New MMO should be so peaceful that even your worst opponents will really love you

With Sky: Children of the Light, thatgamecompany wants to create an MMO that is characterized by friendly experiences with foreign players. In an interview, a developer reports on the challenge of enabling a non-toxic social space in the game.

What is Sky: Children of the Light? Sky: Children of the Light comes from thatgamecompany, the developers of Journey. The game was originally released in 2019 for iOS and was later released for Android, PS4 and PS5, and Nintendo Switch. The free MMO will soon go into early access on Steam. However, no release date has been specified so far – although you can already play a demo.

Sky: Children of the Light features a large, friendly open world with seven realms that you can explore with friends and players from around the world. Creative Director Jenova Chen wants players to see each other as friendly partners rather than competitors.

Sky Children of Light Trailer

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How does the developer want to achieve this? In an interview with PC Gamer, Jenova Chen, the creative director of thatgamecompany, explains that he wanted to publish an MMO that would also appeal to young people. MMOs are popular with young people, but are rarely associated with the soothing, friendly experiences with strangers.

He wants to change that with Sky: Children of the Light. Creating a non-toxic environment has become an essential part of Sky’s development. While there are tools to report offensive messages, the goal is to “implement positive, preventive measures rather than reacting after the damage has already been done.”

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You have to earn social interactions first

Chen says you need a permit to use a gun in real life – and essentially, newcomers to online communities are handed a shotgun. “They have no understanding of social norms, but essentially belt out controversial phrases because they elicit maximum feedback,” says Chen.

Sky: Children of the Light has no text chat, player names are hidden. Chen says: “One of the most useful things we do is that you have to earn the right to use your social power.” In Sky, there are candles as “signs of trust.” So with a candle you signal that you agree with the interaction and spend candles like currency to make friends.

Chen reports on a player who apologized to his teammate in the forum for leaving the game early. His mother called him to dinner. The player had previously been disrespectful towards other players in Call of Duty. Chen realized that no one is born toxic, but that it is “really just the environment we have created.”

In a conversation with MeinMMO in 2021, Jenova Chen reported more about the relationship system in Sky: Children of the Light. For him, the biggest feature they have developed for Sky is the trust building system. You have to earn the trust and approval for them to say, “I want to listen to you.”