A few days ago Entrada Interactive, mostly known for Miscreated, announced a new Sci-fi sandbox MMO called Rebel Horizons.
What it makes it particularly interesting as of now is that it's going to use Improbable's SpatialOS technology. For those unfamiliar with it, here's a brief overview from Improbable's official website:
SpatialOS is a distributed operating system enabling you to create huge simulations inhabited by millions of complex entities.
These worlds can span massive regions of space, contain millions of individually simulated entities with complex behaviour, and run across thousands of servers in the cloud.
These can be rich game worlds, or large-scale models of complex systems such as entire ecologies, war zones, or fully detailed city infrastructure.
As you can understand, this technology (already being used in Worlds Adrift and in Dean Hall's next game, Ion) has the potential to be revolutionary for online games and specifically MMO titles. That's certainly Entrada's opinion:
We wanted to build a game universe that would be large enough to encompass numerous unique worlds, and allow thousands of concurrent players and millions of entities all working together to create a game of unprecedented scale. What we needed was a radical new technology that didn’t follow traditional methods, but rather, redesigned the way game data is processed and synchronized.
SpatialOS solves many of the basic issues found in large online games today. Issues such as having to run multiple copies of the game on many independent servers, small amounts of players on each server, and non-persistent game worlds with limited interactability. Now, those are no longer issues. SpatialOS runs the entire universe in a cluster of interconnected servers with automatic fault tolerance and the entire game universe is truly persistent – exactly what we need for Rebel Horizons.
Thanks to this technology, planets in Rebel Horizons will have their own persistent economy and ecosystem. Travel between planets will occur via Quantum Gates (think Stargate), but you'll need to remember how to properly program the gate in order to get to a specific planet. If you dropped an item on a planet you could return to get it weeks later, provided no one found it first.
As customary with sandbox MMO games, players may choose several play styles such as trader, rebel, bounty hunter and more. Your clan/guild/group of friends may build outposts and form crews; exploration will also benefit of speeder bikes which can be customized and enhanced.
That's not all, as Entrada is also using Kythera AI (already used in Star Citizen and Umbra - now called Wolcen).
Creatures in the game will naturally evolve and go through a life cycle of their own. Leave a group of them alone long enough and they will become stronger and may need to start adventuring out on their own in search of a new food source. Local cities may even notice the increased number of creatures and start asking players to venture forth to take care of the problem on the city’s behalf and then reward the players appropriately. If ignored long enough some animals can pose a serious threat to nearby NPC cities eventually resulting in the need to defend entire cities or outposts from infestation.
The game is likely still quite far from release, but you can check more artwork on the official website and sign up for the mailing list while you're there. If only half of those promises will come to pass, we'll have something a lot closer to the online game many have been waiting for years.