By: Derek Yu

On: March 25th, 2010


A quick announcement: Eskil Steenberg’s online multiplayer game Love was quietly released a few hours ago. In the game you cooperate with other players to build settlements and defend yourself from AI tribes who are competing with you for resources. I haven’t tried it yet, but there’s a gameplay video on the Love website where Eskil shows off some of the things you can do in the game.

Love costs 10 Euros (roughly $13.50 USD) a month to play. There’s no subscription involved – you simply pay 10 Euros every time you want to add another month. Eskil explains the reasoning behind this payment model here.

TIGdb: Entry for Love

  • Evilish

    Creating an account already, =D

  • Evilish

    The server I was assigned is down, and it costs playtime to change, :'(

  • Echo

    I know the guy is trying to recoup from all the development costs but 10 euros is waaaay too steep for a game of it’s nature.

  • bateleur

    The explanation of the payment model is well written. I hope it works out for him.

  • ScottyX

    I’ve never heard of this game before but I think it looks really cool!

    But I think the price is wayyyy too steep.

  • ARme

    The price is good, LOVE is a pure creation on his own.

    Eskil is really devoted to his work and I am very admiring toward that. I wish I could do the same, but read his blog and you will probably understand how much sacrifice this require !

    I wish him good luck it’s merited !
    This is a true indie polished game.

  • Aes

    I paid for 30 days. Can’t seem to figure out the purpose of the game. To me it seems poorly designed and unintuitive with very unfriendly user interfaces and general mechanics. I didn’t have fun at all and everything was cryptic as fuck. Walked around a lot, tried some of the tools out, talked in the chat which no one replied in, and never saw another person within 30 mins of play. Is this game not supposed to be fun and is only meant as a tedious experience?

    I read the help file. WTF is the purpose. Building bases randomly around the levels? Why pay for this monthly just to do that when I can pay for a game like Minecraft once and get it forever!?

    Can someone explain to me why anyone would want to pay monthly for this, let alone waste $14 on it.

  • nihilocrat

    the pricing model makes me think of European-style, pay-as-you-go cell phones. It’s definitely friendlier than a forced subscription.

    There’s this clever “how to buy an indie game” picture that I just can’t find anymore. I saw it posted about a week or two ago so it can’t be very far…

  • Alex May
  • Alex

    Hahahahah this game looks so unplayable and bad

    “now im copying the coordinates to this other coordinate to make my connecting rail” hahaha who in the world would want to play this

  • J. Kyle

    Looks pretty interesting. Seems like there’s some fairly deep systems-driven mechanics going on there. (Although as Aes pointed out, the interface looks pretty dense.) I might give it a try at least for a month and see how it goes.

  • Dodger

    I like the ideas behind the game and
    the demo video was pretty good. Despite some peoples negative comments I like the look of it and some of the atmosphere, reminds me very much of Out of this World (Another World) in full 3D, with a pinch of the strategy and action found in Savage, only with a far friendly look to it I might add.

    One of the biggest problems I see with the game is the learning curve. As far as I can tell there is a steep learning curve – especially for people who want to jump in and just play for anywhere up to an hour. To really get into this game I think it would require that you devote a lot of your time to it. That’s not a bad thing but it pushes it into an extremely tight niche since most gamers play more than one game during any given day.

    Another problem is the monthly fee – or paying for time to play (pay as you go style payments). Obviously if other games can have “subscriptions” and paid time to play why can’t indie games? The problem isn’t in the idea, but how rewarding the experience is for continued payment. Games like this do need to feel intuitive and most players want a sense of accomplishment, especially if they’re going to be regular customers. With that the average gamer wants to be able to get into and experience the game with as little confusion and complication as possible. This game probably isn’t intended for the average Joe (I could be wrong though) but the average Joe wants, nay, *Needs* to have their hand held at the beginning of a large gaming experience (massive is the appropriate word). They don’t need to be pushed and prodded along, they just need easily obtainable goals that allow them to discover the workings and the mechanics of the world in a way that is both informative and rewarding. However, others will do their damnedest to learn a game so they might squeeze every bit of entertainment value they can get from it (which we would hope in this case). The problem is the number of gamers, especially initially, will probably be quite low if the game does attract the type of gamers who are more willing to deal with complexity regardless of intuitiveness. There really has to be a fully structured, coherent, but more importantly, an easily comprehensible experience, if you want a vast number of gamers to experience and enjoy such an endeavor. I haven’t tried the game yet, but it does look big, complex, and very interesting, but perhaps it is a little too big and complex to start off with. I am interested though.

