We’ve been keeping an eye on Klang Games’ MMO Seed since at least last year, when the studio revealed its single-shard simulation mechanics and use of SpatialOS. It looks as if the game is making some progress, as Klang has a fresh blog post up today with a “teaser” of the game’s current pre-alpha build.
The video shows tiny colony vessels shooting out from earth and setting up camp on other worlds as the humans spread out and build civilization from scratch, from tents to villages to big cities across the new planets. It’s cute and might remind you of a cross between The Sims and Spore, in an EVE Online-like setting, which won’t surprise you as its founders have CCP Games pedigrees.
The company further announced today that it’s raised another $8.95M in Series A investor funding, bringing its total investment to $13.95M.
As of autumn last year, external testing was planned for this summer; it’s not clear whether that’s been delayed or this teaser is a precursor to a test. A few months ago, the devs “no comment”-ed on the topic of release.
For MMO players, Improbable brought some interesting ideas to GDC this past spring. It also brought some games I wasn’t expecting, and the ones I was expecting were kind of downplayed. On the ground floor, developers from some of our favorite MMOs hadn’t heard of SpatialOS, a platform that allows games to be “bigger” by running multiple game engines in an innovative way, with a few developers being exceptions. I was set up for a meeting with Improbable CCO Bill Roper to help figure things out, but soon into our physical meeting he was pulled away and we had to follow up with emails, which rarely goes as well.
Fortunately, Roper had time to sit and chat again with me at E3. With SpatialOS’s first game out in the wild and more on the way, I felt like there was a lot Roper could explain about SpatialOS, MMOs, and Improbable’s role in it all.
SpatialOS: You’ve probably been seeing this name pop up more and more in the MMO sphere. Worlds Adrift, Mavericks, Fractured, Seed, MetaWorld, and Identity are just some of the titles we’ve mentioned that have sprung up to use Improbable’s platform. The company picked up more than half a billion dollars from Japanese company SoftBank, roped in MMO veteran Bill Roper, and got Jagex to announce its intention to use it in a future project. However Chronicles of Elyria recently noted it’s dropping Improbable’s baby, and both on and off the record, developers I spoke to at GDC 2018 had mixed reactions – assuming they’d even heard about SpatialOS at all.
What’s the big deal about the platform? What does it do? Why should developers care? Why should MMO players care? I attended a panel by Improbable and briefly sat down with CCO Bill Roper to try to figure it all out.
What do you get when you mash up Rimworld, The Sims, and EVE Online? Probably a big mess, but adjacent to that mess somewhere is Seed. Developed by Klang Games and using Improbable OS, Seed is a colony simulator in which players will make high-level management decisions about a fledgling settlement while their villagers go on living and working even while the player is offline.
It is an unusual and different sort of MMO than players are used to seeing, which is why it might be prudent to watch this short interview by PC Gamer to understand the full sales pitch for this sci-fi title.
“What we’re doing is a game that’s about simulating life. That isn’t a space that’s been explored before. We think we’re pretty early movers in simulation-based MMOs,” said Klang Co-Founder Mundi Vondi. Check out the interview below!
Here we are, in the untamed wilderness of 2018! It feels a lot like 2017 so far, except that it’s a year later. Also, at least here, it’s buried under snow. Also, Global Adventures has moved into its closed beta test, which is new. You can get in on that, although you should feel fairly warned that it’s going to have a wipe prior to open beta, so fairly warned be ye.
For the most part, it seems that studios were still remembering that they have to get back to work if they’re going to enjoy the new year. But we still had some movement on the beta front, so that’s all right. Examples of such are listed below.
- The ninth alpha test for Saga of Lucimia shared some information and a prologue story, which will require a full group to fully read about. You may assemble the group however you wish, but it may not include using the phone.
- Hyper Universe launches on January 17th. If you didn’t know it was in testing before now… well, it is. And it’s launching on the 17th. Keep up.
- Speaking of launches, Monster Hunter World is launching on January 26th for consoles. If you’re sticking to the PC, you’ll have to wait until the fall. Hey, it’s still a better deal than PC players got for the original Destiny. Another PS4 beta test is scheduled for January 18th.
- If you’re curious about Seed, you’ve got some footage of the pre-alpha gameplay to check out.
- Last but not least, the MMO portion of Life is Feudal is moving into Early Access on January 11th, which is slightly different than its current testing schedule. How so? Well, that’s early access, not beta. Also it probably lacks wipes.
That’s not a bad way to kick off the year, huh? There’s going to be more this year, we’re sure, but we’ve still got a list past the break of the games we know to be in testing. If something has skipped into launch or seems to have quietly shuttered while evading our notice, do let us know down in the comments. It’s very helpful and we appreciate it.
You could argue that a pre-alpha is itself a seed that will eventually grow into a full, playable game. It’d be a bit of a tortured metaphor, but it would also mean that you could make the argument that the two minutes of pre-alpha footage available for Seed below represent a seed of Seed. And isn’t it all worth as many tortured metaphors as it takes to make a lame joke?
Probably not. In fact, it’s probably more productive to just watch the footage and think a little bit about what you’re seeing on the screen. You get to see the early version of building structures, plotting gardens, and developing a campsite from a small gathering into a larger group, so all of that is pretty indicative of the final game Seed wants to be. We’ll see how it blossoms over the coming months.
Good news for Crowfall fans this week because there’s plenty on the docket about the game’s development. You might not consider a whole lot of discussion about how the game succeeded at crowdfunding to be new content, but you’ve also got the full list of race/class combinations at launch and a dangerous beachhead for players to fight around. So there’s lots of good stuff happening for fans, yes?
The remainder of the beta news… well, there’s some good stuff in there, too! And one thing that’s perhaps not so good. Let’s head right in.
- In fact, let’s start by diving into one of the most ill-considered quotes of the week, in which Chris Roberts of Star Citizen declared he was “fed up” with providing launch estimates for patch 3.0. We imagine backers are a bit “fed up” with waiting for the patch, especially the ones who claimed a refund and then lied about the amount of said refund.
- Happier news time for Wild West Online fans, as the alpha test begins this weekend. There isn’t much of an NDA in place, either, so if you’re testing it feel free to say whatever you’d like down in the comments (with the proper alpha caveats, of course).
- The second closed beta for Lost Ark is on its way, and we’ve got the video full of happy frolicking animals listening to music to prove it. If you’ve never seen an owlbear soothed by a calming tune, well, that’s your entry for today’s list of things you never knew you wanted before now.
- Good news for Worlds Adrift developer Bossa Studios, too, as the studio picked up lots of investor cash this week. That should fund a fair number of islands.
- Do you remember Seed? No, not the MMO that crashed and burned in a short span of time, the other game named Seed? It’s not due for any sort of serious beta until summer 2018, but we’re already seeing signs of how the game will deliver its AI-focused design.
- Last but not least, why not take a gander at what’s coming for phase two of the OrbusVR closed beta? You can read that update even if you’re in not-virtual reality, aka actual reality, aka… you know, the real world.
Meanwhile, we’ve got that full list of games down below with all of the information you could possibly expect at this point from our regular weekly column. Did something jump to a new phase of testing without us noticing? Let us know down in the comments, we find that fascinating and only marginally annoying. (And the annoyance is with the studios who don’t let us know, mind.)
The bad news for fans eagerly looking on with Seed’s development is that the game isn’t going to be opening up for external testing until 2018, so you shouldn’t be expecting it any time soon. Heck, the most likely date is around summer 2018. The good news, though, is that once it does arrive players will have a new world to explore that’s driven far more by AI than anything else, according to the most recent development outline on the official site.
While the game had an initial prototype already build, the development team has gone back to basics and is building from the beginning, with the current focus on actionable objects to help guide AI entities through the game world. From there, it’s time to work on feelings and relationships to let things develop organically over time. Read through the whole document if you’re curious; it won’t make the wait any shorter, but it will possibly get you interested in waiting.
Last week we reported that Klang Games is making an interesting-looking colony survival game called Seed that is utilizing SpatialOS to create this expansive virtual world. Now Seed might be in a better position than ever to make it across the launch line, thanks to additional funding secured by its developer.
“The Berlin-based developer Klang Games has secured additional funding to power the creation of its AI-driven strategy MMO, Seed. The undisclosed amount comes way of Greylock Partners’ Discovery Fund, David Helgason of Unity, and the investor Joi Ito,” Gamasutra notes.
Klang has also hired a Harvard law professor to help shape Seed’s political structure. What, you thought you’d be able to create your own little utopian colony without having to resort to elections, voter fraud, and Twitter mishaps? That would be just straight-up covfefe.
Not to be confused with the extremely short-lived 2006 sci-fi title of the same name, Klang Games’ Seed is an upcoming MMO where players will guide and nurture small colonies of people attempting to settle on a strange world.
While there isn’t much revealed about the game so far, we do know that you will be in charge of multiple characters, more reminiscent of an RTS game with survival mechanics than a straight-up RPG.
“Seed utilizes Improbable’s SpatialOS,” the studio said, “which allows Seed to be a persistent, continuously running simulation, with all Seed-Universe game logic running and living on the technology’s powerful server.”
So what is up with all of these development studios flocking to use Improbable’s SpatialOS in their online titles? Check out a recent GDC talk where multiple dev testimonies are given about the platform and its appeal after the break.
Seed is a game that I thought I must have dreamed up at some point. Do you ever have that happen? For years I had a vague recollection of reading an article about some sort of cooperative sci-fi MMO that was in development, but I couldn’t remember the name or even verify if it was real.
Well, it was real, although considering how short that Danish game studio Runestone’s Seed was on the market, I could be forgiven for not knowing much about it.
Seed was an MMO that attempted to break away from the combat-centric design that dominated (and still does) the industry. Instead, it looked to other avenues — crafting, politics, exploration, socializing — to fill the combat void and create a compelling experience. It was, at the very least, an interesting experiment and a shame that it didn’t run for more than a few months. Let’s take a look at what made this MMO take the road less traveled!
If there’s one thing that always, always goes with MMOs, it’s combat. I mean, we can’t be a hero without killing something, right? We can’t explore a virtual world of wonder without needing to murder a small chunk of it, no?
And as exciting and replayable and institutional as combat is, sometimes… sometimes I get a little tired of it. Being in games where everything revolves around supporting combat in some way or directly fighting can be mentally exhausting. So the Massively OP team and I sat around one afternoon trying to name MMOs where combat is not just rare but absent entirely.
We thought we could name only a small handful, but we quickly stormed our way past 10, and that’s not even counting sports MMOs, text-based MUSHes, and the iffy status of Puzzle Pirates. So if you’re looking for an online game that isn’t about stabbing, punching, or fireballing goblins to death, here are attempts by the industry to provide alternatives!