‘Seed’ is an ambitious, massively multiplayer city builder

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From a distance, Seed looks like any other settlement-building game. Tiny villagers shuffle around a colorful, low-poly map, collecting wood, wheat and other important resources. At any time, you can zoom in, check the stats of individual people and cash in items for houses and other important structures.

Crucially, though, you're not alone. The game takes place on a single planet that will, eventually, be inhabited by hundreds, possibly thousands of players simultaneously. Everyone will have their own towns and the freedom to choose who they collaborate and compete with. It will also be a shared, online-only experience that runs 24 hours per day, simulating the actions of your villagers whenever you decide to close the application.

Players will control their citizens indirectly. You can build houses, which spawn new villagers, and check each person's daily schedule. In the future, you'll be able to tweak this itinerary and also plan their actions for the days, weeks and months ahead. Then, it's a matter of observing the simulation, reacting to the needs of your people, and choosing the best way to coexist with other players who encounter your settlement.

It's an ambitious project made possible by SpatialOS, a much-hyped platform built by the secretive startup Improbable. The service uses multiple servers, working in tandem, to help developers create large, persistent worlds and simulations. It's already being used in a vast, massively multiplayer online RPG called Worlds Adrift, developed by British team Bossa Studios. Seed is part of a second wave, including the battle royale-inspired Mavericks: Proving Grounds, that hopes to leverage the technology for fresh and potentially groundbreaking gameplay.

At Gamescom 2018, I played an early version of Seed with Mundi Vondi, CEO and co-founder of developer Klang Games. We created a couple of characters each and formed a new settlement, called 'Nickland' (I was tired and lacking imagination, okay?) in an open, grassy area of the map. Immediately, our villagers, decked in simplistic robes and glasses, started to roam and collect precious resources for the group. At any time, I could click on their faces' in the top right-hand corner of the screen and review their Sim-like needs, including sleep, hunger, love and entertainment.

Once enough resources had rolled in, I created some simple tents around a small campfire. A few minutes later, I had a couple of houses and four villagers at my disposal. It was a peaceful and relaxing experience that encouraged me to take breaks and simply watch the simulation unfold. In the future, though, many players will be competing for power and influence across the world. You can find a quiet corner and strike out on your own, hoping that others will leave you be, or join an already impressive settlement that can provide resources and security.

Players that choose to group up will need to form some kind of government for their own decision-making and that of their virtual citizens. It's a complex idea that, if successful, could match the political and economic pull of games like Eve: Online. To perfect the system, Klang Games is collaborating with Lawrence Lessig, an activist and Harvard Law School professor who ran for the Democratic Party's nomination in the 2016 US election. "We hope people come up with some crazy government systems that don't follow the pace and conventions of real life," Vondi told me.

Seed is still early in development. Klang wants to build a hunting system, for instance, that would introduce nasty infections, life-threatening surgery and other tricky health mechanics. The final version will also let you zoom inside buildings and assign villagers useful jobs. These additions, and the challenges associated with SpatialOS, mean the game is "at least three years away" from release, according to Vondi. That's an awfully long time, however the team in Berlin has been thinking about this game for 10 years, and working with Improbable for three. It doesn't seem to be in much of a rush. "There's a long way to go," Vondi chuckled.

Read the full article here: https://www.engadget.com/2018/08/25/seed-klang-demo-improbable-interview/

Klang gets $8.95M for an MMO sim sitting atop Improbable’s dev platform

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Berlin-based games studio Klang, which is building a massive multiplayer online simulation called Seed utilizing Improbable’s virtual world builder platform, has just bagged $8.95M in Series A funding to support development of the forthcoming title.

The funding is led by veteran European VC firm Northzone. It follows a seed raise for Seed, finalized in March 2018, and led by Makers Fund, with participation by firstminute capital, Neoteny, Mosaic Ventures, and Novator — bringing the total funding raised for the project to $13.95M.

The studio was founded in 2013, and originally based in Reykjavík, Iceland, before relocating to Berlin. Klang’s original backers include Greylock Partners, Joi Ito, and David Helgason, as well as original investors London Venture Partners.

The latest tranche of funding will be used to expand its dev team and for continued production on Seed which is in pre-alpha at this stage — with no release date announced yet.

