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Not So MMO - Eco: By Our Powers Combined - Not So MMO - MMORPG.com

SBFordSBFord Former Associate EditorMember LegendaryPosts: 33,126

imageNot So MMO - Eco: By Our Powers Combined - Not So MMO - MMORPG.com

Red Thomas dives in Eco, a game developed originally as an educational tool and now an Early Access title on Steam. Can a surprisingly interesting game with new ideas create new buoyancy for the Survival genre?

Read the full story here



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Comments

  • alkarionlogalkarionlog Member RarePosts: 2,766
    hmm why that name title make me remember captain planet?


    Red_Thomas
    FOR HONOR, FOR FREEDOM.... and for some money.
  • WarzodWarzod Member UncommonPosts: 458
    Eco is a title with a lot of potential and a great start so far. I will say it is not for the average player. From the servers I have played on I notice a large majority of players seeing what you initially did, a Minecraft like world with better textures only to find themselves tossed into a very complicated interconnected system. This typically concludes with them leaving the server after they have consumed every local resource trying to build their super castle.

    Now if you get with a group of like minded individuals that enjoy deep cooperative play then Eco shines like few others. I am almost reminded of the nature of the game EvE with its surface level space sim underlayed by a hyper realistic and complex social/economical simulation that many never experience.

    I am the ecologist on our server and I don't even own a store really. My job is to constantly monitor environmental quality, flora density and wildlife populations. I spend my time traveling the globe planting food to support fauna growth, vegetation to offset pollution levels, pass suggestions and reports to law makers regarding hunting focus and endangered species risks, etc.

    Public servers are difficult as all too often you will have players that are not expecting or understand the ramifications of their actions and will literally destroy the ecology in the first few days. The server I am on right now three species were driven into extinction by the end of day one.

    I see a great amazing future for this game and may end up hosting a server of my own but people just need to be aware of what they are getting into. This is a wonderfully thought out, with much more to come, world simulator, from the ecology to the economy. You can have different currencies in separate parts of the world that have exchange rates.... Like the article I could go on and on so I will just reiterate this. For people looking for a complex, social/ecological/political/economics simulation you could not hope for more. For those looking to build their private version of Minas Tirith in creative mode... this is not the title for you.
    Red_ThomasTorvalValdheim
  • Red_ThomasRed_Thomas Member RarePosts: 534
    That's awesome.  Stuff like what you're talking about is precisely why this game knocked my socks off.

    Such an impressive game on so many levels.
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 20,979
    Wait, the meteor is orbiting a planet, you know how long it's going to take before it hits, it's already close enough that you can see it, it's visibly getting closer as time passes, and it's not going to crash for 30 days?  That is just not how meteors work, for a whole lot of reasons.  Doesn't anyone know about angular momentum?

    And what is a giant laser supposed to do to a meteor, anyway?  Break up one big crash into several smaller ones that are more devastating in total than one big one?  It's not getting closer unless it's already catching significant drag from the planet's upper atmosphere, so you're not going to shove it back into space.  And if it's orbiting, then it's going slow enough that a crash wouldn't be particularly damaging, anyway, unless you're near where it lands.

    Yes, yes, it's science fiction, and much heavier on the fiction than the science.  But come on.  They could make it a lot more realistic by calling it a giant alien spaceship with a giant bomb on board.  That's what it would have to be to have the trajectory that it has, and to cause the devastation that it supposedly will.

    Yes, there are a lot of ways in which games are unrealistic.  But most games have gravity that is at least kind of close to what you expect.  Trying to make a bunch of little things kind of realistic and then skipping one of the ways that even the wildest of fantasy games usually match reality would probably annoy me until I quit the game.
  • Red_ThomasRed_Thomas Member RarePosts: 534
    I'm not sure that's true.  It'd really depend on the angular momentum the object had when it got captured in the gravity of the planet.  If it had relatively low velocity relative to the planet, maybe enough that the planet actually caught up to it near it's solar apoapsis.  I haven't done the math, but there's an angle and speed at which it could happen.

