No website as of December 2015. Dean Hall’s next big thing.
Way back in 2015, Dean Hall announced Ion, a ridiculously ambitious sci-fi space sandbox MMO built using Improbable's SpatialOS. And now it's dead.
Eurogamer went digging and got statements from Improbable and Hall that imply it's game over for the game; Improbably says it's not working on Ion but wouldn't really comment further, and Hall said that he and his New Zealand studio aren't working on it either -- in fact, it hasn't been active since fall of last year and couldn't be done without Improbable. There's clearly plenty left being unsaid.
And just so we understand exactly what we're losing here: Hall was adamant at E3 2015 that the game was an MMO. "We had a lot of marketing people saying, don't call it an MMO. Everyone will think it's orcs and wizards running around," he said at the time. "It's stale [the MMO genre]. My point is, that's exactly why we have to own it as an MMO. It is. It's inspired by EVE Online and Space Station 13. I'm hoping that we can show there are so many areas you can innovate in terms of MMOs."
UK studio Improbable announced today that it's partnered with Google to allow video game developers to develop games using Google's Cloud and Improbable's SpatialOS tech -- "without charge up to the point of commercial release."
If Improbable and SpatialOS sound familiar, that's because they've been popping up in relation to a bunch of MMORPGs and fringe MMOs in the last couple of years: Worlds Adrift, Chronicles of Elyria, Metaworld, and Ion are all based on SpatialOS tech, which is specifically intended to help modern persistent virtual worlds -- MMORPG -- get off the ground.
"Creating and running massive simulations that solve those problems on a public cloud requires a kind of distributed supercomputing - with potentially thousands of cores working together. This is what SpatialOS makes possible, by distributing work automatically and intelligently across hundreds or thousands of servers. [...] SpatialOS gives any developer the ability to define and build simulated worlds which can accommodate thousands of simultaneous players in a single world at the same time, exceeding the usual limits of what a conventional game server can do. These simulations are persistent and support the kind of complex computation needed to bring new game ideas to life, while enabling a development methodology that supports extremely rapid iteration."
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This week Bruce Wayne (AKA Batman) threw a special gala in DC Universe Online. We’ve got that plus stories and videos from Destiny, Marvel Heroes, Elder Scrolls Online, and more, all waiting for you after the break!
If you're looking for signs of what the next generation of MMOs could look like, then you might want to start checking out the work that Improbable is doing.
A studio that's been generating some serious buzz over the past year, Improbable's main project is creating a platform that allows creators to build virtual worlds that are far more complex and emergent than the one we have today. A new piece at Wired highlights how Improbable CEO Herman Narula became frustrated with the limitations of MMOs and wanted to create tech that would surpass "player-centric illusion" to utilize physical laws and object persistence.
If you're curious about Dean Hall's new Ion project that was recently announced at E3, a new interview at Polygon might be worth reading.
Hall explains how the sci-fi space sandbox is straddling the fence between indie and triple-A, primarily due to the dev talent involved which includes Fallout 3 and Skyrim veterans as well as the concept artist from Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity.
Hall firmly states that Ion is an MMO, despite negative feedback from his marketing team and Polygon's interviewer. "We had a lot of marketing people saying, don't call it an MMO. Everyone will think it's orcs and wizards running around," Hall explains. "It's stale [the MMO genre]. My point is, that's exactly why we have to own it as an MMO. It is. It's inspired by EVE Online and Space Station 13. I'm hoping that we can show there are so many areas you can innovate in terms of MMOs."
What exactly is Ion, the new sci-fi sandbox being developed by Dean Hall in collaboration with virtual world firm Improbable? We still don't really know, though Hall did drop a few cryptic hints in a recent interview on the PC Gaming Show.
"It's not Star Citizen, it's not Elite, it's not EVE," he said, before elaborating about a third-person isometric setup akin to Diablo. "We're sketching together regions and letting players have their own regions. It's a 3D environment, but it's not true isometric. There's an offset camera," he explained.
DayZ creator Dean Hall announced his new RocketWerkz studio last winter. This week, we've got a better idea of what he's been up to alongside "simulated worlds" developer Improbable. The two entities revealed Ion, a simulation MMO and a "massive open world universe" inspired by beloved RPG Space Station 13.
Ion looks to be set in space and it may involve disasters and cryosleep. At least that's what we gleaned from the brief trailer that's embedded after the cut.