Tiny crackpot German team Duangle reckon their new crowdfunding project NOWHERE is “nearly impossible to sum up in a single sentence”. We’re nothing if not contrary (unless, of course, you say we are), so here goes:
A version of Spore in which you can grow up to be a building. Dwarf Fortress for people with feels. The Sims in a deep-space bubble.
NOWHERE is a simulation game set in a self-sustaining sphere on the edge of the cosmos. Your experiences with it will be emergent, and so too will be the characters you control – shapeshifting blobs that can grow from the size of a marble to that of an entire town or city, to be inhabited by other marbles. These creatures are descended from humans, and come with all the attendant politics, belief systems, relationships and conflicts you’d expect from relatives of ours.
“NOWHERE is intended to be a single-player open-world game – which means your story isn’t predetermined, as though you were wandering through an endless tunnel,” explains Sylvia Ritter, one half of the game’s development team. “Instead, you can pick your own direction and pace to discover the world and change the narrative.”
Upon death, however, you’ll have to begin a new life as a different morphous shape in the sphere – living with the impact of the mistakes or improvements your previous character has wrought on this strange world.
“Experimenting with your role in a simulated community can be just as exciting as combat,” asserts Leonard Ritter. “NOWHERE is largely focused on social artificial intelligence, on trading, exploring, cultivating, [forming] friendships and maintaining peace.”
Resources are limited, so combat comes only as a last resort – “an existential threat that is better avoided.”
“Rather than telling a fixed story that can only be experienced once, our aim is to create a highly emergent system,” says Leonard. “A chemistry lab in which surprising, spontaneous reactions create individual stories that you can relate to your friends.”
But there’ll be a central problem, and an eventual goal – to discover where the Nowherians, as they’re called, come from, and “what happens at the end of all your lives”.
Here’s my suggestion: don’t ask whether an independent crowdfunding project can muster enough cash to support a game with ideas the size of the $19m Star Citizen. Don’t question whether a team of two can bring NOWHERE to fruition in just two years. Instead, simply marvel at the cooped-up creativity unravelling in the pitch video below: