The Flock Is A Horror Game With An Expiration Date

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The Flock Is A Horror Game With An Expiration Date

Available for a limited time only.

It's a sad fact that even the best online multiplayer games peter out over time. Maintaining a healthy population of engaged players to keep them going is a monumental challenge that only becomes more difficult as games age. Eventually, entropy (or progress, depending on your perspective) claims us all.

Dutch development studio Vogelsap seems to get this, and is taking an unusual approach to multiplayer game design with their debut project, The Flock. A first-person horror game set in a ruined Earth, players assume the role of wretched creatures roaming the surface (known collectively as "The Flock"), drawn toward an artifact which will either transform or destroy them.

The game is, in essence, a scary version of the children's playground game, "Red Light, Green Light." Play begins with an item called the "Light Artifact" being dropped into the map and the goal of the Flock players is to collect this artifact, transforming them into the "Carrier." As the Carrier, they must then try to retain possession of the artifact and use its light to capture objectives on the map. The artifact can also be employed to destroy Flock players, who can only survive its light by remaining motionless.

Every player death in every game session will contribute to depleting a pool of lives which represent the total population of The Flock. Once that population reaches zero, Vogelsap will cease sales of the game entirely and only players who purchased The Flock prior to this point will be able to participate in its finale event, after which the game will be taken offline permanently.

It sounds like an curious experiment, both in terms of design and sales approach. More studios (such as Robot Loves Kitty with their supremely strange Upsilon Circuit) are starting to consider a multiplayer game as an event, rather than a product that limps on until the audience loses interest or a new iteration arrives, and it will be interesting to see what (if any) impact these ideas might have on multiplayer gaming in general as time goes on.

The Flock is currently expected to release on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux later this year, and a playable demo will be available at Gamescom next month. When it ends, it seems, will be up to the players to decide.

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Sounds like an interesting idea, but whether or not it'll take off depends on how much they charge. I wouldn't pay $60 for a game that will not exist in a few weeks/months/whatever, but $10? That could be more reasonable.

Nope, sorry. I don't like time limits. If this game is aging like milk instead of fine wine, I can't see myself working up the pressure to buy. Expiring games sounds like something other studios will try to do in order to keep up the act of selling games as services. Fuck that noise.

I really like this as an experiment, and it'll be interesting to see how the player base reacts. Could get people determined to save lives, could get greifers killing everyone, could get people acting peacefully and never reach the endgame. But as a product you have to pay for, I'm really sceptical. It'd have to be quite a low price, and if they miscalculate how many lives people need the game could be over really quickly.

If their gimmick is that it stops working forever, they really should call it PT 2.

P.S. Thanks

I...haven't watched the trailer but I'm honestly very interested in playing this now. Because a multiplayer game based around once in a life time events sounds much more interesting than the endless repetition of other games. If it's 10 bucks, it's a buy for me. 20 and I might get it. Any more and probably not, but still, if they get the price down, the premise alone has sold me.

Random factoid only somewhat relevant to the game, but the studio's name translates to "Bird Juice".

Remember Peter Molyneux's Curiosity? Remember that up until now, no one talked about it because it was very simplistic, and faded to obscurity the moment it died?
Thank God we've learned from our mistakes so it will never happen again!

P.S.
Stop with the stupid gimmicks. You aren't being meta, you're being a clickbait that's prone to trolls.

P.P.S.
I hope this game never dies and the creators will have to run the servers indefinitely, draining them out of money.

I don't see anything that could possibly go wrong with this, it being on the internet and all.

There's no way anyone would spend 10 bucks or whatever the price is just to die over and over and over again to ruin this for other people, right?

I just see this as an idea that will eventually blow up in everyone's face, provided it becomes reasonably popular. Well, I guess if you like the idea of EA and Activision getting a hold of this idea and doing with it what they want, then I guess there's nothing to worry about, but I personally just don't trust AAA publishers if they learn that they can start treating multiplayer as a timed event.

Wow, this sounds... spectacularly stupid. I don't like games with NORMAL time limits, let alone one that will literally stop working eventually.

PFFFFFT no. I like the idea but I'm not gonna buy a game they're deliberately taking offline. Fuck that.

Interesting concept. I'm guessing if it turn out to be an excellent game, the players will played as long as possible like those PC Halo 1 or 2 players did when they close its server.

In saying so if they wanted to end their online game asap, they should had work for EA!

They can Flock off. This idea is just has griefers written all over it.

The game itself seems like a neat concept, but I'm with those that don't like the concept of it being a "limited time built-to-die" game.

What's the price-tag going to be? I'm certainly not spending more than $5 on something that I know for a fact likely won't last more than a year.

Beyond that, as others have pointed out: if this game is successful it could set a dangerous precedent for AAA devs to follow and supports the notion of "games as a service."

That's an interesting concept. It could be applied to encourage cooperation. Take a typical post apocalypse and fill it with a finite amount of required resources food, drink etc. which when gone the players can no longer survive, once all dead game over forever. More resources can only be generated by the players themselves on farms for example. Yeah there will be those looking to just blow stuff up, but then others might band together to protect resource generating areas so the life span of the game increases.

Hitting the right price point will be difficult though.

This is an interesting idea but charging money for a game that you already plan to take offline just seems incredibly crappy and anti-consumer. I know someone could try and group this with MMOs but at least with MMOs the devs try and extend as much life as they can out of it.

Bat Vader:
This is an interesting idea but charging money for a game that you already plan to take offline just seems incredibly crappy and anti-consumer.

If they weren't being forthright about their plans, I can see how it could be viewed as an anti-consumer practice. But they're not only on the level, they're pushing the limited nature of the game as a selling point, an experience that you can only participate in for a limited time before it's gone. Whether consumers respond positively to it or not is one thing, but they certainly aren't taking advantage of anyone with this.

Now the question about the game is: is the lives system balanced? Because if the game is over inside of a day because there were only 15,000 lives there isn't a point, because all you'd need to happen is for 3000 people to bumble around in the game and die five times each and BAM game gone forever.
Or if there are 350 million lives it's pointless because eventually people will stop buying the game and the lives system won't matter at all because anybody who cares about the game after a wile can die as much as they like without taking a significant portion of the remaining lives away.
How is the spawning system? Is it predictable enough that griefers are gonna be able to camp it? Is it too unpredictable in that people will glitch inside of walls?

Yeah. No.
I'm not buying a game that's only temporarely available.

Fuck off is all I can say. It's bad enough that some games will die when servers turn off as it is i won't encourage such stupid behavior.

An excerpt from their website describing their company:
"...We create entertainment games that we want people to play because of their novelty factor."

You don't say? I never would have guessed that, given the 'selling point' of this game.

I guess we know what sort of game to expect from them from now on.

Assuming the company stays afloat.

FalloutJack:
Nope, sorry. I don't like time limits. If this game is aging like milk instead of fine wine, I can't see myself working up the pressure to buy. Expiring games sounds like something other studios will try to do in order to keep up the act of selling games as services. Fuck that noise.

Exactly. If your game isn't aging well, the solution isn't to slap an artificial time limit on it. Lets be real, this is mostly a publicity stunt.

we should all buy it, and only kill off griefers, or people who kill off other players for no reason. Make it go on forever.

Anyway, i'm not sure it's so much an "experiment" as it is a cash-grab. I'd be more optimistic if it were a f2p, but paying for a game with a killswitch is just a shitty way to make games. We need more longevity and backwards compatability, not this crap.

I sincerely hope that someone makes their own servers so the game won't end when it officially "ends".

Oh God this is just what we needed right now, another step into the alligator-infested waters of 'Games are a service. No really, please believe us!'