    I’m personally not a fan of “Subscribing” to play games, I find that paying once for a game is more than enough and I also like the idea that once I’ve paid for a game I own it. I do realize that in this case the Developer isn’t trying to get rich quick or anything, I do know that it is very hard to keep customers and attract new ones unless you have something very easy to digest though, besides which, everyone wants to feel like they’ve received their moneys worth. If the game truly is fully functional, structured, comprehensible, and rewarding, then I’m sure many people will start to like and enjoy the game which will only lead to more curiosity by other gamers through word-of-mouth. I hope so for the developers sake since it does seem like he (they) put a lot of work into it.

    The game certainly does look interesting to me though.

    No matter what, I wish the developer the best of luck!

  • SirNiko

    I played Love a bit when it was Beta. It was enjoyable, but not greatly so. Hopefully a lot of the bugs have been worked out since I played, which would go a long way towards improving the product.

    If you’re a new player, I’ll start by saying that having a Mic and Teamspeak are pretty much required for participation. The in-game communication system is pretty gimpy, since chat is very local only, and having to drop everything to talk really breaks the immersion pretty badly. Once you’re on, though, the players are pretty friendly, and Eskil himself drops by now and then to chat people up about the game and listen to potential bugs and offer his reasons why X and Y are this way and not that way.

    The only other issue is replay value. The game is pretty much about finding tokens, building a fort, and staying alive for as long as possible. Sometimes it’ll be easy and you’ll spend time building a huge, complex fort with great defenses and aesthetics. Other times, you’ll be struggling to stay alive as the enemy keeps pounding your structures as soon as they’re installed. After a few games, though, it gets sort of samey. The world is randomly generated, but rather than being exciting to explore each time, you often wind up with pretty bland random terrain that’s neither fun to explore nor navigate. On top of this, there’s really no goals to pursue or characters to develop, so once you get tired of the game there’s really not much compelling you to go back the next (unless you make a bunch of cool friends who only play Love and nothing else). So what’s likely to happen is that you’ll play a few games, get a little bored, go play something else, and maybe come back to Love later when you’re feeling like giving it another go. The subscription model might hurt, then, because you’ll feel like you’re wasting the part of the month you don’t use, and if you want to play for one night, you’re stuck buying the whole month to just get the few hours you want.

    The upside, though, is Eskil has been generous with subscriptions and downtime and whenever the game isn’t working properly (and even sometimes when it is but just not to his standards) he credits you for unused time, which is pretty generous.

    It’s a great concept, and I wish Eskil luck. He’s navigating a whole new sea of MMO game design, so hopefully he’s ready to deal with the unique challenges his design is going to create for him.


  • ZacharyX777X

    It is fair and honest, but if I wasn’t going to pay 15$ a month for WoW, I’m not going to pay it for Love. Best wishes to your success nonetheless.

  • FISH


  • Kimura

    Hitler had an explenation and reason for killing lots of Jews but that don’t justify it. Ok, perhaps a bit too dramatic and blown out of proportions-analogy, but as mentioned, price seems too steep, especially when you don’t really know what you’re getting.

    I think a great solution to this would have been some kind of tutorial “realm” of the game that was free to play in, then if you would like to venture out into the massive areas of the game you’d pay the fee.

  • Bennett

    @FISH: heh, touché. It seems he didn’t find the perfect mathematical algorithm for a user-friendly UI.

  • chrknudsen

    Congrats to Eskil for launching the game! But, really, proofread your webpages. Here’s a paragraph from the main LOVE webpage:

    “If you cant start LOVE you likely need to update our graphics drivers. In operating system newer then Windows XP Microsoft no longer includes OpenGL drivers by default so you will need to download your graphics graphics drivers directly form your graphiucs card vendor, usualy nVidia (G-force and Quadra cards) or AMD (ATI Radion, or ATI FireGL/Pro Cards).”

