Slivers of Silver is a series of 8 posts exploring various game concepts. It is based on a recent road trip through Nevada, titled Beyond the Neon, taking place in December 2015. You can read all of those currently published on QM here. This series is dedicated to the author’s road trip companions, poets Jason, Libby, and Justine.
Thirty three. A word association game, where you are scored based on your ability to match words in a “bank” with the imagery on the screen. Various levels of difficulty provide a gateway to learning the vocabulary of the desert. A “battle mode” similar to Typing to the Dead allows you to kill various desert creatures (fictional or actual) by typing their identifier labels as they appear on the screen.
Thirty four. A land management game. The bureau of land management has provided you with roughly 2,000 acres to develop into a public space. It is your goal to be creative but practical in the creation of this space, designing it not only for the needs of the present but those of the future. Unlike simulators like Roller Coaster Tycoon, this “game” is all about the written components that go into bureaucratic government processes. The game uses a realistic AI to compare your proposal with other proposals from the real world, and you are scored based on how your work compares to successful documents of the past.
Thirty five. How fast can your vehicle accelerate? “Gas Pedal” is a game that challenges you to drive as fast as possible on a completely abandoned state highway. Though the highway is straight, numerous environmental concerns, such as ice, will potentially detract from your speed. The game offers customization to player vehicles and various settings/factors for weather/climate.
Thirty six. Your friends always told you the best way to take illicit substances was alone, in the desert. In a spontaneous act, you decided to drive to the desert with your substance of choice (player chosen, including LSD, mushrooms, heroin, etc.). Starting supplies are determined at random, as well as character’s emotional/social history. These pre-determined factors will influence how the game is actually played, but regardless of the above, and which substance is used, the goal is to last eight hours without causing significant (fatal) bodily harm to the self.
Thirty seven. You awake with amnesia with a note saying you have amnesia. In this open world, your character actually prefers to not know her/his past, and decides to live the new life in a state of freshness. The goal of this game is to build one’s life from scratch. All dialogue options and “missions” will encourage the player to learn about their history, but it is your job to not follow those paths. Fictionalization and re-identification of the self will award the most points in this revolutionary narrative.
Thirty eight. The afterlife. Spirits roam throughout the world and all spirits are malevolent. This game, which has no “end” is one of survival. Though you are a spirit, you can still be destroyed again, and beyond the afterlife there is only the abyss. It is your goal to stay alive as long as possible. Unfortunately the afterlife is full of strange magics and powers that did not exist in the tangible world, and thus you truly are in a far more dangerous second existence. Choose to be a pacifist or a warrior, but tread lightly in your new ethereal shoes.
Thirty nine. In “A Stone for a Friend” it is your goal to find the perfect stone for your friend, who is a rock collector. You have millions of procedurally-generated stones at your disposal. Which one will you choose? The game features nearly 1,000 “friend” options (chosen at random at the beginning of the game) that can help you determine the specific stone your friend would enjoy the most. This game features real-time human judges who are paid to rate the stones they receive. Those with the highest ratings will have their stones entered into a “hall of fame” (digital museum) for everyone to see.
Forty. This “game journal” is a tool for you to use to reflect on your life. A simulated open-world desert, the game does not feature communication with other non-player characters or other players, but simply allows you to drive or walk and explore the region while you have the chance to think about what you’ve seen in your life so far and what you want to see. An annotation system allows you to leave notes in the game world at any space, or to keep notes in your persistent digital journal, if you want to be able to see the notes later on. The game has no end and can be explored indefinitely; however, after certain time markers, the game will remind the player that the player should probably get back to their tangible life to act on some of their reflections.
Greg Bem is a contributing writer and the current Gaming Editor of QM. He is a librarian, technologist, gamer, and adventurer.