The Many Worlds of the Multiverse
At this year's Game Developer's Conference, News Manager Keith Cross had the opportunity to talk with the people behind Multiverse, the MMO platform which is free for use by developers, and with the developers behind a few of the many games being made with Multiverse. So Join us now as we peer through the fabric of space and time to view the many worlds of the Multiverse.
On the last day of the GDC I had the chance to stop by the Multiverse booth. When I wrote in our GDC blog about the various trials of getting to the Stargate Worlds interview, I mentioned there were other occasions where I was delayed getting to an appointment, and that on two occasions it was because I had a hard time finding the booth. Once it was because the booth was cleverly cloaked, and the other time it was all me. Well, the Multiverse booth was the one I couldn’t find because I’m a bit slow. I walked past the place three times, and finally noticed Multiverse in big green letters, looming over the booth in a very obvious fashion.
If you haven’t heard of Multiverse, it’s a platform for creating MMOs and virtual worlds with a unique business model. Multiverse is described as being “genre and setting agnostic.” Meaning that Multiverse is available to anyone for free, for any developer to make whatever game they please, restricted only by their skill and creativity. When and if your game starts making money, the folks at Multiverse are then entitled to a 10 percent cut of the game’s profits, making it a great resource for independent developers, and helping to mitigate the financial risks involved with the development of a massively multiplayer online game.
Times Square and Little Robots
To show off what their product is capable of they had several developers who were building games using Multiverse on hand, as well as a mock up of Times Square to demonstrate their products capabilities. Times Square looked great, complete with flashy animated advertisements and all. Multiverse comes complete with a built in web browser, giving the ability to access any website from directly in the game. This is actually what they did to pull off the ads in Times Square. All of the ads were either flash animations or videos from YouTube. I guess what I’m trying to say is that their Times Square demo looked really good, and showed that Multiverse is capable of high quality graphics in a virtual space.
Another demo they had running was a little robot game, where you play a robot on one of two teams, fighting over territory on islands floating in space. The game had an overall cutesy look, and wasn’t very big. It was put together in a short amount of time in the weeks before the show by a PR company who wanted to demonstrate what a small team can do with Multiverse in a very short period of time. Small teams seem to be the standard with Multiverse. The most common response I received when I asked, “how big is your development team?” was “there are four of us, more or less.” Despite the small teams and low funding, there were still some people doing some interesting things.
I’d say the best looking game they had on display was Infernal Worlds, an MMO that pits the forces of Heaven and Hell against each other and the Void. Players can either play as part of the Heaven faction or the Hell faction, sometimes they fight against each other, but they can both team up to fight the Void. The game has some interesting visuals, and a cohesive artistic style, meaning that creatures and terrains in the game look like they belong with the other objects in that universe.
There was one game on display which particularly caught my interest. Lunar Quest is an educational game being developed at the University of Central Florida which places players on a moon base and has them play mini games which teach physics concepts. For example, to teach the concept of vectors they tasked the player with moving a robot across a series of conveyor belts which each belt running at varying speeds. They said the game was targeted toward students in senior high school or early university, but after seeing some of the in-game activities I thought the concepts were too simple to be of use to higher level students. Then I realized that’s the point of Lunar Quest, to make math and physics concepts easily digestible. Physics is among the most intimidating branches of science, but it’s not the hardest, and Lunar Quest helps tear down that intimidation barrier. I know from experience that if you have a good understanding of the concept, then the math becomes much simpler.
My only complaint is that the game doesn’t have a projectile motion / PvP lesson. Allowing players to competitively fire cannons at their friends on the moon would probably be a hit with some students.