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Garrett Fuller gives us his impressions from the beta

“Seed: The Human Condition” is set for release in May. I was lucky enough to get a preview of the game and spend some time running around in Da Vinci to get a feel for the environment. Seed is a very different MMO indeed. There is no hack and slash speed style like Warcraft. There is no long level grinding like Everquest. Seed is a science fiction game that allows players to work together, hold elections, explore, engineer, and most of all solve the problems of living in a very rough environment. The game functions on many different intellectual levels. The most striking feature of Seed is the game makes you think and work towards a better community.

The game is set in an off world colony. A ship has crash landed into a hostile planet and sustained some damages. The ship’s computer Tau has woken up the crew to make repairs and maintain the stable environment. Players who are part of the Da Vinci colony need to begin their journey by boosting skill sets to help repair and maintain parts of the tower (or ship). Not only do players have the chance to simply fix things, they also have the ability to develop blue prints, build new systems, and begin exploring the planet for the possibility to terra form the surface making it livable for colony members. The story of the colony and the efforts made to keep Da Vinci stable will be the central part of the game. Developers have stated that the game content will be player driven. If you want to build a better life support system, work out the blue prints and begin the process.

The look of Seed is extraordinary. The game has a comic book feel to it. Some may think it is cartoony, it’s not. The themes and content of the game are very sophisticated and complex. This adds to the overall sci-fi feel of the game. Character creation has many options. Obviously humans are the only race you can select, but the changes in skin tone, weight, hair color and style are all there. Characters begin in their basic space suits and can carry a variety of tools or equipment with them. I have yet to see in-game customizations to characters as the Beta was rather basic. The movement interface was a bit dicey for my taste only allowing players to use the W, A, and D keys to move around the colony. You can point and click for movement also which makes things a little easier. I am just very used to games that have the arrow keys set aside for movement. This may be the case in production as it is only Beta. The main shift for me was playing games where combat was a major factor. Players who come from the fast paced action packed MMOs will notice the change, but it is not one for the worse.

Crafting and building are major parts of the game that players will be responsible for. There are a lot of skill sets that players can specialize in to help build a better community. The crafting system for players can get very technical, using skill sets such as Power System Design and Nuclear Physics. I was able to start off with Jury-Rigging and Electronics during my play time on the game, but these obviously lead to bigger and better skills. Training your character will not be difficult but will take time. The good news is you can always respect your character without losing your older skills. Gaining different components and blue prints will also help your character learn new systems and designs. Once you design something in the game, players can also produce their item and add it to the central database. My skills did not take me this far in Beta, but imagine having other players run around using game items that you have completely designed yourself. Tech loving players can really get caught up in all that Seed has to offer. This type of immersive game play will build a very advanced crafting system which will drive the story line of the colony. Again, this game makes you think and with all the engineering details there will be a lot to think about.

While running through the Seed Beta I was lucky enough to meet some other players online. The time frame was difficult because many of them were playing in Europe and I was in the U.S. Still we did start a Ring just for fun. Rings are similar to guilds in regular MMOs. The difference with Seed is Rings will also be a huge political influence in the game. NPCs and PCs alike will work towards getting their Ring noticed in the colony. Once election time comes, the Rings who are able to win the votes will get to decide what areas in the colony are worked on or developed. Obviously political sabotage and skullduggery will apply to game play among the Rings. Everyone has heard of the NPCs in Seed as being very active in the game. They will have mood swings, agendas and very strong interaction among players. These NPCs will be a part of your Ring as well as other players. They too get a vote in the elections and have influence on what happens in Da Vinci. When playing the Beta I did not get to see much of the Ring element to the game as I was mostly running around alone. However, Rings will have a major part role in forming the direction of the game.

Speaking of Rings and player agendas, the NPCs in the game are great fun to interact with. While very little of this existed in Beta, the voice chat and comic book voice boxes make the talking and reading very easy for the player. Talking with PC and NPCs alike looks the same. It will be very interesting to see how well the NPCs interact at launch. I know developers are making them as detailed as possible. I wish there was more of this interaction in the Beta, because it will play a central role in the game story. Still, from what I had seen of the complexity of Da Vinci, the NPCs will be very life-like.

Alongside the NPCs and Rings comes the political side of the game. Weekly elections as I had mentioned earlier will put players in charge of the direction the colony goes and what work around the tower or outside on the planet gets done. This type of intrigue reminds me of the old Twilight Zone episode when the people are trapped on another planet and out vote their charismatic leader to go back to earth. It was certainly an unnerving episode (as many were) but I think works as a good comparison for the type of social environment players will be living in. Make no mistake; this is not an MMO with easy answers. Those involved in the political game better know what they are doing to make the colony move forward to a safer happier tomorrow. With NPCs having mood swings based on game content, and players controlling that content, the politics may get very interesting.

Da Vinci itself is not a small place. It does however have a very different design from most MMOs. There are no sweeping landscapes, although I was not able to venture outside the colony. The rooms and hallways have a very futuristic feel. It kept reminding me of the movie Aliens. The whole concept of an off world colony from earth was very detailed, Seed is no exception. The octagonal hallways lead you around the main parts of the colony. There are smaller pathways which can take you to different rooms and store rooms. One of my favorite areas is the central garden where TAU (the master computer) is located. I was also able to visit Pathfinder which looks like the central quest area in the game. The huge screens in the room may likely be used for a number of elements, but until launch we won’t know exactly. I did not yet venture outside the colony onto the planet, but again it is early. Overall I have to say the comic book feel and futuristic setting adds a fun yet sophisticated atmosphere for players to explore.

I can safely say that Seed offers a very different world to the MMO universe. In many ways, for sci-fi fans who love advanced technology and concepts Seed will be the perfect game. The puzzles, storylines, and most of all technology will drive players to really explore a world that developers intend on changing with the direction of the game. Politics will play a major role which encourages players to think on a different level rather than hacking apart the opposing faction. Imagine the show Survivor years in the future with a lot more contestants and you have the basic make up of Seed. Who will help the community grow? Who can solve the technological problems facing the Da Vinci tower? Who will lead the colony to explore the planet? These questions and many more will arise in the complex world that is Seed. The game will definitely be known as the thinking-players MMO. I hope fans are excited about the release of this game and enjoy the change it brings to the MMO market. I do wish the Beta had more to offer so I could really give an in depth look during the preview. Time will tell how this game will fare, I can say that for what they are trying to accomplish as a game design, the Seed team is definitely on the right track.

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