SYMMETRY. 180 degree rotation.
INSPIRATION. Logo for an online board game I designed for software publisher MetaCreations.
STORY. About two and a half years ago computer graphics innovator Kai Krause of HSC Software (which has since changed its name to MetaTools, then merged with Fractal Design and Specular to become MetaCreations) told me he was interested in designing online board games. He wanted something thoughtful, beautiful, and slow enough paced that he could play in one window while chatting in another. Kai is an avid Go player, so he started by designing a beautiful Go board.
Around the same time programmer Ian Gilman, with whom I worked on an earlier computer game called Heaven & Earth, joined MetaCreations to work on games with Kai. I love Kai’s design sensibilities and relished the chance to work with Ian again, so I invented a game called Squares for them to implement.
The result is a game called MetaSquares, which has been running on America Online for over a year, attracting some 80,000 players. It is common for over a hundred players to be logged in at any one moment. The game features a chat window that lets you talk with your opponent. MetaSquares has developed a devoted community of players, including several who have developed whole web pages devoted to the game. You can read more about the game on the official web site www.metacreations.com/products/squares/.
On August 14 this year America Online abruptly decided to drop MetaSquares from their service. The decision came suddenly but was not a complete surprise: with their recent change to flat-rate pricing and the launch of their premium games area WorldPlay, their motivation for maintaining other free games has lessened. At the moment MetaCreations is considering what it will do with the game. I’m hoping the game will find a new home.
Tonight, Thursday, August 28 will be the last “Creators Night” on America Online, where MetaSquares players can play against and chat with the folks that created the game. I created this inversion for the event, so I’d have something to bring to the party.