First-Person Sporter: Game On For Epigenesis

By Alice O'Connor on August 4th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

Beckham with the seed... to Scoles... to Sheringham... back to Beckham... Beckham... Beckham...! OH AND BECKHAM PLANTS IT WHAT BEAUTIFUL GARDENING!

Most current sports were designed around what a couple of blokes could get up to in a field with a ball and, optionally, a few bits of wood. But what about futuresports, for the future when humanity is all glimmering cyberpeople frolicking amongst the stars and definitely not e.g. lost and desperate people fighting over scraps in a world we willingly tore apart? In the future we won’t think twice about building ballgame rules around things like gravity cannons and genetically-engineered plants.

That’s the stuff Epigenesis is dabbling in, a first-person futuresport which hit v1.0 and came out of Early Access on Friday. I bet Futuresports will do Early Access and everything too.

Futuresports will also be weird and complex things which sound an awful lot like video games, as video games will have stopped being anything weird or special or unfamiliar centuries ago. Futurepeople won’t even blink at descriptions like this one from devs Dead Shark Triplepunch:

“In this non-lethal ballgame of the future, players leap across platforms suspended high up in the air trying to get a ball located in the middle of the arena and score goals against their opponents. Each player carries a gravity cannon capable of pushing enemies (and friends) down from the heights of the arena. When a player scores, he receives a genetically modified super-seed and gets the opportunity to plant it onto a platform to capture it. Players capture and construct a node system from their goal post to their opponents’. If that doesn’t happen by the time the clock reaches zero, the team with the most goals wins!”

If anything, they’ll roll their eyes and say it sounds a bit retro. “Non-lethal?” they yawn. “How quaint! I’d almost forgotten we were ever not nineteen trillion manifestations of the same mind, each as important as a bogey.” (Technically, Epigenesis combines both those scenarios I mentioned earlier: futurepeople are settling the fate of the world through high-tech futuresports, as they often do.)

It’s up on Steam for £5.94, a bit cheaper than usual thanks to a launch discount. Four copies are £17.84, if you can round some chums up. Observe futuresport:

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7 Comments »

  1. Ross Angus says:

    FutureQuidditch(TM).

  2. Premium User Badge

    drewww says:

    The unfortunate reality of sport ball video games is that they’re exclusively the realm of the very well funded studios and pretty much have to be free to play or mobile-level cheap (eg 1-5 USD). Team games like this require high levels of concurrency to reliably create well-matched games without too much of a wait. This is a hugely feed-forward ecosystem; if your first experience is playing with veterans who run circles around you / berate you for terrible-ness you’re not going to come back, and if you’ve paid $10 for the pleasure you’re going to be particularly sour.

    It’s also a question of company incentives. If you dream of a multiplayer ecosystem that is active and rich, you’re hoping your players will spend hundreds of hours in your game. This is a natural fit for F2P models, which reward companies for creating long term deep engagement over a well-crafted five hour experience. You want the company supporting a multiplayer game like this to be configured that way, otherwise there will always be economic pressures to move onto the next thing because that’s where your money will come from, rather than your committed long-term player base.

    That’s all to say that I love love love games like this and wish them all the best. But if we look at successful competitive games over the last decade, they have almost all shifted over to an F2P model (League of Legends, Dota 2, TF2, World of Tanks, Smite) . The notable exceptions are Starcraft and console games (CoD, Halo), but those usually depend on getting the vast majority of their revenue from people who come for the narrative content. There are a few in-between examples like fighting games which have limp single-player content, but have a legacy purely in consoles where F2P is not quite viable. The only direct analog is CS:GO, which is still charging $15 for entry on top of an F2P economy in game. Maybe that’s enough to hang your hat on, but I think that game’s legacy and Valve’s backing make it an outlier. Shootmania’s struggles seem more apt to me, and they’re even moving more towards crafting single player content as a hook to help draw people over the hurdle of a big initial investment to play.

    • Reefpirate says:

      One other exception that came to mind: Chivalry. It’s one of those rare $10-$15 multiplayer games that seems to keep on trucking.

      But you’re absolutely right that this model should be on its way out. Apart from Chivalry and CS:GO, most multiplayer games that have a ~$10 price tag die off incredibly quickly. I’m still saddened by Section 8 and how fast that great game died off.

      • doodler says:

        This is the problem my friends and I always face, we pick up a game play it for a few days but since we have somewhat varying interests someone gets bored and we move onto the next. It takes something truly special for 4 of us to latch on to one thing but the notable ones have always been some of the best games I’ve played with friends like left 4 dead, smite, the BF of the year, and NS2.

        Section 8 felt like such a microcosm of the problems new FPS ips face. That game was everything I wanted to make me feel like an advanced soldier but the unbalanced sniper rifle had the game broken in like a month(for the record I didn’t buy at launch so if you did you may have had more time before this happened) and the devs did nothing to fix it until after everyone quit. This doesn’t seem to be isolated, the games are interesting for a smallish group but then the floodgates open because of a steam sale and everyone finds the cheesiest weapon to use after a week. The patch is too slow because the developers never expected the population to jump by 10x and people move on because why not, it costs $10 and I got 15 hours out of it…thats a good value right?

    • AyeBraine says:

      Maybe it should have a good single-player with bots? For a sports game, that’s not a killer. It is about training, after all. Maybe even have some self-learning, fantasy-football-grown bots you can unleash in friendly matches!

  3. AsianJoyKiller says:

    Guess I’ll have to give this a try again. Last time I tried playing, they still didn’t have NA servers. This is not a high-ping friendly game.

  4. AyeBraine says:

    I remembered Mass Effect for some reason. It has a brilliant universe and all that, but frankly, it IS a little surgical and abstract – part of the style and the atmosphere. Still, there was a glimpse of a more alive, more down-to-earth and breathing world that has more than armies and mercs and pirates in it, in that one DLC armor. I think it was a tie-in to some fantasy game, but still. Its description said that it was a high-end “something-ball” armor donated to Shepard by a top-tier “something-ball” team – with flashy design, “professional athlete” features approaching the best that military can do in their lethality, and the whole team’s autographs on the sweaty inside padding of the suit. That was good.