    But shooting it from ground-based lasers?  Nah.  That probably won't happen.  I'm pretty sure you'd have enough atmospheric interference that launching them into space would be the way to go, even with the need to take power with them.

    Actually, a space program would be a really cool add.  Maybe lock the global map and data behind launching satellites.  At that point, the program transitions to Kerbal Space Program, which already has near-Kerbin objects in the game.  =P
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 20,979
    I actually have a lot of objections to the physics of this.  Perhaps it will be clearer if I lay them out more precisely.

    First off, planets are commonly orbiting their nearest start at a velocity of at least some miles per second, and often into the tens of miles per second.  A meteor that is going to strike is probably orbiting the star at a very different trajectory from the planet, or definitely at a different trajectory if it comes from outside of the solar system.  If it's approaching at a rate of 10 miles per second, and it won't arrive for 30 days, it's still tens of millions of miles away.  That's not going to be visible without an awfully good telescope unless it's so big that the only hope of survival is to evacuate the planet before it arrives.

    It is possible for the meteor to end up in orbit about the planet, at which point, we'd call it a moon, not a meteor.  But that creates a bunch of other complications.  For starters, if it's orbiting the planet, it's probably going to keep orbiting the planet.  Conservation of angular momentum won't let the orbit meaningfully decay unless there's some other force involved.

    The likely other force involved is friction with the planet's atmosphere.  But that drops off exponentially with height.  It will be barely any drag for a while as the orbit very slowly decays, until it quickly becomes a lot more and then it crashes.  If the collision will occur in exactly 30 days, then its height after 29 days will not be that much different from its height today.

    Furthermore, even in the case of such slow orbital decay in the planet's atmosphere, you wouldn't know that it's going to strike in 30 days.  You could guess that maybe it will be about 30 days.  Or 25.  Or 35.  But the time it would take is very sensitive to being slightly off.  Air resistance is extremely complicated, so you're not going to be able to get the collision time all that precisely until it's imminent.

    Even if the meteor is orbiting the planet, that means that it's not moving very fast relative to the planet.  What gives meteors their enormous destructive power is that kinetic energy is proportional to velocity squared, and they release all that energy very quickly when they strike.  A meteor that strikes earth while moving at speeds on the order of how fast the earth moves relative to the sun releases about 1 GJ of kinetic energy per kg of mass.  Such a meteor that is approximately round and 1 km in diameter would release about a zettajoule of energy all at once in one spot.  That's so tremendously destructive that you get a mass extinction event.

    But it's not that a zettajoule of energy is intrinsically destructive.  That's about how much sunlight reaches the Earth's atmosphere every two hours.  It's concentrating that all in one small spot that is so destructive, as it vaporizes everything in that small spot, and then you end up with a ton of dust orbiting the planet for a while and blocking out the sun.

    But a meteor that is orbiting a planet and has its orbit slowly decay from air resistance likely isn't going to have a hard collision with the planet that forces it to abruptly stop unless it's small enough to not be a big deal so that air resistance in the last several miles before it strikes can mostly kill its angular momentum.  Rather, what happens will depend tremendously on exactly where it strikes, and whether it's possible for it to slide for a while.  It had much less kinetic energy to begin with, and then disperses it over a much larger area and a much longer time.  Yeah, that would kill everything in its path, but unless it kicks up a ton of dust into orbit about the planet, it would take a massively larger meteor to cause a mass extinction.

    And never mind the atmospheric interference of firing lasers at it.  What is firing lasers supposed to do?  If it's already picking up meaningful drag from your planet's atmosphere, you're not going to be able to shove it back into space.  Photons do have momentum, but not very much, so lasers are going to be a lot less effective than launching a rocket and using it to shove the meteor.  And if you fire lasers at the meteor, heat it up a bit, and then it still crashes into your planet, what did you accomplish?

