Friday, August 31, 2007

Playing As Borg in a Star Trek MMORPG +

Originally Posted by Marcellus:
Basically, the Collective tells them what to do, and they figure out, among themselves, how to do it
That is precisely how I imagined this working.

"The Queen" (really just the game itself) would transmit the primary objective of the cube -- for example, "Assimilate the units of species 4971 in sector 271.38" -- and the individual characters (players and NPCs) aboard that cube would take whatever steps they felt were necessary to achieve that objective. That would give players some freedom within the limits of what they're allowed to do on a cube to decide how to achieve an objective.

If necessary or appropriate, control could go down a level as you suggested -- perhaps specific goals for achieving the overall objective could be defined by the game, and players would be able to coordinate their separate ideas for how best to achieve that objective.

The idea is to provide players with just enough gameplay things to do so that they don't feel they're simply riding in a drone-shaped vehicle, while defining that gameplay in such a way as to remove any notion that they have value as individuals. You can act; you can do things -- it's just that those things don't matter on an individual basis. They only matter when they're combined with what a lot of other drones (player or NPC) do.

I think it's really important to note about this suggestion for gameplay that not only would players give up control to gain power, they would also be giving up responsibility. When all you can do is go along with whatever the group chooses to do, how is anything that happens specifically your fault?

There is, I think, a valuable lesson nestled within this gameplay. Life free from responsibility sounds inviting at first, but what if the price of that freedom was giving up all the benefits of life as an individual? Would it still be worth it? What does that tell us about how we live our real lives?

I tell you, Borgplay is a gold mine of possibilities. For all the problems of implementing it (and I don't pretend there'd be none), the payoff in entertainment value -- and perhaps something more -- looks enormous to me.