Unless you're offering it at rental-prices, you damn well better not be selling what basically amounts to a prolonged (if that) rental.

And that's not even touching on gaming's already mortifying set-up for preservation. If the Lourve declared they were destroying all the works of art inside its doors because maintaining them had gotten too expensive there would be a riot. Sure, gaming largely hasn't quite reached the level worthy of being compared to masterpieces yet, but a lack of preservation is one of the major factors holding it back in the first place.

All I can think about is people planning to hack and leave it online, if they can.

Then after that thought I was thinking :I better snatch it up", but that only lasted for a second as I realised this maybe a great way to get people to get it before it's too late, which is shit. I'll read some reviews on it and judge if it's worth a damn like normal.

Also, I miss the old Lineage 2. I miss it so much. Summing it up as an event is right.

The game looks pretty cool and I have a solution to the whole expiration date thing after the servers go down later on maybe a month later put them back up so players can start over and anyone who missed it can play. And players who already bought the game can download it again for free.

That sounds like an interesting experiment, and I will be curious to see how it works out. I rather hope this idea takes off, actually, it might help convince studios not to shoe-horn unnecessary multiplayer into otherwise single player games, which all too frequently ruins the single player experience in the first place.

sounds interesting on surface and horrible once you start thinking how its actually going to play out. i wont be participating in this "Experiment".

Johnlives:
That's an interesting concept. It could be applied to encourage cooperation. Take a typical post apocalypse and fill it with a finite amount of required resources food, drink etc. which when gone the players can no longer survive, once all dead game over forever. More resources can only be generated by the players themselves on farms for example. Yeah there will be those looking to just blow stuff up, but then others might band together to protect resource generating areas so the life span of the game increases.

Hitting the right price point will be difficult though.

I'd agree with this. One of the biggest problems with all of the survival games and all that claiming to create a player run universe is the fact that nothing sticks. The towns never stick around, the moment you log off everyone dies in their sleep, and if you die you just go hit the unlimited rock a bunch more to rebuild your things.

I would be really intrested to see this, simply because of how many great stories could come out of people trying to get in the destroy a well built farm or whatever. Witch-hunts are likely.

That game would literally be based around people trying to ruin other people's fun, and the people having fun will band together to try and stop them thereby having fun and the people who try to ruin their fun will be having fun doing so so everyone will be the having of the funs.

...English.

Hrm. Cool idea, granted, but only appealing if the price is right (read: no more than 20 Euros).
Also, I'm kind of worried that if this thing succeeds at what it sets out to do, the concept might be snatched up and horribly warped by the AAA industry in order to justify even more anti-consumer bullshit.

Here's the problem.

Assholes exist.

you ever play a game of Halo? Where one member of the team kills himself and 'griefs'? And his response is "I bought this game, I'll play it however I want.

I easily see just three to five of these people getting together, laughing their asses off, and killing themselves over and over to deny everyone the chance to play the game right.

worst idea ever. for two reasons.
1. griefers. this game will reach the point of stopping sales on the day it releases. the griefers will make damn sure of that.
2. some people might buy into the whole 'event' idea. but an equal if not greater portion of people want a product. this gives physical form to planned obsolescence and every consumer is already against that in concept form.

Seems an interesting experiment and I look forward to seeing how it inevitably goes completely tits up.

I shan't participate but I'll happily watch to see how it goes... Just give me some time to get out of the blast radius and to make some popcorn.

Vigormortis:
An excerpt from their website describing their company:
"...We create entertainment games that we want people to play because of their novelty factor."

You don't say? I never would have guessed that, given the 'selling point' of this game.

I guess we know what sort of game to expect from them from now on.

Assuming the company stays afloat.

I can't think of anything more quintessentially hipster. It's made so that people can play it and say "oh yes, I was one of the few people who got to play the game" and brag on about something that god damn meaningless while sipping their wine. I hope to god this fails; both out of spite, and so that nothing this idiotic ever happens again.

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