    I count no less than 8 spelling/grammatical errors in those two sentences. It really makes the whole thing come off as amateurish. It’s such a simple thing, but it can leave such a bad impression.

  • Skofo

    Geez, that price. The creator can rationalize the price to himself all he wants, but in the end it is a simple matter of people being uneasy paying $15/month subscriptions. I doubt that this game has enough replay value for me to play it for two months or even one month, but I’d much rather pay a flat fee of $30 than $30 worth of subscription. When making up a pricing scheme, think psychologically, not economically.

  • Lime God

    I’ll definitely give it a try at some point, but the price is about three dollars to steep for me right now, and it seems like it’ll take awhile for others to get the hang of it… Having people to show you around is helpful.

  • wmat

    I’ve put a few hours into the beta. I enjoyed the unique graphics mostly, and I appreciated the focus on procedurally generated content somewhat. The core mechanics of the game however didn’t grab me.

    I’ve listened to what Eskil has to say on numerous occasions. He’s got an interesting view on a lot of topics, I don’t think he’s a particularly successful game designer though.

    It’s obvious that he wants to engage the player in a complicated game against the AI with a neat mix between shooting and base building; that doesn’t really happen though. A lot of the rather basic concepts get lost in translation. Quite some players will likely fail to actually do something useful in terms of what the goals or general threads of the game are, they’ll rather jump around and don’t understand how to achieve anything. Even the most basic verbs won’t be used in a lot of sessions, for example the power network concept often didn’t work out because it was too high-level for everyone involved. Even chatting doesn’t happen sometimes.

    I don’t have any advice, unfortunately. That while I really want Eskil to succeed.

    I just want him to collaborate with others, really. He’s obviously very bright, but the game he made is a bit too crazy for most people. And that is unfortunate since it’s obvious that there’s a lot of potential in this.

  • Anthony Flack

    A few things about the design and the interface concern me a little. Waiting until sunrise/sunset for windmills to stop working doesn’t sound like much fun, and something tells me that this is going to be one of those complex indie games that’s missing the super-intuitive tutorial it’s going to need. Add to that the usual issue with MMOs needing to attract a critical mass of players, and there could be a problem here.

    But congratulations are definitely in order. Best of luck to Eskil, and I hope that Love is a success for him, I really do.

  • bigcess

    I don’t think I’ll ever play one of his games because he is not a person I would like to support in any means.

    He has gone on record many times at conferences (most recently GDC 2010) saying how artists, modelers, animators, and level designers are all stupid, wasteful, and useless. He believes that programmers are the only necessary type of people to make games and that this is the future of how games should be made. He has also made slightly racist remarks on his website that he passes off as jokes.

    I will show no “Love” for Eskil.

  • lol

    From some of the reviews I think the Dwarf Fortress crowed will eat this game up.

    They can never get enough of bad unintuitive interfaces. Give them a boxing glove an arcade controller and they’ll be in heaven.

  • Flamebait

    While I wanted to check it out, I’m neither rich nor a sucker, so I’m not shelling out $15 even once. Total ripoff. That price is no worse than a typical MMO’s (I knew he was gonna bring that up before I started reading), problem is it’s no better.

    Granted it makes sense under two assumptions:
    1. Working on Love is his full-time job (is it?).
    2. He expects to receive very few payments each month (a couple hundred).

    Maybe they hold in reality, though I don’t believe that. There’s nothing unbelievable about them, but between his charging for the alpha, racist comments, and bizarre vouch for his own honesty, I get the impression of a *really* slimy character.

    I was excited about Love, with its strong integration of complex player-designed structures, and incredible visual style (the best I’ve seen across all media). Hopefully I’m wrong about Eskil, and the price lowers, so I can play it one day. If I’m right, I hope Love starves to death, as the comments here suggest it might.

    Are you serious? Even with its awkward prose, numerous grammatical errors, and false dilemmas?

