A Peaceful Game

There are several reasons why I want this game to be constructive, educational and co-operative, rather than destructive or violent.

The reason why I devote a section to this subject is because I recognise the commercial potential in making the game violent. Most computer games, especially MMORPGs, are violent. Of course, violence is not the only element of gameplay, but often it is a major one.

On Mars, there are no aliens (as far as we know). Therefore the only violence within the game could be between players.

My goal for this game is to capture the collective imagination of the Mars community (which is large) and get them thinking in one common direction. The shared virtual environment we can create with this game will be reflection of the collective imagination of the players - and, most importantly, it will affect how we imagine our future. If we allow violence within the game, with the Earth the way it is (which is to say, insane), then peaceful colonization activities such as communal base-building, farming, mining, and so on, will quickly give way to accumulation of weapons and construction of strongholds.

While this would make for a fun game in many ways, the overall effect would be negative. The educational component would be lost, and most of the Mars community would lose interest. Mars enthusiasts would be replaced by adolescent boys. Nothing of interest would be achieved. Our model of Mars would end up a chaos of blackened bomb craters, wrecked tanks, and ruins.

Furthermore, it isn't realistic. People will emigrate to Mars to create a new life, not to kill each other. It's inevitable that conflict will arise between players, but for the purpose of this game it's much more realistic (and worthwhile) that they would work it out in the forums, with sensible input from fellow players. If weapons are allowed in the game than diplomatic means will be overlooked and players will be too quick to shoot.

Undoubtedly, there will be numerous requests to include military elements in the game. Let's be honest, most of the computer-game-playing community wants to blow things up. Those people I advise to go play Quake or Grand Theft Auto or something like that.

There is also an important technical reason for not allowing weapons and violence in the game environment. Within a shared virtual environment, there is always a lag between an event occurring and the event appearing on a player's computer. For example, if I move my avatar forward on my computer, it may take a second or two before another player sees my avatar move forward on his computer. This delay is the time taken for the information to be transferred across the network. Special algorithms are needed to hide the effect of this network lag so that each player sees a consistent and realistic visualization of each event.

This problem is most difficult to solve when dealing with fast moving objects - for example, bullets, missiles, jets. Collision detection becomes particularly difficult. By leaving weapons and violence out of the game, the technical implementation of the game becomes much simpler. And considering the massive scale of the virtual world, it would be wise to simplify things where possible, especially if it's also consistent with realism and the goals of the game.

SolSys Developers' Site