I‘m sure you’re aware of the number of survival games currently on the market. Dramatic gamers sometimes like to complain about this and act like it’s a sign of the apocalypse for gaming. But are there even close to as many survivors as, say, FPS games or platformers? I think genre weariness doesn’t necessarily set-in due to numbers, but more from how dense the similarity is between each ensuing title. So what’s so similar between all these games? I might point a finger at their selfishness. Who’s surviving?—You are. Sure you can decide to defend or supply others in games like Rust, but it’s not the main point or even necessary. What if there was a game where you not only had to look after yourself, but the whole world around you?
In Eco, the whole planet is surviving. The world is an extension of you and your actions, and so the real goal in Eco is to find a balance of health and prosperity for yourself and the other humans, while also not destroying the planet, which by the way runs 24/7 on a server, forever growing and changing in the direction it’s being pushed. But it gets much deeper than that.
Eco is also about building a civilization. You have to work together with other people to not only construct a town and develop technology, but also build an economy and devise laws in an attempt to keep the human population using agreed-upon behavior. You see, you’re stuck between somewhat of a rock and a hard place in Eco—if you use up resources without restraint you will destroy the environment and thus have no food, but if you don’t use anything the planet will be destroyed by a meteor strike one day anyhow. So the balance lies in keeping the planet healthy while working toward the technology to one day save it in its day of need.
But the interplay between the many decisions and their outcomes in Eco are going to be highly complex, and there isn’t going to be an kind of instruction manual for how to go about saving the world. However, statistics on everything imaginable will be kept track of and provided to the players to analyze and argue about their significance, and from there, possibly link players to thinking about our actual world and how this game, while absolutely not an accurate simulation, is at least quite an in-depth metaphor for the actual struggle of human life in the grand scheme. Here’s what the developer has to say:
I fully expect people’s individual incentives to guide their analysis of what is going on in the world (a woodcutter is going to deny that deforestation is a problem, for example), and that kind of blindness can lead the world to ruin. Having that experience and recognizing its effect in retrospect after a destroyed world will be an incredibly powerful thing.
But don’t get the idea that the whole game is some boring enviro-mental patient, drum circle jerk, tree humping orgy born out of last year’s Burning Man (ouch! And I even probably qualify as such!), the game is going to have incredibly deep survival elements with branching skill trees so you can be a specialist in the village, a player-dictated economic system, and of course plenty of crafting.
Ok, so I’ve really been going off here without fully introducing Eco, so let me start over. Ahem. Eco is a highly-original, global survival MMO currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.
There we go. Apparently a boring introduction can make for a satisfactory end, when in a pinch. Go check out their Kickstarter here, and there is also a lot of great information on the official website. Aaaaaaand trailer: