Peter Molyneux at Eurogamer: What I love about cloud computing – and this hasn’t been explored yet – is that it allows for something that we as gamers haven’t had since the start of gaming, and that is persistence. We don’t have worlds or experiences that can continue and last for extended periods of time. … Continue reading “Another Life (persistence in games)”
Peter Molyneux at Eurogamer:
What I love about cloud computing – and this hasn’t been explored yet – is that it allows for something that we as gamers haven’t had since the start of gaming, and that is persistence. We don’t have worlds or experiences that can continue and last for extended periods of time. We need to get rid of saved games.
I think game designers are afraid of persistence. You have to figure out the consequences of persistence or figure out a way to fudge it. You have to explain what is going to persist, why and what happens when the game is a year old.
Look at Call of Duty. Are the wars persistent? What about the damage to buildings? And what about the dead? Eventually the bodies will start to smell. How you add persistence to an FPS will change the game. Who’s making the ammunition? We’ve bombed all the factories?
Look at Warcraft. Eventually you’ll have chopped down every tree and mined every mine. Eventually the Undead will likely take over by amassing huge shambling armies. Adding persistence means thinking about the long term consequences.
And what happens in persistent worlds with clues and traps? Do you come across the body of previous players? Or do you brave the terrors of the dungeons only to find the burial chamber contains only the burned out campfire of the guys who looted it before you?
But I don’t think Mr Molyneux is being particularly prophetic. Persistence is the Next Big Thing in games. The challenge will be in not making it awful.
Some companies will deal with it in terms of expansions. More new places to go. Others will use resets. Once a year, everything gets ‘reset’ after a fashion. Others still will place their game in a sandbox. New resources will be supply drops.
What I’m interested in is a game where the structures are built by people playing Sim City or Minecraft. They’re destroyed by people playing Call of Duty and Warcraft. Supplies are generated by people playing FarmVille and shops are staffed by people playing Dead Hungry Diner. Bystanders in the street are Sims, crossed with GTA.
They don’t have to be playing the same game. But what’s to stop a Sim shopkeeper (in real life, a lawyer from Seattle) playing out an interaction with a grizzled CoD veteran (in real life, a 35 year old video store clerk from Miami). The CoD player is playing his favourite FPS and from his point of view is trying to track down the whereabouts of a possible insurgent in the area. The Sim player is interacting via SMS messages and emotes on his mobile phone. He’s dialled up the realism so later that day, he’s interacting with a GTA mugger (in real life, a 17 year old college student on her summer holidays) and escaping with his life but not his wallet.
Isn’t that what Second Life should have been?