Hugely ambitious one-man game creator Eskil Steenberg has made his five years in the making title Love completely free to everyone. No micro-transactions or anything.
Despite the advances of the past decade, from physics engines and motion control to near photo-realistic graphics, there is one area in which games still have huge scope for improvement. Why, after all this time, are so many videogames still so bad at telling stories?
Eskil Steenberg, the Swedish creator of bohemian MMO Love, is not impressed by Kinect. If he had to pick, he'd choose Move.
In the days before MineCraft, another Swedish MMO (loosely defined) ruled the roost: Love. Constructed by one man, Love is a watercolour world of base-building, co-operation and conflict, all presided over by an alarmingly sophisticated AI. What takes entire teams of developers days to create can be knocked up by Love maker Eskil Steenberg effortlessly, thanks to an arsenal of powerful, home-grown, time-saving developer tools. As an example of what one man can achieve, Love is awe-inspiring.
Markus "Notch" Persson has enlisted the help of an unlikely source to help improve the charmingly basic graphics of MineCraft.
The creator of arty MMO Love has revealed its first major expansion, called AVAIL, which introduces player progression and resource gathering.
"AVAIL will add character progression but in a way that is very different from how other games implement it," wrote creator Eskil Steenberg on the Love blog.
"While there are no classes, players do take on different roles while playing, and the game should acknowledge that. New players will know who to ask questions to, and more experienced players will be able to direct, but never control other players.
One-man MMO developer Eskil Steenberg has announced that he'll launch his labour of love, appropriately called Love, on 25th March.
Steenberg made the announcement on his Twitter, casually mentioning that "Love has a release date: 25th of March" before getting back to tweeting about bug fixes and updates.
In the PC game, players collaborate to build settlements and combat artificial intelligences on procedurally-generated maps, all rendered in a beautiful, impressionistic art style.
When Jim wrote his preview of Love more than a year ago, he sealed it with "Even in 2008, a year of fascinating, intriguing developments in gaming... Love stands out like a magnesium fire in a haystack. Let's just hope that Steenberg's energies and inspirations last enough to set the world on fire when he does reach that vital beta."
One-man development band Eskil Steenberg has announced that his beautiful, abstract mini-MMO Love has gone into beta testing (via Massively).
The beta's available right now for anyone who had an alpha account. It will be opened to all comers on Thursday 7th January. You'll be able to download it then from the Love website.
Steenberg is charging three euros for beta access to cover his server costs. That gets you 30 days with the game.
The MMO market is a strange place: a land of boundless opportunity, or at least perceived to be, going by the tales of hardy adventurers into the unknown like EverQuest and EVE Online and, of course, the great explorer World of Warcraft, who ventured deep in-country and found riches beyond imagining.
It must be a kind of developmental karma: for every few dozen generic, predictable games that are created, there's always an oddity that crops up. Like a strange pixel in the sky, these esoteric instances snatch our attention and make the world of gaming just a little bit more interesting. In the MMO world this weird singularity is Love, a small-scale MMO being developed by a single person: graphics guru Eskil Steenberg. What's most striking about this project is its distinctly stylised, abstract visual theme. This isn't about realism or even functionality, but rather about artistic endeavour. Steenberg's talent is in both technology and artistic vision, and Love is an MMO that folds into both an intriguing package of graphical innovation, and unusual game design.