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Channeling power to those you do not know

Date: 28-Aug-2004/17:05+3:00


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When I was a child, I enjoyed playing adventure games on the computer. You would run around in imaginary worlds, solving puzzles...open doors, uncovering treasures, and "building up your character". You would usually start off with a very wooden sword, and it would take quite a few slashes to kill a bad guy. Yet the bad guys you encountered were generally quite simplistic...and as a lone adventurer, you would slay hundreds of enemies.
As you run around dungeons, you would notice keys and maps. The monsters--we presume--are too stupid to read the maps or to differentiate the key from a rock, so they would leave them unmolested. Your prize for being able to notice what these things are is to be able to unlock the room where you find silver sword, which is a vastly more powerful weapon than wood sword!
Generally, what you'd do is drop wood sword on the ground--because it's no longer useful to you. Yet something that always bothered me about this was that wood sword is obviously a pretty good weapon for people in the place where you were coming from--why are you wasting this resource? Also, now that you've gone around leaving all these doors open, what's to stop one of the stupid monsters from getting in there and grabbing the sword and wreaking all kinds of havoc?
I began to wonder--why isn't there some responsibility to you to "lock up" the wood sword behind some kind of puzzle? If you chose wisely, and properly hid those resources behind clever puzzles, then the smart adventurers who came down the line would be better equipped and would be able to help you fight the monsters...so your job would get easier. If you did a bad job and monsters were able to get the resources, then your job would become ever harder!
So I started to envision the idea of a game where you not only run around finding new resources, but you take the powerful resources you no longer need and "lock them up" behind puzzles of your own. The puzzle you use should correspond with your ideal of who is on "your team"--e.g. what type of person do you want to delegate power to.
For instance, if you think Duran Duran fans are good people, you could encase the wood sword in a sealed chamber and put an alphabetic keyboard on the outside, with the challenge: "HUNGRY LIKE THE ?" Only those who knew to type in W-O-L-F would be the beneficiary of your gift.
The challenge in designing such a game would be how to make the computer adequately punish or reward you for your choices. So the only way to make the reward fit the virtue (or the punishment fit the crime) is to make this a multiplayer online game. If you put good weapons behind a Duran Duran lock, then you need to be prepared to be meeting up with some powerful people with whom the only thing you have in common is that they also like Duran Duran. (Or perhaps they had access to a lyrics search engine!)
Yet the more I thought about writing such a multiplayer game, I realized I don't have to...because...I'm playing it!
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The accounts written here are as true as I can manage. While the words are my own, they are not independent creative works of fiction —in any intentional way. Thus I do not consider the material to be protected by anything, other than that you'd have to be crazy to want to try and use it for genuine purposes (much less disingenuous ones!) But who's to say?