Friday, July 2, 2010

Zeppelin... Zeppelin... Zeppelin...

It's an echo. Get it?

Well, they can't all be winners.

My friend Rebecca recently introduced me to a wonderful new online phenomenon, Echo Bazaar! For the uninitiated, Echo Bazaar is a twitter-linked, browser-based online game. It's structured like a limited MMO. You go on missions, improve your character's capabilities, acquire items that you need to achieve your goals, and so on. There are things you want - money, admiration, contacts within various organizations - and there are things to avoid - getting wounded, going crazy from nightmares, scandal - and the game is quite typical in many ways. It's limited in that you don't run into other characters while exploring the setting - the interface is too primitive for that. There are certain advantages you can't get without engaging in various social activities with other players.

Two things, however, set Echo Bazaar apart from anything else I've experienced before: style and substance.

Echo Bazaar is more than just another fantasy adventure story, it's a surreal, mysterious, comedy-horror Victoriana explosion. Echo Bazaar is set in the world of Fallen London. It's like this: at some point in the mid 1800s, London is stolen by bats and dragged underground, where it still exists as Fallen London, in close proximity to Hell (which has an embassy to the city) and a mysterious entity/location called the Bazaar, a place where anything and everything is for sale. Mysteries abound: why was London stolen? What were the four cities to precede it and what happened to them? Where are all the foxes, anyway?

The second part is touched on in these three posts on the Failbetter Games blog. Basically, Echo Bazaar is remarkably freeform for a browser game. The writers of this piece of fiction designed it to have many and multiple branching paths and places where you can define your character's personality and backstory. How you define your character - the choices you make - influence which stories you have access to, which continue to define your character, and so on.

Basically, this thing runs itself the same way I run tabletop RPGs, and that's awesome.

I recommend this game with no reservations. It's based on Twitter, and a Twitter account is all you need to play. You're automatically connected to anyone you follow. Friend me at ElectricPaladin and I'll give you a tour.

1 comment:

Becca said...

Since when did I become Rebecca? ^^;

I'm really glad though that you're liking. I'm amused at how many people I've gotten to start playing it >:D