It’s time for another round of your questions being answered. This time I didn’t only sit down with Mundi himself, but also passed on a few of your questions to the developers that have the closest connection to the given topics.
As always, take everything with a grain of salt - designs are bound to change, and some things are not yet fully fleshed out or will not survive testing. We’re trying to be as transparent as we can and love to include all of you in our process though, so we’re happy to share what we can.
Having said that, I hope you enjoy this read!
[ Polaris ] IsaacShadowShade: How much waiting will you have when you're playing? Games in the same-ish genre usually have lots of waiting and micromanagement, is this game going to be similar?
Mundi: If you're talking about all those idle mobile games with all their timers, where you wait for 19 hours for something to happen: then no. There won’t be anything artificially slowing you down. Some progress will still be slow of course - but while your Seedlings carry out your plans, and go on with their daily lives, you will be able to see them at every step, and will be able to interrupt and redirect them, to react to external factors.
[AF]ProblematicMan: Do Seedlings need to eat three times per day?
Mundi: Currently they need to eat once a day or so, but in the long run we want them to have breakfast, lunch and dinner.
David P., Game Designer: Seedlings can go multiple days without eating, but will be affected by being hungry, and of course, die at some point.
David O., Game Designer: I am assuming you are asking in Avesta time, hehe? It highly depends on the meal your Seedlings are preparing. So to answer your questions, it not only depends how often you eat, but also what you eat. That said, Seedlings need to consume food equivalent to their belly capacity, once a day.
Virtual World: Can we have more info on the technology behind development eg SpatialOS, Networking, AI and the like? And Unity engine.
Mundi: We are building on Spatial OS, which is basically a server tapestry, which lets us stitch together multiple servers. This allows us to scale the game far beyond what any conventional MMO has been able to do. Current MMOs are typically built on a single server architecture.
As for the AI, we are creating our own AI framework from the ground up. It needs to be extremely scalable, since we will be simulating thousands of seedlings who will consider all the options and things around them at every moment.
We face very different challenges than most games, when it comes to AI. Ultimately we aim to make it more sophisticated, but also extremely fast and reactive.
Marijn, Unity Engineer: Mundi summarizes it well. We're using SpatialOS which enables us to stitch a whole world together. As for Unity, there's many aspects to it. On the client of course there's the rendering, lighting, landscape, etc. As for the UI, we have our own engine called UIForia. On the server most of our code (such as the AI) isn't actually interacting much with Unity, the biggest feature we're currently using there is probably Navigation. We're also dipping our toes into Unity's new DOTS technology, which is already allowing us to do some really cool things, I'd guess that we will make heavier use of that in the future!
Laputa] Qworst: So in the hypothetical possibility that, in the 5 years following a full release of the game, an enormous market crash/war happens in the Seed world involving parties that are enormous (analogue to the USSR and USA during cold war) and results in the death of millions of Seedling and the creation of an unliveable planet for 80% of the player base that leads to a massive rage-quit movement of the playerbase, will you do anything to prevent losing that player base or will you let the events unfold to see if the server will definitely die or the player will rebuild it or adapt?
Mundi: This is always an ongoing thing, and we think about this a lot, but in this scenario with powers like that, I would assume the game is already extremely successful.
We will not necessarily give people the tools to create weapons of mass destruction that make it possible to ruin everybody's fun. There shouldn't be a big red button that somebody can push to destroy the world.
We would rather like clear lines between the powers, for example borders, that encourage tug and pull behaviour.
So players close to the border know they face the risk of conflict, while those hidden away deeper inside their territories know that they won’t suddenly be attacked.
The pressure and the tension of very powerful entities is healthy to feel for everyone, the feeling that there’s something global happening. But we need to make sure that it’s nothing so volatile as a wrecking ball that could ruin everybody's fun. [Mundi breaks into song here]
Virtual World: Oh Mighty Devs! Hear Our prayers! Your faithful servants beseech you: What sorts of interesting sci-fi details can we expect from your elaborate world-building powers? Eg will we have exquisite geology, extravagant mycology and scintillating hydrology?
