Eskil Steenberg’s Love Is Free

By Jim Rossignol on September 7th, 2012 at 9:00 pm.


It’s as if he wanted his own pun thread. Love, the strange and beautiful co-op building/combat MMO, is now completely free. If you have never played it, you should, because it is one of the great outliers of game design. Eskil has been quietly working on in for several years, and it’s packed with surprising features, clever AI behaviour, obscure solutions, and hallucinatory visuals. I know you’ve got a lot of other games to play right now, but make time for this oddity. There is nothing else like it.

To understand a bit about how this game works, and how Eskil thinks, check out the video below. It shows you all the different ways you can get up a ledge. No, really. Take a look.

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81 Comments »

  1. rockman29 says:

    I still don’t understand… what is this? I love the graphics.

    • The Army of None says:

      Baby, these graphics won’t hurt me, no more.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I love that people are making Impressionist games. Except now you don’t even need Monet.

    • zaphod42 says:

      Its kiiiiiiiiiinda like Minecraft, is the best way to explain it in a nutshell. Different focus though, no mining at all, instead you build structures, and connect power… its hard to explain.

      Also its multiplayer, and there’s a huge planet of people building things and then there’s like AI who build their own things and… yeah.

    • lowprices says:

      It’s strong and it’s sudden, and it can be cruel sometimes, but it might just save your life.

    • Hvr says:

      It’s just too complex. (No wonder it’s free now).. What’s the point of the game anyway? Sandbox MMO?

  2. Hoaxfish says:

    The only thing that put me off every trying this was the odd pricing model… I’ll go try it

    As I’ve said before, strangely reminiscent of Outcast.

    • jonfitt says:

      Me too. The pricing was not unreasonable, just not something I wanted to enter into.

      • FootlingSummers says:

        Agreed. Possibly the first time I’ve been excited to see an MMO go free to play.

    • Spacewalk says:

      I was starting to think that forever would change before the pricing model.

  3. Lamb Chop says:

    When you get a game for free, that’sa more, eh?

  4. Petethegoat says:

    Love is a game that I have been developing for over five years, alone and without funding.

    I have tried to make the game of my dreams and to push the envelope of what a game can be in every area. After countless iterations, innovations, and experiments I think I have created something special. Love has become a game unlike any other.

    Now I really think you should play it.

    So much that I’m making the game FREE.

    Someone give this man a medal.

  5. Slinkyboy says:

    Love the ending! I’ll grab it on my way back.

  6. Valvarexart says:

    Always wanted to try this game, but I never got around to it. Now’s definitely the time!

  7. Ross Mills says:

    Opened it.

    Logged in.

    Got shot by players.

    Logged out.

    Closed it.

    • The Random One says:

      Not feeling the love?

    • Slinkyboy says:

      So it’s PvP??

      Fuck dat.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Whoa there, tiger. You did NOT get shot by players. It’s called LOVE. It’s a co-op game. You got shot by *the AI*, which is certainly easy to mistake for human players, because it’s really good.

      There is no PvP.

      • Dominic White says:

        Yeah, the AI is actually really convincing stuff. They feel like the native inhabitants of the game-world.

      • Foosnark says:

        If the AI is so good that you can’t tell you weren’t ganked in PvP, does that count as passing a Turing test?

        • Muzman says:

          I think in the Shooter Turing Test it has to teabag you afterwards.

    • remote says:

      It is a pretty weird game. Weird, and pretty. All I wanted to do was look around in peace, but I felt disturbed by the constant crackle of gunfire. I said as much in the public chat, and somebody responded, “This isn’t Proteus.” Maybe I’ll play a bit more later.

  8. aamosnyc says:

    This man sounds like a grown-up version of Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory.

  9. Gap Gen says:

    Do you need any external dependencies to install and run this?

  10. zebramatt says:

    THAT’S IT!!

  11. The Random One says:

    I think I remember hearing about this long ago here on RPS; I think someone described it as Minecraft only actually fun?

    My house currently is a rest home for malfunctioning computers but as soon as I get one of them working I’ll try it.

  12. Muzman says:

    Does this have a sort of Minecraft-y adventure mode?
    I could really see this as sort of a Magic Carpet meets Minecraft thing, where you start out with little and build yourself up and then take back the world from the other ‘powers’, as it were.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      That is basically how it works, yes, but it’s multiplayer.

