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From Dust | Trailer and Tech Demo

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Happy 2011!

The key turns and I squeeze through the door into the darkness that is my apartment. Through the darkness I scan the room, trying to see if I can see if I’ve been robbed. There, I can just faintly make out the outline of my TV and then my computer. I navigate across the room to the light switch and feel a tingle as I flip it on and verify that everything is in order. I check kitchen, mice have nibbled on my oven mitten, and have to throw out a stale heel of bread and a couple of hot dog buns, but otherwise good to go. I check the bathroom: toilet flushes, faucet runs. I plug in my heater and plunk down into my chair and fire up my computer. I literally spasm with excitement. Oh, it does feel good to be back in the gaming saddle.

The control scheme for the trailer and tech demo is a rolling ball of whatever element the player is currently using.

The control scheme for the trailer and tech demo is a rolling ball of whatever element the player is currently using.

And I’m going to start off my bloggings-on in 2011 with a preview of a game sent to me by my good buddy DK. The game is called From Dust, and it is being developed by Ubisoft and is set to released sometime in 2011, though it appears to be the early stages of development, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t come out till 2012 (or later). The game is in the god-game genre. This means that the player will have significant control over the world’s geography. And the control looks absolutely gorgeous. The basic premise of the game is that the player has control over a world, not unlike our own, with the exception that the land is sculpted by the elements in a matter of seconds or minutes, rather than thousands or millions of years.

There are a couple of videos that show the remarkable technology molding the game world. The first is the trailer available on Ubisoft’s official From Dust page. In addition to the trailer, there is also a tech demo available on YouTube.

The tribes in From Dust have a minimalist approach to clothes, but do take the time to make their hair look spikey.

The tribes in From Dust have a minimalist approach to clothes, but do take the time to make their hair look spikey.

The tech demo shows some of the elements that the player will have access to: sand, rock, water, lava, and vegetation. The elements interact as one may expect they would: water causes erosion of sand almost immediately, rock slowly becomes sand, lava creates new hard rock, and vegetation halts erosion. The whole setup seems to have a sense of natural balance to it. I have to say that I was most impressed with the way that the water moved dynamically through the world. Breaking the flow immediately causes the water to start moving in a different direction. Wow!

But what’s the fun in having control over an empty world? Luckily there will be humans running around the world as well. It’s not exactly clear from the trailer or tech demo whether the player is set as a god who guides the tribe of primitive people, or if the player is some kind of leader of the people who slowly acquires more godly powers. The trailer mentions the humans having lost their power to control the world, but trying to get it back. If my game experience tells me anything, it would be that both will be available modes of play. Most likely there will be a campaign where the player is a part of the tribe, and through the cunning use of limited powers must save his or her tribe from any number of geological catastrophes. In addition to this campaign mode, there will undoubtedly be a sandbox mode as well, where the powers are unlimited and players can go wild.

From Dust's engine is amazing to see in action.  I only hope that the effect isn't lost on hardware less powerful than the demonstration computer.

From Dust's engine is amazing to see in action. I only hope that the effect isn't lost on hardware less powerful than the demonstration computer.

But hey, that’s just my guess. Or perhaps my secret, dark, desire to dominate the entire world’s geography, bending it all into Seussian landscapes.

Let’s hope that I don’t get these powers IRL.

And thus is the power of a god.  I hope that any inhabitants are able to swim (and avoid the downward pull of currents in the water as a result of the entire freaking island sinking into the sea).

And thus is the power of a god. I hope that any inhabitants are able to swim (and avoid the downward pull of currents in the water as a result of the entire freaking island sinking into the sea).

From Dust is one that I’ll keep an eye on. I am reserved for now on whether it be a great game. The engine looks fabulous, but that doesn’t mean it will be a good game. Still, even just having the tools available in the tech demo would be fun to play around with. And to see what kinds of things other players make. Hopefully there will be the ability to share solutions to the game’s puzzles and levels online. Which brings me to another point: where there be any multiplayer options? Players working together (or against one another) with these elemental powers could be incredibly fun. Protecting my tribe with rock walls may backfire if my enemy can find a way to flow water over the walls, flooding the village. Really though, there’s just not enough released about the actual gameplay to make an informed decision at this point. But I’m cautiously optimistic about From Dust and the revival of the god-game genre.

Till next time,
-S


Comments

payne r. said: 19 June 2011 at 22:14

can you acuaily PLAY the demo I’ve gone to litteraly 20 web sites and i can’t find where to play it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sunhawk said: 19 June 2011 at 22:55

    The game is still in a very early stage of development, so it will probably be a while before Ubisoft releases any kind of playable demo. So, as far as I know, no, you can’t play any kind of demo (yet). 🙁

    Sorry.

    Thanks for reading though!

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