New China

New China
You Play My Language?

Patrick Dugan | 13 Jun 2006 12:04
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A soon-to-be-released MMOG, Tabula Rasa, strives to remedy that, using a full pictographic language to both inscribe lore, and to help users of all languages organize their efforts. Basic shapes and stickmen-representations constitute a large number of glyphs that have fairly self-evident meaning, even when taken together to form phrases.

The system was designed by Richard Garriott, the man most famous for the Ultima games. He seeks to pose moral and social challenges to players from different cultural backgrounds. The game's content and foundation is a logographic interface, enabling the usual spatial navigation, combat and leveling that we've come to love in MMOGs, leaving the pictographic language to serve only as a means of communication. It seems like an interesting invention, though only time will tell if Tabula Rasa plumbs any new social depths.

Alphabetical - a collection of symbols representing sounds that come together to form words. English is an alphabetical language, as are most of the world's surviving natural languages. Alphabetical language design is the hardest to pull off in a game, since most players carry their personal linguistic baggage (e.g., pronunciation of familiar lettering) into the world. On first inspection, alphabets are best left to composing embedded text, instead of being sewn into an interface.

Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern took a second look at alphabets in <a href="http://www.interactivestory.net/" target="_blank" title="Fa

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