‘FOUNTELLION’ — Everything We Know So Far
We take a look and break down some of the hype stories surrounding the first full-scale, (secretive) attempt to simulate the natural world (and make it a game platform)…
[Extract — Pre-Open Beta Release]
The New SPIRAL World — ‘FOUNTELLION’:
Everything We Know So Far…
From the official D.D. release notes:
‘An island world; a sanctuary; the new Game of Being; a true revelatory experience of our place in nature…
We invite you to Fountellion, through the green gate which will soon be open, for all things to appear as they truly are… upon an island… of nature, change and inspiration. For this VRMMO super-world will depict nature so intricately it will be astonish and enthrall you. Plants, mammals, birds, insects — birth, evolution… and death… This is a simulation of Life based on a Taiga-like forest biome.
At its heart, there lies the Fountain, but there are six, key, symbolic areas. They are the Estuary, the Fountain, the Monastery, the Village, the Forge and the Tower. Within these regions lie hidden Insights ‘in green light’ that reveal secrets not only of the island but of nature and our place inside of it. They can only be experienced uniquely, activated by deed and by spoken word.
As a new traveler — a seeker — your quest is to unlock these Six Insights, where knowledge of all five will unlock the final, the sixth, and break the grip of the Tower across the island. However, it is an emotional, instinctive world and the power of change and flight, the Focus, does not come easily. It is the core practice of the advanced interface, and those who use it expose themselves to the cursed Stokermen, who are the minions of something — or someone — dark, that works at the top of the Tower…
But there sleeps… hope. For down in the smoke and refuge of the Village the Flicker-folk have a saying: ‘For the Spire must fall in Fountellion..’.
What will you bring to this vast, open-world ‘game’, a lifetime in the making. And what will you take away? How much will you be changed, when you emerge into the sunlight blinking, after so many sessions ‘connected’?
This is a game where reality and fantasy meet in a tapestry of nature and the human; a true super-world to ignite a new revolution in virtual gaming and carve greater dimensions where everyone may live, or be born again…’
Sounds good?! But just what does this really mean? What can we expect by way of actual gameplay as the doorway finally opens to a staggered amount of users in a few weeks time?
Well, let’s break it down…
The island world of Fountellion is set to be as extensively made as any of the top Spiral Game-worlds have been, only better. It’s reported to make a more fluid and intoxicating use of the Spiral interface than we’ve yet seen (so of course, you’ll be forking out on the Homekit). It is based on aspects of the Neuroceans title, ‘the Game of Being’, only far more elaborate in terms of game experience. But what of the ‘game’ itself?
‘Enter into Nature’
So it’s open world stuff; a free-roaming, experiential adventure-survival game, inspired by nature. However, in this game a player has powers that are more magical and enhanced than outside here, in our humble Source reality.
Game ‘pioneers’ — the few key-finders and invitees — are already inside and roaming the Closed Beta ‘instances’, but so far they have remained very quiet and secretive. No avalogs are yet cleared for public view onto the V-web, but expect this to change soon, creating some overnight ‘Beta Heroes’. In the meantime, as we hardened gamers stand on the cusp of new revelations and experiences in this long-awaited, secretive ‘game-changer’, we have gathered up a few rare seeds that seem to have fallen onto the pathways — so many of which are now leading into the ‘Green Garden’ project (its development title)…
- INTERFACE = intense.
Rumours are that the Division have really ‘opened’ the specs on the Spiral Interface. So.. be prepared. If there is any core item our review team will focus on — it will be this. But as yet, we can’t get any more details beyond the gesture-led EEG and breathing combinations. If it is to be something special, then we feel it needs to be more intuitive than ever. ‘Attunement’ here we come..
- LANDSCAPE and NATURE = awesome.
Fully interactive, free-roaming, super-detailed, world persistence for each island ‘instance’ generated. The key word here is Taiga. Look this up and we’re talking northerly boreal forest survival. It will also give you lists of inter-dependent wildlife and habitats that should involve any or all of the following: coniferous trees, shrubs, moss, bogs, lakes, mountains…
- ARTIFICIAL LIFE = tons :)!
If Division rumours are confirmed this could be mind-blowing. An ecosystem is living and breathing around you, which means we’ll see a lot of serious emergent behavior in a fully inter-connected, evolving food chain. From insects, birds, rodents, rabbits, deer to… wildcats and wolves! How will these interact with players and affect gameplay? Good question. Will it be typical hunting and resource-gathering gameplay? Yes… and more… since you’ll be able to ‘ride’ and make use of most creatures, but that’s all the details we have. Players will surely need to learn their place, however, and we reckon this probably means seeking shelter and earning your keep with the local inhabitants.
- QUESTS = survival-based, but also spiritual or pantheistic(?).
We’ve put two and two together. This is a nature-inspired game. So expect the simple — or complex — task of survival to be at its core. We can see suggestions of a more human-orientated quest, but no details have emerged beyond the presence of a form of spiritual wisdom gleaned via ‘insights’ into the natural world. The ‘Game of Being’ returns?
