By Graham Smith on February 4th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.
This is almost too ridiculous, but it’s got pedigree. Julien Cuny and Louis-Pierre Pharand, former producers and creative directors at Ubisoft on Assassin’s Creed and FarCry, have formed a new development studio named PIXYUL. Their goal: to map our planet at 1:1 scale using drones, and use the resulting 3D recreation as the setting for a survival RPG called ReRoll.
Video below which shows, at least, that they are not joking.
When I was a kid, I used to dream of playing a game of hide-and-seek which would encompass the entire town in which I lived. The idea of turning that small suburban space into an enormous game seemed thrilling. A lot of the appeal of DayZ for me lies in that feeling: of taking ordinary, urban spaces, with all their stretches of dullness, and re-contextualizing it as a game of tension and hide-and-zombies.
So I’m inclined to like ReRoll for its goals, even if I am skeptical of its methods. Does that even need saying? They want to map the surface of the planet with small drones. Even if, as the site explains, they plan on skipping certain areas – Antarctica, the Amazon rainforest – I think that might take a while.
It’s also going to take a lot of money. Right now, PIXYUL are no more than they’re two founders, and they’re turning to crowdfunding – surprise – to get the money they need to make the game. They’re not using Kickstarter, but running everything through their own site. There an explanation of the funding tiers here, and there’s an online shop in which you can purchase characters or bundles of characters.
For the game that doesn’t exist yet. Set on the level the size of planet earth.
If you’d like to know more about what kind of game will actually take place on this digital recreation, they’ve got a page about that as well. From the little bit of (mock-up, it looks like) footage in the trailer above, it’s a top-down action RPG about foraging, fighting, crafting. Like Wasteland 2, but with a 24-hour day/night cycle and a planned system to sync the in-game weather to real weather, and also I guess with just huge stretches of space where it’ll be no fun to ever go or be. Like Hull. Imagine if you spawned in Hull.
To be fair, the money people give them will go towards creating “Brick 1″, a much, much smaller chunk of the world (a few square kilometers) which they can build systems around and release. From there, they’ll slowly start expanding into new areas. So if it proves a popular idea or a compelling game, it’s technically and financially feasible that they could expand from there.
But I wish they hadn’t opened with, ‘we want to map the whole world with drones’. It’s a lure, designed to suck you in with its futuristic ambition and absurd scale. The reality is they want to create an isometric RPG, haven’t made much of it so far, and would like you to pay for them to continue. That’s fine, that’s what everyone else is doing, but I wish they had pitched what they were likely to complete in the next, say, five years, rather than opening with, ‘This is what we’ll make assuming we receive an unfathomable amount of funds.’