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Labyrinth: More Than Just a David Bowie Movie

On my last post, Oren brought up the notion that every game can be considered multi-player to a certain limited extent, because players are always playing against the games themselves, and by extension the designers who built them. I’m still not a hundred percent sold on the idea, but it got me thinking as to what kind of game could be designed with amplifying this experience as its goal. Can you have a game which truly mimics the player vs. designer aspect? Here’s my attempt to at the very least sketch out the basics of such a game:

This would be an online game for three players, based on the Greek myth of the labyrinth– in fact, let’s just go ahead and use “Labyrinth” as the title for now, even though there’s already a game/toy with that name.

Player one would play the role of Daedelus– the builder of the labyrinth– and would design a maze from a top-down blueprint view.

After finishing the maze, it would be navigated by player two, playing the role of Theseus– the hero sent to rescue youths from its dungeon– who would need to get from point A to point B while in first person view, with only a small mini-map in the corner which grows more detailed the more the player explores.

Finally, player three would play the Minotaur– the monstrous half-bull/half-man the King of Crete commissioned the Labyrinth to imprison– and would chase Theseus throughout the maze from a third-person bird’s eye view.

The game would end either when Theseus reaches the end or is caught by the Minotaur. Daedelus would continue designing a new maze after players 2 and 3 started an already completed one, making it a race to finish designing mazes in order to keep them trapped inside. The seqeuence would pretty much follow like this:

(1) Daedelus designs labyrinth.

(2) Theseus starts labyrinth after short delay.

(3) Minotaur starts labyrinth after short delay.

(4) Daedelus designs new labyrinth, etc. Repeat until Theseus finishes a navigating a labyrinth before Daedelus finishes designing new one, or until Minotaur catches Theseus.

Now, something tells me that this game has probably already been made. If not, I’ll just have to learn how to program it…

One Comment

  1. frank wrote:

    Very interesting idea.

    I challenge you to think through the deatils of this idea a little bit more, Bob. There are some tricky gameplay and interface issues here.

    How does player D construct a maze in real-time? (Is he assembling it out of modular “blocks” each of which contains a network of paths? Does he lose if he traps either of the other players without a route to the exit?)

    Also, what is player D’s win condition? Is there a way to choose his goal to motivate him to construct the most “dramatic” maze? (ie. rewarding him for close calls between the other players and narrow escapes.)

    Sid Meier’s Sim Golf might be a good reference for a game about game design.

    Saturday, April 7, 2007 at 5:14 am | Permalink

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