Ambitious Game Project Seeks to Simulate Civilization
You can find crowd-funding projects for games on Kickstarter and Indiegogo that range from the groundbreaking to the banal, but not only is The Universe Project opting to not use either of those two venues — it’s potentially the most ambitious video game project ever.
Defined as “a simulation of humanity through time that plays like a video game,” The Universe Project is to be a game, similar to an RPG, that is capable of supporting millions of players in the same game world, at the same time. While the world will initially be devoid of human life, the game’s first players will be the settlers who begin establishing human infrastructure. Every player will control a single character, like in an MMORPG, and every character you meet will be another player — there are to be no NPCs.
The planet will be the actual size of Earth, a feat of engineering achieved through procedural generation, and the game will simulate human needs — characters will need to eat and drink, seek shelter from the cold and heat, and defend themselves and their belongings from animals and other players. Characters will be able to invent their own tools, skills, buildings, and even weapons, to assist them in meeting their needs.
If you’ve noticed some parallels to Minecraft, you’re not the only one. But The Universe Project will differ from Minecraft in many significant ways, including its greater scope and less of a focus on the nitty-gritty of building of structures. The developers have even theoretically solved the griefing issue:
“[Many people think] that the game will just turn into a giant grief-fest with players killing each other with reckless abandon. Specifically, the Universe Project has some notable similarities to Minecraft, which often suffers from this problem to an even larger degree. There is very little stopping people from killing each other in Minecraft, the same can’t be said for the Universe Project. There will be a lot of defensive protection when in a group. Inactive players will be AI controlled. These inactive players can work as guards for the group, they watch over everything to make sure nothing is stolen, no one is attacked, nothing is vandalized.”
The persistence of your character once you log out is another important distinction:
“While players are away from the game, they will receive email updates with what is going on in the world and what is happening with their characters. They will get notifications when something major is happening, like when their character is being attacked.”
This incredibly ambitious project has received just under $4,700 in donations to date from 179 backers, and a number of different technologies have been experimented with over the years to allegedly make this game possible. While I’m skeptical about whether this game can actually be made — and be fun — I am eager to see how things shape up.
Do you think this game can be made? Would you want to play it?