- GAMEPLAY MODES and POWERS = interface.
It’s expected that these will be ‘intimately and ultimately’ linked with the interface to create an optimal experience of a game designed to be ‘experiential’. Hmm, sounds like life! Ever wondered what it’s like to be the size of a grasshopper, within the jungle of grass towering over you? Ever wondered what it’s like to turn into a wildcat, and survive for weeks roaming as one? Or what about a bird, or many such animals caught within the ‘balance’ and struggle of the island life.
- A.I. / PvP / PvE / MMO = yes !
What will be the available game modes — optional or inherent? Well, we can reveal a few things here via an unofficial DD source. They’ve said that there’ll be a mix of NPC and other players, allowing — technically — for both PvE and PvP situations. But how will the latter benefit progression? Not a lot. Or… as much as a brawl in a bar benefits anyone trying to win friends. It might help clear the air. Or not. This is a survival or PvE game primarily, but we reckon that cooperation will be essential, especially in the Village area. We’ve been able to create a list that could be a great head start… Share wisely!
Huddle further into your bivouacs and read next about the Characters You May Encounter (a Pioneer’s Guide)…….
CHARACTERS YOU MAY ENCOUNTER
- Greenwise: the Guardian at the Estuary
A key figure to Fountellion is its ‘guardian’, W. D. Greenwise, an elderly, Merlin-type mystic with special powers. If ever there was a wise guy — this is him: your personal tutor to the ways of Fountellion. A veritable fountain of tips and tricks and a walking encyclopedia of flora and fauna. But his true utility is his tuition; enabling the player to discover and unlock what is inside them.
He resembles the actor Anthony Hopkins and is a cross between unruffled Kane from Kung Fu and the more urgent, eccentric Gandalf, especially since time is against him in teaching players how to — effectively — begin to apply their new powers. Later, it might be said, he is more relaxed when he knows you. And you are less vulnerable.
Mostly he is elaborate AI or NPC (Non-Player Controlled) character, but it is believed that real Game Mages such as the Gatekeeper and even Fountellion founder Prof. Ben Fielding will ‘inhabit’ the character at important or random times.
He can be calm but also shifty and on edge, forever in tune with the ‘voice of the fabric’, the movements of its artificial life and forever scanning the skies for Stokermen, who seek to ‘take’ his new and veteran subjects.
He is aware that it will only take one player to affect the game deeply and its nature so he will treat each new arrival with consideration, respect and… hope. However, if they fail to heed his teachings he may ‘impress’ upon them a sense of gravity and urgency. Players will discover his reasons over time. If his attempts fail he will abandon such players to fend for themselves, and will not respond to summons, depending.
If any player chooses to attack Greenwise, there will be a fight and he may offer second chances to submit to his teachings. However, no player has been known to win against Greenwise. As a Guardian ‘program’ he may have extra, latent or hidden powers bestowed by his creators.
He renews his power from his territory: the estuary region where he is drawn frequently to meet new arrivals. He is less seen in other regions but may be summoned for short periods beyond it.
What else to say? This should be the start of a valuable friendship — or the end. You get points for not summoning him, but then you could die. Or worse: be taken. You decide. Does he like jokes? His students are not too sure. Don’t mess with the cloak.
- The Stokermen
Really? No. You don’t ever want to meet or encounter these wraith-like figures, emanating from the heights of the far Tower. But… they will keep you on your toes. They are light in gravity and so drift airborne across the game-scape, using their stokers (long, stave-like instruments with a curved prong at the end) to navigate their bodies and to pick up, or spear, players (those ill-prepared for their ceaseless searches) expertly onto them. In this way they do serve a purpose — to ensure movement in players and to separate the active and focussed from the lost and unaware.
People say they are in fact the remnants of banished players, forced now to prey on the current, active ones. It is the only way they may return for another turn of the game. For, once every current player ‘fails’ (by getting themselves fished out of the island by these blinkered, blighted predators), then a single instance ends and the server will re-set. All players are then released from the tower — marked by a green band they must work to be free of in a new instance.
- Casper Gunn
Few know the name attached to an early tester and researcher of the fabric (and Early Access player), he is said still to free-roam the island and is a figure who may know the most about gameplay, even more than is programmed into Greenwise. His contributions to development would have been significant, requiring close contact with the A-life coders and designers. He maintained to possess no knowledge of the ‘completed’ game however, and claimed not to be concerned about being ‘left in the dark’ or to have anything but amicable relations with the Division, stating that ‘mystery’ was always integral to his own particular project involvement and experience.
His statue has only recently been observed alongside fellow Fountellion Mages illuminated around the fountain, contributing to rumours he is no longer present on the island, in the First Instance.
[With thanks to pioneer and rising ‘Beta Hero’ star Dan Harvester…]
Article now archived in ‘A History of Fountellion in The Spiral’ by John Leaven, Lead Designer/Dev.