I wrote this text for a facebook group in my country called "post corona movement" where people share their dreams and visions of the future. Had some help from google translate so I hope it's comprihendable. Enjoy and love to hear your visions.
My dream is that my dream becomes our dream. A collective manifestation.
In my dream, people communicate with each other in a respectful way. We are fully aware of the concept of "ego" in every communication and decision we make. We understand that people are all different, and that "truth" is a subjective version of our basic reality. We recognize that these differences are necessary for our world to spin and evolve, because we learn from our interaction and relationships with others.
When we listen to each other, we can really go deep.
We understand why certain people act or react out of fear or sadness.
Instead of digging deeper into each other's pain, we recognize these valid feelings and together we look for solutions to everyone's problems.
We recognize that there is no single solution to a complete utopia, be it veganism, ecology, nationalism or fasting.
Although these ideologies have a nice core, they are all too often used in a we / they story, which preaches division instead of association.
We understand each other's development and understand that there are difficult stages that we have to go through in our personal transformation, to finally break out of our cocoon and become the beautiful butterfly that we are.
We know that skin color is just that, a physical property with which we are born. Just like blue eyes, flappy arms or thin hair.
We realize that external features have nothing to do with our core so we won't judge anyone for those things.
This is not who we really are in essence.
Our soul, our spirit, our drive.
Our core, our love, our invisible bond with each other.
That is the essence.
We always act towards each other with respect.
We realize that this will seriously take some deep, uncomfortable conversations in which we have to admit our deepest desires.
Our shadow will have to crawl out of the shadow.
We can go back to feeling.
Knowing takes a step back.
Because knowing has been hit lately,
and we realize that we know very little.
We recognize that "wanting to know" all the time is somewhat of an addiction.
A life state in which we run away from our feelings.
The void we'll experience be great. Because knowing was our current religion.
However, we are all in it together and if we work together we'll get out and we will bury the hole full of treasure afterwards.
So feeling and experiencing regain the upper hand.
The senses celebrate their revival.
We are aware of the small things and see every meticulous detail of our world as a miracle. We see ourselves as walking miracles of nature.
With every action we take, we see our “rimple of impact”.
We realize that every action, every word, every act - no matter how small - has an effect on our environment.
We see that small waves grow big, and ideas or dreams like these, that once existed in no more (or less) than a person's head, can grow into concrete things.
Our imagination can run free again.
We recognize that our sense of reality is too much like nihilism at times.
And that to perform magic, we must first believe in it.
There is again room for wonder. The inexplicable is no longer a frightening thing.
We see death as a necessary phase. A wonderful paradox like so many things here on this planet.
A celebration of life, of the cycles of nature, of the enormous ancient wisdom that is in every cell, bacteria or virus. Which we cannot understand now.
We accept the fact that we may never be able to fully comprehend these principles.
We embrace it and no longer see it as a separate part. It becomes part of us.
If we had never done this in the past, we simply wouldn't have been here, because every human contains more bacteria than cells. Do we thrive with the bacteria or do the bacteria thrive with us?
We live with a holistic view of things in every aspect of our lives.
We experience that everything is interconnected, including us.
We recognize that much of our physical pain is an unconscious manifestation of emotional trauma. By working with the trauma we can heal ourselves and become even more powerful. That way we can help people who have gone through the same thing, who in turn can do the same.
A climate is created in which vulnerability can arise. Where we can admit what our flaws are, what we are struggling with, what is on our liver.
Because understanding and respect is there from the other side.
Where vulnerability is not synonymous with frail and fragile, but as courageous and confident. Like some kind of superpower.
As a result, we no longer vote for politicians who respond to our insecurities.
We feel empowered by ourselves and recognize that true leadership needs just that vulnerability.
We look back on our time as we continue our journey, as an essential part of our growth. Without conviction. We see that without all the previous conflicts and chaos we would never have ended up where we are now. Every piece of consciousness built on the previous one. Every conflict became an association. Each crisis made us stronger and more resilient. Every problem gave us a solution and in turn a new problem to think about.
