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.