Thursday, July 29, 2010

Project MyWorld

I always thought I had a finite supply of stories to tell about my time at DMA Design. But an announcement from Realtime Worlds, which I only saw this morning, made me realise that even something which was only a few minutes long can still be relevant today. RTW have been working for the last five years on Project MyWorld, an ambitious online world which mixes social networking and gaming. No doubt the subtleties are more nuanced than that and most of us will note that five years is a long time in technology.

Mike Dailly, whom I've now known for something like twenty six years, had been working on it in complete secrecy. But now that the story is out, I realise that I've known the seeds of it since 1996, an entire fourteen years ago. Dave Jones, now Mr RTW and ex Mr DMA had clearly been thinking about it for that long. Back then I worked in DMA's Design Department alongside Mike and Dave would often come in to talk about whatever was on his mind; normally an idea for a game or about games in general. (Or about cars.)

Mike and myself were working on a project known informally as The Space Game, a name it's kept to this day, where each player would take control of a particular console such as tactical or navigation, instead of an entire ship. It didn't ultimately progress very far, but it was during this time that Dave wandered into the design dept and we told him something of the plans for it. This was also midway through the development of GTA and Dave said wouldn't it be great if you could find a planet in the game, fly down to the surface and find a city where a game of GTA was taking place. Not only that, but if you drove past some guys by the side of a river, those guys could be playing a fishing game!

This, we all agreed, would indeed be great but at the time I didn't think any more of it than just another idea in a sea of ideas. Any developer, I'm sure, will tell you that they have many more ideas than could ever be brought to fruition in several lifetimes. And that was it, a small conversation that didn't have any great significance at the time. Obviously Dave had the seed of an idea even all that time ago and has never forgotten it. What drives all the best ideas isn't stakeholders or technology, though they may enable them.

No, what drives them is simply asking "Wouldn't it be cool if..."

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