Spooks

The BBC has started up a new AI-like game! Quite a surprise, I’ll have to admit. It’s called ‘Spooks’ and you can find the entry page here.

Positive points: It’s done by the BBC, who have a good track record of Internet stuff. They openly acknowledge a debt to Microsoft’s AI game. It’s tied to a TV programme, which as I’ve always thought, could result in much neat-o happenings (you should expect an article about that very thing in the near future).

Negative points: It looks quite cheesy. They say it takes place in ‘real time’ which could also mean ‘we are going to put artificial blocks in front of your progress.’ They expect 200,000 players – now, they might get that many but to be frank I’ve always thought it was better to underplay things rather than overplay them.

More negative points: You have to sign up to do certain stuff. I hate having to sign up to things. As yet, I haven’t found any other sites apart from the thameshouse.net. This is, to put it lightly, really poor since it means that the entire game will take place within one website and with one site design. Reeks of laziness. Makes it too easy for players – I mean, it even tells you when certain pages have been updated? They might as well just give you the answers straight off!

Okay, so this post is turning out to be longer and more negative than I expected. Even so, the burden of proof rests squarely on the BBC to show that they can make a game as compelling as the AI one. I think their main problem is a typical English one: they’re being too meek and conservative. Don’t get me wrong, I live in England and it’s a great place, but when the designer of the game says:

“There will be about three tasks a week and we will send out a resume for anyone who can’t keep up or who has gone wrong. We didn’t want to make it too hard or take over people’s lives.”

that makes me wonder what the hell the point of it is. Big Brother was a big phenomenon because it took over people’s lives! People want their lives to be taken over, as long as it’s for something fun. I’ll be frank here – massively multiplayer online entertainment of the AI ilk will never attract the soap watchers, or even the majority of the Big Brother watchers, at least not any time soon. It will attract the experienced Internet users of the UK, and these guys can recognise good content and have time to burn. MMOE cannot do things by half measures. I think that the BBC has a great opportunity to prove itself here as being on the forefront of online entertainment, and by the looks of things they’ve drawn a wrong set of conclusions from the (massively successful) AI game. More on this later.

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