Is Love All You Need? Public Alpha Go!

By Jim Rossignol on October 1st, 2009 at 12:02 pm.


Eskil Steenberg sends word that he’s opening up the alpha of his game to the public. Because it requires servers to be run to test it, he’s asking money for access at this eatly stage. You will be helping test a game, but the fee is relatively small. You can get it for 3 Euros, which is about £2.80. HOWEVER, it is not a finished product and/or service, and it is the work of a one man team. If you don’t like the idea of paying for an explicitly unfinished game, then this is not for you. If you want access to a weird and beautiful indie MMO, and to help make it work in the long run, then get your wallet out. To be sure it runs on your PC please download the client and get the alpha access details via the game itself. That way, says Eskil, you can be sure the game will function on your machine, as the world displays in the menu screen. You can follow Eskil’s ongoing updates on Twitter. And very brief first impressions follow…

We had a crack at this last night, and it’s suitable strange and gaseous. Reminiscent of games past, and yet it feels very new. Almost like a ghost of the future. Even at this unfinished alpha stage you can see the potential, although the game has a long way to go in terms of teaching you how to play, and presenting the information you need on screen. We’ll see the testers in there, and have more coverage soon.

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139 Comments »

  1. tballi says:

    I’m listing Ardeo as referrer – I’m on as tballi.

  2. KP says:

    It’s nauseating on a lower end graphics card. It’s a social game but the interface sucks for socializing. It’s some “eh” gameplay shrouded in some hipster art – which makes it just “eh” when the art is all barf-o-matic on low graphics.

    • RobF says:

      Maybe he should have employed a game designer?

      *boom* *tish*

    • Tei says:

      You sould not criticise a game that is not even on Beta yet.

    • Mort says:

      lol, why?

      That’s patent nonsense, putting it very mildly.

    • Tei says:

      The alfa version of a good game could be a version that don’t even run on a PC. Say.. Quake1 early alphas running in a NeXT computer. Or use placeholder graphics, like a big X for a model that is not yet ready. Or could have a mayor subsistem like sound unimplemented.

      So, In your opinion, how good or bad the sound of Love is? do you like his music?
      Oh.. I forgot to mention that is not include with the alpha. You are seeing only a part of the program, a tiny part, as other are unfinished, or need changes, etc.

      Anyway, If you move forward, and want to criticice a alpha, you must compare it to other alphas of indie games. Realistically most alphas of indie games are less than toys, the good ones are just toys.

    • Mr. Sinister says:

      When a game that is not even in beta yet gets this much free publicity, I think it’s fair game for criticism.

    • Tei says:

      What publicity has to do with anything? Do you want to be critic of unfilmed movies based just on a temporal cast of actors that is not even the final cast?

    • Jacques says:

      I don’t really see what publicity has to do with anything. Eskil’s not running around telling everyone he’s the best games programmer/designer ever, and saying his game is number 1.

      Sure, some criticism is fair, but it shouldn’t be immediately dismissed.

      I’m not really seeing why you think it’s nauseating on a slower graphics card, the only thing that changes between different computers is the framerate, nothing else.

    • KP says:

      Well on a 5800 the people aren’t drawn correctly, for one thing – unless they’re supposed to look like horrifying scribbles. Also I wouldn’t waste time criticizing if I didn’t think it had the potential to be a great game. Right now the gameplay side of it kinda sucks.

  3. Ludo says:

    I’m getting a ‘Server Selected Do Not Exist’ message when trying to create an account, anyone else getting this?

  4. EyeMessiah says:

    Holy shit its 4mb? Is that even a peggle??

  5. Railick says:

    I liked Mount and Blade so much when I got it durning alpha that I went ahead and baught 2 more copies of it and gave them to my friends so they could enjoy the game as well. One of those friends ended up loving it even more than I did :P

  6. Tei says:

    I can’t play just now. Servers tell me I need a update, I download the latest version, but still show that message. Also, for some reason the latest version use the same name love_alpha.zip, this probabbly a bad idea, since It can be cached.

    • Tei says:

      The version I am tryiing to run (love_alpha.zip) is 4,778,050 bytes long…. Is not the 4.764.316 bytes long version. Geezers. It probably is serverside…

  7. Dominic White says:

    Really, the first few hours/days of alpha testing for ANYTHING is going to be a total clusterfuck with things falling over and servers exploding and things utterly failing to work. This is because the game is still in very active development at that phase, and almost nothing is set in stone.

