How Did The Endless Mission Come to Be?>>May 17, 2018

Developed through a collaboration between E-Line Media and Endless Interactive, The Endless Mission is more than a creation-style sandbox game. It’s a hero’s journey into the world of game creation.

You’ve seen the trailer. You’ve read a bit about the game. You might’ve played it at PAX East or EGX Rezzed. But how did The Endless Mission come to be?

The Origin of The Endless Mission

The idea for The Endless Mission stemmed from Endless OS principal Matt Dalio’s desire to leverage the power of video games to support some of the impact goals he had with his business. When asking his engineers how they learned to code, he was fascinated to learn that their answer was almost always the same: “I learned that I could hack my games and it was more fun to hack them than to play them.” The idea of modding games as a driving force in learning to code was an enticing one. Matt recalls obsessing over world-building games like SimCity and Civilization growing up, as well as powerful tools like HyperCard, where he cut his teeth on creating his own technology.  At the same time, Matt was also diving into popular fantasy and technology stories such as Ender’s Game, Harry Potter, and The Diamond Age, enamored with the worlds they built and the protagonists inhabiting them. The vision for The Endless Mission was starting to come together.

These past experiences began informing a dream where he imagined that everyone has learned to code – learned to shape the technology around them, instead of being shaped by it.  Years later that dream sparked another question: What if creating and manipulating code within the Endless operating system could be gamified?

While Matt’s aim was to use games to inspire people to want to learn to code, he wanted to tell the story of coding as a superpower and send players on an incredible adventure into a vast, unfolding world with plenty of secrets to uncover with their friends. “The beauty of narrative games is that the story you follow can become your own,” says Matt. “Our goal is to let every player manifest their own power to their greatest ability, and discover that they are the protagonists in their story.”

The Evolution of The Endless Mission

With our course set for the emotional reaction we hoped to evoke from players, it was time to explore the game’s experience and design. During the early prototyping process we tried a variety of directions – from Alternate-Reality Games to gamifying coding curriculum within the Endless education products, to turning the entire Endless operating system into a game. While the ideas were interesting, we realized they weren’t hitting the two pillars we’d established as critical: a grand sense of narrative and a visually vast world. We also determined that it would be critical to create a standalone game on a core gaming platform like Steam in order to reach the largest audience possible. From here, the big spark occurred when we asked ourselves one question: what kind of game genre has traditionally been best at inspiring people to overcome great difficulty in non-traditional skills? The answer: creation sandbox games.

A common theme we noticed among creation sandbox games was that players often had to look outside the game environment to learn some, or all, of the skills required to play and create. We decided that our approach would be to build a comprehensive environment that simultaneously offered unlimited creativity and all the tools you need, all without leaving the narrative.

Rather than limit ourselves to any one genre we chose to root ourselves in gaming as a whole with the capability to create any game and any genre. To accomplish this we examined and distilled iconic genres down to their essence, which involved three elements: Avatar (who you play as), Gameplay (the genre and objective of the game), and Scene (where the game takes place). By taking these elements and combining them in different ways, you could build your own completely unique game experiences from the ground up.

In keeping with the spirit of fun, rather than simply selecting these ingredients from a dropdown menu, we opted for something more engaging: grabbing elements in the form of cubes and literally throwing them together to conjure entire game worlds. This mechanic also clearly expressed Matt’s belief in the power technology brings and how it allows you to shape the world around you.

The Future of The Endless Mission

Our goal with The Endless Mission is to provide you with incredibly powerful creation tools and take you on an epic hero’s journey through a rich and mysterious narrative. As we head into the beta and Early Access, we’re excited to hear what you think about how we’re doing. In particular, we’d love to hear your thoughts about what tools we should introduce, what genres we should explore next, and how you think the narrative might evolve. The Endless Mission is a community-driven game and we can’t wait to go on this adventure together!