CirumReality is a multiplayer online game
in which you explore imaginative player-created worlds, not by killing monsters,
but by talking with and befriending computer-controlled characters.
In CircumReality, you challenge your brain by figuring out what makes
computer-controlled characters "tick", and use that knowledge to befriend them
and accomplish your goals. Observation and problem-solving are key!
Click to enlarge the image
Click to enlarge the image
CircumRealityworlds are created by players.
Since most of what makes a game expensive is "eye candy", CircumReality
reduces the eye-candy workload by displaying static (non-animated) images
that are narrated using text-to-speech synthesis. (Click here to listen to a sample of the text-to-speech.) CircumReality
titles aren't as flashy as a $20 million dollar game, but neither are books as flashy as
movies. Books are compelling in their own way, though, and so are CircumReality
does CircumReality differ from a MMORPG, CRPG, or adventure game?
CircumReality is about more than just NPC
CircumReality is about more game-like.
CircumReality is multiplayer, so you can
play with your friends, or meet new ones online.
CircumReality gameplay and how it differs from that of a MMORPG, CRPG, or
Since gameplay might still be a little unclear, I
thought I'd illustrate some sample gameplay.
scenario is one in which an old woman, the local town gossip, knows a salacious
rumour that the player needs in order to boot the town mayor out of office.
Unfortunately, the woman doesn't trust the player at first, and isn't too
eager to give up her prize rumour. She is, however, an avid collector of snow
To demonstrate the gameplay, I'll also explain how the
scenario would be implemented for adventure games and CRPGs, so you can see the
Adventure game - At some point in the game, you
would find a snow globe object and pick it up. When you got to the room with the old
woman, you'd notice her collection of snow globes in the background, and then give the
snow globe to the woman. The woman would reply by giving you a letter with the salacious
rumour, which you could then take to the local newspaper to have printed.
CRPG or MMORPG - The old woman
would be standing outside her house (all day). When clicked on, she'd give you a quest to
seek out a rare snow globe that's owned by the goblin king. You would have to enter the
goblin king's lair, kill lots of goblin minions, the goblin king, and loot the snow globe
from the king's treasure chest. When you return with the snow globe, the woman takes it
and gives you a letter with the salacious rumour, which you could then take the the local
Multiplayer interactive fiction - From other NPCs,
you would hear that the woman knows an important rumour.
Trying to make a good impression, the you put away your weapons and armour, and
dress in your Sunday best, assuming that the woman is prim and proper. Of course, snow
globes litter the woman's house, but it isn't obvious that's what she wants.
You approach the woman, say "Hello", and mentions a rumour that you
heard, that "Mary [the woman's neighbour] is pregnant." This piques the
woman's interest (she likes rumors after all) and she mentions a rumour about someone else
in town. You follow up with another rumour, or an anecdote that somehow fits with the
woman's previous rumour/anecdote. In some ways, the back-and-forth is like the "Magic,
the gathering" card game, with each side pulling out an appropriate
rumour/anecdote, combined with the old "Illuminati" card game, where
only certain cards can be near one another. It wouldn't do for you to tell a joke just
after the woman related a sad story about her mother's death, for example.
At some point, the woman decides she trusts you enough, and mentions another
anecdote, about how she used to visit the beaches of Amroth when she was a child, and look
through the nearby shops. She mentions that some of her snow globes came from there. If
you didn't get the hint, then some more obvious hints are given in later anecdotes; the
woman may discuss various places she's been, and all the snow globes she's purchased as
You have several possible solutions to the problem: The obvious one is to search
around the stores, buy several snow globes, and give them to the woman. (By the way, the
woman won't accept snow globes from you if she doesn't already like and trust you a little
bit. The conversation part is necessary.) A better solution is for you to notice that the
woman's snow globe from Amroth is broken, travel there, and buy just one snow globe; it's
a cheaper solution for you, but more valuable to the woman. Another solution might be to
buy the old woman a train ticket to some place, since she obviously likes to travel... or,
you could always kill the goblin king and take his snow globe. :-)
Whatever the solution, enough snow globes (or the right one) make the woman
friendly enough that she's willing to grant you a favour. One of the favours might be the
tasty bit of gossip about the mayor. When she tells you the gossip, it appears on your
list of "knowledge". You can then wander around town telling other NPCs the
gossip. If enough NPCs are told, the mayor will resign in disgrace. Alternatively, you
could visit the mayor and tell the mayor about the gossip that the old woman told you, and
who the source was; the woman mysteriously falls down her stairs that night...
Note: This scenario isn't the only way that multiplayer interactive
fiction can play out. It's just pointing out how the experience can be very different from
an adventure game or CRPG/MMORPG. Multiplayer interactive fiction often incorporates
elements from CRPGs, MMORPGs, and adventure games, and might require a few goblin kings to
be slain too.
"Multiplayer interactive fiction"?
Multiplayer interactive fiction is an online computer
Lets you play a character in a virtual world. The
world isn't limited a standard fantasy or science fiction setting, and might take place in
Victorian England, modern-day New York City, or even a dream world.
The world is centred around a story that your character
participates in, such as a detective solving crimes in Victorian England, a
romance in New York City, or the more familiar "save the world" fantasy and
science fiction stories.
Your actions affect the story's direction, although
this is limited by current technology and how much time the author had to write in
narrative choices. You can even forgo the story altogether and follow your own muses,
although the game experience may not be as rich.
The world is filled with sub-games. IF titles aren't
limited to the standard combat sub-game (common to computer role-playing
games) and puzzle sub-game (common to adventure games). Sub-games, which
are customised to the story, might involve interrogating non-player characters,
romancing them, or trying to run a property-rental empire.
In (multiplayer) interactive fiction, sub-games are used to
enhance the story, much as music and special effects are used to enhance a
movie's story... instead of the movie's story merely being a vehicle to show off music and
Much of an IF title's experience comes from the
"scenery". You might find yourself spending much of your time in
activities that have nothing to do with the sub-games, such as listening non-player
characters' anecdotes, exploring the world, or chatting with other players, much like
you'd do on a real-life vacation.
Many (but not all) IF titles are multiplayer. You
can team up with other players, just sit around and chat, or stick to yourself.
Sometimes you'll even compete against them.
(Multiplayer) interactive fiction titles tend to be short,
requiring between two to ten hours to complete. When you finish one,
visit the CircumReality web page and
download a link to another. (Or for those who like a challenge, write your own.)
Most IF titles are created by hobbyists, who author
the titles for the fun of it, just like people write blogs. If you enjoy a title, or even
if you find some problems with it, make sure to tell the author what you thought; They
like to hear that players are enjoying their works of art, and are always interested in
improving their creations. Also, if you enjoy playing an IF title, make sure to
tell your friends. Being hobbyists, authors don't have an advertising budget!
IF titles that use CircumReality will tend to be slow-paced
and intellectual due to the way CircumReality uses still scenes and