    Alpha means the engine mostly works. That’s about all your garunteed.

  8. DXN says:

    I’ve had a little play around in it so far — as others have said it’s kind of confusing at first, but after 10 mins or so I was getting the basic hang of it even if I’m nowhere near building anything yet. The world is extremely pretty, but a little hard to navigate with no hard edges — what would really help would be a way to move the camera high above you so you can see where you are in ‘map view’.

    Still, seems pretty fun! And even if it turns out to be a turkey, I won’t begrudge 3 Euros to a developer at least trying to do something new and interesting.

  9. Mort says:

    my first impressions were ok I guess. Am I allowed impressions of an alpha?
    Not sure on the art style, it’s very disorienting in places, fun for hiding in the muddy mess of shapes and colours though to pick off busy players doing I have no idea what.
    I need to read some instructions clearly, but for a quick look; intruiging.

  10. Dominic White says:

    Well, one nice thing. Your account time doesn’t count down when the servers are down, so while he’s hacking around with this stuff, we’re not losing any of our pseudo-investment.

  11. Redd says:

    Shoulda gone donations. Woulda made more money and had more people playing too.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, and hundreds of griefers clogging the servers within hours. There’s friendly fire and the ability to completely screw up your own town. At the moment, when things go wrong, folks are pretty apologetic.

    • Redd says:

      People who won’t play the game as prescribed by the Gameplay section of the site are exactly what an alpha needs.

  12. Dominic White says:

    Well, as confused and vauge as things are, the servers seem quite stable now, the netcode is holding up, performance generally seems smooth and responsive, and the game looks lovely. People are also learning to cooperative very quickly, although there’s still a couple of jerks who like to just screw with everyone.

    This is probably the best ‘day 1 of alpha’ any game has faced, which bodes well for the future.

    Also, massed-rank gunfights at night are beautiful. Just beautiful. Those slow, luminous blaster bolts across the dark nights sky just look lovely. Seeing a bunch of players with woefully poor equipment try to defend themselves from a distant AI threat is great, too.

  13. PleasingFungus says:

    Paid $4.50, got my code, managed to update (which was a bit of a pain – the URL given in-game doesn’t seem to work), jumped into the game…

    And immediately, without pressing any buttons after spawning, fell in some water and died.

    Quite the game!

    (wish it had sound)

  14. Railick says:

    People being jerks in the alpha is probably the best thing that could happen to the game. He'll learn all the ways people can grief each other right off the bat, see of paying customers will put up with it or if he needs to find some way to change the game so you can't grief ect. Will be very useful information.

  15. Masaq says:

    Note: it seems the offline-only client released a few days ago has been replaced with a newer version – with exactly the same filename/download location. So, if like me, you’re wondering where to get the newer version after the game complains that you’re out of date, try the same link as you did before.

    I have to say after playing for a few hours I’m disappointed. I know it’s an alpha but there’s no concessions for new players, in some ways it even seems deliberate walls have been placed in front of new players (randomised names, no control listings). No sound. The colours pulse in ways that are faintly queasy. Fall into some water, very easy when it’s pitch-black night, and you’re dead.

    I can’t help but think it would have been better for the creator to hand-pick 200 people for his closed beta, work on these issues and then offer the 3 euro fee. As it is it’s just way too unfriendly for the masses, myself included.

    • Dominic White says:

      Again, ‘Alpha’ means ‘Engine test’ at best. Overgrowth (another interesting indie title) is in Alpha right now, and it’s completely non-playable. It’s just the unfinished editor and tools right now!

      Of course there’s no concessions for newbies. That happens maybe in mid-to-late beta phase if you’re lucky.

  16. Dominic White says:

    Anyway, DAMN YOU, UK-1! That server went down just as I was finally getting the hang of things. We’d set up a good settlement, I’d managed to locate a well defended and equipped AI base, noted its coordinates, went back home and geared up for a solo ninja raid.

    I pulled it off, too. Fast in, take out about four guards, grab a token of some description, and fast out. There was probably another 4-5 AI soldiers in hot pursuit, firing constantly with hyperblasters and grenades. I was just another hill from home when the server went down. Bah!

    Also, playing with explosives is fun.

