by BONZO, HSM Editor
Anyone remember ReBoot?
I am channeling the 1990′s here, but ReBoot was a Canadian animated series which was one of the first full CG (Computer Generated) cartoons in a time when CG was still fairly new. This was just after Pixar’s Toy Story, the first full feature to be completely computer animated, came out. ReBoot was, to an extent, a prophetic series of science fiction.
In a way, we are living that today. We log onto Home and we exist in a game environment. That is a little more TRON than ReBoot, but similar in principal. ReBoot gave life to the game characters. It was basically a look at the imagined life of an NPC living in a world they knew as Mainframe. The NPC population existed in this computer world, and their biggest fear and threat – besides the computer virus villains Megabyte, and Hexadecimal – were gamers.
Occasionally – and usually at the most inopportune time – this giant purple cube would land in their universe. This cube was a game, initiated by a User, an unseen entity which we understood was a human being who initiated a game for their entertainment, and inadvertently brought chaos to Mainframe. Anyone caught in the game cube was suddenly thrown into the game, and they had to survive the game session. Well, we all know what happens to NPCs in games – they are the red shirts of the gaming world; except for Bob, he was the Neo of ReBoot. The interesting thing about Bob is that he was guardian #452, so not the first and probably not the last. If any of this sounds like TRON, and the Matrix, you’re not imagining things; there were a lot of similarities.
The premise of this show is something which hasn’t really been taken advantage of. Mainly because platforms like Home are fairly new. Home remains the only console-based surrogate social network, and while other PC-based avatar social platforms exist, none of them to my knowledge have really taken advantage of this boon from the creative heads of our neighbors to the north.
What am I talking about? Imagine you are in a public space, like a new Central Plaza, or park-like area, or some hub where people just congregate. While in this place, you hang out with friends, and at random times a cube drops, and if you are caught in the cube, you are then thrust into a game that pits you against other users or NPCs. Basically, the fact the you are present in this space means you agree to at any point getting thrown into a game. It would be dynamic – not to mention random – and give a thrilling essence of this space that would encourage traffic.
Rather than the same game over and over, it would be fantastic to see a random selection of several types of games. Racing games, shooter games, platform style games, fighting games, and perhaps some sort of sports games. This doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It can be one single level for each. That would give the environment a sense of variety, and even further randomness. You go there and you won’t know what kind of game you’ll be thrust into, or when and if you will be caught in the game cube at all.
The risk of a game like this lies in the possibility of minimal traffic to the space. Revitalize a Central Plaza-like environment and people will show up. What Central Plaza had was a place to hang out, a place to show off the new wares (if you bought them), a dance floor with music, and a huge open space for advertising. There were a lot of reasons to go Central Plaza, because it was like the courtyard in school, or college, wherever people just hang out. You have to consider the people that use Home: most are either in high school, fresh out of high school or in college, or fresh out of college. So these are people that continue to hang on to the fond memories of the school court yard. Even those who have been out of school for a long time, remember those times fondly.
The 3d CG spaces all exist on a grid system with a X;Y;Z axis, where an avatar is located is tracked by their position on that grid system. So it wouldn’t be too difficult to calculate where there are more then a few people. That data can be used to determine where to land the game cube, ensuring a good number of players are randomly thrown into a game. However, this doesn’t have to be directly competitive in player versus player. You can pit the players against NPCs, as well.
The cool concept of ReBoot was that there was no need for Bob the guardian, who inevitably always ended up getting caught up in the game, to win the game. He just had to survive it. Getting eliminated in the game meant getting eliminated permanently. That of course doesn’t have to happen in a Home equivalent. But getting eliminated in the game can just push you out of the game and back into that hang out space. But winning the game could be rewarding. A leader board can be established by the number of games won, or the number of games survived.
Ideally, it would be cool to see this type of random even happen anywhere in Home. Implementing something like this on the entire Home world would be tremendously difficult though. So a public space designated for this kind of event is probably more plausible. You start fresh from the ground up, with a new area and implement such a complicated function into it.
I love that Home has many games you can take part in, but you have to actively seek them out. A random event space would push you into a game, at any given time with little or no warning, giving the Home experience a little more thrill and chaos which would be an exciting prospect for those stuck in the medley of what has basically become a routine. And it could be just one way in which Home could be turned into a game itself.