Realtime Worlds’ Next Project: The Anti-APB

By Alec Meer on July 28th, 2010 at 10:47 pm.

I’m going to show you a trailer in a second. Before you watch it, remind yourself what Realtime Worlds’ last game, APB, was like: gangs, murder, crime, tattoos, joyriding, mercilessness…

If Darren Aranovsky had followed up Requiem For A Dream with My Little Pony: The Movie, it’d probably be less of an about-face than RTW’s new game, currently known as Project: MyWorld.

“What would it look like if Nintendo built Google Earth?” reads the official summary, rather boldly. MyWorld is a social network game, that rather amorphous genre that every major media firm going seems to be pouring eywatering amounts of money into in the hope of stealing a piece of Zynga pie. According to RTW, though, “it is the next-generation of social gaming.”

The videos give a better sense, if not of the mechanics than at the least the results of them, but as far as I can tell it’s a little like playing Monopoly with the entire world, with a bit of the Sims/Sim City in there, and a slew of Facebook/Twitter update-tech. It streams the world and makes it 3D, then lets players redesign it. Cripes.

The official blurb does state there’ll be elements of “traditional gaming” in there, so this should be of some interest to those onlookers who hiss like a vampire on Bondai Beach at midday whenever Facebook gaming is mentioned. RTW aren’t showing their full hand just yet, but they have given us these two videos to go on.

A teaser:

And a rather more illuminating walkthrough:

BUT WHERE IS THE GUN CRIME AND THE STOLEN CARS AND THE FACIAL PIERCINGS. Developers should only ever make sequels to their own games, to spare us confusion. Demonstrating talent and interest in other fields? P’shaw. How ever would we get our endless slew of indistinguishable shooters if studios went around doing that?

Interesting stuff, in other words. I admitted I’m worried by the world’s mad rush towards social gaming – or to give it its true name, Facebook gaming – not because of its inherent nature, but because a lot of companies seem interested to crank something bland out to hop onto that cash-teat as quickly as possible. However, I suspect we will see a few great things emerge from those studios who take their time and identify concepts rather than cynically seize an opportunity to piggyback someone else.

Whether this will be one of those I don’t know. It looks confusing but ambitious. I’d almost certainly have to turn the music off whilst playing it, mind.

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76 Comments »

  1. Maxoh says:

    That looks, ridiculously rubbish.
    There, I said it.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Well, then, at least nobody can say I’m trolling when I completely agree that building a model city just for the hell of it is completely pointless. At least Subversion gives us some kind of clandestine thingy to do. A setting without an activity is nothing more but wallpaper fodder.

    • Garg says:

      @ Geldonyetich: I think you have a point there. The thing that drives Sim City is only partly the motivation to build a beautiful city, but most of it is the challenege of overcoming all of the various obstacles in the way of making a good city, such as minimising unemployment and traffic. This looks too simple by far to capture that enjoyment and motivation.

    • tome says:

      @geldonyetich

      Forgive me if I’ve missed a not-entirely-serious tone, but isn’t Minecraft’s “creative mode” exactly that; a setting without an activity? If you want to, you could say it’s closer to the “sandbox/tool” end of the player-agency spectrum, (as opposed to the opposite extreme in “linear artwork”), but surely, surely, you can’t dislike Minecraft?

      On a related note – MC’s developer, Notch, has made himself about 8400 Euros (minus PayPal skimming and server maintenance) from sales – just today.

  2. Freud says:

    I remember when I read about Republic: The Revolution. It sounded like an amazing idea and a game that would be awesome. Then when the game was released reality set in. Turns out that games with too big a scope sucks. Games that are super ambitious often end up a mess because none of the individual parts have been given enough attention.

    This game seems to have too big a scope to be manageable (as a game) or too much Facebook to be enjoyable. And when Realtime Worlds can’t even pull off something much smaller in scope I don’t have much hope for this.

    • Karthik says:

      “Games that are super ambitious often end up a mess because none of the individual parts have been given enough attention.”

      And yet we liked Deus Ex. You never know; just saying.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      I actually really enjoyed Republic. It was certainly an ambitious failure, but there was a lot of fun to be had with it anyway, despite the frustrations. Plus, it’s an underserved genre in recent years.