  17. Polysynchronicity says:

    I still can’t launch the game without it instantly quitting to the desktop. :(

  18. Caitiff says:

    I’ll wait for a more solid release, since I want my first impression of the lovely graphics to go hand in hand with proper gameplay, but it’s good to see it progressing so well. This guy is a genius, far as I’m concerned. Does anyone know if he’s going to put out another version of the verse apps?

  19. Stromko says:

    Welp, spent about 3 hours working on one settlement, after losing the last two (presumably) to AI attacks.

    We were taking intermittent artillery fire, but our settlement was coming along well, we had a nice (mostly) flat plateau that made us basically safe.

    Then one of ours who'd been working with us the whole time got a bazooka and destroyed all our structures, including the main settlement. End of settlement.

    Couldn't even reach the next settlement as we were surrounded by ocean and couldn't sculpt terrain anymore.

    Since the names are assigned on login, assuring total anonymity, we can't even tell who really destroyed all our hard work. It wouldn't really matter anyway, you can't hurt other players, but other players can destroy all your structures and everything.

    I guess it depends on having a community so we can hold eachother responsible and whatnot, but, there is no community because everyone is anonymous!

    It's a real mess right now.

  20. PleasingFungus says:

    Whoa, Stromko, you're on my server! Atlanta-1, right? What's your in-Love name? I'm Calris.
    (Yeah, that was a mess. But it was great fun while it lasted. I'd never seen half the tokens we'd gotten in that settlement, and it was my… sixth or seventh or so!)
    (also I wrote some things about the game here, which might perhaps be interesting for anyone who hasn't played.)

  21. Stromko says:

    Yes I believe Atlanta-1 is the server I'm on, as Charon (rather lucky name: the ferryman who brings souls to the underworld!). I've become aware that our random names actually follow us through subsequent logins, so it turns out we aren't totally anonymous after all. Still not sure what you can do if you know someone's a griefer though.
    But anyway, it got a lot better when I logged back in, nobody tried to grief us in the whole 4 hours that I was back, and we got a nice settlement in the form of a box fort with stairs on the inside that led to the tops of the walls. Almost an 'end-game' settlement, though the AI attacks became more and more fierce the closer we got to the sweet guns.
    We had shields, I think we had all the architecture tokens, and right after we got the Slug Rifles the enemy started busting through walls and blasting us with big nasty guns (probably slug rifles!). They managed to destroy our Sculpt tool so we couldn't even fix the holes right away. :)
    We eventually got the terraform tool back and managed to resecure our base pretty well, but we'd earlier rant into a glitch– something about placing another token too close to our settlement token.
    It borked up our base spawning, so we'd spawn somewhere random instead of near base (not fatal since we had a couple wild spawn points near to base), and also messed up our factories so we couldn't get power or health pods made. Someone also suggested that building a cave underneath our factories would mess them up, but that didn't happen right away, it only seemed to happen when our base spawn got screwy.
    We eventually decided to blow up our settlement and restart it on that same spot, but the issue seemed to keep happening. I'm sure it'll be cleared up by tomorrow anyway, and eventually fixed.
    If I had to give any tips on base design — don't build insanely high walls, because the enemy will eventually just punch holes through them anyway. Also, don't try to build a super high plateau for the whole base, it seems to attract artillery fire, plus it just isn't worth all the time-consuming and tedious terraforming. Mid-height walls placed at the extreme end of your build-zone are the best idea, so there's plenty of space inside. It lets everybody watch the base and keep it safe but blocks long-ranged fire well enough.
    As for re-entering the base, some form of jumping puzzle is the best idea, just a few spaced out columns that get higher as they go until they're high enough to jump over the walls.
    We didn't find any tokens to expand the build area, they might not be in yet. It got more than a little crowded with almost all the tokens inside our walls.

  22. Stromko says:

    PleasingFungus: That’s a good write-up of your experience in the game. It really says a lot for the concept of a micro-MMO that I can actually remember all the things you talked about happening, simply by virtue of being logged into that same server. It’s not a very small world, but completely focused on the settlement such that all players will gravitate towards it as a beacon.

    Eskil has been very busy this morning changing how settlements work, and seems to be working rather hard on this key piece. Cheers for that, the changes sound pretty good. http://twitter.com/quelsolaar

    Working on settlements is exactly what he needs to be doing right now, as they’re the thing that’s going to make Love live up to the hype!

