Brendan Greene, better known (somewhat ironically) as PlayerUnknown, walked away from PUBG last year to form a new studio, PlayerUnknown Productions, and take on an incredibly ambitious new open world project called Artemis. The goal of Artemis is to generate realistic, dense, world-sized open worlds: To "lend weight to the idea of, 'You see that mountain? You can climb it.'"
(That, by the way, is an old quote attributed to Todd Howard in early presentations discussing the scale of Bethesda's open-world RPG Skyrim.)
pic.twitter.com/dipZpUSeNYSeptember 3, 2021
A sprawling open world in which players can wander around and do whatever they want is essentially a metaverse by another name—at least insofar as we understand them—which naturally leads to thoughts of blockchains and NFTs, neither of which are terribly popular with most gamers. In a recent interview on Nathan Brown's Hit Points blog, Greene acknowledged the metaversal connection, and the potentially negative connotations it might carry, but said he's not bothered by the possibility of a negative reaction to it.
"I’m just going to do what I’m going to do," Greene said. "It’s this thing that we want to create, and it’s going to give people a lot of fun, a lot of pleasure, and a lot of meaningful things to do. But it doesn’t matter if it’s called the metaverse. I don’t care what people want to call it."
"I do believe you should be able to extract value from a digital place; it has to be like the internet, where you can do stuff that will earn you money," he continued. "But it’s not about, like, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. It’s some kid called AwesomePickle selling cool skins because he understands what people want."
Greene made no mention of NFTs in the quick rundown of his ambitions, but it came close enough to the mark that some people took it to mean that Greene is making a blockchain-based game using NFTs for items. In response, he took to Twitter to shoot down the assumption.
"Not quite," Greene tweeted. "We’re considering blockchain, or some future evolution of this tech, as a utility within our digital place, not the foundation of it."
Not quite. We’re considering blockchain, or some future evolution of this tech, as a utility within our digital place, not the foundation of it. https://t.co/ZklHxtMI65September 28, 2022
It's been more than a year since Greene left PUBG Corporation, but his new project—and its planned precursor, a smaller-scale (but still massive) tech demo called Prologue—are still very much in the "considering" phase. Greene attributed some of that slow start to his inexperience in building and managing a development team, but also because of the sheer magnitude of the technological challenges involved in building believable worlds of the size he envisions.
"I often say that it’s like we’re building a combustion engine in the age of horses," he said. "People know how to breed horses and train them to run faster, but that doesn’t scale."