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Klang Games has raised $41 million in funding to develop Seed, its player-built online universe. The company also announced Electronic Arts veteran Isabelle Henriques has joined as co-CEO.
Berlin, Germany-based Klang Games wants to push the limits of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games with Seed, which will be a persistent, large-scale world where players shape their destinies and share the experience with AI-driven virtual humans.
The online space colony game is using Improbable’s SpatialOS platform, which provides the infrastructure that allows small development teams to create massive simulations. The game takes place in the future, but it doesn’t have fantasies like The Force. Instead, it is more realistic.
The plan for Seed is to be a continuous, persistent simulation where players are supposed to colonize an alien planet through collaboration, conflict, and player-to-player interaction. Using unique gameplay based on managing multiple characters in real time, characters live on after the player has logged off, allowing the world of Seed to be a living, breathing entity.
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Animoca Brands and Kingsway Capital led the round, with participation from Anthos, Novator, Supercell, Roosh Ventures, AngelHub, and New Life Ventures. Klang Games has now raised nearly $80 million to date.
“This is a really big achievement for us. And we’re super proud and happy to get this level of trust from investors, especially the best in the business,” said Mundi Vondi, CEO of Klang Games, in an interview with GamesBeat.
Set in the new world of Avesta, Seed offers players a platform where they can explore, participate in a player-driven economy, self-govern, and contribute to their community. Seed is experienced through its AI-driven virtual humans, called Seedlings.
Seedlings are customizable, allowing for creative player expression, and rely on the active caretaking skills of the players. Currently in a pre-alpha state, Seed’s focus is on creating an online space where people can connect, work together, and build strong communities.
While Klang Games has been working on prototypes for a long time, Vondi is glad to get to this new stage of prototype work on the simulation-based MMO. Vondi hopes that Seed can solve a lot of the problems in online games when it comes to amassing a huge number of people together in one place, as companies hope to do with the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
This new round of funding will be used to expand the rapid growth of Klang Games in order to accelerate the development of Seed.
The company hopes to nearly double the current staff in the year from about 70 people to 150. It wants to create a collaborative and inspiring work environment in the heart of Berlin, and improve the scalable back-end and technical infrastructure of Seed.
“We are certainly trying to hire very aggressively for the next 12 months or so,” said Vondi.
Henriques, who is also chief operating officer, came on board in February and she has 14 years of experience in management, operations, strategy and production. She was a studio director and lead producer at EA and has worked on franchises including The Sims, Call of Duty, and Madden NFL.
“We believe that Klang Games’ combination of design and technical prowess will ensure that Seed is a successful project, and our investment reflects our confidence in the team’s vision,” said Yat Siu, executive chairman of Animoca Brands, in a statement. “We are delighted to explore the future of humanity together.”
Vondi started the company in 2013.
Inspired by CCP Games’ Eve Online, the team saw the magic of putting tens of thousands of people into the same universe.
“This is what we always aimed to do,” said Vondi.
“We are tremendously impressed by the vision of Seed and the diverse high-performance team that Klang Games has built,” said Afonso Campos of Kingsway Capital, a London investment firm, in a statement. “Seed’s technological architecture, specifically its gigantic scale and impressive autonomously performing AI, enables a new type of entertainment for global audiences.”
Henriques said that the guiding light is to target a broad audience in the simulation genre, much like Electronic Arts accomplished with The Sims and SimCity audiences. It’s more like a life simulation, just set in a sci-fi setting. And the company hit a milestone where it simulated having 50,000 AI-driven characters in one city.
“We felt like we could add meaning and belonging to a lot of the players, and when we started moving away from hardcore sci-fi and a futuristic focus, [we moved] into what makes a society and what makes a human being feel belonging and caretaking, and feel like they are part of something bigger,” Henriques said. “The team came to understand that Seed is more about that broader sense of community.”
As far as the lore goes, it is realistic in its approach and it favors community, collaboration, and conflict resolution in society.
“I think there are certainly similarities to The Sims,” said Vondi. “And so it is of course amazing to bring Isabelle on board.”
One of the keys is making the game relatable, such as knowing that a character should eat because they’re hungry. That serves to make a game more approachable. The team hopes to draw a lot of people who don’t play games into the game.
Each player has a family that lives persistently around the clock. And if players control multiple characters, they don’t have to worry so much about not having enough players in the game’s open world, especially early on, since the player’s own multiple characters will interact with each other. The goal is to make population centers like towns interesting to visit.
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