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Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The fire-god's forge

If you listened to Jamie's interview on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, you might have been intrigued by the glancing reference to a project called Vulcanverse. I'll let Jamie explain it:
"The world itself is based on the premise that the god Vulcan is tired of mankind embracing virtual worlds and pushing the gods out of their lives, so instead of fading into the sunset, he embraces it by creating these four quadrants of land. The books will be a prequel to the virtual game, documenting the journey from technology and atheism taking over to the point when the old gods must choose either to fade into memory or to take things into their own hands."
In strictly game-terms it's a Second Life type virtual world in which players can own land and construct and trade their own assets. As this article explains, there are in-world creatures called vulcanites, virtual pets that I'm hoping could mean that something like my Mean Genes idea could finally get developed. (In a nutshell: players can breed and train a stable of nonhuman gladiators who then compete online, and others can watch the gladiatorial battles as a virtual sport whether or not they actually compete themselves.) I thought that one up at Eidos over twenty years ago but couldn't get anyone then to understand it. Now that e-sports are big business and Minecraft has shown the value of user-created content in virtual "playground worlds", maybe these guys will make it happen. Ian Livingstone, who was chairman of Eidos back then, is also involved in Vulcanverse so I'm keeping my fingers (and claws, and mandibles, and tentacles) crossed that we'll see a lot of gaming there.

Of course, in a freely configurable virtual world I could put Mean Genes together myself. That's the beauty of these virtual environments. They are (as I tried explaining to the Eidos execs in the original Mean Genes overview doc back in 1997) the equivalent of a playing field and a ball -- and lots of other things besides -- and you can use them to create games or theatre or tourist spots or sports or political rallies or discussion groups or whatever you like, just the way you can in the real world. I don't know what Vulcan would think of that, but Prometheus would surely approve.

CORRECTION (15/09/20): Ian Livingstone is not a partner in the Vulcanverse venture, at least not at the time of writing. I know it says so in the press release I linked to above, but it also says I'm a partner and in fact I only heard about it last week! So, well worth investing in (I hear they raised over a quarter of a million dollars from sales of plots on the first day) just don't expect a Fighting Fantasy connection.


  1. Are you NOW working on the VulcanVerse lore/books? It would be great if you and Jamie were collaborating on the series.

    1. Not the virtual world or games themselves, unfortunately, as that's where my real skills lie, but I am talking to Jamie this week and it looks likely I could be hired as a writer of tie-in books. I'm back to my 1980s career!