    Even if you fire enough lasers at the meteor to briefly vaporize it, that doesn't make all of that matter just vanish.  A lot of it will still be way up there in the sky orbiting your planet, but more dispersed now so as to block out the sun.  That's exactly the sort of mass-extinction causing event that you're trying to avoid, and your lasers probably just made it worse than just letting the meteor crash.
  • Red_ThomasRed_Thomas Member RarePosts: 534
    Never said it was likely, just possible.  Granted, atmo friction is going to screw with calculations.  Gravity influences orbits all the time, so the idea that an object could get pulled into just the right spot to have a slowly decaying orbit is possible.   I mean we have a number of small objects in Earth's Lagrange points, which seems an even harder target to hit.

    But it's a game, and the astronomical part is purely a gimmick to accomplish an objective.  There's no way these guys had the time to precisely program a realistic scenario.  In fact, I think something more realistic would probably detract from the game a bit.

    W/r to lasers... meh.  Nothing really realistic about that.  Notionally you could alter trajectory by vaporizing a spot on the object to create thrust, but that's something that would have to be done over a long time.  If you have that much time, gravity tractor would seem a better option anyway.

    But I get it.  I don't think it matters much in a game that's not really any sort of physics simulation, but I get how points like that stick in your craw.   I spent a whole page ranting about the complete implausibility of the Division as a group in The Division series.   It was a beautiful thread until a certain individual who doesn't believe in free speech shut the thread down.

    Still a little sad over that one.
  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 11,750
    edited April 5
    Science fiction (Ok the game can only loosely be called SF) comes in different levels of reality, this is not Hard SF sounds more Space Opera. But there is no Soft SF genre, just admitting you have not bothered to much with the science is not done. :)

    Considering all the internal inconstancies you often find in TV SF this sort of thing does not bother me. And hey it is a SF game which came up with a plot that did not involve society becoming more elite and tyrannical, mega corporations, conspiracies and men in black. Those tropes are so overused now this smacks of originality.
    Torval

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  • MyrdynnMyrdynn Member RarePosts: 2,380
    Quiz lol
  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 19,659
    The game has some very interesting concepts. This sort of design is probably one of the only types that doesn't saturate the genre. There are Ryzom and EVE. I'm not interested in sinking that much time and effort into maintaining a virtual system, but I do think their game world is intriguing.

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 20,979
    Never said it was likely, just possible.  Granted, atmo friction is going to screw with calculations.  Gravity influences orbits all the time, so the idea that an object could get pulled into just the right spot to have a slowly decaying orbit is possible.   I mean we have a number of small objects in Earth's Lagrange points, which seems an even harder target to hit.

    But it's a game, and the astronomical part is purely a gimmick to accomplish an objective.  There's no way these guys had the time to precisely program a realistic scenario.  In fact, I think something more realistic would probably detract from the game a bit.

    W/r to lasers... meh.  Nothing really realistic about that.  Notionally you could alter trajectory by vaporizing a spot on the object to create thrust, but that's something that would have to be done over a long time.  If you have that much time, gravity tractor would seem a better option anyway.

    But I get it.  I don't think it matters much in a game that's not really any sort of physics simulation, but I get how points like that stick in your craw.   I spent a whole page ranting about the complete implausibility of the Division as a group in The Division series.   It was a beautiful thread until a certain individual who doesn't believe in free speech shut the thread down.

    Still a little sad over that one.
    My complaint isn't that the meteor couldn't end up in the planet's orbit.  It's a low probability event, but it could happen.  Plenty of planets have moons, after all, including our own.  My complaint is more that even if the meteor did somehow end up in low orbit of the planet, what the game describes isn't at all similar to how it could plausibly out.

    It actually wouldn't be terribly hard to make it a lot more realistic.  The meteor had a fairly close flyby of something (whether your planet or some other) and got noticed because of that, and that altered its trajectory such that it's going to crash into your planet in 30 days, even though it still has to travel 10 million miles before the collision.  You can't see it right now other than via telescope, but everyone knows where it is and when it's coming.  Done.

    I recognize that it doesn't really affect game mechanics, and is a silly thing to complain about.  But if something about a game bothers you, then it just does.  I've seen people complain about invisible walls at what is obviously the edge of a map, or being unable to step or climb over an obstacle that is about three inches tall.  Some plot holes seem fine until you notice them, and then drive you nuts.

