You've got to appreciate the chutzpah of this announcement trailer. "Our ultimate promise is to reproduce, accurately at scale, the whole planet," claim Pixyul - a studio created by two former Ubisoft developers. And what is their ambition in service of? An online open-world survival RPG, naturally.
My own theory is that, once the team have scanned and modelled the entirety of the planet, they'll probably realise that everybody on it is either playing or making an online open-world survival RPG. It'll be very meta. Until then, watch as some inspirational music attempts to persuade you of the feasibility of some rather audacious plans.
"Hmm," I say, my eyebrow raising.
Digging into the team's website , it seems that full worldwide mapping is still some way off. First, they'll be working on "BRICK 1", a small-scale playable world chunk that will let the team introduce mechanics and test out their other ambitious features - including the "Reality System Sync" that pulls real-time, real-world weather and temperature data for use in the game.
How are Pixyul planning to fund all this ambition? Crowdfunding.
"Hmmmmmm," I say again, my face contorting into non-Euclidean shapes of worry.
Right now, the team are selling bundles of in-game items through their website. Unlike the Kickstarter style funding goals, this money isn't dependant on reaching a target - it's just money you pay directly to the developers, hoping that enough other people will do the same to make the project worthwhile.
That strikes me as inherently problematic. The idea, and the ambition to attempt to realise it, are things worth celebrating. Only, as is becoming increasingly common, it's no longer about the idea alone. It's also about the web-store, and the plea for gamers to make an upfront purchase to support that idea based on limited information. Crowdfunding is always a risk. Sometimes, it's one worth taking - and one made easier by the structure of services like Kickstarter. Here, that structure doesn't exist, and the risk is higher because of it.