Monday, October 21, 2002

In another world we are all immortals
Mark Bernstein speaks of a possible game which he calls "Another world":

Another World is a game. You are the Resident Administrator of a new Colony on Another World. You make the decisions. You choose what to build, and where. It's a little like SimCity. (It's loosely coupled and multiplayer; there are other colonies out there, and they can influence your colony. But they're a long way away...)

This is immediately appealing to someone who has spent some time researching the attraction of MUDs. In my experience, the main attraction is exactly the ability to control the progress yourself. The multi-player part where people live and love and fight sounds very much like a role-playing MUD. His idea of a colony where other colonies influences it sounds vaguely in the tradition of games such as Planetarion, a real-time strategy game which has been running for several seasons (based and developed in Norway). Mark's suggestion gives more freedom to the players than Everquest and Anarchy Online, while keeping the simulation of a society, the role-playing aspect and not just agôn, the competition.

Another World is a hypertext. The most interesting thing about your Outpost is that it's filled with people. Your inbox is filled with memos, letters, and directives. You see people on the street, hear what they say, listen to their arguments and read their stories.

Another World is about ideas. It's got plenty of politics. Voices will be raised, tears may be shed, and people might take off their clothes.

This is the part which reminds me the most about being an administrator or an Immortal of a MUD. This is what they do. My question to Mark now is where is the politics supposed to come from? Is that the game AI? Who will raise their voices, who will cry and who will undress? If that part is to be run by the game AI sooner or later the options will all have been explored and the game will be done with. If it's real people, the game needs to be structured in much the same way as a good role-playing MUD, with strict rules to limit the power of immortals as well as mortals, with rules for conduct as well as for gameplay, as well as IC and OOC rules.

That's not negative - at least not in my opinion. As some might have noticed, I have this terrible weakness for good role-playing games, insane plots and otherworldly political manipulation. I have a slight preference for fantasy over science fiction though.

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