      • Muzman says:

        Cheers. Is there a solo mode/would it work solo? I’m not against co-op per se. Playing online’s not always the most convenient thing is all.

  13. phuzz says:

    If Eskil donated his graphics engine to Proteus that would pretty much win.

  14. derbefrier says:

    Wow, never heard of this. I will have to give this a shot looks pretty cool

  15. beema says:

    So it’s like if Minecraft was made by Claude Monet. Alrighty then

  16. ffordesoon says:

    WHY IS THIS NOT ON MY COMPUTER NOOOOOOOOOOW

  17. HilariousCow says:

    I love the innovations in graphical style, tools (all live server based!!), and experimental UI enough to go ahead and donate, regardless of whether or not I have time to play (and I’ve already bought it).

    But I’ve always had a problem with the semiotics not really being there for objects. Everything is just so alien, and I can’t help feeling that it doesn’t need to be. I’m glad that there’s the desire to carve out new ideas in game mechanics, and not get too hung up how to represent them. I completely understand that it takes a lot of time and effort to tutorialize everything (and God knows I hate games hand holding, so I wouldn’t suggest he goes about it that way), but I think with just a bit more time having mechanics visually explain themselves better, that a comfortable median can be found between form and function.

    • HilariousCow says:

      I gave it another little go, and although I can stand by what I said here, I am starting to get it a bit more.

  18. Lawful Evil says:

    It seems qiute interesting indeed. Also, the whole time the author was speaking of the ways to get up a ledge I anticipated a particular way to be mentioned to do that: to cut down that tree (which is right of the ledge) in a way that it falls towards the ledge and makes a “bridge”, so that one can climb that way. Oh well… Still, plenty of ways…

  19. sinister agent says:

    I have absolutely no idea what the hell was going on there. Was kind of neat for a while, but after ten minutes of clueless poking at globs of clay, and throwing globs of clay at what may or may not have been a monster, and clicking some kind of hologram until the numbers changed but nothing else, and then the land completely disappearing and the whole world turning into some kind of tiny globe… I … what.

    This is too confusing for me. I think this is one best played with a friend or two.

  20. ckpk says:

    I want to play this once again now it’s free, but very little shows up in game for me. I get the cloud effects, the player models, some cable relays and some water and thats it. Don’t quite understand why some things would show up but most things don’t?

    • sinister agent says:

      I had that happen when I switched off low visual mode. High visual mode seems to either look worse or break the game. Best leave it.

      Started to get a vague idea of what was going on, but it seems like one of those games where the people who know what they’re doing completely ignore everyone else.

      • Professor Paul1290 says:

        We don’t try to ignore everyone else, but right now there’s so many people just starting the game that we can’t pay attention to everyone.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if some are just getting fed up after having to repeat things so many times as well.

        Hopefully this will get better after the initial rush though.

      • stillunverified says:

        And how would I go about doing that?
        My problem isnt quite as bad, but i’m still getting quite a few weird graphical artifacts (made even weirder by the fact that the game looks fine on my crappy laptop with intel integrated gpu, but the game runs at 5fps there so that’s out of the question)
        The only graphical option i can see is a single vague slider, the artifacts are worst at the bottom end but it still doesn’t look right at the top.

  21. TechnicalBen says:

    Nice. The visuals and ideas behind it are great. Does this predate Minecraft? Thing is, I think the programing side of it was too high an entry barrier. Redstone wire is just such a simpler implementation.

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      Yes, this game pre-dates Minecraft.

      The biggest difference between this game and Minecraft or Terraria is that it’s more of a “game game” than a sandbox game with game elements. It’s intended to be somewhat difficult and challenging and you can “lose” in a way, and the world generation and AI often do more to control pacing than the players do.

      Redstone would be simpler to use, but it wouldn’t really fit the game as it would allow for a lot of exploits and be even harder to balance than the stuff that’s already there.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Thanks. I can understand the balance if it plays more like a Vs game than an exploration one. Still, I’d of loved to give it a go, but the programming (non standard chars?! :O ) is just beyond my poor simple brain. :(

  22. Professor Paul1290 says:

    We need to update the wiki again since a lot of changes came in recently, but in the meantime I updated this page which should give you an overview of how the game flows:
    http://www.loveinvers.es/wiki/priorities-aka-what-should-i-be-doing-new-people-please-read

    Keep in mind, there is a “Beginner Server” available now with AI inactive.
    If you are just starting out and don’t know what to do, I would advise you to go to that server first and get acquainted with the tools and mechanics before moving to the main servers.

