Indie games are all over the place these days, but one of the major design hurdles for indies is the ability to support large multiplayer environments. So in comes Improbable and their SpatialOS SDK. SpatialOS is a cloud based, multi-platform game hosting tool that eschews the traditional server structure. To boil things down to an absurdly limited (and slightly inaccurate) level, SpatialOS is a way to run multiple servers as one massive game platform. Each server controls a specific are of the game, with hand-off zones that help provide seamless transitions between areas. No instances, load times, or gates required. Because its a cloud based system, devs don't have to worry about server upkeep or maintenance. That's all on SpatialOS.
Which means indie devs can now make pretty sophisticated multiplayer games. In tests running live at GDC, SpatialOS was able to handle nearly 1500 players, with about 3000 AI, all at once. Which is goddamn bonkers for an indie game.
While Improbable has taken SpatialOS to GDC before, this year we just might here more about it. After all, there was a whole info panel about the SDK this year.
To show off their system, Improbably actually went about building their own demo game, called Survive. The game was thrown together in the last few months as a way to show off Improbable's SpatialOS tech. The design team hadn't even worked in the Unreal engine before. And yet its a gorgeous game with tons of reactive AI,and the ability to utilize massive structures to affect battles happening on other servers. Which is awesome. You can affect the outcome of a fight across the massive multi-server map without getting near it.
Survive even has a sophisticated, reactive ecosystem of herbivores and omnivores. If you kill a giant mech omnivore, well, the structure stays on the map and becomes part of the landscape. It will even get used as the base of a bee colony. And if you kill too many bees in an area, that area will become overrun with angry omnivore AI.
For a game that exists as a way to show off their SpatialOS technology, Survive is well-crafted and marketable. It looks great, the graphics are clear and polished, the concept is unique enough to grab attention, and it was fun. Essentially, I'd play this game, if they ever decide to make it something more than a demo.
Which is a fantastic sales pitch for SpatialOS. If this does well, we could see a whole new generation of multiplayer indie games. You can find more information about SpatialOS (including a much better explanation of the tech behind it) over on the Improbable site.