We recognize that we as human beings can grow exponentially on this earth. Our consciousness has no limits beyond the ones we have imposed on ourselves. We are reviewing our current approach with our natural resources and raw materials and realizing that the way we always did it is disrespectful. To ourselves, but also to our earth, which gives us so much, and we give it back so little. We no longer view ourselves as something separate from this planet, but something inherently connected to it. With her fate, and with everything that lives on it, grows and flourishes and its fate. Instead of looking at what is good for us in the short term, we also look into the future.
Because that ultimately means being human. People are visionary. We can look to the future, we can make predictions, we can empower, we can do so much that it can make us dizzy.
We remember that "we" is the key word here that is essentially what it is all about. The reversal of our kind's fate will be a collective merit. We are rightly proud and proud to be human, in connection with everything else. We are wonders of nature in a wonderful and inscrutable universe. We will be more from then on. Be more.
We see ourselves there and we feel it. We close our eyes and already experience it. And so we are already a lot closer than we initially thoughtWe look back on our time as we continue as an essential part of our growth. Without conviction. We see that without all the previous conflicts and chaos we would never have ended up where we are now. Every piece of consciousness built on the previous one. Every conflict became a resolution. Each crisis made us stronger and more resilient. Every problem gave us a solution and in turn a new problem to think about.
We recognize that we as human beings can grow exponentially on this earth. Our consciousness has no limits beyond the ones we have imposed on ourselves. We are reviewing our current approach with our natural resources and raw materials and realize that 'the way we always did it' is disrespectful. To ourselves, but also to our earth, which gives us so much, and we give it back so little. We no longer view ourselves as something separate from this planet, but something inherently connected to it. With her fate, and with everything that lives, grows and flourishes on it and its fate. Instead of looking at what is good for us in the short term, we also look into the future.
Ultimately that is what it means to be a human. People are visionaries. We can look to the future, we can make predictions, we can empower, we can do so much that it can make us a little dizzy.
We remember that "we" is the key word here. That is essentially what it is all about. The reversal of our kind's fate will be a collective merit. We are rightly proud to be human, in connection with everything else. We are wonders of nature in a wonderful and inscrutable universe. We will be more from then on.
We see ourselves there and we feel it. We close our eyes and already experience it. And so,
we are already a lot closer
than we initially thought.
I cannot be sure yet whether or not to declare .io games “dead.” I doubt that we will see the heights of fame that successful developers received during the genre’s fleeting golden age, but communities still exist, and there is likely to be some level of influence felt.
However, I do
think that we are at a point past the apex, where we can look at the genre with a more historical perspective. This post intends to do just that, and examine significant developments in the development of .io games. Please let me know what you think, and be free to discuss the genre in general. I will put some starter questions at the end as well.
Cursors technically fits this genre, although it predates the trend and has become more of a footnote retrospectively. This 2014 web game cast each player as a mouse cursor, and players would work together to move through various maze levels. It featured quick play and a social aspect of sorts, both of which are key aspects of the genre.
But it isn’t all the way there. Retrospectively, it almost feels like more of a Flash game in its design, both in terms of its graphics and its gameplay.
This, as well as another even less known .io game, were created by Brazilian developer Matheus Valadares, also known as Zeach. The other one is no longer online, having been taken down around the time Agar was released.
The effective godfather of the genre made its debut in late April, 2015. Programmed by Matheus Valadares and announced by him on 4chan, this game is rooted in concepts neither complex nor original. Other games such as EA’s Spore have similar mechanics. Agar is unique in that it takes those relatively simple mechanics and puts players in an arena with players from around the internet, allowing players to interact in real time, from a browser game. The common tenets of the .io genre are here:
- Real-time MMO with PVP mechanics and/or social aspects
- Premise is simple to understand
- Can be played from a browser; gameplay can start within under 30 seconds
- Hard to master, with a metagame that can be properly discussed
- Player can gain an advantage by “progressing” and/or killing other players
- 2-dimensional, relatively simple graphics
Many .io games choose not to explicitly copy all of these, but many took most. This formula works well because it can attract many forms of immature internet users at the same time: people who like to chat/be with friends, people who want to watch the world burn, Youtubers with 9-year-old armies they need to entertain with clickbait, 9-year-olds who see the clickbait and want to try the game out, skilled players, forum dwellers…
Agar almost seems like it was outright designed to be
a viral online success, and that it was.
