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Things We Lost in the Flood: A Massively Multiplayer Loneliness Simulator (nwn.blogs.com)
202 points by Kroeler 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 46 comments

Thought I'd drop in since a shit load of traffic is coming from you guys.

Dev here - thanks for playing!

The game obviously has its issues, but hey - its a dumb, free, experimental and ultimately temporary experience.

Thanks for checking it out!

Just played it for about 30 minutes. Reading the messages is mildly fun. They range from amateur attempts to contribute to the game story (on june 12th, there were 5 of us...) to corny aphorisms ("i didn't I hurt her"), to hilarious attempts to derail game understanding ("physics affects THE DRONES") ("don't trust your boat").

It may be intentional, but the actual game itself felt buggy and it was difficult for me to interact with it. The screen would invert sometimes (I guess to swap between night/day), if I was off-boat during a screen change, buggy shit could happen, it's a bit awkward to paddle your boat.

I really like things that let you cast anonymous messages into the dark, so that's fun. But the game itself bored me within the first arbitrary loss of my boat. No idea why that happened, didn't feel like slowly paddling across screens again to reupgrade for another 30 minutes, only to "die" without knowing why.

>Reading the messages is mildly fun. They range from amateur attempts to contribute to the game story (on june 12th, there were 5 of us...) to corny aphorisms ("i didn't I hurt her"), to hilarious attempts to derail game understanding ("physics affects THE DRONES") ("don't trust your boat").

Reminds me of messages in Dark Souls - part helpful tips, part trolling, part "try tongue but hole" style stuff.

Illusory wall ahead

Looks like the game terminates itself (for good?) after certain number of players reach the "bad" ending.

Reminds a little bit William Gibson's Agrippa:


I came to comment on the same thing, only that it reminded me of an old browser-based game called Archmage [1] which would allow players, with enough resources, to research and cast Armageddon to end the world and cause a full reset of the game.

[1] https://www.the-reincarnation.com/ I'm amazed this is still around: I used to play this in the late 90s.

There was also an Armageddon spell in Ultima7 which killed off the majority of NPCs, leaving only a handful alive. The dialogue with the survivors was pretty cool.

A great post-apocalyptic MUD that I can't remember the name of at the moment sort of started like this. Every year or so the admins would reset the game, and when people logged in, it would be pre-apocalyptic... and one lucky player would have to cause the apocalypse to set the game in motion again.

This makes me want to reinstall it just to see this again. It's been too long since I've played it at any rate!

I see you have been talking to the wisp!

Oooh good catch

“Massively multiplayer loneliness simulator”... isn’t that just Seattle?

This comment was the subject of a dinner conversation. Thanks for the laughs.

I fear Seattle may be real. Pace Bostrom.

is Seattle lonely?

Or hacker news...

This is not a simulation.


"...You know, I know that this steak doesn't exist...After nine years, do you know what I've realized? ...Ignorance is bliss."

I recently watched the film again, and it's fascinating how much times have changed since it came out.

When it was first released, I remember having long conversations about the 'freakish' idea of living in a virtual reality, escaping it just like the Matrix, etc. I personally sort of got Cypher's perspective on things, but it was a minority view among my friends.

But upon rewatching it, and talking to others about it, much of that fear/repulsion is just not there anymore. The idea of a 'fake' reality that stands in stark contrast to a 'real' reality just isn't that novel anymore. To have a similar long conversation, I have to pull out the 'matrix within the matrix' card (which as far as I can tell is almost 'canon' at this point?).

The idea that the 'real world' is just another matrix, but for the rebellious, to take the pressure off the whole system while still ultimately being fake, is not only more fitting to the franchise as a whole (trilogy, animation, etc.), but also a better fit for our contemporary culture.

Manufactured outrage, reddit bots that intentionally misrepresent themselves as that which they oppose: "as a black woman", "as a white male Bernie voter", "as a Hillary fan" all coming from the same account with the inevitable "I came around to <x>" conclusion.

