Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Beyond Oblivion

Okay, a couple of housekeeping notes. First, you guys have sent me excellent stories of the Oblivion A.I.--both good and bad--and I'll be posting some of them tomorrow. Second, I won't be writing about Oblivion every day for the rest of my life, so no worries if you're tired of hearing about it. I probably will be writing about it for a few more days, though, since most of you seem to be playing it about as hard as I am.

I was thinking today about how Bethesda has created not only a game, but an environment. First person shooters, no matter how finely they're crafted, narrowly define the experience for the player. Yes, Oblivion has a story line, but it's still a giant sandbox full of little treasures when you dig for them, and in that way it separates itself as a very unique experience.

And even if the A.I. is occasionally very funky, it made me start thinking about what would happen in the world if there were sliders for agression, motivation, and other A.I. characteristics. It would be a different world each time.

That led down the rabbit hole, which is where I spend a lot of my time, and here's what I wound up with. What if the world of Oblivion also featured different levels of war and territorial dispute between the different races and provinces? And what if when you started a game, you set how aggressive these races would be? In other words, you'd be setting up the world differently each time, much like you can in a real-time strategy game. And the world would then evolve on its own, whether you participated or not.

Of course, you'd probably want to participate, and there would be a political layer incorporated into the game so that you could acquire power either by the ballot or by the sword. And in this world, battles between armies would take place in a Total War kind of mechanic, so that large armies could engage in battle. Consider the game a kind of a trinity between Oblivion, Total War, and Europa 1400: The Guild.

I'd like to play that.

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