This isn't going to be a post about Sim City, though. I have no dog in that fight. I tried the original game long, long ago and let's just say for entertainment value I'd rate it right up there with getting an insurance quote. And wasn't there going to be an actual MMO based around city-building anyway, now I come to think of it? Cities XL.That went well.
No, this post is about something else entirely. Something about as far away from building cities as you can imagine and further still from the traditional MMO.
Wikipedia entry and on the Tale of Tales website, where you can also download and play it for yourself.
The last couple of times I looked at The Endless Forest I didn't find much to see. I seem to remember having trouble getting it to run at all. That was years ago. This weekend, for no reason other than that I happened to notice it in my Bookmarks, I fired it up again and found something quite different, quite...strange.
The game, for want of a better word, now runs smoothly and looks stunning. Here's some video I took with Fraps and cobbled together with Movie Maker, just to give an impression. Obviously the compressed YouTube version does it no favors but you can see how gorgeous it is from the screenshots.
Everyone's a deer in The Endless Forest. There are full-grown deer and fawns. If you register you start as a fawn and grow into a deer over time. Otherwise you emerge fully-formed, with antlers and a really quite disturbing, humanoid face.
I saw other deer wearing masks, with candles on their antlers, even with exposed bones as though their hides had been torn away. I saw large crows and rabbits which I thought might be players but I wasn't sure. I couldn't ask because you don't speak in The Endless Forest. Not in words. There's no chat function of any kind.
That doesn't mean you can't express yourself, far from it. At the bottom of the screen you have a range of icons representing actions. Emotes, if you like. You can use these to communicate with other deer and if you happen to be in part of the forest where other possibilities exist, magical possibilities perhaps, you will find the necessary abilities selected for you. What will happen when you use them? That you won't know until you try.
A year ago The Endless Forest lost its arts grant funding but it continues under a system of voluntary subscription. Donation might be a better description. How long it will survive, who knows? There were plenty of deer running, sleeping, drinking, praying, playing and just generally being deer while I was there, so I take that as a good sign.
On the other hand, most of them did turn out to have a lot of hooks to hold my attention for months at a time. Whether running through a forest gathering flowers on my antlers and passing them to strangers could do the same, well I doubt it.
So, no logging in for Dailies in The Eternal Forest. Just waking up there on a whim, once in a while, I hope. And if not for eternity then for many years to come.