Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Proposal To Second Life's Successor

The next great metaverse-type game that will succeed SL is Minesweeper.

Hear me out.

In minesweeper, you play a humble minesweeper, charged with the duty of sweeping mines from a stretch of land/water/air/space so that people/boats/planes/International Space Stations can cross without fear of hitting a land mine/mine/air mine/space mine. It's a tough job. The first mine you hit could be your last. It's a slow paced action thriller!

Now, it's just single player. It's just you and the mines.

But imagine the possibilities of a massive Minesweeper world! It's your world, your imagination, your mines! You can team with friends to sweep them, or foil their efforts by actually planting your swept mines into their path. Each path you sweep will open up new worlds and places. With each new location, you can buy land, and on it build wondrous creations, which may or may not be related to mine sweeping! It's up to you!

It would solve many many problems we see today in SL. For one, it would increase retention rates by at least 100%, if not more. Stay at any infohub, chat up the newbies. They want direction, they want something to do. They like the open ended possibilities, but they want to learn something first, or start doing something. As it is, SL starts them off as something like a Hobo, with nothing but the clothes on their backs and some L$ if they're a premium. Minesweeper Life would give starters something to occupy them while they learn the ropes and dangles.

It would add some thrills to an otherwise dry experience. SL is not that exciting, to be honest. This is a leading cause of why we have such dramah outside of it, with forums fights, and SL blogs at each other's throats, and griefers attacking and people muting everywhere. They're all bored witless, so they turn on each other. It's like being locked up in a dark room with no one but yourself, eventually you'll start hating yourself and beating yourself up. Minesweeper would distract that and tone it down. It won't eliminate it entirely, they'll always be a few diehards, but it will definitely end this three ring circus.

We shouldn't undervalue the potential of shock value either. Minesweeper is a boring pre-installed game. So making it into a fully fledged universe would turn some heads! It's a bold move into a bold future. It'd be all over the internet: "MINESWEEPER SWEEPS INTO NEW DIRECTION!" This'd be even bigger than when they added the 'Vegas' scoring option on Solitaire. People love watching old things twisted into new directions. Just look at people's fascination with train wrecks, both figurative and literal.

One thing I have noticed in SL is that we don't have cities. The closest we may come is small villages if you can consider an infohub a 'village commons'. Part of this is due to unchangeable (for us anyway) physical constraints; the servers can't hold more than forty people at a time, maybe eighty if the sim is on a single server which is only done for mega corporations. For us peons it's forty. Forty in SL would feel like a city, except it doesn't, the sim will lag out and odds are that it'll crash. I've been to concerts with only nineteen spectators where the sim crashed under the load. But for some reason, even when the load allows it, people don't bunch into cities. Most of SL is at its highest density comparable to a distant suburb. People build homes and effectively abandon them. I watched one house for a month every day, and not once did the owner come by and check in. In SL, people are allergic to cities, I guess.

Minesweeper Life would change that. Not so easy to suburban sprawl when YOU'RE SURROUNDED BY LIVE EXPLOSIVE MINES, now, is it? The less adventurous among us would reside in these cities, free of mines, a place for them to sleep at night and build and interact in safety. And this could only help new people, because right off the bat you'd be in a city, surrounded by people who know how to play and where to go and what to do. IN SL, all too often, someone will pop in, fresh off OI, and be completely alone in the middle of nowhere. Sure, NCI and the Shelter and the Mentors may get 20%, and infohub regulars may help another 15%, but that leaves a whole lot that manage to miss these people and wander about with little or no idea of what they are supposed to do, how to do anything, or where they even are. Minesweeper would shove them right where they would have others around to harass and help them.

Ah, Minesweeper. What would we do without you?


Hazel Kyrgyz said...

New potentials for protest too, because everyone uh, loves protest. You can be SL Chapter Chair of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Save the griefers!

Goldie Katsu said...

Strangely I read this and thought "Wow this would be a great facebook app."