It has meaning. As it brings to life a fully working and fully interconnected environment where *nothing* is created out of thin air or without clear, mathematically defined causes and consequences, each and every action done (or avoided) in the game *means* something - in other words, it... matters! Yes, it matters and means something first of all within the game itself but that's no hard limit in any way and moreover, even considered solely within the game, it still means way more than it might seem at a first glance. This is not by accident and what follows might give some solid pointers as to why and how, so read on.
It is practically infinite in more than one dimension. To give just a few examples1:
- Your exploration generates (on demand!) new maps and there is more scope for such distinct maps than you can cover in a lifetime. So step in and see the world expand as you explore further and further. As you explore, note also the resistance of the medium, not constant but related to you and to your actions, ever present and ever giving meaning to the choice of the next step, because your exploration in this game *is* creation and not just a meaningless stroll through the endlessness. How far will you go and what will you create?
- Your crafting, exploring, fighting, child rearing and various other game activities generate new items (and this means all sorts, computer controlled characters included) and the scope for these, too, is wider than you can cover in a lifetime. While the potential items are practically infinite, it's your actions that pick from this infinite potential some specific item and then bring it into being. If you don't act then no item will exist at all and the potential will remain just that, a waiting but never manifested possibility. So what are you going to make and who will you meet?
- Gains are potentially infinite, too, as they aren't capped at any random value, nor forced into any sort of artificially diminishing returns model. The only limit, here as everywhere else, is the player's own capability and otherwise the whole of what there is in the game, nothing else. How much can you gain and what is your gain even going to look like?
- The intricate connections and complex underlying laws of the game's environment are statistical in nature and never directly exposed but ever present through their effects - or more precisely said, through what you are able to observe of them and, moreover, how much you are able to make of what you observe at any given time. How much of it all will you observe, how well will you understand it and what are you going to do with that knowledge gained?
- The game promotes creativity2 and it rewards applied, practical learning with full freedom of choice as to direction or means. The game's environment reliably provides feedback and the unbending structure to test your hypotheses (and your mettle) against, while allowing otherwise any and all approaches you can come up with. Who will you turn out to be?
- The game provides opportunities for meaningful action well beyond playing. The only limit with respect to opportunities available is defined by the players themselves, as they can literally interact with the game in any way and to any extent they want. From building up their own town and governing it the way they see fit or setting up shop somewhere in game to making their own client or their own graphics to be used - whether for free or for pay - by other players, the game's environment simply provides just the right amount of structure to support it all but no restrictions as to what "should be done" or not otherwise. What do you want to do and how well will you do it?
All the above combined mean that it is your actions, observations, data gathering and even client development or meta-game that increase both the richness of the game's world and your practical, applied knowledge that is not even limited to playing the game itself. In this sense, too, the scope is wider than you can cover in a lifetime. In this game, like in no other but exactly as in life, you can never really step in the same river twice. No "walkthroughs" and no "cheat sheets" can ever "solve it all" (aka spoil it all) for the next player who is neither the exact same as the previous player nor in the exact same place or time as them, nor even interacting with the game's world in quite the exact same way. Your character in game ages and dies, too, and their children may continue so that your own experience of the game is ever changing and your play literally writes the history, whether through small or big deeds, still writing nevertheless. What part of the game's history will you write?
"And will this game happen?"
"By itself, you mean?"
For more on it all, see for starters the S.MG category on trilema.com, the Eulora category on this blog, quite a few of the articles in the trolloludens category on trilema.com as well as various other articles that are quickly found if you follow the links. ↩
Creativity is, at core, a successful cross-pollination (or weaving if you prefer) of sorts, the result of making viable new links between matters that had seemed until then separate or at the very least evolving independently, each in its own direction. As such, discipline, structure and a solid knowledge of many different fields are the support and ally of creativity, not at all a barrier or the enemy as they might seem at a superficial look. ↩
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