Desert Mother: a Multiplayer Intelligent Landscape

Players sit in a circle in a 3D networked environment. They gesture at one another, lay down and look at the sky, and check in with their bodies: their breath, their position, their movements.

The environment is observing them, it reacts to their movements and decisions, growing new plants, decorating the sky, covering the player’s sight with hallucinatory visions.

It remembers what the player has done and attempts to predict what they want. It rewards players for synchronizing movement with strangers across the desert.

The environment’s reactions will be influenced by its changing moods and emotional states. It persists and evolves as long as there is one player around to see and influence. It begins again randomly, a new procedurally-generated space, when players return.

This will build on a current functional multiplayer prototype created in Unity. It will be hosted online and playable from a web browser.

Bio: Aaron Oldenburg is a game designer/developer and new media artist whose primary interest is in game rules as an expressive medium. His video and interactive work has exhibited in festivals and galleries in New York, Johannesburg, São Paulo and Los Angeles, including SIGGRAPH, A MAZE. International Games and Playful Media Festival, and FILE Electronic Language International Festival. His work has been written about in Kill Screen, Baltimore City Paper, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. He teaches game design as an Associate Professor in University of Baltimore’s Simulation and Digital Entertainment program and has an MFA from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In October 2003 he finished two years as an HIV Health Extension Agent for the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa.