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RaMtiGA - Raising a Middleworld to its Golden Age
RaMtiGA - Raising a Middleworld to its Golden Age: Blog
Mar 29

Written by: Jashan Chittesh

A few days ago, I realized that while my preferred means of communication for is through computer games, I want to broaden the approach by creating a community with a wider perspective. Let me explain:

If you look beyond its techno/electro-style visuals, Traces of Illumination basically is about two things:

  1. Moving from competition to collaboration
  2. Opening up for possibility

I took the very old Snake / Lightcycles / Tron game logic, which is very competitive and actually even brutal (in the end, the original game is all about letting others crash into walls you have created - feel in your heart what that means for a moment) and twist it around to be about collaborating with your team-members towards a team-goal that does not conflict with the other teams' goals, and in the later levels going one step further into collaborating with your "opposing teams" which thus become teams you collaborate with (now, how does that feel?)

Traces of Illumination does start competitive, like the others; and if you want to play it in a competitive style, you're totally free to do so, I'm not gonna judge that (a little competition between friends can be a lot of fun) - but you'll only get to completion of the game when you and your whole game group decide to work together collaboratively. It's up to you to create a community of players you can do this with (but I'll be offering all the support I possibly can for you to do that - in the form of forums on this site, IRC-integration, social-network integration, Twitter-integration and more). The more advanced the game levels get, the more collaboration and coordination is required - so it goes from individuals against individuals, through intra-team collaboration, towards inter-team collaboration within a game-group; which in the case of Traces of Illumination means "everyone you're playing with". So in the end, there cannot be an enemy - there's only friends. That'll literally take you to paradise - within the given game reality (in case you ever wondered why Level 12 is taking me so long to create - now you may start to get an idea ;-) ).

Traces if Illumination also is about opening up for possibility. The original game is extremely constrained - and none of the many many clones that were created let you do much besides doing your strict 90° turns on a flat surface and leaving a wall behind. Not so in Traces of Illumination: During the game, you gain more and more freedom. First, through power-ups, which among other things let you jump, let you make your own trace-wall disappear when it's either in your way or somebody else's way, shoot anybody's trace-walls (but not other players - try it, and you'll get a taste of "instant karma" ;-) ), and even the ability to slow down time altogether for everyone for a couple of seconds (Bullet Time). At what appears to be the end of the game, you gain even further levels of freedom by receiving more advanced Tracers (which is what I call the vehicles in the game - there's classical cycles but also hovercraft-like vehicles). These advanced Tracers give you more and more air-time during jumps and more and more freedom in the turns you can make: Eventually, you can do turns in all 6 directions while you're in the air, which is ... a lot of fun (I should not that the turns are still 90°-based, but aside from the 6 directions of turns, you can even move sidewards)! You can ride on the walls; even ride on the ceiling - and eventually, you'll spend more time flying than stuck on the floor. And this opens up new areas in the levels that you cannot reach in the beginning with just the square reality you face when you've just started the game. Those areas are there right from the start - you just can't see them because your possibilities are limited.

There's even more - but I don't want to spoil the surprise. Traces of Illumination kind of is an abstract way of describing significant parts of how I experience life every day. It's a very amazing journey and it's sometimes hard to believe what becomes possible when you just trust your heart and mind to guide you deeper and deeper "down the rabbit hole" ;-)

Unfortunately, creating a game takes a tremendous amount of time. I've spent more than 140 full person workdays so far (that's more than 1120 hours), and there's still a lot of work ahead. And since I'm fully self-funded (without any significant funds in the back), I need to squeeze that time in between projects that cover my spendings. The idea is that once it's finished, Traces of Illumination generates enough income through subscription fees so that I (and hopefully a few others) can work full-time on the next project: RaMtiGA (Raising a Middleworld to its Golden Age). That project goes much further than Traces of Illumination, which is why I feel it needs to be a full-time project for a team. RaMtiGA - from the most abstract point of view - is a game about cause and effect in the conflict between light and dark. Just like Traces of Illumination, it will be abstract and simplified - but very much less so. RaMtiGA will be a beautiful persistent multiplayer world in which instead of having "killing others as much as possible" as the primary means of advancement, like in World of Warcraft and almost all other massively multiplayer roleplaying games, every action you take has consequences for you individually - and the world you inhabit in the game as a whole. You'll have to decide whether you want to raise the world into a place where all life is valued - or whether your actions will pull yourself and the world you inhabit towards death, grief and destruction. So yes, this is also about the power of the individual; which exponentially increases when individuals join into communities (and that does work equally effectively both ways - so better watch out which kinds of people you invite to this game ;-) ).

There will be conflict in RaMtiGA, and yes, if you like combat in a game, you'll be able to get that - but it's not the central game mechanic that the game is built around; it's just one option you have if you really feel you need to. There's no judgement about combat in there, either - I'm not saying that involving yourself in combat is good or bad, right or wrong. However, every action in the game will have consequences natural to the underlying principles of the game design.

There's much more to the ideas behind RaMtiGA, one particular that I'd like to mention: I'm not interested in getting people to play this game in front of their screen many hours every day of the week ... so ... I have a couple of concepts ready how to make such a game a much more life-supporting experience. The plan is to create something that supports life on every level - instead of taking it away. And yes, I did just say that a game that consumes all of your time without giving you back a value worth that time is taking your life away because I do think that time equals life. So if you waste your time, you literally waste your life!

So, that's the context of the realization I had a few days ago. What I realized could be expressed in words somewhat like: With the world we live in moving deeper into a rather intense transformation more and more quickly, while videogames still are an extremely powerful means of communication once they are completed, getting certain messages out into the world and bringing certain people together simply may be better done with another approach.

Put quite simply: Those games won't help the world much right now, as they're work in progress (Traces of Illuminations) or just mere concepts in my mind (RaMtiGA). Of course, I'll continue developing those games because I feel they can support the transformation this world is currently going through in a positive and unique way - but I'll open the scope this site has to something more immediate in the same spirit.


4 comment(s) so far...

AW: Opening the Scope of this Site

That sounds pretty cryptic and like a good cliffhanger to keep the audience hanging out here... ;-)

By coolcaro7 on   2009-03-29T20:59:53

AW: Opening the Scope of this Site

Audience? I wasn't even aware I was having an audience, yet ;-)

... I mean, audience being anything more than about 2 or 3 people actively following ... I was actually primarily talking to my lonely server so it has a chance to get itself ready for the masses that will soon be running all over this place ;-)

By jashan on   2009-03-30T21:55:40

Re: Opening the Scope of this Site

I had played Traces of Illumination only a little because I though it was a standard competitive game and light cycles competitive games don't really interest me, even when they look really cool (which yours does) and made in Unity. Now that I know it leads to co-operative play I'll have to try again. Do you have sugestions for reading on prosocial/co-operagitive computer games? I like programming games but don't really want to do another competive/violent game. So I am looking for insperations.

By Grant on   2009-04-03T12:16:15

Re: Opening the Scope of this Site

Yeah, I guess I really need to get those more advanced levels in there. Basically, the first 3 levels are primarily "competitive". There's a little trick with that, though: You can only play advanced levels when you have "completed" the previous levels - and you have others to play with. So, if you have a few players in your game group that haven't completed any of the previous levels, it's kind of natural to let them win so all of you can play the more advanced levels. Looks like a cheat, but is intended ;-)

With level 04, a different logic starts: At least one player of each team must collect an item within a given amount of time. If any team fails - the whole game group fails and needs to try again. Starting with level 07, I have levels in which all players must stay in the game for a certain amount of time (so it's really about making sure that neither your game group mates, team-mates or you yourself crash). Then, in level 10 it'll be about the teams helping the other teams; and finally in level 11 each individual player can help every other player (so now it's just one big team). The last level, Level 12 is a completely different story. ;-)

One book you might be interested in is "Persuasive Games - The Expressive Power of Videogames" by Ian Bogost. I'm currently reading it, and it's very interesting. It's basically about "procedural rhetoric" which is kind of hard to explain but in short, it's how procedural logic can be used to get across a certain message. Ian Bogost also gives lots of examples of games that do this more or less successfully. So that could be a good start.

By jashan on   2009-04-03T12:51:39

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