The idea of procedurally-generated MMOs has appealed to me for a while. I’ve tried to imagine what such a space might look like and how it might work, but a working prototype is really what’s needed to examine the concept in depth. Eskil Steenberg’s “astonishing and somewhat unsettling” procedural MMO, Love, provides a touchstone for future imaginings:
The game itself, dubbed Love (as in For The Love Of Game Development), is an exploration-based moderately-multiplayer FPS with astounding impressionistic visuals and a procedurally generated universe. Since Steenberg is a one man show, he’s relying on clever maths to build the world for him and then clever gamers to come in and help him figure out where to take it, and what to do with it.
So far he’s already populated it with weird animals and wondrous, gaseous visuals, and he intends to build the world into a kind of communal adventure, where gamers work together to furnish a central village, defend it from enemy attack, and explore the surround world and its many dungeons. Players will be able to do things like deform elements of terrain, allowing them to build tunnel networks or walls to defend their property. Items will also be intended for the good of all as Steenberg creates them and drops them into the world. You won’t be picking up rifles in your adventures, but more likely the plans for the rifle-building machine, that can then be utilised by everyone in your village. Part Zelda, part Tale In The Desert, part adventure shooter, and wholly abstract and beautiful, Love looks the kind of amalgam of art, programming and internet savvy that we’ve desired without even being able to imagine. It has the potential, and Steenberg has the huge intellect, for this to be one of the most precious events in PC gaming. (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)