iGAD Day 6: mmoAsteroids

iGAD is a series of blogposts, continuing until I finish [A SHITLOAD] of indie games. Yesterday, I looked at Vox, a voxel-world-based RPG (currently in alpha), and today I’m checking out mmoAsteroids, an online multiplayer adaption of the classic arcade game Asteroids.

The following is a stream-of-thought brought to you by an extremely tired mind.

Y’ know when you go into something, thinking “Eh, it’s not going to be that good, it’s probably going to be fairly boring” then, about three minutes in, you’re gasping for breath from laughing too hard? That’s basically mmoAsteroids in a nutshell. It’s so good. The best thing about it being good, in fact, is that it surprised me with how good it was, and that made it even better.

This probably isn’t a stock image.

Here’s what happened when I opened the game for the first time, last week: I logged in as a guest, flew around for a while, collecting ore (dropped from asteroids – used as the ingame currency), didn’t really see the point to it apart from the simple Red vs. Blue team-based format (which pits players against each other to see which team can collect the most ore in a round). Closed the game, decided to write about it another day.

Here’s what happened when I opened the game tonight:

  • Upon spawning, I’m immediately hit by a stray missile of some sort, which shrinks me down to half my size. This has the effect of making everything instantly hilarious.
  • I then mention this in the global chat, where I’m informed by the creator of the game, Paul Firth, that he intentionally designed the Shrink Missiles to have the aforementioned effect.
  • He then hunts me down and kills my tiny triangle of a ship.
  • After a few minutes, once he’s gone back to mining ore, I hunt him down, senselessly murder him, then steal his ore and take it back to my refinery to have it added to my permanent bank balance.
  • Once this quick transaction is over, I mosey on over to a green construction that, after careful observation, appears to be some sort of mining mecha which fires super-powered laser bursts. The caveat of this, however, is that it requires two pilots, who can be from either team. Each pilot controls a thruster (left or right) and a laser (left or right), which can result in some ridiculous maneuvering, by which I mean the mecha usually ends up spinning wildly.
  • A player from the other team joins me in the mecha, which surprises me, and we end up cooperating to blast asteroids and pick up ore. Once we wiggle our way over to a refinery, we deposit the cashmoney from the ore, and I become the richest player in the game. Not really. I’m rewarded with a series of bloops from my headphones, though, which is reward enough.
  • I cast my eyes to the right of the screen, where I realize that there’s an achievement system which is designed to reward me for learning how to play the game. Oops!
  • Suddenly, I realize exactly how much fun I’m having, and come to the sudden conclusion that this pre-alpha tech demo adaptation of an 80′s arcade game is more fun than RuneScape. It’s not saying much, of course, but…

This one also isn’t probably a stock image. *cough*

mmoAsteroids is a testament to the virtues of emergent storytelling: a game where, even though the world is small and the characters mostly-uniform (custom spacecraft skins are available for purchase with actual money), a unique experience can and will be, well, experienced, by everyone who puts more than a couple of minutes into the game. Mileage may vary, of course – of course people aren’t going to have the same experience as I did – but this little 2-D shooter has proven that the basic game design of Asteroids still works, and that it’s very scalable.

The Verdict:

Tired Damon loves this game. He suspects that Not-Tired Damon will also love this game. Maybe a little less, seeing as Tired Damon has a strange attraction to vector graphics.

Seriously, though, it’s great, and strangely addictive. It is most definitely worth your time to play.

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