The game did encounter controversy, however. Agar initially had aspects that reflected Valadares’ experience on 4chan. Later, when he sold Agar off to Miniclip, these were removed, but the game saw the introduction of pay-to-win aspects, and the hate also went to Valadares for selling the game.
When Valadares’ later game Florr.io had its first subreddit April Fools’ joke, the moderators pranked everyone by saying it had been sold off to Miniclip as well.
Agar was a hit; Slither was responsible for the genre, by showing the success was repeatable. It was developed by Steven Howse, and debuted in March 2016.
The premise of Slither is thus: you are a snake. You move towards your mouse, but leave older segments of your body in a trail, as in the game Snake. Eat to grow, you die if you crash into another player. Use LMB to move faster at the cost of leaving mass behind.
Slither was in many ways quite similar to Agar. It was based on an existing game. You eat circles to grow, grow faster by killing other players, and the only goal in sight is the top of the leaderboard. However, with its snake mechanics, it ends up being much more sophisticated in two key ways: anyone can kill anyone else
, and anyone can reap the rewards of that kill
Larger players obviously have advantages in killing– they can see farther, and have more slack to work with, which allows them to wrap around other players. However, the only condition for death is crashing. Thus, a stronger player can
be killed by a much smaller player.
The second condition is a result of the death event. In Agar, upon death, all mass from the cell absorbed is transferred to the responsible cell, creating a rich-get-richer dynamic. In Slither, upon death, the entire killed snake becomes circles that provide large amounts of mass gains– to anyone and everyone that eats them. The snake that executed the kill often gets a large amount of the mass, but inevitably, if it is a large snake, many players will get at least a little bit of the mass.
These two changes make the game both easier to play and harder to master. Slither is the most successful and arguably the best .io game ever made. It represents the best aspects of the genre amplified, and is still great to play, except for the fact that my computer lags on even its low graphics.
Attempts to improve on Slither have mostly not worked. Other takes on Slither’s idea of simply eating circles to grow and doing X
to kill have stuck, however:
- Powerline.io implements a unique take on Slither’s mechanics, with 4-way motion and speed boosts determined by how close you are to another player’s side.
- Stomped.io tasks you with ground-pounding other players to kill them. The gap between small and large players is quite small here.
- Limax.io has you kill other blobs by placing traps. The developer, LapaMauve, had huge success later on with Starve.io in 2017.
I’m sure there are many more.
Diep’s significance would not appear immediately, as most new entries to the genre took much more heavily from Slither. However, it is now regarded as one of the greatest .io games of all time. Also developed by Matheus Valadares and released roughly a year after Agar, it was loosely based on webgame Diepx.
In Diep, players control tanks and shoot various objects, including other players. You gradually level up and upgrade stats. At three points over the course of leveling up, you have the the option to select a different class, and, as there are different options for class upgrades depending on what class you already are, there are more classes in higher tiers.
This creates a dynamic where the metagame becomes more interesting the higher you get, which is a boon for player retention. It shifts the conversation from whether you made it to the top to what you main, how you build your main, how you use the build, and so on. Once that conversation starts to happen, you attract brainy types to the game, and the genre gains respect.
Diep influenced .io games in many ways. Here is a selection of key points of influence:
- Use of levels, classes, and upgrades as integral part of design
- Continuous updates– the game was updated frequently with new content for nearly a year, after which some fans ended making a fan game (arras.io) to add new content ideas to
- Use of health bar-based combat rather than instakills
- General aesthetic and UX design influenced many
- Large selection of gamemodes (?)
- PvE elements– non-players, especially alpha pentagons and bosses, can kill you if you are reckless
I think the amount of firsts that Diep had are enough to show its significance, but it also happens to be an excellent example of the more complex parts of the genre. It is fun, challenging, and certainly worth a spin.
It also had many
- Doblons is Diep but with ships. Little more to say.
- Starblast is one of the only successful space-themed .io games. It is in many ways similar to Diep, but also quite different in appearance, mechanics, and so on. Leveling up is considerably harder in Starblast than Diep, stat upgrades are not kept with class upgrades, and you can kill yourself easily on asteroids.
- Tanksmith was much later, and took inspiration from Starve.io and possibly Lordz.io to make a game with an emphasis on resource gathering.
