Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blue Mars

Well, I'm going to rag on Blue Mars a bit. If you're a Blue Mars fan (or employee), don't take it hard, I rag on everything. I'm just one of the internet's many assholes.

I understand that Blue Mars is in early beta, but there are core design decisions that don't change, and those are what I'm going to rag on. Even if Blue Mars was fully populated and had a larger feature set, I would still find it disappointing for many reasons, all of which revolve around the idea of empowering your user base.

Blue Mars is occasionally compared to SecondLife. Usually in the form of, "Unlike SecondLife, Blue Mars does not allow content creation". It's important to realize that not only is Blue Mars technically incapable of allowing the kind of content creation SecondLife allows, it's also a corporate-mindset money guzzler with no intention of allowing ordinary users to create mediocre content, instead starting right from the get go by explicitly focusing only on well-funded teams of professional content developers. As Blue Mars will find, that is not a viable path into the future. You gotta eat your veggies before you get any dessert.

Like the other 3D chat rooms running around, Blue Mars is a game of pure luxuries, where the only thing to do is dress yourself up and cyber. Of course, Blue Mars "isn't sure" about this "adult content" thing, so it's illegal to do that. Leaving you with basically nothing to do. Oh, "the Cryengine supports advanced gameplay, so you can make good games within the context of the Blue Mars space"... my ass.

People who think that way have obviously never tried to make a game. It takes a lot of tweaking down in the guts to get a game engine - even a really good one - to respond properly. If Blue Mars is counting on the Cryengine to allow for the development of immersive games in their space, they're counting eggs that ain't ever gonna hatch. They will, however, have no problem creating samey spaces for people to extremely clumsily stagger around in. Why they decided not to use Cryengine's navigation, and instead went with a painfully nasty implementation of their own, is never really explained.

I don't think that Blue Mars is bad. I just think that there's no reason to choose it over, say, IMVU, which is easier to make content for, has more fluid animations, and you can see people's faces.

My bitterness is at least in part because I'm a Mars terraforming fanboy, and now that these berks have put their corporate thumbs into the "Blue Mars" name, it'll be decades before anyone else can make a game with that name that does the concept some justice.

No, I don't see any reason to play Blue Mars. I imagine it will do well enough, because advertising blitzes aimed at the non-geeks they're really intending to target will generally yield dividends. But as a replacement for SecondLife, it is totally not an option. And I hate SecondLife. So that's saying something.


There's just something wrong with this whole idea of commoditizing game elements. They don't even bother pretending there's any gameplay. They flat out state that it's a micropayment beast that exists solely to make you pay out the nose for any content they deem worthy. This whole thing - not just Blue Mars, but all these games - these are a huge step backwards.

When are we going to start stepping forwards again?

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