Now that the great watershed of the End of PlayStation Home is passed it seems like high time for a new blogpost. I haven't been around on the neoforums much since the beginning of April, partly due to the Pixelhero contract work becoming increasingly more demanding and partly due to the end of Home. Writing up the final Spunland blogpost was a tricky task and one which I kept putting off, but now that it's done I finally have the time...
For the last so many months I've continually felt like I was working against the clock, this is hardly an uncommon experience in game development - but where milestones and release dates can almost always be shifted, the end of Home was unmovable. I think I got less than half of the things done I wanted to before the end arrived. What a unique experience it was, and how grateful I am to have got to spend it with friends to whom it also meant much. I planned to be there for final moments of Spunland, but a good friend bought me some Scottish soothing juice to make the event easier, and consequently I was dead to all worlds by 5am GMT, 3 hours short of the end (or #BIGPOOF as goddessbunny42 dubbed it).
I spent a lot of the next day on twitter looking out for people's reactions - trying to catch what I missed. I'm sure there must be many videos of the final moments, but the only one I watched in full (well listened to mostly tbh) was SunBunz vid, which maybe caught my eye as she starts off with our glorious neoflag, and spends her avi's final moments in the Star Wars Canteena - surely the second time such a location has been visited by a virtual apocalypse!
The graveyard of virtual worlds is a lot bigger than I thought (have a google), but PSH was perhaps unique in being on console and encompassing so many styles of world, both of which conspired to give it a very rich and varied community. Sony's final message to us all:
'PlayStation Home is closed for essential maintenance'
This blogpost would have been a lot more melancholic if I had written it a week ago, but as it is, Atom Universe made their kickstarter goal, indeed passed it by £5k. Huge congrats to them! Running a Kickstarter is a massive undertaking, and their success is good for everyone. If AU proves to be a success on PS4 it will help pave the way for more socially focussed virtual worlds on console, which I'm sure is what the whole PSH diaspora want. At this time madmunki have no plans to create content for AU, but we are continually in touch and will see how things develop, but for now I am happy to be a Universal Citizen as a result of backing their KS, and look forwards to meeting folks there as a player if not developer. Kovok are aiming to get Nebula up and running by the end of the year, Hellfire are still hard at work on Big City Stories and Digital Leisure should be bringing their 4 Kings Casino to PS4 in the near future, so there really is some choice for everyone, and that's if we only consider the direct descendants of Home. If only there was a way of connecting all these virtual worlds!
I have felt for quite some time now that Virtual Worlds will eventually become a mainstream thing, in fact the Neotopia story really began when I heard that facebook had bought Oculus. Hearing that made me wonder what a VR social network would be like, and realize that everyone having their own virtual room in which to share things rather than a wall, kind of made sense. I'm sure thats not quite what they are doing, but Mark Zuzkerberg is talking about VR being a medium in which to share things. It was during the Neotopia Kickstarter that I really got to appreciate how much Home meant to so many people. I was aware of how much it meant to those suffering from some kind of disablity, but had never considered all the other ways in which peoples isolation can be overcome virtually. I think that users of Home and other Virtual Worlds are pioneers of a sort, eventually more people are bound to find themselves spending time in virtual worlds, ageing populations, indeed overpopulation and depleting resources seems likely to drive such. Not all of this is good (always take the red pill!), but where it leads to people connecting, communicating and sharing - its awesome. madmunki may have had to give up on neotopia, but virtual worlds are clearly here to stay.
So what do madmunki do next? Well the four of us will be meeting this week to discuss exactly that, although nothing in a hurry is the short answer. As I've said before I would very much like to make a Spunland stand-alone, and although we'll want to make it multiplayer it will be a very diferent beast to what it was in PlayStation Home. In the meantime we have contract work to keep us busy. My work with Pixelhero on Eisenhorn is now mostly of a design nature, and although the work is fun and fascinating (and in many ways a real honour to get to do) it leaves little time or head space for anything else. The programming munkis are building cloud based tech to be used by Gamajun (a Czech games company) for their online games, and only time will tell what other things can be done with that. Then there are a couple of other games madmunki have in a half finished state, so ideally we'll get them finished and out there soon. When we have anything to share I'll shout from here.
To everyone who sent us lovely messages regarding Spunland via facebook, twitter, email, PSN or on these forums - thank you all so much! They were very much appreciated And to all the friends I've made through Home - we have many ways of staying in touch, let's use them!
May the Spun be with you always
Dave (twitter: @madmunkid)
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