MarMOTS Vision #6 Achieved!

  • user warning: Table './glorioustrainwrecks/sessions' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: SELECT COUNT(sid) AS count FROM sessions WHERE timestamp >= 1614950709 AND uid = 0 in /var/www/glorioustrainwrecks/includes/database.mysql.inc on line 175.
  • user warning: Table './glorioustrainwrecks/sessions' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: SELECT DISTINCT u.uid, u.name, s.timestamp FROM users u INNER JOIN sessions s ON u.uid = s.uid WHERE s.timestamp >= 1614950709 AND s.uid > 0 ORDER BY s.timestamp DESC in /var/www/glorioustrainwrecks/includes/database.mysql.inc on line 175.
SpindleyQ's picture

In May of 2009, over 11 years ago, I laid out a vision for a collaborative game-making tool that I wanted to make. I had fond memories of being a kid and sitting in front of a computer with my friends, throwing ideas around and banging out goofy QBasic games, and I was frustrated that there didn't seem to be anything out there that would let have that kind of experience over the internet. The only improvisational game development tools I could get my hands on were decidedly single-user; every attempt I made to collaborate on a single project failed badly. The closest thing I could get was the Pirate Kart experience - everyone doing their own thing and sharing it with everyone else as they finished, and bundling all the results in a single package.

MarMOTS was my answer: a collaborative game creation tool built out of nostalgic textmode graphics, inspired by ZZT but usable by multiple people at once, where every change was live the instant you made it. I wanted to be able to change games while other people were playing them. I wanted making and playing games with it to be a party.

I worked on it fairly steadily for two years, putting it live as soon as there was something interesting, adding features, fixing bugs, responding to the GT community that was using it. In time it became a capable ANSI art and animation creation tool. Goofy collaborations happened. Folks made some incredible art with it, which was amazing and gratifying and kept me motivated to improve it.

Then I burned out on it, life happened, and nine years went by.

In the back of my head, in those nine years, MarMOTS was always there. It was a great idea that I'd gotten _so close_ to making happen. I'd get back to it someday.

In 2009 I laid out a vision, a TODO list, each item flowing naturally from the last, each step being useful on its own, to prevent me from working and working and working and getting stuck, getting lost in my own head and ambitions, and giving up without having anything to show for it. Hard as I tried, I could never push past vision #4; vision #5 turned out to not be necessary or even a particularly good idea, and vision #6... In 2009, I wrote of vision #6: "This is the biggest leap." I got close, implementing a scripting language complete with structured editor, so that the program was always in a runnable state; but the editor never quite became usable, and I never quite worked out how I would connect that piece with the stuff I'd already built.

Today I put live a version of MarMOTS that pretty much does everything I set out to do with vision #6. I pulled back the scope of what I'd tried to do in 2011 from "a full general purpose programming language" to "maybe a minimal Bitsy-like." You can now take an ANSI drawing and add interactive elements to it (in MarMOTS these are called "bots", inspired by MegaZeux's "robots"); as soon as you do, it becomes a game that other people can play. Virtually every change propagates in real-time; if you change a drawing or a script or add a new bot in the editor, all the players will see it. I tried to make the interface as self-explanatory and discoverable as I could - the editor tells you what your options are at every stage, and it's impossible to create a syntax error.

If you decide to mess around with it and have questions or suggestions for cool things to add please let me know! I'll probably keep adding stuff and fixing bugs as the days go on. You can use MarMOTS from your browser with your Glorious Trainwrecks account credentials!

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Comments

Blueberry Soft's picture

OMG, Congrats! Looking

OMG, Congrats!

Looking forward to playing with this tomorrow.

Blueberry Soft's picture

Slowly been figuring things

Slowly been figuring things out. Every time I log in I feel like I learn something new.

SpindleyQ's picture

It's been really cool to see

It's been really cool to see your progress! Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions - I know there are currently still some sharp edges on the UI that I need to sand down. (A side benefit of making everything multiplayer-first is that if I'm online at the same time as someone, I get to watch how they try to figure out how it all works!)

SpindleyQ's picture

I talked about MarMOTS at my

I talked about MarMOTS at my local gamedev meetup last night; it's up on YouTube if anyone's interested in watching it.