Voxel Farm and the Destruction of Worlds
Earlier this week, Artcraft announced that they’ve signed a deal with Voxel Farm to use their technology to power the worlds of Crowfall. Some may immediately think, “oh great, more voxels”. But put down the pitchforks. In Crowfall, voxels are not about building random things in the world but rather destroying the very ground you walk upon and tearing down the castles of your enemies.
Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton hopped on the phone with me yesterday to quickly go over what Voxel Farm will be used for in Crowfall. They’ve been working with the VF tools for about a year now, and didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag too early, as they both know what players think of when they hear the word voxel.
Let’s put that rumor to bed now: Crowfall will not be Trove/Landmark/Minecraft/etc. Instead, the purpose behind Artcraft’s use of the tech is simply to make the warfare across its many interconnected worlds that much more interesting. Outside of the Eternal Kingdoms (which we’ll get to in a minute), Crowfall’s many war-ravaged worlds will be procedurally generated. They host campaigns that begin and end with victors and losers, and as such Artcraft wants to keep the worlds constantly fresh. By using Voxel Farm with procedural generation, it ensures no two maps will be the same or have the same layout, resources, and so on.
In gameplay, Voxel Farm allows something else entirely: castle keeps will be vulnerable from any direction, players with the right skills can dig under walls, carve tunnels across the countryside, or knock down mountains on other players. If a tower has tons of mages and archers you can’t easily get to, take out the tower with a well-placed ballistae shot and then watch the enemy scatter.
What won’t Voxel Farm be used for? Building. Crowfall is not going down the path of Landmark, Trove, and other creative/building games. That’s not their wheelhouse or where they want to take their gameplay. Primarily and exclusively, the VF tech will be used for competitive play and warfare.
Does that mean there won’t be housing? Of course not!
You won’t be making copies of the Louvre or modern looking colonials using voxels, but you will be able to build keeps and houses and other structures from more pre-fabricated materials. There will be some control over the looks, but think of it more along the lines of EQ2, Rift, and other games that have done housing. Only in this case, this is where the Eternal Kingdoms come into play.
The Eternal Kingdoms, on the outermost ring of the “universe” that is Crowfall, serve as the player’s sort of home world. You’ll have your permanent place of living here, much like Shadowbane back in the day. And while Todd and Gordon will get more into the ways Eternal Kingdoms are ruled and shaped by the players later (for instance, the player ruler will set the PVP and loot rules on each Eternal Kingdom), they were able to say this much.
The Eternal Kingdoms will be permanent, and never-ending. They’ll be the player’s tie to their own character and overall progression, since the hunger-torn worlds will end and change frequently. They will allow you to stay peaceful (depending on your ruling player), living a harmonious life… but you will be missing out on the more valuable resources and reagents that only the competitive worlds will hold. It’s possible for someone who just wants to craft to stay in the EK, but they’d better have friends and a guild that will help them stay supplied so they can make their goods. There are monsters to fight and so forth, but these again are limited when compared to the way Hunger affects the other worlds. In short, they’re almost like “hub” worlds where players can retreat to, holding the universe together as they never end, but Todd and Gordon want and expect the majority of the content to be experienced on the campaign worlds.
For more info on how that all will work, and how the Fealty and player-run part of the Eternal Kingdoms works, you’ll just have to stay tuned to the Crowfall site. This one’s turning out to be a very interesting and unique take on the MMORPG, and we’re sure to have much more info and hopefully some hands-on and video (the proof in the pudding) shortly.