Wednesday, March 10, 2010
There was a time when I played the German version of A Tale in the Desert, and Teppy, the main developer, gathered all the players online on the server at one spot to hold a council. He replied to questions, and offered solutions to problems mentioned by the players. He even coded in one of these solutions while the event was going on, without bringing the server down, and changed the rules of the game on the spot, based on player input. That was pretty awesome. Only that there were only 25 players on the server. The US version has more players, usually around 1,100 subscribers, which probably works out to just over 100 online on average. So when Pangoria Fallstar asked me about my opinion on Love, I couldn't help but think that there will be some similarities in structure to ATITD: Small player base, niche gameplay, but extremely powerful possibilities for the developer to interact with the players.
If you look at the gameplay video of Love, you might understand what I mean. The tools given to the player to shape the world are obviously hugely superior to what players usually get in the usual, rather static MMORPGs. That in itself will draw some players towards the game. But then you see that the "enemy" you have to beat is an AI controlled city, which you beat by figuring out how its infrastructure works, and then sabotage it by application of logic to find its weak spot. That is going to be way to brainy (and the graphics way too grainy) for the average video gamer. Just like the cooperative social experiment without monsters to kill in ATITD is only attractive for a small number of players, interacting with a procedurally created world will only be attractive for a small number of players. Which is all the better, as the servers can only handle about 400, and the single person developing the game probably doesn't have the means to put up lots of servers.
Love is impressive for a one-man show, it is innovative, different, and new. Thus it is likely to once more prove that players, regardless of what they say, do not want innovative, different, and new, they want the same old with better graphics. It'll haunt us in the blogosphere for years as an example how innovative multiplayer online games can be, but there is no chance that this develops into the next big thing. Most people simply won't get Love.