There have been a lot of games that give players the tools to create their own experience, but none like E-Line Media’s “The Endless Mission.”
The extremely unique game, announced last week, not only blends together genres, it literally puts the tools of game creation on the player’s screen.
“The Endless Mission’s” conceit seems simple enough. Creative Director Brenden Sewell wants to gradually introduce players to the elements in video game creation all the way down to the C# code in Unity that he used to make the game.
“You’re going to go behind the scene in game development and explore multiple different game genres and use powerful tools to create your own experiences,” Sewell said. “And through that lens be able to understand how code works and how software shapes the experience.”
While that may sound like a lot, “The Endless Mission” eases you into it. In my hands-on demo, I was first introduced to two game play styles, a platformer and a kart racer. I chose the kart racer and was off in a fairly generic version of the genre. Sewell explained that these scars are merely to introduce players to the elements that will be available to them as the creation tools open up. Eventually, he said, everything in that kart racing section would be available to “add to the tool box” when creating your own game.
The next layer of creation down in “The Endless Mission’s” creation is to shuffle up three main components: an avatar, gameplay style, and a scene.
Through this, I was able to put the platforming avatar in a kart racing game on an active volcano. Though the platformer couldn’t keep up with the carts, she could jump her way to the checkpoint at the top of the volcano.
“By making those three choices, you’re able to make these game mash ups that feels like I have a real authorial voice in the things I’m creating. But for people who are ready to go deeper, we have modding and scripting tools.”
Then Sewell showed me the modding tools, which include many sliders that allow players to adjust everything form the locations gravity to the avatar’s dimensions. I used that to make an extra tall avatar float her way to the top in a foggy location.
Below that, is an inspection tool that highlights every element in the game that you’re playing and show how it is represented in coding groups. It gives you a free camera to explore everything in the scene, learn about how everything interacts, and add or subtract whatever elements you’d like.
And finally, the game has an actual terminal containing the C# code that players can tweak and adjust in whatever way they see fit. Sewell did say that the game’s proper code has been “bounded” off in a way that brave players wading into the deep coding waters won’t be able to break “The Endless Mission” or accidentally turn it into a virus.
If that progression still sounds too steep, “The Endless Mission” will also have a story mode that will serve as a tutorial to guide the player into the creation tools
Sewell plans for “The Endless Mission” to be intimately involved with the community. In a portion of the game called the Hall of Celebration, there will be a weekly celebration of some of the best, most unique assets, avatars, or full games that the community creates. Think of it like an E-Line curated Mario Maker community section.
“The Endless Mission” has plenty in common with games like “Little Big Planet” or “Garry’s Mod,” but Sewell intends for this game to go deeper.
“That’s where we feel like this game really fits in,” Sewell said. “Someone who says ‘I’m ready to graduate beyond ‘Minecraft’ or beyond road blocks and really cut my teeth on something that’s ultimately going to give me the skills to become a game developer myself.'”
Sewell said they plan to release “The Endless Mission” on Steam Early Access in late fall at a price point less than $30. That initial version will only come with three game play styles, platformer, kart racing, and real time strategy, but his plan is to update the game regularly.