    @nihilocrat, Alex May:
    Picture’s funny but not really relevant here. It only talks about single-purchase deals, so Love is infinitely (or, accounting for a typical lifespan, ~1000 times) more expensive than a $15 indie game.

  • Andy Hull

    This game really seems like a game made by a programmer for programmers. Judging from the video, it looks like you would have to spend quite a bit of time essentially “programming” your base in the game.

    While *I* think this would be really fun, I would rather have the same fun programming my own games. As for non-programmers (aka. almost everyone else), I think they aren’t going to a) find this fun or b) understand it.

    Essentially, yeah. This is for the Dwarf Fortress crowd I guess?

    Also: The game is totally gorgeous, and we need more games with such drastic visual styles.

  • jameskond

    Yeah, I would much rather just renew my WoW account, which I don’t do because it’s to expansive.. you catch my drift?

  • SirNiko

    During the Beta, he was charging for access, but when you signed up you got to make a “Buddy” account you could give to a friend for free, and they could play so long as you were online too. It sucked since you’d disconnect if you friend disconnected, but it was a great way to let people try out the game and have a friend with them.

    Is he still doing that now?


  • Anthony Flack

    “He has gone on record many times at conferences (most recently GDC 2010) saying how artists, modelers, animators, and level designers are all stupid, wasteful, and useless. He believes that programmers are the only necessary type of people to make games and that this is the future of how games should be made”

    Oh really? Well, the procedurally-generated art in Love does look nice, but it definitely does seem like one of those games made by a clever coder who would sorely benefit from partnering with an equally clever designer. It’s all too easy to get caught up in solving tricky technical problems while overlooking far more serious and difficult-to-solve design issues.

  • eobet

    Subscription at the same price as a commercial MMO?

    I’m sorry, I love the style and so on, but…

    FUCK NO.

    Not worth it.

  • StephenM3

    Say, if everyone on this page would play it for $5 but not for $13, then it looks like Eskil lost about $!50 dollars this month. But I sincerely doubt that all of you complaining about the price would suddenly play if it’s cheaper.

    On the other hand, there are at least a couple hundred people who will play for $13. With that offhand number, if he dropped the price down to $5 he’d lose out on more than $1600 dollars.

    Of course all those numbers above are total BS, but they do illustrate a point: If you have a low price (call it a “reasonable” price if you like), you need a lot of people to play to make up for it. You’re taking a huge risk. With a higher price on a good game, you’re still fairly certain to get a niche audience, and a relatively safe profit.

    Sure, this means little to you, the consumer. You don’t care why it’s priced more than it’s worth to you, because it is. But that doesn’t really matter: If it costs more than it’s worth to you, then don’t buy it. Game developers will figure out what sort of price gives them the money they need. You have no obligation to buy every game that exists, and it hurts you not if a game you aren’t buying costs too much.

  • Yakatori

    I played the beta and this game is not for me. This will only appeal to a very small but passionate niche so his pricing is actually good if he wants to survive. Don’t be an idiot and buy it on impulse.

    It’s a fantastic technical achievement by a single man. Good luck to him.

  • Beard

    I think it’s a damn shame he’s gone with that pricing plan. Or rather it’s a shame that he’s spent so much time making a game that only a handful of people will ever play.

  • Ezuku

    The problem is that that payment plan encourages people to stop playing. Afterall, you have a disincentive. I’d much rather pay a larger upfront fee than pay per month, and I’d play more too. Plus I like the idea that I’m not “wasting” money if I decide to play another game while my subscription is running.

    I’d be worried about how long the community can last to be honest.

  • joba

    Did you see his video of his development tools?

    It’s pretty awesome stuff!

    Seems like all custom-made in a very weird way. And all made by a single person?

    Quite impressive.

  • Radix

    I figured I misinterpreted how the payments work (it sounded all right to me but based on everyone’s reaction I must have it wrong) so I tried to read the “reasoning” post linked. Aaaaaaaaaah. Shades of time cube, man.

  • ScottyX

    I bought this game and it’s terrible. It doesn’t tell you what to do and it’s impossible to find anyone else… if there is anyone else.

    Also, I appeared in the sky a few times… glitch or is that part of the “gameplay”?