The idea that perhaps most of what appears to be genuine conversation around us is really just various intentional forms of manipulation, whether for political, monetary or other ends, seems to have permeated 'common' culture around me, and it's both fascinating and depressing.

I often wish the second and third films weren't such wank-fests because the themes they explore are very contemporary, much more so than when they first came out.

Good analysis. I suppose Enlightenment philosophers were going through a similar experience when they reflected about the traps of the devil, and how could you be certain about anything at all.*

This was shortly after the invention of the printing press, but before society learned to adapt to the flood of thoughts (most of them, ramblings) from any lunatic, now easily reproduced en masse. They invented newspapers and the scientific method, so maybe it was worth it.

* (Their answer was to begin from first principles, and double-check everything with reality, a novel way of thinking that brought the scientific revolution; before that, arguments from authority carried a lot more weight).

Maybe we're just facing a similar dynamic from the arrival of the 'net, which brought us instant mind-to-mind connection. I'm betting on the blockchain being used for radical accountability. Even if we won't be sure of what information is true and what is a deepfake, at least we'll be able to consistently assess what bits of information are coming from the same source and thus are built to support the same worldview (and also that it isn't being changed behind our backs, 1984-style).

If anything I'd say it's the post-enlightenment (postmodern) philosophy chickens coming to roost, so to speak, more than anything.

The idea of 'double-checking everything with reality' being novel, useful, but ultimately just another convenient fiction because perhaps there is no reality, or perhaps knowing it is impossible, that idea seems to finally have become part of the 'common' vernacular.

hacker news simulates intelligent conversation among educated technologists, but it's all fake ;-P

statistically speaking, we're almost guaranteed to be a simulation though

in case we've got a lucky 10k person around:

this guarantee comes from the believe that technology will at one time be able to simulate one human to a degree that it thinks to be real and thinks that it experiences reality. This technology would inevitably be used to simulate billions of lives for scientific research. you're thus statistically one of these simulations, as there had been ~10 billion "real" humans to the unlimited amount of simulated ones

(this is just a fun thought experiment. don't treat your fellow humans like simulations please)

> statistically speaking, we're almost guaranteed

> this guarantee comes from the believe

So it's not statistically speaking, it's not a guarantee, it's a belief. I'm ok with that, but please don't try to present it otherwise. I personally don't believe there'll ever be a technology able to simulate a human to the point you describe, which I think is ok to believe too and not less scientifically correct or incorrect.

I literally wrote your rebuttal in my third sentences.

My intro was just a humourous answer to the parent comment

And I'm pretty sure you're actually overestimating the required technological competency we'll need to start these simulations. Most of the actual blockers such as General intelligence, realistic physics and free thinking aren't necessary to create a program that mimics a human to a degree to be useful in a simulation. Even scale isn't necessary, as "real" interactions aren't required and the memories can be "mocked"

Amazed the New World Notes blog is still going, haven't read it in 10 years, and there are many insightful articles for me to catch up on!

That's a devastatingly beautiful idea, I'm profoundly grateful for art amoungst these (soon perhaps to be?) ruins.

Random observation:

It seems like games/platforms/etc. that introduce some novel type of user-generated content become successful. I would bet that some web 2.0 version of the game "telephone" would wind up being super popular.

There was a really great real-world-ish equivalent of this called Chain World. A game of Minecraft on a USB stick that you were to play as normal but promise that, if you died, you'd quit the game forever and give the USB stick onto someone else. They'd then respawn in the now-abandoned world you'd been building.

Unfortunately it didn't work out (too much attention basically). Here's the story: https://www.wired.com/2011/07/mf_chainworld/

Having a unique aspect to a game makes it more interesting for blogs to write about it.

Although human interaction is much more interesting to play as well. I recall a single-player game, except you could make just one decision for the next player you'll never meet — whether to forgive them for a crime or not at the end — and just this single bit made it at least twice as interesting.

EDIT: I found the game you're talking about: https://www.pcgamer.com/a-brief-history-of-moirai-one-of-pcs.... The article has a great description of it and a video.


Argh I remember the game you're talking about. I read an article about it and have been trying to find that article again since the last few weeks and it's been driving me crazy that I can't remember its name.

