Thursday, April 22, 2010

Perpetuum Online - Clone or not to clone. (Part 1)

I recently left Eve Online after playing the game for 3 years. It is very hard to enjoy any theme park style games after playing a sandbox style game. So I set out to find another sandbox style game.

About a month ago I found the game Perpetuum Online. I quickly read about the background story and checked out the games' media. I then looked further into the games' information and I found it was a sandbox play style game. Now this was a big find since there are very few sandbox style games. Plus, Perpetuum has robots and mechs! I was very excited to have found the game being a big fan of the mech genre games.

First glance of screenshots and videos of the game I saw a clone of Eve Online. I didn't care if it was a clone, but I wanted to make sure it had enough differences for me to invest my time in the game. I did some more research about the game and found that their were a lot of differences about the two games. You can see plenty about the game from the media released by the games' developer Avatar Creations and beta testers.

I was hooked right away, so I signed up for a chance to join the closed beta testing.

I quickly found many people on gaming community sites bashing Perpetuum for being a clone of Eve Online. I found it ridiculous since there have been clones of games for a long time now. WoW for example has tons of clones (Runes of Magic, Allods) just to name two. Then I realized the problem, this was the first game to try and clone Eve Online indirectly or directly. Being the first of your genre or the first clone is the toughest...

At the same time most of the games that are consider the parent have also taken elements of games that came before them. This is something that has been happening in the gaming industry for a long time.

So lets take a look at what elements of Perpetuum that make it a clone of Eve Online and also look at the elements that make it different.

Lets start with the clone elements.....

First thing that the user is presented with is the Graphic User Interface (GUI). Perpetuum's GUI looks as though it is a total rip of the Eve GUI. Yes, it is true many elements are exactly the same as Eve's GUI. There are reason for the Perpetuum GUI looking just like Eve's GUI. Lets just look at one example of the two games GUI.

Perpetuum has a lot going on within the game and is forced to give the user/player the correct GUI elements to navigate the world and accomplish this without making it hard for the user/player to achieve their in game goals. The same thing is true for Eve and as more features are added the developers have to find suitable ways to present the data to the player. When it comes to specific types of data the best way to present it happens to be the very common columns and rows taken from spreadsheets.

If you look at Eve's Overview window and Perpetuum's Landmarks window they are very similar becuase of the data they want to present to the user making the game have a since of ease-of-use. The overview and landmarks windows are not there for you to stare at like it is a piece of art. They both help the player navigate the world in the most efficient manner. It would be ridiculous for Perpetuum not to use this type of UI window just to save some face from being called a clone at the loss of an efficient way to present the user data in a well formatted manner.

Another aspect of Perpetuum that leads the player reviewer to call it an Eve Online clone is the developers choice of robots and mechs in a sandbox style game. Wait... did I just say that robots and mechs make Perpetuum an Eve Online clone?

Doesn't it seem strange while the main tool / vehicles being very different still make the game a clone? Well in all fairness there really isn't that much difference between piloted mechs and spaceships. Spaceships and mechs both can fit weapons, they both have engines and can fit different pieces of equipment. Both games have requirements around specific mechanics for fitting the equipment.

I have to say that equipping a robot or mech in Perpetuum is a lot like fitting a spaceship in Eve. But at the same time the robot and mechs make this game much more then a clone of Eve Online.

To Be Continued........

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