    It feels like a bad tech demo.

    Sorry, I want to like it… but there’s just not a whole lot to like.

  • lithander

    If you want to know more about the tech and development approach:

    I like the guy.

  • Apprauuuu

    Yeah I spent some money to play the beta test and I didn’t get it at all although I watched the presentation video where the system is illustrated. So I just explored some of the environment until the game bored me out.

  • xtherubicon

    “This game really seems like a game made by a programmer for programmers. Judging from the video, it looks like you would have to spend quite a bit of time essentially “programming” your base in the game.

    […] Essentially, yeah. This is for the Dwarf Fortress crowd I guess?”

    Yeah, except you have to pay to play this game.

    Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a really complex game. But when you have to both learn the game and pay for it at the same time while you’re trying to learn it, that’s a problem.

    By the time you do get a basic idea of what to do, you likely would already have blown a month away, requiring you to buy the game again.

    Also, in comparison to WoW or MMO games. One thing I noticed about them is that they all walk the player through the game and explain everything as simple as possible so that they can get into the game ASAP.

    This game just throws you in and expects you to learn how to swim.

    At least the very least, if he just wants the player to fend for themselves, give them a month free or so they can learn the game, then demand payment to keep playing.

  • xtherubicon

    At the very least*

    Sorry about that. The both the keyboard and screen on this school computer is horrible, I can hardly even tell what I’m typing.

  • xtherubicon

    O kay seriously screw this, I’m not posting anymore until i get home

  • allen

    You guys are silly. It doesn’t take more than a few hours to come to grips with the game’s mechanics. This is an MMO. Find someone and make contacts. Or better yet, grab your mic and go to the LOVE teamspeak server

    quote from the page where you buy and download the game:

    It is strongly suggested that you download TeamSpeak and connect to the server at to be able to chat to other players and the developer. The port number is 9987.

    Then your confusion will easily be solved. It’s pretty clear he doesn’t want people to have be confused or to stumble around attempting to learn the game. I find it pretty hilarious if you think it takes a month to learn how to play this game. Either you are an idiot, or you are lying about having played the game.

  • SwitchTest

    The only thing that this LOVE MMO needs is, an online Web Forums – Yeah I know that TeamSpeak is one way to contact with the author but a web forum(or a web app that allows people to create a community)is the number one way to keep in touch with fans/author. I would do that if I were to make a game.

    So just in case if the author is not always online to talk to somebody on TeamSpeak.

    I really like this person’s art style, and hope his game becomes a success.

  • meepmeep

    I also think this is an off-putting pricing strategy.

    I do spend a fair amount on games, but that is because I earn money by working fairly long hours. Hence I don’t spend that many hours playing games, probably only a quarter I did back when I was a student.

    Hence I would like to play this game, but the chances are I would only put in about 3 or 4 hours each month. 10 euros for that hence prices discerning but casual gamers like myself out.

    For comparison, I do subscribe to an MMO (Lord of the Rings Online) which I similarly only put maybe 5 or so hours in a month, but I’m paying about half of what Love is asking for.

  • Swarm

    I think after the first few months he’s going to find the returning subscribers crushingly low.

  • Flamebait


    $!50 is a *lot* of money.

    But seriously, I agree that $5 would’ve been risky, but so is $15. Did you notice how many people here are interested but put off by the price?

    Really, the idea of living off monthly payments for such a niche MMO is pretty unrealistic in general. From everything I’ve seen of Love it looks fun to play with a few friends, not a bunch of randoms. And I would easily have payed $40, or maybe more, for a one-time purchase if it allowed you to operate your own servers.

    I don’t understand your last paragraph; obviously people who think it’s overpriced aren’t buying it. The kvetching here is useful though, at least more so than silence. Without feedback there would be no way to tell indie gamers’ perceptions of value for money. Kvetching can contains a ton of important information.

  • Anthony Flack


    Did he actually say that, by the way? Is that a quote?

  • Donny83

    This game is too expensive.

  • Loki

    @Flamebait: If he sold it for 5 dollars a month, he would have to sell three times as many copies.
    Do you think this is feasible?