Massive: The Universim Aims To Be The Biggest God Game

By Nathan Grayson on April 25th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

I remember when game developers were ecstatic that they could simulate the barest spine of a ping-pong match. Actually I don’t because I wasn’t alive yet, but you get the idea. But I also remember when giant triple-A studios trumpeted recreations of evolution, societies evolving through the ages, and space colonization from on high, and now even that notion seems sort of antiquated. The Universim is looking to not only match the likes of Spore and Civilization, but also – in places – exceed them. In short, it’s a god game in which you start with a single stone age planet and branch out to explore and colonize the entire universe. The wildest part? Despite being more than a year out, it already looks rather stunning in places.

Quite a looker, huh? I suppose it was only a matter of time until someone applied a Planetary Annihilation-style perspective to a god game. Glad to see such impressive results hatch from said inevitable brain egg.

The Universim operates more or less like a typical god game – you make overarching decisions (research, disasters, settlement placements, etc) while AIs and systems react, expand, and hopefully thrive – but you won’t always be in direct control. You’ll have profound influence, certainly, but the world is less your sandbox and more an anthill. Poke and prod as you will, but be prepared for unexpected consequences.

Scope and sheer possibility are definitely the big selling points here. For instance:

“Every planet you encounter in the game will be as unique and vibrant as the last. You will come across planets with varying temperatures and environmental conditions as well as a wide range of characteristics that make them incredibly special. Planets will also undergo the changing of seasons which can affect the many environmental biomes on the planet. It can cause rapid changes in temperature and conditions. This can have a major effect on the gathering of food and resources as well as the development of buildings. The game will keep track of the time and date, and will change the seasons according to the in-game timeline. Summer offers the best food yield and growth period due to its favourable weather, while winter can bring many negative effects. Some winters may go by quickly, while others will drag on.”

“The Universim is driven by dynamic events. Natural disasters, alien visitors, diseases, war, famine, riots, and so much more can be thrown at your civilization at any time. All of these factors and how you play the game, contribute to population growth and development.”

So it’s nothing particularly revolutionary as far as these things go, but developer Crytivo seems ambitious to a fault – except for the part where it might just have the chops to pull this off. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing for sure yet, and The Universim is currently on Kickstarter. It’s seeking a whopping (for a relative unknown) $320,000, but it’s off to a respectable – if not exactly surging – start.

I’m crossing my fingers. I like this one’s look, personality, and utterly mad hope to do basically everything ever from now until the end of time, so it’s got my support. What about yours?

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46 Comments »

  1. GeminiathXL says:

    I have grown tired of kickstarter. I always get excited with posts like this, only for depression to set in once I realize it’s all still very far off.

    • Eery Petrol says:

      With a planned release on October 25th 2015, Kickstarter’s such as these have a time between reveal and release that is not far removed from some AAA titles.

      • Harlander says:

        I rather enjoy it when a Kickstartered project has a long enough lead time that I can forget that I’d backed it.

        It’s like getting a secret present from myself from the past.

        • Luciferous says:

          Precisely why I love Kickstarter.

          By the time the game releases the money it cost has been long forgotten and so it feels like a gift.

          But if you are the type of person who dwells on things over-long I can see why they’d become jaded.

        • Nice Save says:

          Or at least, it will be…

    • artaeun says:

      i feel the same way about all early-access games. That feeling of incompleteness and knowing that a trully full game is years away just makes me sigh indefinitely

      • Lemming says:

        Not so much Kickstarter, but Early Access stuff certainly. It completely takes the wind out of a developer’s sails with no set deadline to work to, IMO.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, I admit I haven’t backed anything in a while. Unsure why, particularly (although my disposable has shrunk a lot since I moved to Expensive Land, population Wait Rent Is How Much).

    • frightlever says:

      Seems sensible to get your disappointment in early for any Kickstarter project.

    • steviebops says:

      I agree, seeing a great concept, only to then see the kickstarter logo, is a bit of a blueballs.

      That said, will this be better than Godus?

  2. aperson4321 says:

    As much a enthusiasm is great, I still get a little annoyed when such kickstarters come from new uknowns and deliver a fancy video with many big words but no hard information like how will the game actually work, and even just some images or footage of a prototype for the game.

    The kickstarter backers who back projects from new devs need to know what they are backing. The whole page says nothing about what the genre the game is most alike, is it like a Black and White? is it like Glodus? is it like Spore? is it like “etc”. What do you do in the game? They have only described the setting/look and “fluff” of it, nothing about how the gameplay will be structured.

    From the mockup of the UI for the game it looks like a tablet farmwille like game with humongous simple casual buttons.

    Selling air castles is workable below 5000$ on kickstarter, 320 000$ not so much, except if they back their own kickstarter with loans as some bad kickstarter people seems to do.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      I prefer this pitch to the other one that went “Hi, I’m Feter Polypeux and I made a god game about 20 years ago, here’s nothing but a pipe dream, gimme money.”

      • aperson4321 says:

        You got a point there, :) but both the Universim and Godus kickstarters is high on the pipe dream bit, the difference is that the Godus kickstarter had the curiosity app made first to find out if the block part of Godus would work, and the devs behind the Godus kickstarter got a huge track record of knowing game development.

        What I was trying to say is that while “proven devs” who already got communities who trust in them can have little hard information on what they are putting on kickstarter, new uknown devs need to show they can do it to some extent.

