When we posted a while back about our spring cleaning, some of you asked what exactly was cleaned up? Which was a fair enough question, as sometimes what is left out is as interesting as what is left in: the clean up points towards the ideal state of play.
So today we’re going to go over just one or two small features that were part of our past production and development, but which due to various reasons no longer make sense to keep around (for reasons outlined in the last post).
This was a feature that was created in order to allow players a straightforward tool to express themselves by placing a signpost in the gameworld. They could simply upload an image from their computer and it appeared on the billboard.
Reasons for removing this feature were varied: one main reason was performance issues. It wasn’t always easy to integrate image files and it slowed down the simulation. Another was that visually it was very disruptive, there wasn’t enough visual gain to justify the break that the images created in the gameworld. While it was fun and of course led to some devs being very creative, it broke the style and therefore the overall feel of the game - something that is not always ideal, to say the least. We know that down the line we will have tools that will allow players to communicate and to express themselves in ways that are part of the overall gameworld.
Here you can see some examples:
This was a feature added to help players understand who else was in the gameworld at any given time. As our simulation continues even when players log off, it’s not always easy to understand who else is present, where they are and what they’re doing. These glowing blue orbs were intended to help show a player’s presence in the game, give a sense of presence and understanding.
This feature raised a lot of questions about the player and their relationship to their Seedlings. In a sense it exposed ‘the fourth wall’ and as such we’re not sure it is the right thing to incorporate at the present moment. The feeling currently is that players are the deus ex machina, their presence is best represented by the changing activities, routines and operations of their Seedlings.
It’s not always a case that we just keep things in because we’ve developed them: these avatars are a good example of that, they are nice and work well, but to research our players’ experience properly we need to add in and withdraw features on a rolling basis. For now, the simulation makes more sense without these avatars. Who knows, this may make a re-appearance down the line.
For now, you can get a taste of what it looked and felt like in the capture below. This was from an internal playtest a while ago, the flying orbs representing active players and their movement. The stationary ones in the background, idle or AFK players.