A Map of the Floating City (Game Designer)
Floating City was a browser-based trading and set collection game created with Thomas Dolby to promote his first studio album in twenty years. Players traded with one another to complete sets of items mentioned in Thomas Dolby songs. They could also participate in collaborative storytelling; fans could tell their own stories of life as the captain of their own ship, and even patent "inventions," by submitting sketches or plans for devices assembled from available materials.
Moths, Dolls, and Player-Driven Narrative
Throughout the game, the team worked to adapt the story and platform to the wishes of the audience, sometimes quite aggressively. Many of the game's most beloved moments came from players, not from the development team. For example, one item available in the game was a doll. One player took on the personality Haunted Dolls, becoming the creepy embodiment of all of the dolls in the game — and the rest of the community took it in stride, so the fact that the dolls were all haunted and linked together became an accepted fact of the world.
Another common item in the game was a moth. Players joked that the moths were popping up so frequently that they must be multiplying. The team decided to take the joke a little further, and implemented code to make the moths reproduce. If a player had two or more moths in inventory, they'd get another one every 16 hours. It took the players several days to notice, but once they did, it launched a story arc including the moths devouring other inventory items, a quarantine, and ultimately a moth plague that made the species highly endangered — but none of it would have ever happened without listening to the audience.