Hi there! In the past few weeks, we’ve been asked lots of awesome questions on the feedback form and in comments—everything from nitty-gritty details about crafting and enemies, to big picture questions about the server structure, to tech questions about how we’re solving massive worlds. Today we’ll try to take a step back and give you a glimpse of our vision for the game. Hopefully you’ll get a better idea of how everything fits together. Keep in mind that a lot of what we’re trying to do has never been done before, and all conventional wisdom tells us to turn back, so there’s a non-zero possibility some things just can’t be achieved. However, we’ve worked through most limitations we’ve come across so far, and we’re rather foolish people, so we’re confident we can knock down the rest—one at a time. So, imagine you are a nomad of the skies. You and your ragtag band wander from island to island on your cobbled-together airship, scouring for lost technology and scavenging for resources. You are constantly trying to improve your ship, keep it fueled, and keep it repaired. Sky predators, storms, and other travelling bands—all of which could be a threat to your ship—will dominate your thoughts. But in the back of your mind, you still ask yourself questions: How did your world become this way? What calamity, a thousand years ago, could have shattered the world into a thousand pieces? Deep down you know that the world was not always this way, and your questions are what drive you onward and upward, towards the endless skyline.
We hope Worlds Adrift will be a return of sorts to the roots of online multiplayer games. We want it to be a freeform exploration and adventure game where players create their own objectives, because we believe those are consistently the most rewarding and empowering goals to attain. We want the rules of the game world to be coherent and intuitive, and for players to be able to tell their own stories through their actions. Key to all of this is our partner, Improbable. They’re helping us do a few incredible things: First, Worlds Adrift is set in a persistent, shared multiplayer environment. That means anyone who plays the game will be in the same enormous world. (Due to the increased importance of low latency in a game with physics, however, the current plan is to have separate servers for different geographic regions—we can’t overcome the speed of light, I’m afraid). Secondly, the world will live and breathe. Worlds Adrift will not be an MMORPG as we know them. There are no quest hubs and no NPCs standing around forever, waiting to give you tasks. There are no low-level zones and high-level zones, because there will be no levels. There are no static, choreographed environments and events that replay for every new player. Instead, there will be creatures that eat and live and die, and trees that grow, and ruins that hold secrets, and wreckage that rusts and rots, all inside a world that doesn’t revolve around you, but that can be permanently affected by your actions. You are a part of the world, and it’s up to you to decide which part that is, and how it relates to all the other parts. Lastly, the world will behave according to believable physics. You can see in our latest video (and can read about the specifics in Rodrigo’s blog post last week) that ships are constructed of pieces — each of which can be snapped off if there’s a strong enough impact. Much of the world will also behave like this: creatures, wreckage, loose objects on the ground. And of course there will be plenty of rope physics involved in player movement. You may be wondering how we can have everybody on the East coast of the U.S., for example, on one server—won’t it be overcrowded? The short answer is no, because the world will grow to accommodate new players. I’ll let Tom cover the details in next week’s blog post, but the gist is our environments will be mostly procedurally generated. All of the islands you see in this week’s video were generated procedurally, for example, before undergoing a level design pass. We’ll be iterating on our procgen algorithm continually, so the environments will be more detailed, more believable, and more exciting to explore as we make progress. So stay tuned for next week’s post! Thanks for joining us on our journey, Herb