Turtles All the Way Down

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secondlife.pngI've spent the day playing "Still Alive" on endless repeat and obsessing endlessly about Weighted Companion Cube so this will be brief. I wanted to point to a couple things that have made the rounds in the past week on the off chance that anyone missed them, but then I'm probably going back to playing through Portal with the commentary on.

First and foremost, if you didn't see Raph Koster's stint as guest-writer over at Penny Arcade last Wednesday, you need to go read it now. He quickly sketches a design for a large-scale construction MMO, by all appearances off the top of his head, but I found the whole thing awe-inspiring. He takes an idea that, in its briefest form, holds absolutely no appeal to me, and makes it sound downright fun. I pulled a quote that I like: "Games are made out of smaller games – turtles all the way down... And for each game, we need to have a range of challenges. What’s more, ideally these challenges need to not be just 'beatable,' but they should be 'winnable with style.'" I think this is a great design paradigm for all sorts of games, not just MMOs. In any case, I have to stress again that you should really take the time to read his whole piece. It's extremely well written and made quite an impression on me.

If you're interested in reading more, there's an article over at Sexy Videogameland that also deals with the way MMOs are put together - specifically, all the attention that's currently being to making "sticky" gameplay experiences and compulsion loops. The author draws a connection between these sorts of compulsion loops (specifically used in a game I'm unfamiliar with named Kwari) and actual compulsive behavior, like gambling addiction. It's an interesting and disturbing train of thought, and it actually nicely summarizes why I tend to stay away from MMOs.

And lastly, Joystiq has a video of Will Wright doing a short Spore demo. What's it doing here? Well, Spore isn't multiplayer, but it is massively online, so that's something. If you've been following Spore, there's absolutely nothing here that you haven't seen before (and if you haven't been following Spore, then you should start doing so right away) but it's worth watching because, hey, Spore. Plus, it's a short video.

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