Friday, November 04, 2005


Here is an interesting post about an odd "screen saver" game I'm definitely going to try. I won't like it - as mentioned, I'm no extrovert - but I do want to see it.

This is interesting for another reason: people can't communicate meaningfully about the outside world in game. They can only communicate via glyphs, and even that is limited, as far as I can tell, to having your name glyph pasted above your head.

You may have noticed that games tend to adopt "real world" influences. For example, various comics have guilds in various MMORPGs. Similarly, popular/famous people receive a large amount of attention, even if they don't want to. This is also true of forums, which are in many ways based on the same kind of social interaction as a MMORPG.

However, in the Endless Forest, they cannot organize by these outside world principles. They can't say, "I love your comic!" because there's no words for comic, and probably no words for any of the other concepts in the sentence.

So, if you're famous in the "real world", and they connect that with your in-game presence, you'll see an unusually large number of deer... but the lack of communication means the magic circle will remain unbroken. "Role playing" is forced on you by language limitations.

The intrinsic problem is that limiting the communication limits the interaction - by definition. Interaction is the heart blood of most MMOGs. There's certainly some room for low-interaction MMOGs like Endless Forest, but most games want communication.

What I'm thinking is a wholly different kind of communication:

What if you never even met the other players? Like Spore, this would be a "massively single-player game". But you could affect the world. By planting trees, or building buildings, or diverting streams. When you are away from any place you've modified, other players can walk in and see your modifications. And "communicate" by making more modifications.

The difficulty, here, is that there's so little interaction that there's very little sense of "feedback". The world would be interesting to roam in, but things like "guilds" and "team play" would be practically unknown. I suppose it could be supported by a vast out-of-game forum, but that would introduce "impurities".


Well, the idea is very interesting... a kind of dream-world MMOG. But the interaction level is too low. I wonder how it could be made stronger without ever allowing two players to communicate in text.

I suppose everyone could just be mute, and there would be no way to determine what player was which account...


Interesting thought experiment.

No comments: