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Carolyn Koh Posted:
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SEED, the recently launched non-combat game, explained

“Seed has no combat,” announced Runestone Games CEO Lars Kroll Kristensen firmly. “It is a role-playing game.”

In a world of MMOGs that gamers expect to be a blend of various aspects of game-play including combat, crafting, buying and selling… but mostly combat, Seed has no combat. I asked about the decisions around the concept and making of Seed and Lars was happy to expound on his recently launched game.

Runestone sought to create a game which provided creative and cooperative play. A game which targeted the role-play community specifically.

“We want to be upfront about it,” he repeated. “There is no combat. The gamer in Seed is playing a fictional role in a set of stories.

Alex Uth the Lead Writer was happy to speak more of the story. In a nutshell for this report, humans speed-grown in floatbeds are hatched fully grown and trained for life in a space colony. A massive computer, TAU controls the colony. Gamers will play such a human.

The name of the game reflects the goal of the game – which is to grow the colony from the ground up. Using careful server architecture and distributed computing, all gamers are part of the same colony. The story grows and changes as the players develop the direction in which they wish to grow.

As Alex described, “We provide suggestions of directions in which the colony can grow, and write the story in which the players decide the colony will grow. The story is a premise. We provide the background and a believable world with different challenges and leave it open ended.”

“Roleplay is the core of the game,” said Lars. “It’s all about cooperative play. Players will group together to complete projects, trade with each other and learn from each other to advance.”

Rings are the Seed term for player run groups or guilds, and Alex spoke of how exciting it was to watch the social system begin to develop in the game as well as on the forums. “Rings have formed, and some rings are already aspiring to move up in the fledgling political structure we have in place.”

As planned, the political structure will advance to having elected officials with one (real life) week terms in different positions that can control various machines that serve the colony. These officials will build machines and manipulate the machines by adding and removing mods. However, everything that is placed into the service of the colony remains with the colony.

So… how does one play and advance in Seed? Players advance by gaining skills. Basic skill sets are available to all starting characters and easy to learn. More advanced skills will obviously take time to acquire, and “Inspiration Drops” from time to time will provide inspiration and boost the skill.

There are several different Skill Trees, including:

  • Repairing / Building which is required to configure machines,
  • Reduction / Breaking down which is the opposite, and may be required to obtain resources for crafting
  • Administration which is about managing machines – the ability to place machines into “hot points” or sockets.
  • A Science Tree which is in development stages, with a Medical Branch planned.
“It is like a game of Lego,” said Lars. “There are many, many bricks and many, many ways to build things.”

As the game develops and players explore beyond the home base, the world will become more dangerous. There is no death in game, but injuries may be serious and require time and skills to heal properly. I asked about a Horticultural skill and both Lars and Alex responded that there are no plans for it, but as the idea I planted ran through there heads, remarked that there certainly were areas that would be suitable for a small hydroponic plant or two. Players do not eat or drink, but certainly that could be a change in the story if there is enough player demand to create perhaps food or drink that would be ability boosts or assist in healing.

Resources are constantly being mined by TAU the computer running the colony, and are available at “share points”. At this time, minerals available to players are Minerals, Water and Bio Matter. Again, Alex described how players are beginning to congregate at share points to share new blueprints they’ve found and exchange crafted materials and resources.

I asked about the graphics. Seed is unique in their art. It is like stepping into a huge graphic novel. Lars smiled to hear my description of it.

“Then we have success. Our intent was to make Seed have a distinct look. We want people to be able to look at a screenshot and say… That’s Seed!” The graphic novel theme runs through the entire game and the site as well, with fonts and colors chosen to reflect the theme.

The game was launched on May 2nd and 2,000 trial accounts are currently active. For a game that is only 10 days old, I can see why Alex is as excited as she is to see the social interaction and structure develop. Their target magic number is 30,000 active accounts

Seed is available as an online download in a “try before buy” manner. All one has to do is to register an account to access a 14 day trial. No requirement for key-codes or “buddy-keys” obtainable only by buying magazines or full games, and they are currently having a launch promotion – two months of play for the price of one. So… head on over and give it a spin, you may surprise yourself.

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Carolyn Koh

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn Koh has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.