My thoughts on future perfect as a concept...

HowserHowser UK Join Date: 2010-02-08 Member: 70488Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow, Subnautica Playtester, Retired Community Developer
First off I would like to say I’ve been thinking about building this wall of text for some time (years?!) and in light of recent discussions and thoughts I’ve been having about modding I figured getting this off my chest would be good place to start.

As someone who had all but resigned from modding/game development the announcement of FP left a big impression on me. The Concept of a game for making games in is still something I think about on a regular basis. In the most simplistic terms a minecraft for making games in is a fantastic idea and FP (as far as I can tell) was and is the only thing we’ve seen that understood the potential in that idea.

I completely agree the decision for it to be put on hold; Small companies need a constant revenue stream and a product like this is an all or nothing investment. You need to hit a certain bar of quality and get critical mass of content and player base for it to take off at all. Its undoubtedly a risky proposition for any developer and I given the success of subnautica their choice to prioritise the later was a no brainer. This isn't intended to be a persuasion piece but rather a point of discussion about the game and games of this type.

That said there’s definitely a market for FP the popularity of minecraft and Garry's mod prove two things; firstly that people love creating just as much as they do playing and secondly that they want it in an accessible social environment. Powerful tools and state-of-the-art tech/graphics just Intimidate and turn a lot of people off. For me Spark 2 as an engine was more than sufficient in terms of rendering technology.
Moreover people might argue that lightweight 'tools' like gamemaker already offer accessible game building environments but they completely miss the point making it social and gamey experience.

There are essentially two viable and large audiences for FP; creators and players. Speaking for myself and the rest of the 30+ something OPA’s; responsibilities don’t stop people being passionate about making and playing games, it just lessens the their time and energy for serious commitments and dealing with the backend baggage that comes with making games. I would guess the 100's of friends (past and present) that I've made over the last 16+ years of modding feel exactly the same. As passionate as people are about games a log of what goes with making them still feel like work and imagined FP would be a smart way of removing.
There’s also a massive market in making it viable entry level educational tool.

The challenges for making something it properly are unquestionably huge; balancing power with accessibility is a massive battle in itself but even in its early state the tools were a solid start.

Making the right concessions is critical; limiting the game's to stock third and first person 3d cameras, locking aspects of the engine UI creation to built-in simplified tools (dragging and dropping sprites/objects on a grid), dumb down animation so it only uses a simplified in-engine creator , limit shaders to a preset list, use basic frustum culling only etc. These suggestions in my opinion are all acceptable and why not all easy to implement would pay dividends in the long run. They may also seem like blasphemy for the skilled developers who are familiar with professional level engines but again it should be about making the difficult and time consuming aspect of development quick and easy even at the cost of flexibility and power. All tools would be seamless with the engine built with Intuitive, minimalist interfaces.

The second most appealing part of FP was the social element. I imagined a platform where all the world building, tools, content importing, built-in voice chat and scripting worked seamlessly in real time (think google docs).. Again getting this working in real time across multiple users would be an insanely hard thing to achieve. But the fun from creating, learning and experimenting with friends in ‘coop’ would be like nothing else. Coupled with steam integration it would only be a few clicks to share your creations.

As far as I can tell it never made it out of ‘pre-alpha’ and while the foundation was hugely impressive there were a few things I didn't like about it.
The standard art style was a bit too abstract. As unique and pretty as it was It needed to be more suggestive of light fun and versatility. It should also be one style throughout all example games.
The basic Terrain editor that was started was a really solid start. But Perhaps the approach of making each game built in its own 'world' or map where there was always a terrain/floor and 3d skybox; would be an elegant simple, consistent way to manage the environment at large.
Also The distinction between Making/playing games modes was a little confusing but I think that was just down to it being so early in development. Sadly the Physics and netcode were a little limited but were again sufficient for the most part.

Whether its development is resumed or not I’m interested to see what others thought about FP and what it meant to them and their feelings on game making in today's industry. I for one would love to see this type of project realised and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for the future.

Thanks, Howard

P.S. My assumption on FP being on Hold is just that, an assumption based on forum posts by others. I've not directly spoken with the developers so it could very well still be in the works as I post this


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