    If you go onto the main servers right now, there’s a good chance that it will be under complete AI domination due to a large number of players not knowing how to play and letting whatever AI tribe is dominating have their way with the world (essentially that’s how you “lose” in this game).
    Hopefully this will change as more players learn how to play effectively.

  23. Moonracer says:

    I’m grateful that this is free now and I want to get a handle on this game but the multiplayer only makes the learning curve that much more frustrating. I had the same problem when it was free for a weekend a while back.

    Spawning in and getting shot at while trying to read the introduction doesn’t help retain information. Jumping into an active server makes me not want to fiddle with all the devices lying around to figure out what they do since I don’t want to mess up other people’s work.

    That said it still looks amazing and the gameplay has the promise of being quite interesting. I feel like this is something worth putting the effort to get to know before giving up on it. Hopefully it doesn’t push me away while I’m trying. I know it isn’t part of the design plan but I’d be much more interested in a single player sandbox option.

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      There is a “Beginner Server” that has AI turned off so people can get acquainted with the tools and mechanics of the game before having to face the AI.

  24. DarkFarmer says:

    This is a Good Thing, not a bad thing. Yay!

  25. D3xter says:

    “Love Is Free”
    I find that a highly doubtful hypothesis.

  26. Shodex says:

    LOVEFACE!!

  27. Delicious Narwhal says:

    Oh good, now I can be confused and frustrated for FREE!

  28. Professor Paul1290 says:

    Just a heads up, if you’re new and need some space to learn the game, you should join the “Beginner’s Server”

    The Beginner’s Server has no AI, objectives, or other pressures to worry about, so you’ll have as much time as you need to play around and become familiar with the game’s mechanics without fear of getting killed over and over.
    If you end up in a main server, keep getting killed by the AI, and can’t get enough breathing room to actually learn anything you’ll want to come to this server to figure things out.

    If you feel comfortable you can switch to the main servers by restarting the client and switching to any server that isn’t the Beginner’s Server.

    If you need any help, just ask. If you don’t get a good answer, wait a while try again at a different time. There are a lot of new players compared to the number of regulars and we can’t pay attention to everyone, so try to be patient.

    Eskil just uploaded a new tutorial about the Tech Tree:

  29. Network Crayon says:

    I used to play this, its an incredible experience and utterly unique, but i never had a clue what was happening and never actually acheived anything in all my time playing the game… It’s both beguilingly beautiful and utterly chaotic at once.

  30. zebramatt says:

    I really enjoyed this on my old machine but it just won’t run on this new one!

    (Glad I bought it regardless, mind you!)

  31. UnknownAX says:

    It’s too bad this game still completely sucks, since Eskil refuses to take any constructive criticism from his players and just makes the game how he wants it to be.

    • tomeoftom says:

      Yeah, it does give off a strong whiff of Dwarf Fortress-esque “I made it so shut up and let me keep shooting myself in the foot!” I mean, DF would be gigantic. Think about it this way: if you just made it a bit more accessible – not changing the mechanics; just giving it tutorials, graphics, and mouse support – it would sell as you would expect a game that is The Sims crossed with Minecraft to sell. And Love, I feel, would also be really quite successful if he’d just listened to a few smart people. Don’t throw everything at the player at once. Try and make the UI more intuitive. Keep the painterly look but make it clearer to navigate (an FOV widening would help immensely). Make a proper tutorial.

  32. BestFriends4Ever says:

    Let’s take a look. Graphics look cool.

  33. Wisq says:

    I can never understand why people say that the graphics look good / cool / whatever. They look headache-inducing to me. Whenever I’m faced with game options that try to make the graphics look “fancy” by distorting my vision — film grain, depth of field, vignette, etc. — I almost universally get tired of them within minutes and start looking to turn them off.

    If this really is a Minecraft-esque building affair, I worry that I’ll never have any motivation to build because everything I build will look like crap.

    That said, I did enjoy the graphics effect in Borderlands. And Okami, although that was probably around the very edge of my comfort zone.

    I guess I should give it a shot, not least because it’s possible that YouTube video compression is at least partly responsible.