Improbable Development is Possible By Listening to and Watching Developers

Improbable are an interesting company, they have a product called SpatialOS which comes with a blurb of :

Improbable’s SpatialOS platform gives you the power to seamlessly stitch together multiple servers and game engines like Unreal and Unity to power massive, persistent worlds with more players than ever before.

Worlds Adrift is the game that most gets mentioned when it comes to Improbable but they have a Games Innovation Program in conjunction with Google that may be worth a look for smaller developers.

An article on MCV by Improbable CTO Rob Whitehead caught my eye for a few reasons. One reason is that Rob Whitehead was once a teenage Second Life weapons seller. Another reason though is how Rob talks of the development process, which might go some way to explaining some of the thinking behind Linden Lab’s Sansar Creator Beta model :

When building a platform, one of the first challenges is persuading developers that experimenting with it is a good use of their time. The next challenge is learning from all the fantastically inventive ways developers find the edges of your tech.

This is an interesting approach which may explain why some features end users would like to see in different developing platforms appear later in the process.

The article also states :

A one-size solution could never leverage the specifics of every game, so we learned to let developers ‘pop the hood’ and provide the flexibility to configure anything that could impact performance.

It’s a truism to say that developers of platforms, engines or tools need to listen to developers. But we have found that watching developers – seeing how technology affects their design decisions and where they find workarounds or new approaches – is at least as important.

I think that’s a really good approach and hopefully other developers are listening to and watching developers because if there’s another truism in technology it’s that people often use your platform in ways you hadn’t even dreamed of, or in some cases, hadn’t even had your worst nightmares about but then realised it’s actually a decent use case!

The article over at MCV is also a good read in getting an idea of the sheer size of the worlds that could potentially be built using Improbable’s technology. They are a very fascinating venture and well worth keeping an eye on.

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