If you’re a fan of RPGs, here’s a game that you’ll find… interesting. It was brought to my attention by Laurent, the Creative Director of Splinter Cell: Conviction.
It’s called Progress Quest, and it dubs itself a “next generation computer role-playing game.” How next-gen is it? Well, how about the most accessible MMORPG ever?
Once you download Progress Quest and boot the game, you’re presented with a simple character generation screen. You get to choose your race, your class, and roll for your stats. And that’s it: you’re good to go. There’s one simple keyboard shortcut to remember: Alt-F4. As you may suspect, it quits the game.
Progress Quest is an RPG pushed to its absurdity. It basically plays in the background, and you can maximize it at any time to watch it play itself. You can see your quest log, your stats, as well as your equipment. When your inventory is full, you’ll see your character return to town, sell all his loot, and even negociate with vendors for equipment upgrades.
The amazing thing about Progress Quest is that despite its total non-interactivity, it’s still a game. I can’t quite explain it, but it has managed to distill the essence of an RPG – the grind, and the hopes for the next level, the next power – to its absolute essence. Typically, in an RPG or in an MMO, you set yourself a goal, then go and get it. This may take skill, or simply a dogged commitment to getting what you want. In Progress Quest, this barrier is reduced to time only – but time remains one of the barriers to overcome. And so you watch it go, watching your stats rise and your equipment get better.
Even better, Progress Quest is an MMORPG. You can create an online game, and play in an “online virtual world”. The Progress Quest website assures us that:
Online play requires internet connectivity, though sophisticated algorithms keep the bandwidth usage to a minimum.
Progress Quest is interesting because it represents an absurd limit of RPGs. It questions the nature of the RPG player’s motivation, and it presents game designers with a fundamental question: is it still a game when you take all interactivity away?
Go ahead and try it; it’s free! And if you see an Enchanted Motorcycle Robot Monk called Triseult on the Pemptus realm, don’t hesitate to say hello. You know, so I know who to run over.