Would you play an exploration-only game?

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by weed_eater_guy, Oct 1, 2010.

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  1. weed_eater_guy It ain't broke, don't fix it! Registered Senior Member

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    Hey yall,

    I've been playing the Mass Effect games lately, and as a fan of space exploration and related sciences, I got a kick out of the sections of the game where you get to just fly around in your space ship and examine worlds, star systems, etc. Flying up to and reading about the individual worlds somehow got me excited. The act of exploring a universe gave me that ethereal high I get when I stare at the stars at night and contemplate just how we'll one day go there...

    It made me realize a potential video game premise. It's a few hundred years from now, world peace is all but completely realized and now the nations of earth are all pitching in to touch the heavens. You're an explorer, sponsored by such nations. You're granted a small warp-drive ship, a hundred pounds of antimatter, and a small 4-man crew.

    Your mission: to set out and explore a scientifically realistic universe. That simple.

    You choose where you go in a factual universe, updated with the latest extrasolar planet discoveries of today, plus many, many, many fictional dreamworlds limited only by the bounds of science and imagination. You can sample the coronas of blue giants. Barely survive a close pass with a black hole. Land on planets. Swim in the oceans of ocean-worlds. Tread on the remnants of ancient alien solar-system-sized megastructure, as it drifts through space after a billion years of it's creators' extinction.

    You'll do all these things with both your ship and little sub-craft that you develop in transit. En-route to a system with a unique gas giant? You engineer a flying vehicle optimized for that atmosphere. Going to a world with large ice poles? Make a terrestrial vehicle, perhaps with a drill. Maybe just a drill that can swim, so you can take a chance of drilling in and finding an ocean under the ice.

    With the graphical horsepower of consoles and PCs today, this game would be a gem. You'll stare off the cliff on a moon to see it's father, a gas giant, occupying half the sky. You'll swim in a 1000-mile deep ocean and see, slowly coming into view, one-mile diameter jellyfish-like creatures, gracefully, peacefully, flowing through their world. You'll sweat bullets as the flier you specially engineered plummets towards the center of a gas giant, with majestic lightening bolts, hail, and super-tornadoes thrashing you about, your flier just barely hanging in there through it all, until finally, the metalic-hydrogen core is visible, veiled in the near pitch darkness from tens of thousands of miles of cloud layers above, lit only by lightening in an eternal night.

    The plot? Well, not much of one, not that much of a story, perhaps some vibrant background of Earth's history in the 21st and 22nd centuries, but that'd be all. You just explore.

    Would you play this? Why or why not?

    Also, if anyone wants, please, by all means, steal this idea and make this game! And let me know about it so I can play!

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  3. scifes In withdrawal. Valued Senior Member

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    there's an open source game you play as a deer, you go around a virtual forest and enjoy being a dumb animal.
     
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  5. jmpet Valued Senior Member

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    How about instead of a video game, you write the book (or series of books) about this universe?
     
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  7. weed_eater_guy It ain't broke, don't fix it! Registered Senior Member

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    Considered it, in fact I think it'd make a great series of short stories (i.e., a story for each world or system). However, I just feel that a video game would make a much more engaging medium for exploration. You don't want to convey emotion, or a detailed plot, as a written medium is of course fantastic at doing. You want to present a vibrant environment for which a player can have their own emotions, and make their own ponderings of the universe and what may exist. This is what it is to explore something. To see something new and make your own deductions about it.

    For instance, let's say our 1st-person explorer stands upon a cliff overlooking an alien forest, with it's yet-indescribable forms of life interacting in a dance of motions and sounds. If I wanted to convey a certain set of thoughts, a certain set of feelings, I would use words to do so. I would perhaps describe plants as "waving" in the wind rather than "twitching". However, if I wanted to allow one to just revel in the scene, and stare into it for 15 minutes as they have their own thoughts, well, I'd rather just show it to them. I'd rather put them in the scene as literally as I could, with my inevitably biased words not getting in the way of their thoughts, and I think a video game is perfect for that.

    Also, it lets them truly explore. You're not reading about a character's adventures. You're having YOUR adventure. You go to worlds you want to go to. You interact with these worlds the way you want. You wander around that alien forest for hours going "Oh, what's this? Oooo, what's that! Ohh, what's this doing? Why is this here? How does this work? What happens if I poke this with a stick? Oh, it twitches! Why is it twitching? I should grab a sample... Oh, it's not liking that, am I hurting it? Should I keep sampling or leave it alone? What if it has a seed I could bring back... maybe lying on the ground somewhere..."

    Catch my drift? Maybe? I dunno, I really am curious what people think about something like this. All exploration, little plot. Go nuts, what do you think?
     
  8. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    Starflight (1986) is the closest thing you'd get. Nintendo gen and younger will never go for it.
     
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Graphically there would be no issue with what you're proposing.
    The issue I see is scale.
    The only truly decent "explorable" games I've played with decent graphics have been Fallout3 and Oblivion / Morrowind... and while you're not suggesting the voice-acting and NPC interaction of those games, you still seem to be envisaging a game where each possible world is rendered as equally well... and if you then build in decent AI for animals / life-forms and perhaps NPCs if you meet an alien race etc... then the complexity is vast.