- Spaceblast had less classes (due in part to a lack of development) but heavier PvE, as asteroids could split and very easily kill players.
- Sl4sh.io is somewhere between Diep and Narwhale.
- Slain.io took some of the mechanics from Agar and added what is perhaps a more advanced take on Diep’s RPG aspects. It can no longer be played.
- Defly.io combines Diep’s upgrade system and aesthetics with a Splix-like territory control system. It is one of the better recent .io games.
Also released around this time was Wings, which has several aspects to it that distinguish it from Agar, Slither, and Diep. Wings has much shorter rounds, thanks to constant combat and quick deaths. There are also upgrades/powerups that can be picked up.
I think the most unique aspect of Wings in the genre at the time was how fast-paced and hyper-competitive it is. This nature would influence developers later on:
- Narwhale.io is a bizarre game of jousting where any player can easily kill another. It is simpler than Wings but in some ways perhaps more effective.
- Bonk.io has players bonk others off of various maps. It has a very “internet” feel to it somehow and has amassed a large following.
- Zlap.io had players controlling huge flails and killing others (a concept which the Wings devs would later polish).
- Vertix.io was a 2D shooter with relatively simple mechanics. The developer of this game would have greater success with .io games later on.
- The polished version of Zlap by the Wings devs was called Brutal.
- Another developer combined this with Diep-like classes and came up with Wreckit.
Splix is interesting because score gains net you basically nothing besides the score itself. The goal of Splix is to gain territory by “drawing” a shape from your terrritory out elsewhere with WASD. If, while drawing a shape, your path is cut off, you die.
Splix has a large amount of clones, and none of them really ever do anything interesting. The aforementioned Defly.io is the closest thing.
We now get to the point where I have a little more experience with the genre.
Mope.io was initially developed by Stan Tatarnykov. According to later dev team addition KingOfAgario, development started in January and release was in July 2016, but I’m not sure if I believe that. I think October 3rd is a closer date.
The initial premise of Mope was like Agar, except with survival mechanics and tiers. Initially, there were food and water requirements with associated sources, as well as hills. There were three tiers: mouse, fox, and lion.
Since then, it has changed to the point of being almost a different game, and is still being updated. However, I don’t think the changes were all for the better. From mid-October 2016 to perhaps January, February, March, or April 2017, the game was one of the best .io games there was. Then, due to a combination of various bad development decisions, the game slid downhill. The community lost trust with the developers years ago, and most updates have significant problems associated with them.
Mope is a giant bundle of how not to develop a game. I will spare you going over everything I believe the developers have done wrong, but the third-to-top post on mopeio
simply says “KOA Sucks”…with nothing meaningful in the text body. That should say plenty about the game’s development.
That said, it still has a loyal following and is still alright to play. It has also inspired a variety of “evolution”-based games, of which the most successful also used animals as the characters.
If you have a reliable time machine, I highly suggest trying this out at least three years ago.
This game was originally designed as an underwater Mope. It was developed by Argentinan developer Federico Mouse, released in early November 2016, and is still being developed. I can talk hours about this game– I help moderate deeeepio
. Instead, I will simply say why I think this game has managed to be more successful than Mope.
The first reason came at the end of January 2017, when u/Dogjelly
suggested an evolution tree and one started to be implemented. The game’s use of an evolution tree rather than a chain has multiple benefits:
- Wider is as opposed to taller, and a “taller” path is less friendly to new players. A shorter path is more friendly to new players.
- The increased variety keeps players playing the game thanks to a detailed metagame. This is why a Diep is still played.
- This variety can attract smart minds and make the game both appear and be more sophisticated.
The second reason came at the end of April 2017, when the Mope developers went invisible for months. Both games would experience this, but the Mope team simply had bad timing. They left at the peak of the genre, whereas Mouse would remain consistently active until mid-November.
The third reason came in September 2017, when the return of Mope updates proved to be bad for that game. Deeeep has had the luck of one of the kindest, most responsive developers in the .io community. This is good for both the game’s quality and its word-of-mouth.
