Hands On Preview
When I first saw this game, my first thought was “Ahh… kind of a Minecraft for kids.” Well, that’s about as descriptive and true as saying “Lego is for kids.” GameGlobe is a building game where you build worlds (or globes) and play in them. Currently in beta and on the cusp of launching, it is a browser game amazingly enough, with powerful building tools and fabulous graphics.
First of all, you create your avatar. Customization is about accessories, not shape of face and body. It’s a simple 3-D model and you can save up to four different rig outs. You start off in a Pirate world with a backpack – and you soon discover that there are other worlds where that becomes a rocket pack.
Since it’s a Pirate world, you break out of prison and escape. Completed levels can be replayed but why? When there are literally, hundreds of player created levels to play? A better way of searching for levels than reading the forum posts may be required, but all the simpler noobie levels are there on a forum post.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Creation aside, the game is amazingly simple to pick up. You have a mouse controlled camera, WASD are your movement keys, space bar to jump/double jump, right click to fight, and left click to do about everything else when you are in proximity to intractable objects. In the simplest terms, it is a 3-D exploration, hack-n-slash game with platforming action.
Let your customer build your game. That’s what GameGlobe is all about, player built levels. As players level, gain gold and gain more shiny toys to play with, they build tougher levels which provide more gold and xp.
The amount of gold and xp provided in each player crafted level is determined by the game, a component of the number of NPCs you have to kill, plus traps you have to dodge, plus length of level, number of rooms, etc. etc.
Running the first quests will also show player clues to interactive items in the game (moving textures), how the items work and give players ideas on creating directional clues like floaty money balls. Every level starts the same way. You punch out the first NPC and pick up his weapon – unless you start off with one. Guns do run out of ammo as I discovered to my dismay at one point, but simply picked up another.
Creation isn’t that difficult either. However… easy to learn, hard to master. I watched the videos in the Guide tab on the website and got excited enough that I jumped straight away into building and spent way too many hours terra-forming and tweaking my build before I discovered that there are build tutorials – that gave you gold and xp, and got you practiced and more used to the building tools. They also inspired me to greater heights, and I immediately purchase the larger building site and made not just a little island with hills, I created mountain ranges and spent the next few days creating paths, tunnels, placing climbable vines and stair elements to the top of the plateau, painting different textures, placing trees and losing myself in creativity. I only played quests and player levels when I needed more gold and gems to buy more items!
The variety of tools, props, textures and tweaks available are amazing for a browser game and there are themed sets. Jungle, Pirate and Mercenaries to name a few and they include aggressive NPCs and soon to come, vehicles and the building of vehicles. In beta, you have to earn / buy the pieces and like anything else, player ingenuity found the use of terra-forming and odd pieces to create natural stair cases instead of purchasing a stair piece – but the business model at launch provides all the pieces to subscribers. Can you add sound? Yes. Music? Yes. Interactive items? Yes. You can also do a play through at any point during your creation, so you can continue to tweak your level in real time. Is that gap too wide for a noob to safely double-jump over? Try it out!
The stable of player made levels is already large with players publishing and promoting their creations in the forums. Player levels are voted up and down by other players. Popular levels can be found through a leader system, levels can be searched for and Square also runs creation challenges and features various builders on the game’s front page.
It was the gorgeousness of the graphics that grabbed me. The retro-pixels of MineCraft did nothing for me, but the moment I moved my first hillock of earth in GameGlobe, complete with earth rumbling sounds, I was hooked. That real time interaction, the scalability, the complete ease of what I was doing showed me that even I, who cannot draw my way out of a paper bag, could create worlds.
The budding community in the forums grows everyday with players writing creation guides and helping each other with creation and test play. Right now, the big thing is creating meaningful interactive NPC dialogue with the available tools and the chat about multiplayer levels (subscribers only). The dialogue creation reminds me the LEGO MMO’s interactive behavior – linking behavior modules together in a form of programming language.
GameGlobe has separated from BigPoint and will be solely published by Square Enix; they are sorting out the payment system and the current system of gold and gems may yet change. Subscribers will have access to creation and all building tools but avatar items have to be earned in game or bought. Free players / micro transaction players cannot create any levels but can quest and play the game and buy avatar items, so there will always be more players to test and play the games then there are level creators.
While not strictly an MMO in the most concrete sense, the fantastic multiplayer aspect of this game is not just potential but already a reality. Multiplayer levels (with in-game chat functions) are currently in alpha testing and about to go into beta. The graphics are gorgeous, the variety is endless and this game is still in its infancy. What’s it going to look like at maturity? How many levels are we talking about by then? The possibilities are endless. Am I impressed? Yes. Are there bugs to work out? Sure. I’ve had the game freeze on me a few times, especially during some of those long creation sessions. Loading of some of the larger player made levels can take a few seconds, but as a friend who is Minecraft player asked, “How can this be a browser game?”
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