I had the chance to catch up with Corey Bridges, co-founder and executive producer of Multiverse, and engage in some fisticuffs in Battle. Immediately upon launching into the game over Facebook with ease, we were thrown into a multiplayer action battle similar to World of Warcraft meets deathmatch. Real-time, multiplayer action with very little lag and an even smaller download, all done over flash. (For those of you wondering the outcome, we tied. Corey had me just before time ran out though, so I'll give the win to him, for now.)
"The client is actually streaming content as it's needed," Corey explained. "When a lot of people make flash games, they make a huge client, essentially. So you, the player, have to download all of it up front. That's not unreasonable, as these [programmers] are more focused on game play and not efficient code."
"What we have is the flash code all wrapped in a 300k download, and then that client will fetch whatever game you want to play, so the stuff streams in directly to you."
Battle is one of the first of several games Multiverse will be launching to show their flash toolset, but Multiverse is not about developing games on their own. The company is focused on giving their tools to the general public for free, to allow everyone to code their own games using their servers. Their 3D client has been available for over a year, but this is their first foray into the flash game scene. Battle also is their first game that doesn't require the Multiverse 3D client, or any upfront download.
The tools also offer many extension opportunities. While I was playing on Facebook, Corey pointed out that the other players did not just come from Facebook, but from all of the social networks that Battle is available on.
"I don't know exactly where all of those players in the lobby came from, but we, undoubtedly, have people playing on Facebook who are fighting people from Myspace," Corey said. "It's in Facebook, it's in Myspace, it's in Friendster, it could be on any flash games portal, like Kongregate. We have a co-mingling of all of these players from all of these different networks."
Yet, the extensions go beyond even that. Corey explained that developers could utilize their 3D and 2D tools to create one virtual world that has the graphical capabilities for both flash and the 3D client. His examples were the ideas of offering trials to players over the game's website in 2D, so they could get a feel for the game before they even downloaded the 3D client, or even take the 2D client to mobile phones or any device that could run flash.
"You can interact with the community of a 3D world, get a taste of the flavor of the game, and see if it's something you want to download all before you download it. If they like it, they could convert over to the 3D engine and find a more immersive experience with more options," Corey said.
The flash creation tools are currently in private beta for current Multiverse developers, but the company plans on releasing some of the tools in a few months. Development accounts are free, and anyone can sign up for one at the main Multiverse website. If the game you make with the Multiverse tools becomes a revenue generating game, then a licensing agreement must be made with Multiverse. Otherwise, the tools are completely free to download and use.
Multiverse Battle is currently available on Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, Kongregate, and their own website.