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SEED: The Human Condition

A Conversation with Kara Japhet, from the floor of GDC

At GDC, I had a chance to sit down with Kara Japhet of TAP Interactive – the public relations company who represent Runestone - to discuss SEED: The Human Condition. This upcoming sci-fi MMORPG offers a unique experience for players. Being trapped in a colony on a hostile planet players have to really think about how their characters will help the world and its citizens. The good news is the game is set to launch in May 2006. Despite a very limited Beta, there is a lot of material that is ready to go. Runestone is making sure that all the material is tested and set for production. The devs have continued their strong relationship with the community by actively monitoring the boards and taking player feedback very seriously. Kara stressed the fact that SEED developers are planning for a game that is driven by the players.

In being part of the beta I have had a chance to run around the game and check some things out (my Preview is coming soon). One of the things I had noticed was the real time element to training skills or fixing portions of the tower the colony lives in. With no combat in the game these skills are the basis for building your character and finding your standing in the colony’s hierarchy. The great thing is you can always switch to new skills while still retaining the ones you have learned.

The topic of “Tau” came up. Tau is the computer that runs the colony and life support systems where the players live. Tau being a super computer will be an intricate part of the game for players involving quests and story lines. Tau however is subject to certain mood swings which can not only alter your characters development, but also the colony’s as well.

Speaking of mood swings, it is impossible to talk about SEED without bringing up the emotional model the game is putting into its NPCs. With full blown human emotions NPCs will be a major part of the immersive player experience. NPCs can vote, have opinions, help you in your plans, and yet if they are having a bad day, you may be asked to leave them alone. NPCs will have their own agenda in the game but will also interact with players as part of the weekly elections that are so important.

Elections are a major portion of the game for players. The winners get to decide what work gets done in and around the colony. Players can form Rings (the same as guilds) to help further the political climate around the colony. Think of it as a futuristic version of Survivor the TV series, only you are not voted out, but voted in. Rings can also sabotage the plans of other Rings that are in power. This type of political climate can get very intense and force players to drive development, story lines and game content.

With a strong quest system in place for players to move the scientific and political story lines of the game, character development will become very important. SEED is that the game makes you think on so many different levels. In all of the elements mentioned, the game will be driven by the players, who determine what happens to the colony. SEED certainly brings something new to the table as far as MMOs go. Thanks again to Kara for the preview.

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