As always, one of the most fascinating things about the Internet is all the little subcommunities that spring up here and there. My latest discovery is Pyroto Mountain, which is a fascinating little web game unlike anything else I’ve seen. The framework is an escalating series of trivia questions, but it’s way more complex than that.
You start at level 0. It’s really easy to work up to level 6, but then when you try to answer another question you find out that you have to chat a little on the bulletin boards before you can try and climb any more. OK, so you go and post. Sometimes the game tells you that your posts are good — and sometimes it doesn’t. It has standards of spelling and punctuation. Eventually you get to go up some more.
At level 8 or so, you get access to a new bulletin board, and the conversation there is a little more interesting — it’s not the newbie board. You still have to post to get the OK to go much further. It turns out that there are 512 levels, and you pretty much have to cooperate to get to the top. People talk about completely mysterious stuff. You get more things to do at high levels. The boards are, in fact, player moderated… sufficiently high level players can kick posts off the boards.
Hey, and they can kick people in the teeth and force them back down a bunch of levels! There are politics. The rate at which you regain manna (it takes manna to do anything) slows. Side effect: you want to be more careful about your posts, because that costs manna too, and if you don’t post smart things you won’t get to keep climbing.
The trivia gets harder as you go, of course. I’m betting that towards the top, the questions will be specifically checked for ease of research. I hear that high level wizards get to make up questions, too.
The not very hidden agenda of the game is creating community. It seems to work pretty well. I’m kind of hooked.