Hollow Earth

Spiders and Starfish

From Eleri

There’s no room in the gaming industry anymore for games that have “beautiful, strange, immersive worlds and a compelling storyline”. No one wants to publish games for people who want to explore, think, learn, discover. Players brains must not be challenged with anything deeper than finding the right combo of spells/weapons/power.

It’s frustrating, really, to see Cyan sink so low, while the games that get the fanfare are just another FPS clone, just another kill-loot-level MMO. It’s all about the marketing and the numbers anymore. No one cares about making an original game, just one that’ll make money.

This is a sadly-true look at the present day gaming industry. An endless line of shooting games which only successfully entertain by way of slight variations and some genuinely-interesting new features. It all seems very gritty brown and gunmetal gray out there, doesn’t it? However, I think one should emphasize the true and rational issue with the gaming industry. It’s not that FPS games exist, but their predominance that leads to this despair over Uru’s plight. It doesn’t seem very fair that Uru struggles to find proper funding and muddles about in obscurity, while big names enjoy massive profits and large budgets to produce unending sequels each blander than the one before. It doesn’t seem right for people to peck at Uru’s defects, lift their noses, and begrudge the game because of its commercial failures while, at the same time, playing the latest Resident Evil game with glassy-eyed wonder at the guts and gore. It strikes us as bizarre that it’s only the non-violent games that lose customers when they find fault with it. With a traditional FPS, a user might say some part “sucks” or make disparaging remarks about the circumstances around the developer’s birth, and yet they still play because they need their blood.

But let’s not get too focused on the worst of the genre. There are games which try new things, which don’t just focus on you shooting things, which give far more than a passing glance at puzzles and exploration. Half-Life is one where the focus is not entirely on killing and where brains can save your life. And, of course, there are other types of games which are gaining in popularity. For example, Portal, which has enjoyed quite a lot of fame for both its gameplay and technical achievements. The rule is thus, FPS games should have their place just as puzzle and casual games should have theirs. The world would be just as lacking as it is now if the roles were to be reversed, if Uru were to swap with World of Warcraft and Spore for Halo 3. And one begins to see the seeds of a shift taking root. People are bored with playing the same game over again with new textures and bigger guns. To use an economic term, we’ve been in a FPS bubble, and there are signs that it’s ready to pop. The gaming landscape appears to be changing yet again.

And that brings me to what the title of this post means. I read an article which touched on the subject of leadership and control of organizations. It revolves around the neural organization of a starfish versus a spider. If you cut off the spider’s head, it is dead. If you cut a starfish in half, you get two healthy starfish. It is the difference seen in many aspects of our lives. From the music industry to the evolution of the news industry, everyone is trying to become a starfish, a nearly-invincible force with which to profit. If Cyan and the Uru fan community can pull it off, a starfish is what Uru can become. What is often argued by the genius businessmen this community is suddenly filled with, the crutch I always hear, is the idea that the fans just can’t do it. It’s too expensive to run a server, they cry and wring their hands. The fans can’t produce content in sufficient quantity or quality, they say. We must remember, however, that this is nothing new to us. Uru was somewhat open source back before it was fashionable to do so. It was Until Uru, the fans running servers out of their generosity, which propelled Uru through its first demise. What it lacked in general was new and interesting content. With the exception of a few spots, Uru was stagnant. And yet, that was where the seeds of the Age creation tools first sprouted.

In the end, we’re going through a drastic shift in Uru’s management. From a spider, with Cyan at its head, to a starfish. No doubt this change of species makes some distraught. After all, you can’t claim a starfish is a spider no matter how well you disguise it. Some people won’t like it because it’s not what they liked and there’s no dismissing that. This freedom comes at the cost, at least short-term, of no Cyan content. But with this freedom comes the benefit of being able to make your own home, to make your own perfect version of Uru. We’re pioneers of a new possibility for online gaming and I, for one, relish at the prospect of testing this new ground, no matter the outcome.


Filed under: Gaming

8 Responses

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