  3. HermitUK says:

    So that first teaser video is as close as you can get to ripping off the LBP1 intro without being sued.

  4. PHeMoX says:

    I don’t want to jump the gun here or something, but this looks like an epic fail in development.

    Anti-APB? Really? Is that the best motivation they could think of or…?

  5. Xercies says:

    That must have taken a long bloody time to create all that…I know its procedually genrated but still. That tech alone is pretty amazing I would say. To the guy who said its pretty rubbish: 1) there working with web so of course there going to scale down the graphics and 2) you try creatign the world in 3d and also making it look good without it taking about several lifetimes.

    • Xercies says:

      Unless of course you were talkign about the game section which then I would have to agree with you…it does look pretty rubbish.

    • PHeMoX says:

      Yes, game section and more specifically the actual game mechanics only. The content only for as much as it’s anti-violence, but that alone would be perfect if they wouldn’t have made such a marketing fuss about it.

  6. Bhazor says:

    That trailer is trying so hard to copy the Little Big Planet style it’s a little embarrassing. I mean its no Sleepyheads now is it?

    Still the idea is pretty cool right until it said “Share with friends” and the facebook logo popped up. So it’s another social sandbox game in which the game is just a gussied up chatroom? No thanks, come see me when you’ve got a single player scenario mode or a fully functioning player driven economy. Also is it just me who wants to play games to get away from people for a bit? I mean I play five a side football, I work an almost full time job and I’m a full time student. As far as social interaction goes, I’m filled.

    • Urael says:

      Good job they’re not making MyWorld specifically for you then, isn’t it?

      Perhaps Gamers being so gosh-darned hard to satisfy is why Realtime Worlds is now aiming for a different market, one where people welcome things that are a little bit different, and don’t automatically judge them for not being the things they prefer to see.

  7. Bhazor says:

    Compare to The Little Big Planet 2 debut trailer. Seem familiar?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy_a3oCDzRA

    I almost cried when I first watched this for some reason. It just seems to effortlessly ooze joy and confidence and optimism. When we become a dark authoritarian dictratorship I hope it is these guys who make the party propaganda videos. I think they’d be good at it.

  8. skalpadda says:

    If the plan is to compete with Facebook games this at least looks like there’s potential for interesting things to happen within the game.

    Would be interesting to see how the world looks in less populated areas, like the places in Asia, Africa and South America where you can only get very low-res blurry satellite footage on Google Earth. If you could build a small settlement on the plains of Africa and spend your time with wildebeest hunting mini games I might actually be interested.

    Of course it’ll be a lot less cool as soon as they announce all the ways they’re going to monetize it.

  9. Dyst says:

    As interesting as the technology itself is, I don’t like this. It’s crossing the same boundary that Milo crossed in that it’s swapping out real experiences for virtual ones. Once this technology becomes advanced, it could become a substitute for real life exploration, even of your local area in the same way that the Milo game could become a substitute for human interaction.

    Also it doesn’t look very fun.

  10. Coded One says:

    Hopefully by anti-APB you mean that it won’t suck.

  11. Andreas says:

    Well, I think it looks good…

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      But.. does it look like it’ll be fun? To me, it looked.. well, decent graphically, but the gameplay shown seemed rather shallow.. (although I couldn’t see the second video). At first glance it seems to depend a lot on the social aspect.

      Also, I’d rather meet my friends in the flesh. And if I’d choose to, I’d not choose to communicate with them online through this nor play games with them through this. That’s also my complaint with the praise lavished upon Second Life. The internet itself provides a slew of communication options. Expecting to do all of that in an avatar-based game-like world just seems ineffective and.. surreal to me.

      At least Facebook is a social project first and foremost, just like World of Warcraft and Battle.net are first and foremost a game and a network for (Blizzard) gamers.

  12. ZIGS says:

    Finally, a game that uses Buzz, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc together. THIS IS JUST WHAT THE WORLD NEEDED!

  13. Capital-T-Tim says:

    The “people will choose these digital fantasies over reality!” line is used quite a bit in anti-game rhetoric. It’s curious to hear gamers voicing the same fears!

    • Capital-T-Tim says:

      (Intended as a response to Dyst, above)

    • TeeJay says:

      They have a valid point. I love browsing Google earth and Google maps but I am constantly surprised and confused by what I see when I zoom in somewhere, when I look at local photos and read whatever information I can find about these places and communities. The earth is so vast – often I don’t expect to see anything but notice wierd and wonderful buildings, structures and features. Sometimes I am astonished by the lack of these things, of any wikipedia labels or photographs, usually in poor and remore areas, even if I already know there are in fact many people living there. Although I have visited over 60 countries I am constantly having my preconceptions overturned. The danger of a cute “designed world” is that people mainly from 5% of humanity are going to create a “colouring book” full of the stereotypes and preconceptions that they imagine or would like to imagine the other 95% consists of. I’d much rather see a more open-access and open ended “game” or “game-like” software based in something like google maps or google earth.

      NB. The walkthrough video didn’t work for me (it said “private”) so maybe I am misunderstanding how this will work.

  14. Po0py says:

    Who cares if they are trying to ape Little Big Planet. I’ve always thought that it is a shame LBP is not a PC game. I’m glad someone is attempting something similar in all honesty. And the social networking aspect. Well, you will eventually have people raising questions if they don’t have facebook and twitter integration on a game like this.

    Some remarkably narrow minded people on here sometimes.

    • skalpadda says:

      It’s not an adorable platform game like LBP though, so I don’t see how it’s similar in any way, other than that the trailer is very similar to the LBP trailer.

    • Po0py says:

      The concept of creating and sharing is the same and that is what I was talking about.

    • skalpadda says:

      Fair point, and I suppose you could see LBP as users making little bits of content in a large world, but then both the gameplay and the way you make content are very different from this.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Well, you will eventually have people raising questions if they don’t have facebook and twitter integration on a game like this.”

      Said people are the reason I sometimes think we were a little hasty in abandoning the field of eugenics.

  15. Tei says:

    These comments of “X looks like Y” sounds to me like “Everything taste like chicken”.

  16. Bumholio the Wise says:

    EVEN MORE over hyped balls to come!

    shit.

  17. Bumholio the Wise says:

    Sorry.. forum bad form posting again after another post of my own.

    BUT…

    This is an act of desperation by RTW. APB is shit. They’ve a fuckload of costs to cover trying to shore up the leaking ship, and.. OH LOOK.. Another NEXT GREAT GAMING MOMENT.

    Venture capitalists! ALL ABOARD!

    meh.

    • Kadayi says:

      You don’t really get games development do you? This ‘act of desperation’ as you put it, has probably been in development for about 6 – 12 months (way before APB came out). Generally it’s the case that most developers have a few projects on the go at the same time.

    • bob_d says:

      Except that this game was in production long before APB.

  18. geldonyetich says:

    Apparently they were embarrassed enough about it that they set the video private.

  19. Reverend Speed says:

    What the hell?

  20. The Dark One says:

    I’m sure Walker will enjoy the inclusion of Cheddar Gorge in that trailer.

  21. JohnnyMaverik says:

    I’m sure it’ll be a massive hit with the casual market.

  22. Antsy says:

    I think they may be punch drunk.

  23. Wulf says:

    So… a more boring, limited Second Life without the same insane potential that scripting and building provides for in SL? …that sounds like a recipe for success, that does.

    Then again, that’s what I get from what I could watch, since the second video seems to have been set to private by the owner.

  24. Llamageddon says:

    I didn’t bother reading past the first paragraph, you’re right this game looks rubbish but games with too big a scope are rubbish!? Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft? They might have niche appeal but I for one hope more games with a grand idea come out, even if it means separating the wheat from the chaff.

  25. Mo says:

    Colour me intrigued. Unfortunately, the walkthrough video came up private for me too, but I really do want to see more of this. Conceptually, I’m loving the idea.

    It is a bit on the casual side for sure, but let me put it to you like this: I’d much rather have people play this game than FarmVille.

    I think if RTW add a good deal of SimCity/The Sims/Rollercoaster Tycoon magic to it, as well as the social aspects they could have a big hit on their hands. On the other hand, this type of ambition is all too easy to screw up. Cautiously optimistic, then.

    • Dan says:

      These are my thoughts entirely. Although I understand that’s it’s great tech and the existing play is probably not targeted at hardcore gamers, the potential for a Sid Meier-esque game is unreal.