    And then if you want it in a "scientifically realistic" universe, how are people going to travel from one planet to another in an enjoyable manner, let alone star to star?

    To get people interested in such an open game you do need to give their character a reason d'etre - a plot - a mission. And to get them to go from one place to another there would have to be a main arc... perhaps the lure of a cure (ooh, poetry!). But give them the multiple options, the ability to just explore etc.
    But the sheer scale of what you envisage I think is its weakness.

    And there has to be excitement in the game, or else most people would just lose interest. I'm sure some would enjoy just exploring, but I can't think most would.
     
  10. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    A game like that would go over big if you would make it exciting. Make it so that your character is getting into trouble with everything they come across and find ways out of those troubles.
     
  11. Grim_Reaper I Am Death Destroyer of Worlds Registered Senior Member

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    Yes I remember that game I thought it was way cool when it came out.
     
  12. Pinwheel Banned Banned

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    Yes, YES! Program it immediately!
     
  13. weed_eater_guy It ain't broke, don't fix it! Registered Senior Member

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    I dunno, I find excitement in new things, perhaps this makes me a bit of a magpie with attention deficit... oooo, shiny object! Hang on, brb.

    Where was I? Ah yes! But I do see what you mean. Observing a universe by going to worlds rendered similarly and interacted with similarly (ala Mass Effect 1) would get old and feel empty. Bit if each world was mind-blowingly different, or different in subtle but daunting ways, with unique hazards and dangers to all...

    Also, you're right, there oughta be a goal. You start off with a small ship, with a limited range of yay-many light-years. You can only engineer certain extra equipment on board. However, the more you explore, the more samples and readings and data you collect and bring back to the good ol' Solar System, the more stuff you get access to. You could be granted a better ship with better range, radiation resistance, blueprints so you can make more stuff in your ship that enables you to go to new places on worlds you've visited before in limited capacity. You can choose a large ship with lots of on-board manufacturing capability, or a tricked-out minimalist ship with lots of range and a unique ability like an ability to fly in an atmosphere.

    Imagine EVE online but where every solar system is NOT a clone of the other, and you're a state-sponsored explorer, not a pirate or "space trucker" or etc. When flying between worlds, you run around your ship in the 1st person to sensor rooms and engineering bays and such. When on the worlds, you're in the first person on those worlds, perhaps first person in the vehicles you craft for those worlds.

    Again, if you'd like, steal the shit out of this idea, please do!

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  14. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    hmmm...have you tried starcontrol 2? THat is right the fuck up your alley. The best game ever made IMO
     
  15. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    Actually there are a lot of old game that do what you are saying, Planet's edge, Sundog...the list goes on and on.

    The bottom line is these fucking amazing graphixxx games have no fuckni depth, no one will make that game - there is no money in it.
     
  16. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    I've been playing Fallout 3

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    It has a lot of exploration to it - as a matter of fact, that's what's fun for me in the game, stumbling across new side stories and interesting places. In my opinion, while fun, these games don't tell a story like a good book can. I wish the AI worked well and the NPC weren't all the same copy of maybe 5 different personas. I also would like to see a city that plays like a city, as in it's crammed with people and deserts are more "real"... you know what I mean. It's fun game though

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    I would be happy to explore the universe if there was a good back story for doing so. IOWs the awe your talking about in terms of finding a new planet would, for me, have to accompany a good story. As funny as it sounds, something like StarWars I suppose. I mean, THAT was what was so cool about StarWars and Startrek, you visit these cool planets with interesting cultures (like the age of exploration). BUT, without a good story I'm probably going to get bored to be honest.
     
  17. scifes In withdrawal. Valued Senior Member

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  18. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

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    To seek out new life and civilization? To boldly go where no copyright infringer has gone before?
     
  19. weed_eater_guy It ain't broke, don't fix it! Registered Senior Member

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    Totally!

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    I'll have to take a peek at those titles and revisit this later...

    I dunno, perhaps this is just an extension of my desire to see some serious advancements in spaceflight. Or perhaps to build an image of "The Future" (TM) (C) (R) that could inspire some bright minds to make said advancements.
     
  20. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    Frontier Studio's is working on the next "Elite" Space trading/exploration game. Before you start querying as to deadlines of when it might ship, it's simply going to emerge "When it's ready", which to be honest is a good thing considering.

    The initial Elite game written some years ago was painstakingly put together using machine code, every byte mastered to make as much use of the resources at hand at the time. Such attention to making a game is what made the game what it is, a legend in it's own right.

    Most other games of it's genre are just attempted duplications to fill the void left when assumed licensing issues occurred.

    So eventually when Frontier starts showing outtakes at E3 we'll have something to whet our whistles with. (meh, Such a fan boy huh?)
     
  21. SolusCado Registered Senior Member

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    I'd love to play a game like this, and I CAN imagine it not getting old too quickly, particularly if you turned it into an online-only thing, perhaps tuned into Facebook, so the areas that get explored by others become part of this ever-expanding knowledge of the universe - you could compete with your friends in whatever ways you like - and like you said, tie-ins to recent discoveries in the real-world could provide additional updates to the parts you've already explored and colonized...
     
  22. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Very well described WEG!
     
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