    Obviously, we don't want to take realism too far.  But given a choice between a storyline or quest text or whatever that makes more sense versus one that makes less sense, it's often better to go with the former if you can do it without altering gameplay in the slightest.
    Red_Thomas
  • VrikaVrika Member EpicPosts: 5,781
    edited April 5
    For Quizzical:

    Unbeknownst to all, a group of aliens placed the meteor on an orbit where air resistance slowly reduces its speed, eventually causing it to crash. It's their way of testing whether the planet has any creatures advanced and capable enough that it's worth conquering and taking the inhabitants as slaves, if they can't even stop an asteroid then they're not worth enslaving.

    The aliens then arranged for inhabitants to discover about the 30 days so that they'd know their challenge, even if no-one knows it's really a test placed upon them by aliens.

    The lasers are designed to sublime ice that's under the comet's surface (change it directly from ice into gas I'm not sure if that's the correct English word), and the gas that erupts out of the laser's hole with high pressure will act as a rocket engine, providing just enough push that it'll bring the meteor into a stable orbit outside atmosphere, turning it into a moon.


    This is just my invention, and I've never played ECO.

    ECO 2 will be a game where the inhabitants must defend against enslaving aliens.
    Red_ThomasTorvalScot
     
  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 11,750
    Vrika said:
    For Quizzical:

    Unbeknownst to all, a group of aliens placed the meteor on an orbit where air resistance slowly reduces its speed, eventually causing it to crash. It's their way of testing whether the planet has any creatures advanced and capable enough that it's worth conquering and taking the inhabitants as slaves, if they can't even stop an asteroid then they're not worth enslaving.

    The aliens then arranged for inhabitants to discover about the 30 days so that they'd know their challenge, even if no-one knows it's really a test placed upon them by aliens.

    The lasers are designed to sublime ice that's under the comet's surface (change it directly from ice into gas I'm not sure if that's the correct English word), and the gas that erupts out of the laser's hole with high pressure will act as a rocket engine, providing just enough push that it'll bring the meteor into a stable orbit outside atmosphere, turning it into a moon.


    This is just my invention, and I've never played ECO.

    ECO 2 will be a game where the inhabitants must defend against enslaving aliens.
    If you can come up with technobabble like that there is a job for you in any TV series with a touch of SF. :)
    TorvalRed_Thomas

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  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 11,750
    edited April 8

    This talk of technobabble has made me want to put Eco's into a perspective. I agree with Quizzical but this is nothing, a hiccup compared to some of the SF background shenanigans I have seen. So it is time for my worst example ever of SF background plotting.

    There was a UK series called Space 1999, made in the 70's. Much of the series was Hard SF, from the way Moon base Alpha is constructed to the Eagle spacecraft. There was no technobabble time travel, warp anything like that. Sure they met aliens (the classic plot device to explain everything as used by Vriaka :) )) who had telepathy and so on but Moon base Alpha was as hard nosed SF as they come.

    But the story demanded something that was explained (I use that word loosely) with the most awful inconsistencies. Spoiler Alert!!!!! :)

    The earths moon was used to store nuclear waste (don’t ask) and there was an explosion that sent our moon with Moon base Alpha out of the solar system to the stars! So the moon had no engines, no means of steering, speeding up or slowing down. Each episode they would reach a new star system apparently traversing light years from the impetus of that one blast. In an unexplained way the moon would slow down to interplanetary speed and pass near a planet. Cue action adventure. Then presumably speed back up to faster that light speed. Sometimes the question of a mysterious force that could be guiding them was brought up, but this sentence is as far as that explanation was developed. Indeed in the second series they dropped any mention of the mysterious force, presumably because it was so farcical. For a Hard SF series this was difficult for me to swallow even as a SF fan kid.

    I guess it must have been the aliens. ;)


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  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 19,659
    edited April 8
    Scot said:

    This talk of technobabble has made me want to put Eco's into a perspective. I agree with Quizzical but this is nothing, a hiccup compared to some of the SF background shenanigans I have seen. So it is time for my worst example ever of SF background plotting.

    There was a UK series called Space 1999, made in the 70's. Much of the series was Hard SF, from the way Moon base Alpha is constructed to the Eagle spacecraft. There was no technobabble time travel, warp anything like that. Sure they met aliens (the classic plot device to explain everything as used by Vriaka :) )) who had telepathy and so on but Moon base Alpha was as hard nosed SF as they come.

    But the story demanded something that was explained (I use that word loosely) with the most awful inconsistencies. Spoiler Alert!!!!! :)

    The earths moon was used to store nuclear waste (don’t ask) and there was an explosion that sent our moon with Moon base Alpha out of the solar system to the stars! So the moon had no engines, no means of steering, speeding up or slowing down. Each episode they would reach a new star system apparently traversing light years from the impetus of that one blast. In an unexplained way the moon would slow down to interplanetary speed and pass near a planet. Cue action adventure. Then presumably speed back up to faster that light speed. Sometimes the question of a mysterious force that could be guiding them was brought up, but this sentence is as far as that explanation was developed. Indeed in the second series they dropped any mention of the mysterious force, presumably because it was so farcical. For a Hard SF series this was difficult for me to swallow even as a SF fan kid.

    I guess it must have been the aliens. ;)


    I loved Space 1999 when I was a kid along with the original Battlestar Galactica. That show was so Arthur Clarke and Robert Heinlein compared to all the others.

    Here's what happened... Moon base alpha used carefully placed thrusters on the moon chunk to help navigate the journey. The moon chunk used the planetary orbit and gravitational fields as a slingshot. It only took them a week between encounters because of faster than light travel between which coincided neatly with weekly television serial episodes. Sort of like the TARDIS only without the control, the cool doctor, the hot assistant, and the bigger space on the inside.
    ScotlaseritRed_Thomas
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  • GeezerGamerGeezerGamer Member EpicPosts: 8,767
    edited April 8
    How political is this game? Is this some "The world is gonna end in like twelve years" propaganda piece or is this a real game?
  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 11,750
    Torval said:
    Scot said:

    This talk of technobabble has made me want to put Eco's into a perspective. I agree with Quizzical but this is nothing, a hiccup compared to some of the SF background shenanigans I have seen. So it is time for my worst example ever of SF background plotting.

    There was a UK series called Space 1999, made in the 70's. Much of the series was Hard SF, from the way Moon base Alpha is constructed to the Eagle spacecraft. There was no technobabble time travel, warp anything like that. Sure they met aliens (the classic plot device to explain everything as used by Vriaka :) )) who had telepathy and so on but Moon base Alpha was as hard nosed SF as they come.

    But the story demanded something that was explained (I use that word loosely) with the most awful inconsistencies. Spoiler Alert!!!!! :)

    The earths moon was used to store nuclear waste (don’t ask) and there was an explosion that sent our moon with Moon base Alpha out of the solar system to the stars! So the moon had no engines, no means of steering, speeding up or slowing down. Each episode they would reach a new star system apparently traversing light years from the impetus of that one blast. In an unexplained way the moon would slow down to interplanetary speed and pass near a planet. Cue action adventure. Then presumably speed back up to faster that light speed. Sometimes the question of a mysterious force that could be guiding them was brought up, but this sentence is as far as that explanation was developed. Indeed in the second series they dropped any mention of the mysterious force, presumably because it was so farcical. For a Hard SF series this was difficult for me to swallow even as a SF fan kid.

    I guess it must have been the aliens. ;)


    I loved Space 1999 when I was a kid along with the original Battlestar Galactica. That show was so Arthur Clarke and Robert Heinlein compared to all the others.