      Thinking a city mayor game where real demographic information is loaded in. If I had the opportunity to go back to my hometown and try to change it in a Sim City/Tropico way, I’d really enjoy that.

      It’s clearly quite early in the development stages though, I’m pretty intrigued and hopefuly.

  26. MWoody says:

    I suppose any time a Facebook game tries to invoke creativity rather than just an addiction-fueled mad dash for personal information, it’s a good thing. That said, not really my cup of tea.

  27. Lobotomist says:

    I really dont see why anyone should play that ?

    • Kadayi says:

      Well I don’t do Farmville, but plenty of others I know do. I think it’s fair to say that this is not a game aimed at your typical RPS readership. Good luck to them on it.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Problem with Farmville , is that its phenomenon. Same as WOW…

      WOW is a MMO for non MMO players (even for non gamers). That is secret of its sucess. I can tell you how countless time someone was looking behind my shoulder and said “Oh this game looks interesting, can i play it ?” And they never played a game in their life. Nor will play after WOW.

      Same goes for Farmville.

      Problem is that Zynga (and i know this , cause its my job) analyzed the market for years beforehand (mafia wars, and other games they run) to come with perfect viral solution.

      People hooked on such games are allready playing Farmville (same as the others allready playing WOW) And there is no place for another game.

      This is something MMO companies just learned after 6 years of trying to make WOW ripoff and hundreds of million dollars wasted.

      Will we see another wave of “we tryed to copy farmville, but didnt really understand it” games ?

    • Kadayi says:

      @Lobotomist

      Your problem is you’re looking at this as a game, where as it’s really a virtual platform with toolset, and a shiny looking one at that. Never underestimate shiny.

  28. jarvoll says:

    Assuming you’re talking about the beach in Sydney, it’s ‘Bondi’, without the ‘a’, but pronounced as you spelt it.

  29. MartinNr5 says:

    News at 11: RPS readers disagree with game not intended for them to play.

    ;)

    • Kadayi says:

      It is all rather sad isn’t it.

    • Urael says:

      Yeah, once again RPS readers demonstrate what a bunch of negative stick-in-the-muds they are. This looks like it could be fun for a lot of people, particularly as it could get their real friends involved.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Urael

      I think unfortunately your average (predominately male) PC Gamer in kind of stuck in a hunter (MW2/CSS/game must have guns) gatherer (Diablo/WoW/Collect shiny things) head state most of the time. Anything that involves creativity (unless it involves ultimately conquering/destroying someone else) is kind of beyond them as a whole.

    • AndrewC says:

      Yeah – if I found my non-gamer friends playing, it’d be really nice to join in with.

  30. Dan says:

    Hmm, I couldn’t watch that second video, but it’s on Eurogamer too:
    http://www.eurogamer.pt/videos/project-myworld-walkthrough

  31. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Ambition isn’t a bad thing but lack of focus is, apb suffered greatly from a lack of focus and so has this by all accounts, it’s worth remembering that this has been in production since realtime worlds started (i.e. as long as it took them to get out crackdown and apb) because they simply didn’t have a clue what to do with it.

    • Kadayi says:

      Your Source on that ?

    • bob_d says:

      Well, the idea and the technology have been in development this whole time. What they’ve accomplished technically is no small feat, in fact it’s pretty bloody amazing. My understanding is that the full development team has only very recently come together for the project.
      @Kadayi
      My Source: friends who work for RtW.

    • Kadayi says:

      @bob_d

      I’m asking Sombero

    • bob_d says:

      @Kadayi:
      Yeah, sorry, I was just verifying Sombrero’s statement that the project had, indeed, been in development that long (but that calling it “unfocused” was rather unfair). In fact, my understanding is that in many ways this is the project for which the company was actually founded. That to me indicates that someone has a very good idea of what they’re doing with the project, even if the (hugely ambitious) technology has taken a while to get right. We’re clearly not seeing everything right now.

  32. VyngaBynga says:

    I would like to reply in song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLbcsJ1H0Dg

    The irony is that the more you “social network”, the less time you ACTUALLY SPEND with your social network. I bet there are people that have actually run off from stuff and real life friends, citing they needed to “look after their farms”.

    I hope that everyone who plays facebook (flash or other) games gets cancer of the face and dies horribly.

    And to also end in song: “..what a wonderful world that would be”.

