A Thought Experiment

Age of Empires 2

An immersive multiplayer ‘earthworld’ © simulation has been running for 200,000 years of in-game time.

Over that entire span there have been a consistent 100 players taking part, each with no previous experience of this unique simulation.

They have only been permitted to communicate with their fellow players ‘inside the game’, either by ‘meeting’ in the same ‘in-game space’, or by developing other means of communicating at a distance, via crafting and combining of the in-game resources.

As a starting condition the 100 players were positioned an equidistance apart. So in the early game they had a minimal chance of coming across each other and even if they did, it would be difficult to differentiate them from the myriad ‘non-player characters’ that populate the game.

A major theme of the early game, for each player, was to develop some way to communicate with the ‘close by’ NPCs. As working together as groups was a necessary requisite, initially for survival and then for building and exploration.

Language had to be developed by trial and error, using either or both of the players available ‘data input streams’ (sound / vision)

Communication was limited to how far the player could hear or how far the player could see, so was very limited in range. NPCs were trained by repetition and mimicking initially, so communication and directives could be cascaded down, NPC to NPC, but with quite a loss of fidelity in each transmission.

After ‘200,000 years’ of simulated time, they are in the end-game; The players have all identified each other and are able to communicate instantly and freely; Such are the spoils of their crafting and ingenuity in re-combining the basic resources of the game.

Now, a new set of 100 players are getting ready to take on this simulation. They, like their predecessors, have no prior experience in this setting.

When the original 100 leave, and their influence blinks out in an instant, the simulation will continue to churn, as effect follows on from cause. But before the next 100 can take their seats, 5000 simulated years will have ticked by.

The natural background processes of growth, decay, life and death, will lay low much of the accomplishment built up by the first players.

The question is: What can the original players do in their final 2,000 years of game time to ensure all their previous hard work and accomplishment is not entirely lost?

Bearing in mind, the newcomers will be starting from scratch and will initially need to develop a language, so any ‘communication’ attempted will need to be universal and supercede local language.

The NPCs are able to hold a small amount of simple information and pass it on imperfectly, but after 5,000 years of ‘Chinese whispers’, anything communicated may end up being unrecognisable from the original message.

Any ‘communication’ between the old players and the new players will need to be left in the simulation and be able to withstand the ravages of the simulated time process.

What form could it take? Could it somehow be staggered, providing information and clues, as and when they were needed?

Is a universal ‘language’ even possible?



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Head in the clouds, but really quite practical. Fine art trained, but frequently seduced by the promise of science. https://instagram.com/goat777etc