  23. Dominic White says:

    Something I noticed is that the enemy AI is already very solid. A nice mix of convincing agression and mistakes. If you take cover behind something, the enemy will often continue to shoot in your last known direction for a few seconds. Makes firefights look pretty impressive.

    • Stromko says:

      I hope Eskil intends to add some sort of sound at some point, I’m not sure if it’s part of the aesthetic or if it just isn’t done.

      At any rate, the game is great fun once you get a team that wants to work together, and more often than not (2 out of 3 sessions) that’s exactly what I’ve encountered,

      Got our infrastructure set up, got all the tokens, beat back the AI and forced it to move to a new base. It’s a nasty, squirrely enemy, just wish it’d keep up the pace in attacking us so we’d have something to do. :)

      Also, had a devil of a time finding a way into the enemy base, I eventually managed to circumnavigate around the ice cap region, got high up on a glacier and was able to drop onto a bridge that led into the enemy base. Once I got there though, all the demolitions and sniping we’d been doing against their infrastructure and troops had made them decide to leave, and all I found was the distinctive AI architecture, abandoned.

      Interesting times.

    • Dominic White says:

      Sound will almost certainly happen later on, but I can understand it being a distant concern at this point. the dev-Twitter is packed full of activity right now. Next update looks like it’ll simplify joining settlements, limit terrain alteration somewhat, and reduce opportunities for griefing. All good stuff, and it seems to be in direct response to problems player have found on that first day.

      Looks like the whole public alpha thing really works. We have fun, he gets funding and feedback. Helps that he seems to be some kind of freakish development dynamo.

  24. Railick says:

    Based on these posts this game sounds awesome.

  25. EyeMessiah says:

    I played for a few hours last night and had a lot of baffling fun.

    Visually love is quite a lot like being kicked in the face by a rainbow, which I expect will probably turn out to be a fairly divisive issue. Personally, it works for me.

    I spent the first 30 mins or so trying to get to the settlement and quickly realised that the landscape doesn’t necessarily have simple paths, but does have fairly forgiving jumping and that sometimes a bit of creative jumping climbing and dropping is required to reach a given area. I died a lot from falling into water mainly (sometimes through almost invisible single tile holes!). All the dying-repetition meant that I had to gradually work out how to navigate the various terrain features in all the while making my way slowly toward landmarks I could see in the distance. Its probably the most fun I’ve had exploring an environment with a compelling sense of place in a long while.

    When I got the settlement I found that a war was already raging. A war between people trying to build stuff and others who were hell bent on turning everything into inaccessible towers. Teaming up with people and building up the settlement was also great fun, if a bit glitchy but I didn’t get much of a chance to go out looking for tokens or fighting the AI.

    I’ll be interested to see where he goes from here, particularly in terms of preventing ass-hats from unmaking everything. So far so good imho.

  26. Railick says:

    So is this available in the US? Would it be 5 bucks a month to play it here? I can't access it from work :P (and when I get home I'll probably be playing Blood Bowl all night, that game has a hold on me)

  27. Rai says:

    3 Euro’s converts to 4.50 USD on paypal.

  28. Post Maker says:

    So who here’s playing on UK-1? I’ve spent a large enough amount of time chatting with my servermates to know that they seem like nice people, but I’m always wondering if any of them are on here.

  29. Stromko says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    Well on a 5800 the people aren’t drawn correctly, for one thing – unless they’re supposed to look like horrifying scribbles.

    That is how they're supposed to look, yep.

  30. Stromko says:

    Something very important to note. The thing doesn't auto-update itself, you need to get the newest version and unzip it to a new folder in order to potentially avoid some serious glitches and to get the new features.

  31. Stijn says:

    Post Maker: I'm there, I think currently nicknamed "Cindra" or something. Played with a few nice people (partly from RPS) a few days ago – see the other Love thread in PC Gaming for a writeup – but yesterday there weren't that many people on.

    • Post Maker says:

      Stijn, I’m pretty sure I ran into you a couple of times and ended up being of no help at all. Any idea who blew up the old settlements?

      Thanks for pointing me to the Love thread, although it seems that I can’t log in any more. Is there any way to recover a password without entering a username? The forums seem to have erased mine (or I’ve forgotten it, which is much more likely), although my e-mail is apparently still saved.

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