"A lot of the tacky-looking games on the internet are impressive by design, but they just don't have a lot of visuals to support what that design is," he explained cryptically. "Every once in a while, a game comes out and its systems are amazing, so a publisher will snatch it up, put [those systems] into a game, and then realize they don't want to use it. [So the developer] gets shelved. That's why we want to stay independent." The indie market proves innovation is still in demand, and the design of TUG is a lot more complex when one starts to peel back the layers like an onion (but not an ogre).
TUG focuses on removing the "restriction points" games often employ in hope of creating a personal basis for conflict. Let's say a player joins a guild, and the entire purpose of the guild is to raid all ogre towns. Salinas told me how that restriction doesn't create a personal level of conflict; instead, it forces the game mechanics to work in a certain way instead of creating a natural level of conflict, one that arises out of human interaction.
TUG is hoping to be a much more organic game than others we're used to. In previous interviews, Salinas has argued that emphasis on sound was critical to TUG, and he said the same to me: "It's emotional. When you can't see anything, you rely on every sensory response... this is an environment in which you need to use real problem solving. If I'm going to look for, say, a cricket, are we going to have someone with a chat bubble saying 'go find me a cricket'? That kind of defeats the point of immersion because now it's no longer an environment where you solve problems -- it's an environment where you're looking for tooltips."
TUG also focuses heavily on the character, not just on science. Imagine your character spawns on an island where you need to eat to survive, but your only hope for food is to raid a nearby town of ogres that every other nearby player is friendly with. This inter-personal level of conflict is where TUG thrives. There's no "caste" system or assigned jobs to characters; instead, if a player wants to start the game as a hunter, he'd merely need to craft an axe and go out hunting. How a character appears directly affects the over-arching experience. If a character is decked out in ogre-green, it's probably a bad idea to wear that in sneaking situations.
The tech demo was more polished than anything we've seen so far. Blades of grass slightly bend in the breeze, there's a slow progression from day into night, and the lighting is incredibly dynamic. When asked if TUG would ever have a true name, Salinas responded, "We have a thousand names, apparently. There's a funny forum post that went up for TUG. The Ultimate Gorrilla. The Uncanny Gerbil." We're rooting for the last one.
Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!