    • spacemovies says:

      Smh, well if you actually took the time to watch the video they explained everything… Including how game-play will be handled….

  3. Gap Gen says:

    INCEPTION HOOORN

    • Zarathruster says:

      Incidentally also the Reaper horn, as well as the Walker horn (both for Half-Life 2 and War of the Worlds). Curious, how that came to be.

  4. Stardreamer says:

    Can we BE the planet-eating civilization???

    If so, SOLD. In fact, SOLD even if not because having to deal with those guys would be AMAZE. THEY EAT PLANETS!!!!

    • Gap Gen says:

      I remember Sim Earth came with a “Gaia” screen where a cartoon of a planet would frown at you if you were doing a bad job.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Personally, I’ve got a soft spot for civilization-eating planets.

    • NonCavemanDan says:

      My exact thought as well. I’d love to be one of the really ‘alien’ species but we’re probably going to be limited to a human-like one to start with.

  5. Chiron says:

    I’d really rather have an uber detailed Sim Earth alike than a “Universe Sim”

    I want to evolve me some fire using Dolphins then have them wiped out in a war against the Avian Empire

  6. Bull0 says:

    Way too ambitious, way too small a sum of money, back this at your peril. I’m all for Kickstarter – I love Kickstarter – but some common sense has got to be exercised

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      The money is subjective though. If it were the US or UK I’d say yes, not enough money. But where I live, for example, $300000 can sustain a three-person team comfortably for 4 years.

      They’re 12 people, but might possibly live in a place with an even lower cost of living.

      • Bull0 says:

        True, it’s worth bearing in mind the money goes further depending on the part of the world they’re in – even so it’s chump change, I’d be pretty wary

      • Lemming says:

        Not to mention we don’t know how far the game is along already. The trailer certainly suggests it’s beyond the concept stage, which would explain the lower price tag.

      • Shadow says:

        Still, ambition requires good management to reach its lofty goals. Spore had a much larger budget and ended up failing miserably.

        I’m worried they’re biting more than they can chew, but I suppose time will tell.

        Time to neuralize myself and rediscover this in a year.

        • Lemming says:

          Spore had a too many cooks issue, which is why it fell flat on its face. I’m not sure budget = scope when it comes to these kind of games.

  7. Niko says:

    Fill the universe with skyscrapers!

  8. lordfrikk says:

    Looks incredibly good, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The scope is worrisome.

  9. AngoraFish says:

    I had my credit card out, but they lost me because of the already sold-out “early bird” pricing model (as if buying into the KS 12+ months in advance of release isn’t early enough), as well as nothing significant in the next few pricing tiers other than alpha/beta access (sorry, but I don’t need to pay you to be your beta tester, maybe a name in game might have enticed me over the line). Thanks, but I’ll wait for the inevitable early-access 33% off sale.

    • Lemming says:

      If the extra $5 for the next tier really troubles you that much, maybe you shouldn’t be backing games on KS and instead you know, buying food and stuff.

  10. DrManhatten says:

    First kickstarter project I backed this year (I think) it better be better than Spore which was a huge disappointment

  11. SuicideKing says:

    Great, another trailer like video which reminds of FreeSpace 2′s intro in a span of two days.

  12. rhubarb says:

    It is a very bad idea to be excited about a project when the article includes the words “Kickstarter” and “ambitious to a fault”.

  13. DantronLesotho says:

    It looks great, but is it fun? I wish this Kickstarter would have launched with a demo.

  14. The First Door says:

    I have to say, that is one of the best trailers for a Kickstarter (or perhaps even mainstream) game I’ve seen for ages. I don’t even mean the pitch video, just the trailer at the beginning really got me interested!

  15. tyro says:

    As a game developer, either they are all completely amazing, or this project as described is just not possible for that budget.

    I suspect it is the latter.

    • Lemming says:

      I’m wondering if they licensed the Planetary Annihilation tech behind the scenes? It looks very similar in style.

  16. Lemming says:

    See, at first I thought ‘oh that’s cute, I can see how they are going to go forward with planets that small’

    … then towards the end I was thinking ‘Woah…ok that’s why the planets need to be that small because everyone else is fucking massive’

    Assuming that is actual pre-alpha in-game footage and not just a concept video like the first Planetary Annihilation one was (Not that PA disappointed, ofc), I am so on board.

  17. BoZo says:

    It looked good until the downright offensive orbital mechanics.

  18. sabasNL says:

    It looks and sounds really good. Although I’m skeptical (I’ll hold off backing for now), I’ll follow it for sure.
    It’s such a shame what happened to SPORE….

  19. P.Funk says:

    No internet, no DRM, sounds nice, but the only thing I REALLY took from that video was…

    I want an ant colony simulator now.

  20. aksen says:

    the most striking thing i took from the video was the dodgy dubbing job they did with the team lead. for such a slick video, it’s odd that part was done so badly, and would’ve been better done as just a voice over.

  21. Jooki says:

    You guys surely want to play the original and not some copy?! Try the demo of Imagine Earth http://www.imagineearth.info/demo/ it will be finished by the end of this year and not of the next!- The Indiegogo Campaign of Imagine Earth is here http://igg.me/at/imagineearth/ – Imagine Earth comes to Early Access on Steam this May already…