Emotionally gaming your Twitter stream?

I’ve been watch­ing the devel­op­ment of Little­cosm, a new Twit­ter cli­ent with excite­ment as it’s one of a new breed that is apply­ing sen­ti­ment ana­lys­is to derive a res­ult — in this case your dis­pos­i­tion in a game.

Emo­tion plays a huge part in Little­cosm.  Little­cosm ana­lyzes your tweets and fig­ures out if you’re in a good or bad mood.  If your tweets are mostly “bad”, your char­ac­ter will turn out “bad” (you can see some “bad” char­ac­ters in the screens above) — and vice versa.

But wait, there’s more!

Little­cosm isn’t only about dis­pos­i­tion or sen­ti­ment, it’s also about memor­ies:

Every memory you col­lect in Little­cosm has nos­tal­gic value.  I think about how much fun I have talk­ing to my friends about retro games, 80s music, tv shows from bygone eras, hyper­col­or tshirts… and the strange sense of dis­cov­ery I feel when we talk about these things that we have already exper­i­enced.  That is the exact feel­ing I want to get from play­ers of Little­cosm.
“Good” char­ac­ters will be able to find good memor­ies more eas­ily.  “Bad” char­ac­ters will be able to find bad memor­ies more eas­ily.  Time of day also affects the type of memor­ies you can col­lect.  Play­ers who want to get the full col­lec­tion will need to trade with each oth­er.
When?
Looks like the game is on track to launch in Janu­ary, 2011.  But if you can­’t wait, there’s an oppor­tun­ity to get involved with the pro­ject:
Want a seat in the last space­ship leav­ing earth? Donate to Little­cosm on the fun­drais­ing page below and you’ll get game test­er access AND be writ­ten into the earth ship’s mani­fest as Crew, Pilot or Admir­al!

All About Littlecosm

Little­cosm is launch­ing in Janu­ary 2011.
I haven’t giv­en much inform­a­tion about the game mech­an­ics so far, so here goes.
What you need to know before read­ing this: the world of Little­cosm is shaped by your emo­tions.
Also, Little­cosm is played in real-time.  When it’s day in your world, it’s day in Little­cosm.  When it’s night, it’s night.
About the Twit­ter Cli­ent
On every screen is a Twit­ter cli­ent show­ing your latest tweets.  One of my first goals was to cre­ate a Twit­ter cli­ent that I would actu­ally use, so I exper­i­mented with vari­ous inter­faces.  I had the pan­el slid­ing out, I had the tweets in speech bubbles — none of it felt “right”.  In the end, I wanted my tweets on dis­play at all times.  So I could leave Little­cosm in the back­ground and come back to it at any time and see new tweets (it updates seam­lessly without reload­ing the page).  That’s what I’ve built and I think it works rather well 🙂
Here’s a short (sound­less) video of the game run­ning — you can see the Twit­ter cli­ent at the bot­tom of the screen:
A lot of people have been ask­ing me what type of “game” Little­cosm actu­ally is…
About the Game
Emo­tion plays a huge part in Little­cosm.  Little­cosm ana­lyzes your tweets and fig­ures out if you’re in a good or bad mood.  If your tweets are mostly “bad”, your char­ac­ter will turn out “bad” (you can see some “bad” char­ac­ters in the screens above) — and vice versa.
The first, most obvi­ous game mech­an­ic was to make a game where good play­ers could fight bad play­ers.  This would have an undoubtedly vir­al effect (@player_x just killed you! fight back?) but I just was­n’t com­fort­able with the concept.  I did­n’t want to make a fight­ing game.
So I went back to the draw­ing board.  The goal was to make a game that res­on­ates with people like me — people who actu­ally don’t play a lot of social games, because they are spammy or because they are based on themes that we don’t par­tic­u­larly get excited about (grow­ing plants on a vir­tu­al farm, for example).
My con­clu­sions can be summed up in this great scene from Sea­son 1 of Mad Men.
Along with being a game powered by emo­tions, I wanted Little­cosm to be emotive.  I turned to nos­tal­gia.  This is the intro story to the game:

A ship car­ry­ing a great treas­ure has crashed on a plan­et far away. The treas­ure: every object, thought and memory that man­kind ever cre­ated dur­ing its short his­tory. The little inhab­it­ants of the plan­et curi­ously col­lect things from the crashed ship and try to learn as much as they can about this place called “earth” and what has happened to it.

Little­cosm is a game about col­lect­ing memor­ies.
Below is the map screen.  You can see the crashed ship half on land and half in the sea.
Every memory you col­lect in Little­cosm has nos­tal­gic value.  I think about how much fun I have talk­ing to my friends about retro games, 80s music, tv shows from bygone eras, hyper­col­or tshirts… and the strange sense of dis­cov­ery I feel when we talk about these things that we have already exper­i­enced.  That is the exact feel­ing I want to get from play­ers of Little­cosm.
“Good” char­ac­ters will be able to find good memor­ies more eas­ily.  “Bad” char­ac­ters will be able to find bad memor­ies more eas­ily.  Time of day also affects the type of memor­ies you can col­lect.  Play­ers who want to get the full col­lec­tion will need to trade with each oth­er.

Of course, there’s a video of the game in action — a silent movie — seems appro­pri­ate.

Published by Brad Grier

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