Entertainment, education and structural design in one
The collective time used for playing different kinds of computer games has already reached millions of years. This is a huge, nearly unutilized resource of human problem-solving capabilities. Gamers are not educating themselves in how the world works or doing anything very productive in terms of the infrastructure. I seek to channel time used in games to design structures.
Structural Design Game:
The concept of creating a game to solve a problem isn't a new one. For example, the game FoldIt was designed to bypass a computationally unsolvable problem of protein folding. This approach can be used for structural design if a sufficiently good simulation of structural integrity, heating, electricity, venting and other relevant elements of structure construction can be appropriately constrained and made into objectives within a game. The game can be entertaining and functional even before all these factors are taken into account, so it can be released quite early and updated along the way.
If the game works on the technical side, it also needs to be entertaining. I have decided to shroud the simulation in an optional fantasy-science-fiction layer, since such escapism seems to be in high demand nowadays. As the game progresses, certain archetypes of greed, control, indifference and ignorance will be drawn into the world to threaten the freedom or work of the player. These challenges can be overcome through combat, correct structural design and team effort. Joining in the in-game building and combat will bring the community together.
Now that the nutshell of the idea has been cracked open, I'll introduce the method of working toward it. I will be screencasting the progress of the work through http://www.twitch.tv/highcoordinator. The service is free for the broadcaster, but alas, powered by ads. Anyone with an account to Twitch can stop by and have a chat, provide advice, see the actual programming problems the project is facing. Twitch was chosen for the purpose for it's capabilities of collaborative video co-casting, editing, immediate transparency and other forms of participation and entertainment possible through it.
Contributing Blender files, in-game lore, textures or the like and anything the game needs can be provided through a convenient data transfer method as agreed on the LiveCast channel.
Although programming the project may not be the most intense form of entertainment, it is the most transparent I could come up with. It is quite participatory, as the work you have given for the project to use may show on the screen.
Blender game engine is a free, open-source platform to develop the game on. Perhaps it is not the most wide-spread of modeling or game-making programs, but the price was right and it comes with many built-in features that are important for structural design. Python is the programming language of choice, as it is built into Blender.
Using the Monetary System to Change It:
The more activity the channel attracts, the more money I will be offered through advertisement partnerships and such agreements by Twitch. The game will be free, which goes without saying, but I will accept funding created through this medium should such a decision have to be made. After all, financial mobility will come with the continued possibility to work with the project better, and it does not ask for the financial trust of anyone who views the content or subscribes to it.
Other Immediate Effects:
- The stream can bring topic initiators together and into ideological discussion from both Zeitgeist and gamer communities.
- One can learn of programming in Python and other game creation in Blender through what is done during the screencasts.
- One can cheer the project onwards, which is always welcome. :)
- The contents of the project are shared willingly as they are so that anyone can develop it further on their own or by giving their creations back to the project (provided they are still compatible).
Functionality Status at the Time of Blogging:
- Two blender game engine instances are able to create a server-client combination. A player avatar will be spawned to the server and it can be controlled through the client's keyboard commands through the web. How any client can find any server across the web is still under consideration.
- The locations and rotations of the game's objects can be saved to or loaded from a file as the game is running. The method of sending these files over the web is currently not working as intended.
- The graphics are still at placeholder stage. Everything is a cube or a plane.
If the final goals of this project are met, technological unemployment will rise, but I do not wish to stop working because of that.
Criticism is welcome. The financing part is especially making my conscience nag me. It is the best way I could come up with. Please do mention alternate approaches if you know of any.
Humans are not a means to an end. Humans have intrinsic value. I hope I can bring an end to some straining labor. The more free time people have, the more interesting things seem to happen.