    • Urael says:

      Grow up.

      Personally, Facebook fills a valuable niche for me in that I get to have much more frequent contact with my friends scattered all over the world than I would do without it, so there’s no “irony” in being on my “social network”. You want to look down your nose at it, feel free. But I doubt millions of people would be flocking around something that had absolutely no value to them.

      And for someone who professes to hate Facebook gaming, why the heck are you aping Zynga’s name with your own?? That’s a bit like Indiana Jones calling himself “Nazi SnakeLord”.

  33. Jimbo says:

    That’s one interpretation, Sombrero Kid, if not an overly generous one.

    It’s been a sort of skunk works project for most of RTW’s existence, but for most of that time it was staffed by a very small number of people. It began scaling up properly about 3 or 4 years ago.

    A better explanation for the very lengthy incubation was the scale of the technical challenge, which is, in my view, greater than almost any game project I’ve ever heard of. High quality procedural generation, from noisy source data, on a country scale, is simply incredibly fucking difficult.

  34. Sobric says:

    Sod most of you, I think this looks very interesting. I’m not sure if I’d play it, but I’m certainly not going to hate it. It’s the fishing that got me I think.

  35. roBurky says:

    This looks very interesting. I’d like to see that second video, but it’s private.

  36. Vivian says:

    I like how ‘the smallest details’ are apparently streets from 100 foot up.

  37. mrrobsa says:

    Something about those textures just really seemed dull and uninteresting. Maybe it was the lighting. Anyhoo, not something I’m likely to get involved with unless they introduce more meaty game elements, I couldn’t give a fig for any amount of social network integration they have. Even if I did I’m sure its much easier to go check tweets or FB messages using a browser rather than in ‘MyWorld’.

  38. Skusey says:

    It looks like quite a fun social networky city builder thingamajig. I doubt I’ll play, it but I’m sure many people will find it fun. And the plane flying without a moving propeller is a nice touch.

  39. terry says:

    It’s a neat proof of concept but there doesn’t appear to be much there yet. The guy demoing it seemed to only click on yellow areas which I assume are the only areas modelled. I guess the idea is they roll out various areas from GIS data which then users amend and add social claptrap to. The demoer alluded to a wikipedia type approval system, presumably to stop people adding balls to big ben, which seems like something with a high instance of user-drama, also a conflict between the “creative” second life style philosophy they seem to be misty-eyed over and the hard data/accuracy approach of the GIS data. The “game” component seems like some sort of flimsy mini-game component, which I would not be entirely surprised to see used by advertisers exclusively, if this proves a success (which it won’t).

  40. Dhatz says:

    big time fail.

  41. LordUbiquitous says:

    This will be trolled so hard.

    In the walkthrough video, they mention using a wikipedia-style system to try and moderate such things, but I’m sure the admins will have a fun time playing “Whack-A-Phallic-Building” all day long. Though, judging from the quality of the “games” in the video, that might be more enjoyable than anything else.

    That being said, it’s some fairly nifty tech, and I’d imagine the “games” that they have for display are mere tech demos, to try and show off what the engine might be able to do with more time and resources thrown its way. Will be interesting to see how this turns out.

  42. Jimbo says:

    This doesn’t look like the type of thing that would appeal to gamers or Facebookers to be honest. It’s in gaming no man’s land, a bit like Playstation Home.

    • Kadayi says:

      They are effectively making a virtual platform. The opportunity is probably there for content creators to create experiences within it. I think you’re underestimating what they are going for here.

  43. Madjack says:

    Rubbish! Bah, humbug! seems to be the sentiment from a good number of you but I suspect if the demo had sported guns and headshots you’d probably express cautious optimism?

    Fact is, after thwarting endless alien invasions over the last twenty years I’m actually starting to enjoy games that just let me explore interesting world and that don’t insist on combat as being the only way to progress. I’m not into cutesy games and the ‘indie’ style of the demo reel was a bit twee, but I’m kind of interested in this.

    Seriously, when gamers cry ‘rubbish!’ at what looks to be something a bit different, they need to broaden their ideas – like we need more orcs and elves, WW2, special ops, aliens and space marine games. Like there’s an undersupply of those.

  44. Sunjammer says:

    Man, a lot of completely bonkers negative feedback here. It looks rad.