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snoogans775 avatar 10:13 PM on 10.12.2009  (server time)
LOVE alpha test diary.

If you aren't familiar with LOVE, it's an online game not quite massive enough to be considered a Massively Multiplayer Game like World of Warcraft. It's a novel new online game where you build settlements with other people, and occasionally there's baddies that will kill you. I've been participating in the alpha test of the game, and I felt like sharing some of the stuff going on in the LOVE servers during this phase of the game's development.

When I started playing LOVE, I was instantly awed by how beautiful the game looks. The game runs fantastically on a cheap graphics card, and the whole visual style of the game is incredibly satisfying to watch. Your basic actions involve moving and jumping, which also involves a double jump you can perform off of solid objects, giving the game a very subtle platforming element. You can also shoot a little energy ball, but it's mostly useless. The first task given to a player is to find a settlement in the game, which you are directed to by a compass at the bottom of the screen.

When I started, I began to run towards where the symbol was pointing, and I immediately found myself hindered by an incredibly diverse landscape. Huge canyons rip through the world, and all manners of outcroppings and geological formations make navigating a very thoughtful task. The world is spherical, and I quickly found that I could chase the sun or run into night time with a few minutes travel. Every single vista looks like a painting, a visual style lilting between Monet-like splotches and indistinct forms, but the world also has a feeling of familiarity in many of it's features. Ice is blue-white, grass is green, water is dark and undulating, and the sky is in what feels like a perpetual sunset.

Now, the real test of a game is its gameplay, and if you thought LOVE was just a cheap randomized world created to showcase some pretty mountains, you might just piss yourself when you get into the actual stuff you can do in the world. When I found a settlement, the first thing I noticed was another person who was building a wall. When I say "building a wall", I don't mean he was placing some brick templates onto a 3d block. That's what all those other games do. This guy was pulling earth up out of the ground and strategically morphing it into a shape and size which not only seemed to make a sturdy defense against the baddies, but it also seemed to express his personal aesthetic preference for how the settlement should look and feel. I can't really elaborate more on that other than to say it is revolutionary for videogames.

I have since explored the world more, and I 've built my own personal cliffside walk around that showcases the gorgeous views which our settlement has. Another thing which is slowly dawning on me whenever I boot up the game is that the world is morphing by itself. Rock slides seems to happen, and the AI enemies are changing and building new structures in their attempt to secure more power.

Soon our settlement should find a weapons token, and once we learn how to build a gun, I'll do a write-up on the battle mechanics in the game.

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