All multiplayer games will eventually die. It might be hard to imagine titans like League of Legends or Counter-Strike suddenly not existing, and maybe it won’t happen until we’re all dust, but one day, they’ll be gone.
In The Flock, an asymmetrical multiplayer thriller, the inevitable death of the game is a feature built into the game. It will reach a climax, and then developer Vogelsap will shut it down.
Before we dig into the fleeting nature of The Flock, let’s get to know the temporary game first.
Players will roam a gloomy world as a member of the titular Flock, agile hunters that scramble around the vertical environment. Each member of the Flock really wants to be the Carrier, however, who holds onto what is essentially a torch that shines a light on objects that are required to win the game.
Of course, the rest of the Flock don’t want the Carrier to succeed, so they hunt it down so they can take on that role instead. But, and here’s where it gets really interesting, every death contributes to the death of the game itself.
“With each death in the game,” Vogelsap explains, “one life will be taken from the Flock’s population. When the Flock’s population reaches zero, the game will never be purchasable again.”
When The Flock reaches this point, its climax, only players who have already purchased it will get to see the finale. And after that, it’s done. Gone. Forever.
“In opposition to other multiplayer games, we want The Flock’s experience to inspire a sense of awe,” says creative director Jeroen Van Hasselt, “to keep players eagerly anticipating what is coming next and to end with a memorable climax.”
Not only is it an intriguing way for a developer to take control of the death of its game, it’s probably a sensible way to ensure that they don’t end up having to support a game once a lot of players have moved on. Valve can afford to design new games while still supporting multiple online communities, but indie developers don’t necessarily have that luxury.
The Flock will launch this autumn.