The game’s development has not been perfect, but a desire to create a strong game rather than pander to nine-year-olds has served it well. It is also worth noting Mouse has worked on three other programming projects since Deeeep’s release, but all of them, in one way or another, ended up benefiting the game,
This game is somewhat of an outlier among the genre, not fitting into any clear mold. It is some form of apocalyptic hide-and-seek that is apparently good but failed to catch on among many players.
Moomoo is an interesting study– in that it was cursed with one of the absolute worst communities in the .io gaming world.
When I say this, I mean it was so bad that they probably drove the developer, Swiss developer Sidney De Vries, away from his own
game. Clans could be found in the community, hacking was default, there were death threats sent to the developer, petty bans, and so on. YouTuber Corrupt X has a fabulous video covering this.
However, the developer still has a small bit of responsibility here, not for things he did, but for things he did not do. There could have been simple anti-cheat features implemented, such as cooldowns for switching from different inventory items, for example. However, I say that not to clear the community of fault. I say that to note that all involved have some
level of responsibility.
The game itself has been bettered in basically every way by Starve. Each is a mix of base building, PvE, and PvP.
- Takemine.io is thus the only .io clone where I am glad that it exists.
- Zombs.io took elements from Moomoo and created a tower defense .io game.
Starve is the single
best .io game that is still receiving updates. Diep, at least as of this writing, is abandoned, and Slither was not intended to be updated forever. Starve is quite hard to pick up, but is certainly a well-crafted game.
Starve was released at the end of March 2017 by French developers LapaMauve, developed for about ten months, mostly abandoned for another ten while they worked on two other games, and has been under constant development since.
It places players in a 2D world with almost nothing, and tasks them with…well, surviving, but that can look very different depending on the player’s will. You can progress through the skill tree and obtain high-level equipment. You can build a massive base and make a small community. You can also kill other players to steal their equipment. You can also try a mix. All of it is well-designed, visually lush, and mechanically deep.
If you have enough time available, I highly recommend picking this up.
Gats.io was not always called Gats. At first, it was called Battl and only became Gats later, but that is beside the point.
Gats is a top-down shooter where the goal is to kill as many people as possible, as you get points for dealing damage. You can also get abilities as you progress, but there is not a huge gap between how powerful you are at spawn and after progression is complete. Despite lack of updates, it still has a following.
- Takepoint.io is basically Gats that focuses on teams and point capture.
- Gulch.io is the Gats developer’s take on the .io battle royale. Its private server functionality and use of weapon attachments are both unique for the subgenre.
Fightz is interesting in that it is an evolution-type .io game that doesn’t use animals. Instead, you evolve through numbered levels, each of which have a different weapon. Different biomes on the map have different mobs, which will help you progress to different degrees.
It isn’t the finest of .io games, but the gameplay was engaging enough that the developer made several other .io games in a similar style.
- Gunwars.io may have been made by someone else, but is in a similar style. The goal is to shoot and kill as many other players as possible in an allotted time window.
This game is perhaps the only one in the genre that managed to create a successful game out of a trend. Created by the developers of Zombs, it is mechanically simple but has unique combat. Most of 2017’s .io games were more complex, but Spinz was much more interested in an Agar-like simplicity. Since it was based on a trend, it was only briefly popular.
Foes is notable as the first .io Battle Royale. Since Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds was gaining popularity, developer Sidney de Vries of Moomoo fame developed a game based on it. While Surviv is a superior game and Foes is dead, the only other game in this subgenre with vehicles is Krunt, which, as a game, is a joke to everyone except the developers.
Creatur is a unique game. Its gameplay is sort of like Agar, but with an upgrade system with branching closer to Diep and mechanics like Mope, art style similar to Deeeep, theming like Mope, and more “action” buttons than any of them. The upgrades are primarily abilities or buffs to abilities.
Out of all this, it ends up a unique game. The amount of abilities create a dynamic combat system, and it is well worth a spin.
Foes may have been the first .io Battle Royale, but Surviv is the one that blew up. It was developed primarily by Justin Kim and Nick Clark (there was supposedly a third person), and released in October 2017. Its success was a sign of things to come. Shortly, Fortnite would become popular, and thus steal the army of nine-year-olds that had been playing .io games. With the nine-year-olds went the popularity, leaving only the diehard communities.
This is probably also due in part to the fact that it offers something seriously new to the genre (and Battle Royales as a whole): lore.