Mundi: As a disclaimer, lots of these things are still in a kind of liquid form, as in not in a solid state. So it’s hard to go into too much detail, but there are lots of tools and machines that we try to base on somewhat reasonable science and technology. We don’t want to build a world on sci-fi magic, so to speak. We don't have a gravity gun, or a random thing that floats. We try to build everything on at least somewhat realistic premise. But there is also lots of stuff coming out from just around the corner that I wouldn’t want to spoil.
Azonerath Worsencroft: how large is the Seed ARG? we all know it exists so if we can get a good estimate of how large it actually is that world be great.
Mundi: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
roekies avestan: Will our long-term colonization of Avesta bring about a better "New Earth" that is kept on the right path by the technologies and mechanics within the game?
Will it even be possible to create a similar fossil fuel and CO2 scenario on Avesta?
Will we create a different scenario with different intentions but ultimately we mess up the planet in an entirely new way?
Mundi: I think for us it's like, of course this will be up to the players. We do hope to simulate pollution one day - this might happen post launch, as the build up of pollution would be so slow that you wouldn't notice it at first anyway. So after like six months of play you might notice the first effects and warning signs.
I think the main principle is that we wouldn’t inspire our players to solve the problems we have right now, here on earth, unless players can fuck it up in game and see the consequences of non-sustainable choices.
If there were only green technologies available, and no way to mess up anything, they couldn't learn to come up with better systems that maybe we could learn from in reality.
It's important that the challenges they face are riddled with corruption, with people thinking only about certain gains, that the ‘good’ players must work against. There should be a reason to work together, to keep the governments and environment healthy.
That's the same challenge we face here on earth, and that's what we want the players to face so they feel inspired to come up with things they might otherwise not have.
[AF] DrunkRussianBear: Quick question, how deep will the SEED taxation system be?
Mundi: We have a very big design, but we haven't started implementing it. There won’t be a player driven economy in Pioneers yet, but our plans are big.
As far as taxation systems go in games, i think we'll be doing something deeper than we've seen before.
[AF] Sendall: What tools or support will you provide to help encourage a sense of nationality or group belonging?
Mundi: Good question! We need to think about that more, so far we have talked about banners and icons to be displayed in game, in different menus or the world. We don't have concrete plans yet, as this won't matter much in Pioneers, as you will be all part of the same group on each deployment. But it's definitely something we need to think about for the releases after.
People will also have the option to use clothing or for example the color of their houses to create a sense of belonging or identity. We definitely want to support groups in showcasing who they are.
[AF] Fabrican: Will Avesta have its own native people?
Mundi: Not that I know of.
Spotty: Does each Seedling family have to grow its own food, harvest it and prepare it? If so, how will "modern" cities function? Are there any plans for allowing mass production of food that can be sold at reasonable prices so that things like "supermarkets" can exist?
Mundi: There will definitely be dedicated players farming, distributing and so on. Shops that Seedlings go to and buy groceries, it’s hard for me to imagine how that will work. There’s lots to do before we get to that point. But a farmer selling his corn on the market, that will definitely be a reality once we get our markets ready. Which won't be this year.
WepeWoop: How will group leaders be able to manage their members? Will there be some kind of system dedicated to this?
Mundi: Yes! There will be a system around this that we call the government system, or the player group system. It will go quite deep, and will tie in with politics. It’s not just an admin adding players to a group, but for example a big group voting people in. We will need a very deep system around this. We spend a lot of time with Lawrence Lessig, working on exactly that, but we haven't started to implement it, as it won't be relevant for Pioneers.
It will be important though for players to decide what structure their groups will follow on a meta level, because it will be extremely important to self organize. Players without a clear structure of leadership and management will most likely not last long.
Kingtiger: Will migrations of Seedlings between cities be a thing? For example, more quality of life on city B than city A, wars, or something else.
Mundi: That will be up to the player. We want to support players’ movements between cities, but their Seedlings probably won’t just move to another city on their own.
PasQ: Regarding crops and water. In a real colony it is essential to establish it near a water source. In the game will this be of influence? Will we need canals or ditches that bring water to the crops?
[AF] ProblematicMan: will there be underground aquifers that can be tapped for wells or bubble up as Springs?
Mundi: We will most likely create a deep water system at some point, but it won’t be a part of Pioneers. ...
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