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.
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.