The game had a 2.5d engine. A character in a village told you to find someone in a cave. You bring a knife with you for defense. In the cave, you find someone else who is bloody with a knife, your character accuses them of killing the person you're looking for, and they say a message in response. You can either kill the person or let them pass, though you get blood on you if you do either. When you go to leave the cave, another character finds you, stops you, threatens you with a knife as you look suspicious, and accuses you of killing the person you were looking for. You're prompted to type a message in response to defend yourself. The game immediately cuts to black and ends after you type your message.

The message that the bloodied character you meet earlier says to you is the message a previous player typed at the end. Your message gets seen by a future player in the same way.

The developer took down the server for the game at some point because people filled the game with inappropriate messages and then used bots to keep doing so.

If anyone remembers the name of the game, please mention it to me because I've been dying to remember it.

I knew I've read about the game as well, and before your edit I spent a couple of minutes to find this article:


It goes into some different details and can be a nice companion article to the one you posted.

Something like that has been done a few times. I think the most popular one was called Broken Picture Telephone.

Games with novel interactions between users are generally the ones with the substantial staying power. The rest are either clones that crest and fall with fad or "movies" that get played once and discarded.

And I thought cooking and office sims were too close to real life to make a game about.

The only relevant questions I see are:

How secure are my messages? Why didn't you implement e2e cryptography? Did you really need a central server (ocean?) for message delivery? Have you considered the possibility of mitm attacks? How many messages do I need to write for a guaranteed delivery to a given recipient in a day, in an hour? /s

The developer mentioned on a Reddit thread that the words the board tells you to write on notes affect other players, not yourself. So far a really cool game, just wish I could save...

I'll always remember Wagner James Au from Old Man Murray.

Somewhat similar concept


I had played that for some days. It was quite fun.

this reminds a bit of the player communication in One Hour One Life, in that it's a more novel approach than simple text/voice chat and integrated directly into the gameplay. If you're interested in indie games with innovative and creative mechanics, that's another one to look into.

I have no affiliation with it, I just think it's cool.

This reminds me of a youtube video and game that were linked to on here about a depressed game designer building a game to cope with his loneliness and despair and talking over it. Can anyone remember that or send a link? It was a 3d doom type thing.

This doesn't quite fit that description, but the only thing that comes to mind is The Beginner's Guide - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beginner's_Guide

This video from adult swim has a bit of a similar theme:


Played for hours, made it to the "next" stage. Seem to be missing a key hint. All the prompts to wax poetic seem pointless. Maybe just send out hints as you figure stuff out instead of getting in touch with your inner emo?

Dark Souls (I've only played DS3 and Demon's Souls) and Bloodborne has a message passing system. You can leave notes on the ground for other players to find in their game. They use a fixed format for the sentence structure and the list of available words, which means they can prevent messages from using forbidden words. See the following article for the message format:


That said, some people get creative trying to bend the system into new uses, for example "amazing chest ahead" in front of an NPC rather than a storage location. Or "try tongue, but hole".

The message system also gave rise to a tradition of calling people "skeleton" when encouraging them on Reddit and elsewhere. In Dark Souls 2, a bunch of skeletons were placed in the world by the designers, and players started attaching creative messages to them:





An interesting feature is that you can rate messages, and if your message is rated (good or bad) you get back full health. There are many threads from players that managed to beat a boss because of this, but you can't abuse it because you can't reliable expect it to happen at the right time.

Not all messages from players can be trusted. There are many "illusory wall ahead" messages in front of places that look like they should have a secret door, but don't. Then you'll spend some time hacking at a regular wall. There are also messages that say "try jumping" in front of cliffs where you die if you jump off. This creates an extra level of connection to the players who left the message, because you have to consider if you trust a random person you never met or not, and if they trick you, you get that human element in a situation that was supposed to just be a regular cliff. Someone spent time setting up that joke for you. Sometimes jumping does work, and you hit a hidden platform and find some loot, so you never know.

Why is there still an irritating loudspeaker in this flooded world?

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