Nor is there a confirmed pricing model. We understand the team is looking at a variety of ideas at this stage, such as tying the pricing to the costs of simulating the entities.

They have released the below teaser showing the pre-alpha build of the game — which is described as a persistent simulation where players are tasked with colonizing an alien planet, managing multiple characters in real-time and interacting with characters managed by other human players they encounter in the game space.

The persistent element refers to the game engine maintaining character activity after the player has logged off — supporting an unbroken simulation.

Klang touts its founders’ three decades of combined experience working on MMOs EVE Online and Dust 514, and now being rolled into designing and developing the large, player-driven world they’re building with Seed.

Meanwhile London-based Improbable bagged a whopping $502M for its virtual world builder SpatialOS just over a yearago. The dev platform lets developers design and build massively detailed environments — to offer what it bills as a new form of simulation on a massive scale — doing this by utilizing distributed cloud computing infrastructure and machine learning technology to run a swarm of hundreds of game engines so it can support a more expansive virtual world vs software running off of a single engine or server.

Northzone  partner Paul Murphy, who is leading the investment in Klang, told us: “It is unusual to raise for a specific title, and we are for all intents and purposes investing in Klang as a studio. We are very excited about the team and the creative potential of the studio. But our investment thesis is based on looking for something that really stands out and is wildly ambitious over and above everything else that’s out there. That is how we feel about the potential of Seed as a simulation.”

Article: https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/16/klang-gets-8-95m-for-an-mmo-sim-sitting-atop-improbables-dev-platform/

Klang Games raises $8.95 million for space colony online simulation - Exclusive

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Klang Games, a Berlin-based game development studio, has raised $8.95 million in funding to support Seed, an artificial intelligence-driven massively multiplayer space colonization online simulation.

The online game will use Improbable’s SpatialOS platform, which provides the infrastructure that allows small development teams to create massive simulations.

Northzone — the early-stage venture capital firm behind Spotify, iZettle, and Avito — led the funding round. Earlier this year, Klang Games also received a funding round that Makers Fund led. Other investors in that round included Firstminute Capital, Neoteny, Mosaic Ventures, and Novator. To date, the company has raised $13.95 million.

“We’re truly humbled to have secured the Series A for the development of Seed, a project that we believe will play an integral role in the next generation of social simulations,” said Mundi Vondi, CEO of Klang Games, in a statement. “We are honored to share our vision with Northzone, and are more excited than ever to tackle this very ambitious project.”

Original backers of Klang include Greylock Partners, Joi Ito, and David Helgason, as well as original investors London Venture Partners.

“Klang has everything you’d want as an early stage investor — massive vision, experienced team, and an incredible early version of the product. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the team to help bring Seed to market,” said Paul Murphy, partner at Northzone, in a statement.

Seed is a continuous, persistent simulation where players are supposed to colonize an alien planet through collaboration, conflict, and player-to-player interaction. Using unique gameplay based on managing multiple characters in real time, characters live on after the player has logged off, allowing the world of Seed to be a living, breathing entity.

The founders previously worked on titles at CCP Games, including Eve Online and Dust 514.

By building on the cloud-based SpatialOS, developers can use standard tools and game engines to design, build, and manage games that go beyond the limits of a single-server architecture. It allows for a swarm of hundreds of game engines, running in the cloud, to cooperate together to simulate a world much larger, richer, and with more players than any single engine or server could.

Ex-CCP Games developers Oddur Magnússon, Ívar Emilsson, and Vondi founded Klang in Reykjavik, Iceland. It has since moved to Berlin. In 2016, the studio launched ReRunners: Race for the World for iOS and Android.

Article: https://venturebeat.com/2018/07/16/klang-games-raises-8-95-million-for-space-colony-online-simulation/

Seed, Klang's ambitious EVE-like MMO, teases scale of interconnected world

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Seed is a hugely ambitious in-development MMO that echoes EVE Online, Rimworld and The Sims. Developed by Klang Games and powered by Improbable's SpatialOS tech, its persistent simulation is inspired by Facebook and its construction and management systems pull from the likes of Dwarf Fortress. Its hugely ambitious, and its latest trailer teases the scale of its interconnected world. 

