It’s often claimed that Second Life isn’t a game – to which the counter-claim is often, “true, but it is a platform on which games can be created” (I should know, I’ve said it enough times myself!). And the Lab have certainly put a lot of mechanisms in place which allow games to be created – the most recent being the forthcoming deployment of Experience Keys / Tools (although, like everything else in SL, they have potential and uses well beyond games within the platform).
Now there’s a new game in town which demonstrates just how flexible a platform Second Life can be for game-play and role-play. Remnants of Earth, developed by Melna Milos and her team, seeks to bring together immersive role-play and elements of traditional pen-and-paper RPGs such as the use of dice and statistics together with combat, and MMO-style activities such as adventuring and gathering, to present what the creators describe as, “the first pen and paper table top game in SL, while still keeping the core features of any other role-play sim. Players can interact with NPCs and other players to accomplish goals, and even engage in heated PvP faction wars.”
The backdrop to the story is most easily lifted directly from the comprehensive website for the game:
The current year is 2130, mankind has just passed the pre-mature stages of expanding out into the solar system over the years and have established colonies on moons such as Titan, Ganymede, and the Earth’s Moon along with key planets such as Mars, Venus and Jupiter. After the Resource War and the following horrific events of The Gate Incident, Earth has been rendered a mostly barren husk of its former glory devoid of a proper rule of law from the neglect of its former governing body, and is controlled loosely by it while everything else is ruled by either crime, vagrants or corporation military contractors and police for whatever goal they may be shooting for.
Against this backdrop, you find yourself on what remains of Earth, which has largely become – if I might borrow from a certain film franchise – a “wretched hive of scum and villainy”, not only for humans, but for assorted other groups as well: the Drevii, Mytharri, Shivan, Verga’an, and Anshri, who together with the Mutants, Splicers and cybernetic beings / creations, have their own factions in the form of organisations, clans, and syndicates.
From these races, you can create a character, forge a role and join with the game. As well as the website and the accompanying wikia, the initial landing point for the game provides visitors and new player with much additional information, such as note cards on various guilds, and initial items required to participate in the game. These include a HUD (which includes your game dice), turn tracker and starter items – you’ll need to join the RoE group for the latter. There is also an Adventure Pack available for L$ 1,000, which provides tokens for assorted items. – backpack, rifle, sword, personal transport vehicle, mining drills. If you simply wish to observe things, make sure you pick-up and wear the OOC Observer tag.
If you intend to get involved in playing RoE, do keep in mind that while it is not a requirement, for players to do so, Teamspeak 3 may be used by other players – you can find out more on RoE’s Teamspeak page, which includes a link to the Teamspeak client, and notes on setting it up for use with RoE.
Once suitably equipped, arrivals can make their way through to the shuttle to Earth – click on this and you’ll be transported “Earthside” and the city game play area. This is a richly detailed, full-region city build which offers multiple levels and areas to explore and in which to execute game play.
Often, when encountering such semi-dystopian, cyberpunk-esque environments in SL, it can sometimes feel you’re exploring some kind of Blade Runner like world. not so here. While some motifs might be spotted, this is, on the whole, more of an industrial / grunge type of environment, built along line that are broadly reminiscent of a 21st century city (although there are, admittedly – to me at least – a couple of nods towards Babylon 5).
As you wander the city, you’ll come across doorways to clubs, shops, bars, corporate offices, guild headquarters, apartment buildings (with apartments player can rent), police stations, and so on which bear an ENTER teleport sign (some may have street signs marked “enter”). Click on the sign, and you’re transported to a further game-play area (which also includes the arrival point) which presents the various building interiors, thus using the space provided by the region to its fullest extent, increasing levels of privacy, where required, and so on.
These locations are as beautifully detailed as the city level, and tend to have walls which are transparent on the outside, thus allowing the RoE admins and games masters to keep an eye on unfolding game play from their central admin lounge, without necessarily having to physically intrude into unfolding events, which is another nice touch.
Remnants of Earth has just been featured in Kotaku (which is where I copped it), and also has a listing in the SL Destination Guide, so right now it is proving popular with visitors, and there did appear to be a fair few players there as well as I poked around. I did ping Melna while there, as she was also in the region, to see if we could chat, but I assume she was either engaged in RP herself or on an extended AFK, as I received no reply.
With a desert ground level included in the game play areas, shifting weather patterns in the city, the opportunity to interact with NPCs as well as other players, and the ability to salvage materials and goods, craft new items, forge alliances (or at least, friendships of convenience, depending on your needs in the game!), and even attend live events, all coupled with its mixture of RPG and immersive game play, Remnants of Earth offers an intriguing mix which dedicated role-players – particularly those with a sci-fi / cyberpunk leaning – could well find interesting.