Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Game Within a Game Within a Game

Written 10 November, 2007

A Game Within a Game Within a Game

I don't remember where I read about Tiny Empires-- it must have been in The Avastar. T.E. was, I understood, a HUD-based game about Medieval empires. Everyone was going nuts about it, I read.

And so I searched Tiny Empires and took myself to Klister (145, 41, 53) and, ignoring the free trial version, paid $499 for the actual game.

Back at home, I put on the HUD. and boom! I was a tiny emporion. Emporium? Empirion? Empirienne?

Tiny Empires operates by turns-- one every three or four minutes. A gong and a blinking cursor signify a new turn (or, rather, there's a gong sound if the land on which you are doesn't restrict spatialized sound. It took me a while to get Mr. Gong working).

Each turn allows the game player to make decisions about his or her property and allegiances. Buy land, sell land, hire a peasant, buy a castle, serve a master, take on a liege. Sometimes one comes into gold by finding it in the sewn hem of a garment or by getting an award from higher-ups. And at the end of every "year" (each turn is one month), there are, lamentably, taxes.

Many of the turns include simple games-- figure out a progression, do a simple algebra or logic problem, with correct answers being rewarded with gold.

Think about it-- a game (logic puzzle) within a game (Tiny Empires) within a game (Second Life) with a game ("real" life). It's mind-boggling.

I quickly realized that T.E. is a pyramid. Those higher up get a portion of the gold of those below them, who get a portion of the gold of those below them, ad infinitum. Players can abandon lords and take on new lords; they get gold for doing so-- but loyalty is important.

I also quickly figured out that T.E. is a great social networking tool. I soon had new friends and new groups and was getting offers of teleports so we could do business-- i.e, reassign lieges and transfer property. I met some really nice people. But I soon got so busy that I took off my T.E. HUD. I didn't have the time necessary to be a proper tiny emporienne.

I miss T.E. in a way, but then again, life is more peaceful without the gong.

I suppose I will just let Pele be my Tiny Empire.

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