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Working for the Greater Good

Cassandra Khaw Posted:
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Before I started paying bills with words, I was a web developer and a pretty good one, at that. For six years, I ran around, constructing little widgets, websites and other things necessary to keep the Internet functioning. Obviously, one thing led to another, and stuff changed. Nonetheless, even after I retired from if_else clauses, I've always retained a special place in my heart for anything that dealt with code in an intriguing way.

For anyone who has been following this column for a while now, you probably already know I'm not that much of a Kickstarter fan. I mean, we've featured Kickstarters as part of a collective before, but I've never really gotten really excited over individual projects except for maybe Greed Monger, a game that I still find absolutely amazing. 

That said, it's no longer going to have the distinction of being the only one. Let me introduce Topia Online to you.

Described as a completely player-run MMORPG sandbox, Topia Online doesn't just want to provide an environment where you can be a hero, it wants to impress upon its players that, and I quote, 'if you do not work together for a greater good, not only will you die, but the entire game world will die.'

Drawing inspiration from games like Ultima Online, Minecraft and even Dwarf Fortress, Topia Online is being designed to be a living, breathing, persistent world. It's being designed as a game where player-generated cities, dungeons, trade routes, bandit camps are possible, a game where it is mandatory to hire workers and gather resources in order to get bloody anywhere.

Sounds familiar? I know. Now, here are where the twists come in.

Everything in the game, outside of the NPCs that players create and program themselves, are going to be player-run. Every imp, every chicken, every sentient snowman (okay, that may be going too far) - they're all going to have someone behind the controls. Interestingly, it looks like the creatures themselves will be able to evolve even further, providing further incentive to wreck havoc on unsuspecting adventurers.

I see a few speculative brows raised in the background there. Topia Online will indeed feature the opportunity to work with the same tools available to the development team. Don't like the idea of a PvP-friendly environment? Do yourself a favor and build a game world that is without it. Needless to say, a script marketplace will also be implemented in order to cater to those with minimal programming experience.

Now, throw in the fact that an apocalyptic ending will follow if you and the rest of the community fail to keep the obelisks in the game functional and you'll have all the ingredients necessary for me to throw money ineffectively at the screen.

Will Topia Online succeed? I don't know. Right now, a little over $13, 000 has been pledged - that's barely a quarter of the required goal. Nonetheless, I'm more than a little hopeful in regards to the game. We've been complaining about the lack of a sandbox for ages now. Why not a game that literally provides us the tools necessary for building our dreams?


Cassandra Khaw