some cosmologists that the universe is inimical to life. Radiation, vacuum, cosmic debris, shifts in the state of matter itself all might be said to constantly threaten life, and life through war, ignorance and stupidity threatens itself. You could make a potentially very poetic game out of being a force of good in such a setting, as the player can't be everywhere and can't save everything, which maybe adds an element of strategy. Depending on how hard you want to make the science, your choices could span millennia, and your actions would shape the universe over epochal time.

 

Even if that's not the direction you want to go it's an interesting idea. I just hope you veer away from some of the cosmic physics puzzle games as just minecraft with stars in a meaningless cosmos devoid of life would be disappointing.

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