PAX 2008

PAX 2008: Top Five Surprises (In a Good Way)

John Funk | 8 Sep 2008 19:22
PAX 2008 - RSS 2.0
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3.) Twin Skies (Meteor, PC)

I'd read up a bit on Twin Skies in preparation for my appointment at the Meteor booth, but was admittedly still unsure as to just what the game was all about - and even now, I find myself at a loss of words to try and explain it, because it's really the sort of game you need to see to understand. Many of the team at Meteor had been the creative force behind the relentlessly addictive Neopets, and this experience shows: while the actual MMORPG portion of Twin Skies isn't anything particularly special, the degree to which it interacts with the website community and the Flash games (think, uh, Neopets) is mindboggling.

At the Twin Skies booth, two monitors displayed the exact same scene, albeit in different formats: waves of imps marched towards a warrior, a caster, and a gunman in both a basic, cartoony, 3D MMORPG, and a 2D Flash game. The two were synced together perfectly, and pressing a button in the Flash version to have the wizard cast a powerful spell resulted in his MMO counterpart doing the exact same thing. I'd had a prior appointment to meet with the team, yes, but there were plenty of con-goers crowding the booth drawn only by this bizarre display of cross-platform synchronization.

Twin Skies is meant to be a casual MMO and won't have hardcore raiding or anything of the sort. What it does have is interactivity with things outside the main game on an unprecedented scope. An example the team gave me was the Junkworm: one of the Flash minigames planned is Junkworm, a traditional Snake clone where your worm eats trash and gets longer and longer until it collides with something. If a player gets a particularly high score in the browser game, though, it will actually spawn a Junkworm monster in the MMO world with a loot table that will include some of the things that the creature ate to grow in length. With a high enough score, the Junkworm will be stronger than average, and if their creations happens to kill a character, the player who originally created it might get some sort of achievement or award.

Imagine being given a quest to help a character do laundry - which you then accomplish by heading on over to the website and completing a browser minigame. The quest reward - in the MMO - is a special scrubbing brush, and from then on you'll be able to use that scrub brush whenever you play the Flash game. Much of the core of Twin Skies entails letting players interact with the game - managing their auctions, talking to their guild - from external sources like the website. A comparison was drawn to the World of Warcraft Armory, where players can view characters' equipment and stats outside of the game. With the Twin Skies philosophy, a player could go onto the Armory and actually change what their character had equipped without ever entering the game itself.

While the game itself won't be a blockbuster like Warhammer or EVE, and I have no idea how well these ideas will hold up in practice, these ideas and concepts alone are ambitious and creative enough to warrant praise, and praise I shall gladly give. I might not have known what to expect from Twin Skies beforehand, but Meteor is trying some awesome things and I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for them.

Also, the baby Salabounder plushes they were handing out are goddamn adorable.

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