That's featured above, which the developer's Jonathan Baker says is designed to "offer a glimpse into the world of Seed and hint at some of the project's possibilities, allowing for the community to envision their own playing ambitions."

Baker says the short above aims to showcase the connections between characters—known as 'Seedlings'—and their environments. "Everything is connecting to everything else," says Baker of the trailer's overarching message. "And that these connections - physically and theoretically - can multiply."

When I spoke to Klang Games co-founder Mundi Vondi about Seed last year, we discussed how these interconnected characters will help reduce grind. This excerpt is interesting:

Players can control up to ten players. A lot of game design that's usually very tricky—like sleeping, disease, mental issues, ageing—they're pretty difficult if you're one character. But when you have ten you can actually do something with it. One can be sleeping, one can be somewhere else and so on. A lot of grind gets solved with this, so they basically work autonomously. They set their routines, and so they look through that and work on what their priorities would be. 

We're basically grouping together all these players and we can basically throw loads and loads of players into it. This means that we can hopefully, one day, have players building their own businesses and ultimately we want to see a world where people have furnished apartments, people are walking back and forth from their jobs. 

Seed does not currently have a release date, but Klang says it will keep the community updated about its future test plans via its website and Discord

Article: https://www.pcgamer.com/seed-klangs-ambitious-eve-like-mmo-teases-scale-of-interconnected-world/

Klang secures $5m investment to develop AI-driven MMO Seed

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Venture capital firm Makers Fund leads investment in “genre-breaking” title

Berlin-based developer Klang has secured $5 million in a second equity funding round to support the development of its AI-driven MMO, Seed.

The round - led by Makers Fund with additional funding from Firstminute Capital, Neoteny, Mosaic Ventures, and Novator - will be used to scale up the development team to work on the studio's upcoming "genre-breaking" title.

The new investors join existing backers from Reid Hoffman, David Helgason, Adalsteinn Ottarson, and London Venture Partners.

"We're extremely honoured to receive the backing from these prestigious investors who have the faith in us to realise a dream that began over a decade ago," said Mundi Vondi, CEO and co-founder of Klang.

"We believe Seed to be a vital part in the next generation of computer games, and it's exciting to have their trust that we can turn this concept into a reality."

Michael Cheung, partner at Makers Fund added: "Seed is a genre-breaking game in the making, developed by one of the most creative and technically accomplished teams in the industry.

The team at Klang has over 30 years' combined experience developing MMOs such as EVE Online and its first-person shooter counterpart, Dust 514.

Seed utilises cloud development platform SpatialOS, from London-based startup Improbable. It is a continuous, persistent simulation where players are tasked with colonising an alien planet through collaboration and conflict.

Klang Games Talk About The Mind-Boggling Depth and Complexity of Seed

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Despite not having a playable demo, one of the most interesting games at PC Gamer Weekender was Seed. This simulation MMO aims to give players the tools to do, pretty much whatever they want. Utilising the power of SpatialOS, this game is far from its release, nonetheless, Klang Games have some ambitious goals that are definitely worth reading about.

I had the opportunity to chat with Mundi Vondi, the CEO and Co-Founder of Klang Games. Read on to find out exactly what Seed is, how Klang Games are planning to support a large number of players online and what kinds of interactions we can expect in the game.

Can I get you to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your game, please?

I’m Mundi Vondi and I’m the CEO/Co-Founder of Klang Games.

What is Seed? I can see it and it looks cool, but like, what is it?

It’s an MMO. That’s a really weird area we are working on, a simulation-based MMO. Simulation games aren’t usually MMOs, there haven’t been any so far. Basically, each player controls like a family, they collaborate to build these communities. Each member of your family has an AI that tries to drive them towards their needs, for example: sleeping, eating, socializing, comfort and those sorts of things. It’s based on the Improbable backend, SpatialOS. That OS allows us to have it on the same planet. Until then you can use those characters to wage war, trade or go gather resources out in the wilderness and such.

Seed looks more like The Sims than an MMO. How many players will it be able to support?

We are still testing the scalability but we’ve been quite successful in running hundreds of characters in a very small area. In theory, we can take everyone into the same world because it’s basically a patchwork of servers, instead of your traditional single server, shared MMO, where everyone connects to the same server. These have a very obvious limit because a server can only handle so many players, but when you patch them together you can pretty much go as far as the cloud. In theory, we could have everyone on the same server, but we are yet to test that!

This seems like the next generation of games. Is that what you are going for?

Yeah. We started imagining this game probably ten years ago. That was when Oddur Magnússon, the co-founder was at CCP, and for us, the kind of the emergent MMO space is the future of games. We started thinking, what would be the truly ultimate form of that? There’s a number of issues with MMOs that keep popping up, the classic veteran versus newcomers, trying to build an online community where 90% players are offline most of the time where the server becomes a ghost town. These kinds of problems are somewhat how we started to look at how you make a full-on MMO, which is lively and fun at any given time of the day. We are reducing the logistical error of having to call up your friends and say “let’s play now”. Instead of doing that, we actually keep your characters simulated 24/7 in the game. There’s no way of pausing or quitting, the game is always running. You can jump in and adjust things because you want to optimize the life of your character by telling him to work more or less, or building a new room in your house so you can encumber more characters in your family. This means that when you come in, let’s say we are ten friends building a town together, they are all going to be there, whether or not they are actually sitting at the computer. We plan on doing a mobile app as well which allows you to chat to your friends on the go so even though they aren’t actually playing, you can still communicate with them through the game and warn them about someone attacking or stuff like that.

What kind of price point are you considering for Seed? Surely it cannot be free?

We are definitely trying to find ways to monetize Seed that won’t affect the economy, at least at the front end. What’s tricky is that we are running simulated characters 24/7 which means we have to somehow pay for it. Initially, we thought maybe we could charge per character, so you actually pay for a new character. That could be a bit brutal because they could get killed when you aren’t even there, but we are still trying to come up with ways to monetize softly in a way that doesn’t allow for the biggest wallet to ruin the fun for everyone else. Maybe there’s a way of community-driven monetization which kind of relies on somebody supporting the entire community, but yeah, it’s very early on when it comes to monetization!

How early on is “early on”? What kind of timeframe are we looking at for release here, like, 2020?

No comment!

This looks really high-tech, the concept hasn’t been done before. Is it somewhat worrying to be the pioneer of that?

Not at all, man… *laughs* Yeah, of course. That’s why we give ourselves a lot of leverage when it comes the time it takes to develop this beast. We don’t think this is going to be an easy task, there’s going to be a lot of challenges ahead, but that’s in our nature. Like I said earlier, our two co-founders are from EVE Online which is a unique game as well.

What do you expect people to do in Seed? Do you expect people to foster communities or do you expect warfare all the time?

I’ve thought about that a lot. My theory is that players will start very brutally, it’ll be a slaughterhouse. They will try to conquer quickly and rapidly in the beginning. Out of that chaos, more sophistication will arrive. Someone will build a really sophisticated society which has better defenses, more people apart of it and starts to show everybody that’s actually how you really win. You then create kind of a utopian scenario where players actually don’t have to gnaw their nails 24/7 because the nature of the game is running all the time, but rather you can relax and come back to it knowing you are going to be safe. At that point, people should see those as guiding lights towards building more and more sophisticated societies, ultimately collaborating between those societies.

Seems like the biggest social experiment as opposed to a game… It seems mad!

We definitely hope to go very far in the scientific approach. That’s why we’ve been very fortunate to work with people like Lawrence Lessig who’s an amazing political scientist. He’s a Harvard Law Professor who was actually one of the presidential candidates for the US last election. Sadly he didn’t win of course… I was actually at a dinner with him and I was sitting, talking about this game that we were about to build and he started asking about how we would run the governments and I was like, “well, we will have chat…”. He became fascinated with the idea of, like, could this be a platform for testing out governmental structures because there isn’t really a place where you can do that in any stable form? It’s very hard to simulate the effects of governmental choices, it’s obviously very hard to see it in real life because it is actually real life. Hopefully, at some point, we are going to be able to test out all kinds of variations of governmental structures in the game which will maybe give us insights into what it’s like to government this way or that way in the real world.

The scope of this game is insane. At what point do you put a limit on it?

We look at the three core loops as the citizens, the business owners and the government. These are kind of like part of the same core loop in a pyramid. At the top, you have the 10% of the players who are in the government, you have then 30% of players who are business owners, then the 60% who are citizens. We will develop the game continuously, even after it launches. That’s a model we are very familiar with – like EVE is still in development even though it is more than fifteen years old. Our approach to this is to try to get those three core loops working at somewhat of a primitive state but really plant them down in a way that we can see them growing over the course of multiple years. Reaching the full scope is not going to be the day we launch the game, but years away.

Could this come to consoles?

Traditionally RTS-style games are difficult on a console. The console is pretty much the only platform we look at and think maybe we can do something? We’ll see in the future.

Is there anything else you might want to tell us about Seed that I haven’t asked about?

We are really using the technology to its fullest extent. It is really good at simulating large quantities of entities that can actually have a real ripple effect on one another. We can simulate millions of characters, and each one of them can bounce off of one another. We can’t do it now, but we will hopefully be able to do it at some point. Imagine a butterfly effect where one character is kind of at the brink of his mood, he’s growing frustrated. There’s a pothole in the road which just triggers him. The pothole is there because the government aren’t taking care of the infrastructure of the town. Now, this guy is angry because he steps in this pothole. He goes to work and he insults somebody at work. Now that character is also frustrated, so he starts drinking more than normal. He goes to the bar and is becoming an alcoholic. This is happening on a scale of every single entity bouncing. We approached it with this anger, trigger, moods, needs and stuff like that but the real true complexity will come from the emergence of these real behavior patterns which are way greater than what we can imagine. It will go much further than what we actually will even have ideas about. Both by simulating that kind of true emergence at the same time throwing thousands of players into it, we hope to do the most emergent game ever created with Seed.

It’s starting to sound like that!

We totally know how nuts we are, but that’s what makes us excited about coming to work every morning.

Is Seed actually… fun?

It’s funny you say that because it is a slow game. Normally simulation games have that fast forward button where you can spin over to the next day so that you can then deal with an immediate problem. You can’t fast forward in an MMO because then you would be fast forwarding for everyone else. We do think it’s going to be fun in a unique way. It’s not going to be drop in, shoot’em up kind of fun, it’s going to be that slow, progressing, sense of accomplishment. A lot of details, a lot of little stories that you are witnessing happen. You are going to be able to follow your character around as he goes about his day. It might not sound fun but it is already, even in these primitive days. We did a playtest last week and it was just the little details that started spawning. One of my characters – Zoey – we were building this town together and she went to Oddur’s house and was sleeping in his bed. I’m like, “what are you doing?” I was trying to send her back home! I ordered her to go back to my house and go to sleep there, and she was walking back and had this thought, “what is freedom?” and I’m like, “it’s not that!”. We’ve now thrown in a bunch of these random thoughts that they get, but just that simple scenario or that simple gesture over that thought created this whole elaborate story for me. I knew that it wasn’t actually true to the game, it was just simple things coming together like that but you are going to have so many hundreds or even thousands of alignments which should give you a very interesting experience.

I don’t even know where to begin…

We are often boggled by where Seed will go and what it will end up like. It’s a big question to us on what to focus on, how to arrange the features and what to develop next. We are always challenging ourselves in a way. We can’t focus in on the game being a single thing. One thing can’t outweigh the other so we kind of develop it in a really horizontal, layering somehow, improving the depth of the features across the entire scope instead of honing in on a single thing. That’s really when it comes together, when all these multiple systems start to work together. Every single one of the systems is easy to dive into and we could spend lots of time working on a small aspect of the entire concept. However, that’s not going to work because we have to build it up across the entire thing, that’s when all these systems start to work together. It is a bit like fumbling in the dark sometimes. We are like, what is the true value we will get out of this feature right here, right now? We are very lucky to have this grand vision. We actually attract good, talented people who want to see this game become a reality. Working with people that can understand and see the vision is going to help us get there.

Let’s say a community of farmers just wanted to make a tonne of food. Then you’ve got a community of trolls who want to kill everybody. Are you preventing people from purely destroying the work of others?

We do not want to prevent this. We might be wrong, and we might have to come up with mechanics to protect the farmers, but what we want to see is that those farmers must build sophisticated fences and communities that can defend them from the griefers. If we were to nerf the trolls, we would never see the same level of dedication and sophistication when it comes to building up those communities. That’s what I mentioned earlier, it’s going to be a bloody mess at first. Food is going to get eaten over dead bodies, but hopefully, that will teach them to come back and stand up for that and think “how can we do this now without failure”? Seed is not a game where you just jump around the globe and attack whomever you like. It’s a vast landscape so it takes you a long time to travel and traverse the landscape. This, we hope, is another layer of a buffer which can inform you there is somebody approaching and give you a headstart. You will have to think about whether you should run away with your food because you know the trolls are all in that forest over there, or should you stand up and fight them with your pitchforks?

I can imagine even just one troll in a community will take all this food when no one is online.

I think it’s also so fascinating to think about the problems internally in the community. There might be one guy in your utopian community who, in the night, goes around and breaks into somebody’s house and steals or murders somebody. For me, that’s another challenge to add that layer of sophistication to the community. Say, within communities there is no combat then players wouldn’t have to come up with ways of defending themselves against that. Maybe they could have guards patrolling the community within its own walls, much like the police does in our community, and maybe the reason we are we aren’t so barbaric is because, in reality, we do come up with systems to defend ourselves against the ill-intended. We want to give players the tools to build those kinds of systems. If we nerf the bad, we also nerf the reason for good. It’s all about allowing for maximum brutality and evil because then we also give a reason for the answer to that. That should be a very interesting result!

See Exclusive Footage of Ambitious Simulation MMO Seed

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Seed has the kind of ambition that makes me sit up and take notice: it's  an MMO that aims to combine elements of colony sims like Rimworld, everything sims like Dwarf Fortress, life-management games such as The Sims, and persistent MMOs such as EVE Online. You're basically caring for and expanding a fledgling colony of humans, but when you log off from the game, the game will continue without you.

It's not entirely clear what our role is in all this—how we'll actually interact with Seed as players—so we asked Klang Games about that aspect at the PC Gamer Weekender. Here's Klang co-founder Mundi Vondi explaining how you'll order your colonists about—and how they won't always follow your directions to the letter.

As you can see in this exclusive Seed footage, your little villagers will leave important decisions, such as constructing buildings, up to you. When you're offline from the game, however, they'll be getting on with their daily routines, maintaining crops and so on, and interacting with one another, while their human overlord is down the pub or taking a nap.

You can watch our full interview with Vondi below, and it's worth it, as he goes into more detail about the game. There's plenty of new (early) footage of Seed as well, so you can see how all these grand ideas work out in practice.

There's a beta version of Seed expected late this year.

Ex-YAGER Game Director joins Klang for upcoming MMO Simulation

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It has been announced that Peter Holzapfel, ex-Game Director at YAGER, has joined the Berlin-based game development studio, Klang, as the Executive Producer for the studio's upcoming AI-driven MMO Simulation, Seed.

According to Klang, Holzapfel is helping the studio to expand its structure and is in charge of executing the vision of Seed across all areas of production.

“We're very excited to have Peter on board as an Executive Producer. Not only does Peter bring with him experience, but also a focused approach towards production, which is extremely vital to us as a team. Our goal is to create an MMO simulation which has never been done before in this shape or form, so focus and prioritization are of utmost importance. Peter's 15 years of experience in game development will help us to realize this ambitious goal,” explained Mundi Vondi, Klang CEO and Co-Founder.

Previous to joining Klang, Holzapfel was working in various creative production roles for companies like YAGER and Crytek, as well as his own company.

Holzapfel comments, “Seed is one of those rare opportunities that is so good that you have to drop your own plans and just roll with it and see where it takes you. A project so full of passion, enthusiasm and ambition that it reminds you again why we all joined this industry in the first place. I am proud to be a part of this project and will do whatever I can to help make this dream become a reality.”

Seed is a continuous, persistent MMO simulation where players are tasked with colonizing an exoplanet through collaboration, conflict, and other player-to-player interaction. Using unique gameplay based on managing multiple characters in real-time, communities are built even when players are logged off, allowing the world of Seed to be a living, breathing entity.

Seed is among the portfolio games utilizing Improbable's SpatialOS, a platform that can realize vast, complex virtual worlds on a single, continuously running server.

Discover more about Seed via the project's website: www.seed-project.io