The lore may be a bit of a Lost
parody (PARMA Initiative, numbered/named bunkers…), but it gives the whole island a sense of mystery. It also ties into the game’s strong building design and event modes, which together create a detailed world. When the game was recently sold off to Kongregate (it is currently to soon to see where that will lead), one of the common questions by fans was as to whether lore would remain relevant.
The developers also knew how to stretch content. Through a combination of teasers, sneak peeks, and limited time modes, they became masters of avoiding content droughts or bloat. That said, there have been complaints about the fact that the core gameplay has not received a significant update in nearly a year.
I recommend this game. The bunkers and underground bathhouse look cool.
Evades is unique in three ways: that it does not offer most of its content up front, it is level-based, and that it encourages genuine collaboration. It is actually rather simple how the developers did the latter.
- The levels are easy to mess up on.
- The only way to be “revived” is for another player to save you.
This simple combination encourages people to work together to get through the game. Otherwise, it is closest to a combination AgaDiep hybrid– circles eating circles to level up and upgrade.
Zombsroyale is a curious game. It is an odd mishmash of various elements that fails to create its own identity. It may technically be its own game, but it plagiarizes from Surviv, Brawl Stars, Fortnite, and even Diep. It is, as one YouTuber put it, exactly what a .io game shouldn’t be. Here are some contrasts:
- A .io game should be unique; Zombs is derivative.
- A .io game should be quick to launch, Zombs has a loading screen, confusing UX, lobby, AND drop sequence.
- A .io game should be mechanically deep, Zombs is shallow.
- A .io game should be free-to-play primarily, Zombs is heavy on paid content.
Zombs is not something to look at as a model, and its pitfalls ought to be avoided.
- Buildroyale.io is like a simplified Zombsroyale with building features and jumping. The former was attempted by the Zombsroyale devs in a limited-time mode.
Flyordie is probably best described as Mope meets Flappy Bird, but that would be simplistic. Flyordie is more detailed about the animal evolutions than Mope, with each animal having a very unique behavior. The game also has a detailed map, though I personally think it sprawls too far.
I would also say that the evolution chain is long to the point of being unwieldy. There is a very good reason Mope implemented selective branching.
However, it is the last great Mope-like, and shows the appeal of the animal evolution subgenre.
During LapaMauve’s 2018 hiatus from working on Starve, they created this game. Devast has many similarities with Starve, but implements radiation and energy systems. It also feels much more gritty. Rather than killing wolves for meat with a sword made of precious gems or metals, you find deer carcasses for food. Also avoid stocking up too much– food spoils.
I feel like this game goes too far on the PvE for a .io game. It encourages collaboration, but it feels like the days and nights are too long, and it all ends up a little bit of a slog.
Returning to Starve was the right choice on their part.
- Revast.io is an attempt by LapaMauve to remake Starve in Devast’s engine. Will it end up actually happening? Who knows?
Krunker was essentially a refined, 3D version of Vertix. However, this game (another by Sidney de Vries) became popular likely because it ended up like an online CS:GO of sorts. It is a full, if simple, FPS game.
It also has robust private server functionality, allowing players to create their own content. This is an effective way to keep the game alive with less work.
I was going to end this by saying that there hasn’t been a good entry in the genre in over a year, but Matheus Valadares has stopped me. Recently, after nearly two years gone, the developer behind Agar and Diep started work on what is now the biggest new .io game in a long time. Released in January 2020, it has received a host of updates since, and is still under development.
Unlike his first two hits, this game’s mechanics are unlike almost anything else. You are a flower that fights other flowers/map objects by hitting them with petals that you equip. The leveling system seems like Diep, but with less gain per level. Instead, there are rare petals you acquire later on, almost like Surviv’s rare weapons. The zone progression is closer to Starve, but the map and art design is more like Moomoo.
Florr is exactly what a .io game should be. A simple, unique concept that you can play with (and talk about) for hours. It is clear evidence that the appeal of the .io game is something that is independent of nostalgia and nine-year-old armies.
Thanks for reading this retrospective. :)
- What do you think makes a good .io game?
- What would you consider the best development practices for a .io game?
- Will the genre have influence in the future? Why/why not?
- Do/did you have an experience with .io games? What was it like?