farbs, who in fact made the first game i posted about on this blog two years ago (has it really been that long?), has been thinking about the possibilities of the internet for people creating games for one another for a while now. his ticky tacky project allows player-coders to create simple games with transparent code (hit F4 to see the code running under the sample game) in a similiar vein to wonderfl. the problem with ticky tacky, he decided, was that the people who are fishing around for a means of making simple games online are not the people with the coding know-how to make sense of it.
playpen, then, is the simplest kind of game-making game farbs could conceive of. it’s a guided story, like an illustrated choose your own adventure, in which the participant alternates between roles of player and creator. see a picture with descriptive hotspots, click on one to move to another scene. eventually you’ll arrive at a scene that hasn’t been drawn yet, and playpen will ask you to draw a simple scene (with big blocky paintbrushes and a handful of colors) and adorn it with a few descriptive links leading on to further scenes. you can keep creating or leave these behind as prompts to the next player to pass through this part of the game world.
click on something; draw a quick doodle. the blockiness of playpen’s illustrations sets a low performance standard (in the same way that the crude art and animation of warioware’s included games invites player-creators not to worry about whether their games look good enough). creation should be quick as easy as moving through the game is. that’s an attitude i’d like to see pass around.