Is this real life? 12 years ago, in a very different PC gaming environment where voxels were just becoming the style du jour, a solo indie project called Cube World made a hell of a splash. Minecraft-like, but with more of an RPG bent, the development videos posted to YouTube pulled in tens or even hundreds of thousands of views. It was progressing slowly but steadily until 2014, only to go silent for five years. When it abruptly returned and released, well, Cube World turned out to be… pretty bad.
That anticlimax seemed destined to be the end of Cube World’s story, but here we are whiplashing back to the early 2000s again. Cube World’s back, with a new trailer and a new website, where developer Wolfram von Funck briefly described its return. It certainly seems to be in the same spirit Cube World always was, with an emphasis on using procedural generation to create variety.
“The biggest change I’m working on is procedural models,” says von Funck. “All creatures in the world, including players, NPCs, pets, are now procedurally generated so that basically each creature is unique. No part of a character is hand-modeled, neither hair, face nor hands—everything is generated by an algorithm.”
This new version of the game, which he’s called Cube World Omega, is built on a new Vulkan graphics engine. The name may sound a bit braggadocious on its face, but it’s actually a reference to Cube World’s alpha, which is a bit of a sore spot for folks who followed the game many years ago. Before he took that five year break, von Funck released an alpha version of Cube World that had some RPG fundamentals already working, including character leveling and skill trees. When it returned, the release version had surprisingly stripped those features out. It was no longer the type of RPG people had been following and dreaming of playing for so long.
It seems like von Funck hasn’t quite given up on that original idea either. “I chose the project title Cube World Omega as a reference to Cube World Alpha, because I’d like to develop it in the spirit of that version, but with a new engine and new features,” he says.
The thing that really makes my head spin is that this new post makes no mention of a release date or how much of the work has already been done. It’s nebulous but promising, just like Cube World was so long ago in 2011. But this time, Dragon Quest Builders 2 already exists, and it’s kinda the whole package that Cube World always wanted to be.