Friday, 7 October 2011

Player-Driven Languages within MMORPGs?


I am currently working on a project called Evosphere in which the player takes control of an animal and evolves it through its life cycle. Yes, I know this sounds similar to Spore and a few other games of its ilk, but mine has a few differences. Namely, that the game is focused on community building and is attempting to be a realistic working model of 'survival of the fittest'.

Anyway, not really important. Basically, within this game, as all players will take the role of animals without language skills, I have come across a unique language building problem.

If the players can't communicate through text nor talk, how will they express their emotions and intentions? How will they socialise? How will they decieve? How will they interact?

Good question. But, I think the premise answers itself. If the players are playing animals, we just need to look at how animals communicate.

Scents, growls, howls, specific movements. All of these things are employed, but as we as humans do not know the exact meaning behind eeach of these 'language' functions, how are we to employ them in a game without giving the players an extensive corpus about the various types of animal interaction?


Colour evokes emotion, and some colours are truely universal. Black and yellow means danger. Burnt orange means aggression. Light blue means tranquility. Green means fertility. And so on. Linked with certain colours, certain actions will be given direct meaning to the animals, and therefore to the players.

But there is still no concrete system for communication. Sure, you can emote that you're growling, but are you saying that you're growling about the other creature? Or are you growling about something you want the other creature to help you with? Could this be cleared up by two growls for the first, and a submission and then a growl for the second?

I see language developing!

Do you think this system of player driven language creation is possible? Perhaps, as the game goes on, should 'smarter' animals have access to more elegant communication methods? What are your thoughts? Is there any other way that one could influence this system to enable player driven language creation? Leave a comment below!