New cloud-powered technology could redefine what we think of as an indie game.

SpatialOS, created by Cambridge-based Improbable, makes development of bigger games easier and cheaper. It allows for large-scale physics simulations and massively multiplayer games without a lot of the associated risks.

Creating games with these features can be very expensive and time-consuming, making it impossible for all but the largest companies and budgets. Improbable’s tech should shrink the cost to a more manageable scale.

Earlier this month, Automaton Games announced Project X. It is being touted as a 1000-player action game, and SpatialOS makes the large, persistent world possible.

Project X features a huge, realistic world

In a statement, Automaton CTO James Thompson said: “We’ve spent the last two years building the technology for a next-generation massively multiplayer online game that requires an entirely new approach to game design and development”

Thompson is confident that SpatialOS allows them to bring something fresh to the table. He continues, “This project delivers an unprecedented fidelity and scale of world simulation, and complex interactions between authored and player-driven content”.

In East London, Bossa Studios (Surgeon Simulator 2013, I Am Bread) are also hard at work. Worlds Adrift is a multiplayer adventure game set in an uncharted world. It uses SpatialOS to simulate animal kingdoms, environments and weather while connecting thousands of players.

Bossa built their reputation with smaller, humorous games that often went viral on Twitch and YouTube. Worlds Adrift is a more serious effort that not only raises the bar for the studio itself, but for the games industry as a whole.

The most exciting thing about these projects is that they are independently-developed by small companies. Without SpatialOS, Bossa and Automaton would not be able to undertake such projects.

As simulation-centric technology like this becomes more widespread, we’ll see a rise in development ambition—creators trying new, untested and expansive concepts. The last ten years have seen independent developers move into the spotlight. Now, we are on the cusp of a revolution.

Both Worlds Adrift and Project X are slated for full release in 2018.


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