Saturday, February 3, 2018

Emerge, Ent Gameplay!

Is there such a thing as a passive physics-engine-centered game? Or rather a reactive one? I want to play as a tree. Not even a walking tree. Just a tree.

Seriously, just plant the player somewhere. Maybe make choosing your location (soil quality, topography, atmospheric humidity, etc.) part of the pre-game preparation. Start as a little sapling of several different species. Then start throwing things at me: sun, rain, hail, ants, woodpeckers, frost. Limit my actions to managing my internal reserves and immediate milieu: channeling sap, tapping groundwater, spewing pheromones, growing or limiting rood nodules, budding more leaves or maybe even flowering. Or would that last one drive up the ESRB rating? Who knows, maybe the kids these days are scared of getting microaggressed by stamens. In any case, gameplay should center on adapting to changing conditions, not avoiding or defeating them, on weathering each new storm or drought or clambering ten-year-old apes in sneakers scuffing my lovely bark. Let me figure out the best layout for my branches to both maximize sunlight and resist physical stress, the best spread for my roots to support myself and at the same time maximize water uptake.

You might laugh, but this is the sort of shit that Will Wright and Maxis used to pull off back in the early '90s while they were still worth mentioning. Look, ma, no elves or lasers or AKs!

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