Features & News

Game Horizon: Part 2

July 9, 2010, Author: Sarbjit Bakhshi

Following on from my last report on the Game Horizon conference, I get to talk to Michael Acton Smith about ‘Moshi Monsters’ and Yohei Ishii from CCP about their forthcoming ‘Dust 514’ game…

Michael Acton Smith, CEO of Mind Candy, was on hand to talk about the experience he gained from creating Moshi Monsters to getting it to twenty million users.

Michael is a serial entrepreneur as testified by being one of the co-founders of Firebox.com, a company he started after travelling to toy trade shows around the world, and the massively ambitious Alternate Reality Game, ‘Perplex City’, now in perpetual hibernation.

Perplex City was released in 2005, and was a game that took place partially online, in reality and using puzzle cards which you could buy in game shops. The game was a critical success (and spawned the award winning ‘Six to Start’ [www.sixtostart.com]) but not a commercial success. They burned through their VC funding pretty quickly, and on the brink of failure, Michael created ‘Moshi Monsters’, which has been a run-away success with currently, as mentioned above, twenty million accounts and counting. 65% of players are female, with the majority of players in the US, UK and Australia.

In his own words, Moshi Monsters is a Facebook for children, one with safety controls and a ‘safe’ environment for children to play in.  The game is clearly a success but the not perhaps of interest to most TIMJ readers. However, Michael is certainly someone to watch, and looking forward, he would like Moshi Monsters to be the largest kids website in the world and he would further like to develop the Moshi brand and perhaps into a Moshi film.

Moving on, Yohei Ishii, Senior Director Business Development, CCP Games spoke to the title: ‘Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust: Reincarnation of the console games model’. CCP is the company behind the incredibly successful Space MMORPG Eve Online. The game was released in 2003 and is still going strong. With monthly subscriptions of at least $15 a month and hundreds of thousands of players it is easy to see why.

Even with thousands of players, and a compelling game universe, people like me, who come late to the game universe find it daunting to get hold of the controls and be thrust straight into a world in which you are very insignificant. We scuttle back to our consoles for a bit of fun instead. It seems that CCP has taken notice and is now producing its new game, ‘Dust 514’ for those like me who want to be part of the Eve Online universe, but don’t have the time to get under the skin of the complex world. Players in ‘Dust 514’ play in a FPS, that I am assured will stand up in its own right as a game. Where it gets interesting is that players can be hired by Eve players to take part in their assaults on planets. No longer will it be up to balanced computer dice rolls to decide whether a planet falls to one faction or the other, but down to the individual skills of the console gamers. Eve Online factions will be able to give virtual money to Dust players to get better kit and each Dust character can level up as in a RPG.

Are you ready to get DUSTy?

Are you ready to get DUSTy?

This is a spectacular game concept and could breathe new life into an established MMO and shake up the scope of the FPS. At this point, there are no release dates, but they are assembling a mighty cast of programmers and directors to bring it to life. Yohei spoke of the co-founder and lead designer of DICE coming on board as well as some producers of EA as well as those from Midway in Newcastle who had worked on the Unreal engine code (which will be used in the game).

Would you be up for a game of Dust 514 or do you think the best laid plans of Eve Online players would be ruined by some newbie shooting himself in the head with a rocket launcher? Comments below please!