    Here's what happened... Moon base alpha used carefully placed thrusters on the moon chunk to help navigate the journey. The moon chunk used the planetary orbit and gravitational fields as a slingshot. It only took them a week between encounters because of faster than light travel between which coincided neatly with weekly television serial episodes. Sort of like the TARDIS only without the control, the cool doctor, the hot assistant, and the bigger space on the inside.
    Hmm no mention of any thrusters being used and the law of the conservation of motion and inertia don't allow for faster than light speed and then dropping to the "crawl" of interplanetary speed. 

    But who cares? It was a great series and apart from some aberrations was real hard SF. I don't mind what flavour my SF comes in but I do like it to stay in the same genre. UFO had the answer to the hot assistant, those UFO outfits for the girls were knockout and both series were made by the same company.  But how could we have got that past newly politically correct ITV producers? Got it, Space 1999 was the most expensive TV series in the UK at that time, lets bring back the mini skirts for 'cost cutting'. :)
    Torval

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  • lahnmirlahnmir Member EpicPosts: 2,830
    Torval said:
    Scot said:

    This talk of technobabble has made me want to put Eco's into a perspective. I agree with Quizzical but this is nothing, a hiccup compared to some of the SF background shenanigans I have seen. So it is time for my worst example ever of SF background plotting.

    There was a UK series called Space 1999, made in the 70's. Much of the series was Hard SF, from the way Moon base Alpha is constructed to the Eagle spacecraft. There was no technobabble time travel, warp anything like that. Sure they met aliens (the classic plot device to explain everything as used by Vriaka :) )) who had telepathy and so on but Moon base Alpha was as hard nosed SF as they come.

    But the story demanded something that was explained (I use that word loosely) with the most awful inconsistencies. Spoiler Alert!!!!! :)

    The earths moon was used to store nuclear waste (don’t ask) and there was an explosion that sent our moon with Moon base Alpha out of the solar system to the stars! So the moon had no engines, no means of steering, speeding up or slowing down. Each episode they would reach a new star system apparently traversing light years from the impetus of that one blast. In an unexplained way the moon would slow down to interplanetary speed and pass near a planet. Cue action adventure. Then presumably speed back up to faster that light speed. Sometimes the question of a mysterious force that could be guiding them was brought up, but this sentence is as far as that explanation was developed. Indeed in the second series they dropped any mention of the mysterious force, presumably because it was so farcical. For a Hard SF series this was difficult for me to swallow even as a SF fan kid.

    I guess it must have been the aliens. ;)


    I loved Space 1999 when I was a kid along with the original Battlestar Galactica. That show was so Arthur Clarke and Robert Heinlein compared to all the others.

    Here's what happened... Moon base alpha used carefully placed thrusters on the moon chunk to help navigate the journey. The moon chunk used the planetary orbit and gravitational fields as a slingshot. It only took them a week between encounters because of faster than light travel between which coincided neatly with weekly television serial episodes. Sort of like the TARDIS only without the control, the cool doctor, the hot assistant, and the bigger space on the inside.
    You most certainly gained another level in the nerd skill with that post, you both did actually. Well done chaps!

    /Cheers,
    Lahnmir
    ScotTorvalRed_Thomas
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    Kyleran on yours sincerely 


    But there are many. You can play them entirely solo, and even offline. Also, you are wrong by default.

    Ikcin in response to yours sincerely debating whether or not single-player offline MMOs exist...
  • Red_ThomasRed_Thomas Member RarePosts: 534
    How political is this game? Is this some "The world is gonna end in like twelve years" propaganda piece or is this a real game?
    You mean real world political?   I'd say minimal.  You can exploit and pollute the planet all you want and nothing comes of it other than you just can't grow some stuff in the polluted area.

    INSIDE the game, there's a political system.   Something like a model UN where people can enact laws and such to do whatever they want.

    I probably passed on the game initially thinking to some degree that it was intended to be preachy, but that wasn't the case when I played it.
  • Red_ThomasRed_Thomas Member RarePosts: 534
    lahnmir said:
    You most certainly gained another level in the nerd skill with that post, you both did actually. Well done chaps!

    /Cheers,
    Lahnmir
    Agreed.   I was laughing pretty hard.    Have to say, I'm pretty tickled to have that caliber of folks reading my stuff.
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