At the Nordic Game Jam this past year, one of the constraints was that the game take only five minutes. We decided to run with that constraint by choosing the genre least likely to make sense in such a time frame – the MMORPG. It was an obvious joke, but still a fun one. Thus was born the 5 Minute MMORPG. The whole game design quickly organized itself around satirizing the MMOG – complete with “simulated lag”!

Much to our surprise, it seems like we weren’t the only people who saw this hilarious design opportunity. XSEED Games appears to have bested our modest effort – by a factor of 10!

I haven’t tried the game yet, but it looks quite promising!

My only skepticism is that it seems like the “half minute” rhetoric might not be entirely accurate.  According to the reviews, the timer freezes at certain points in the mission so you can heal and buy items. Also, you can apparently earn extra time. How disappointing!  I can see how this was probably a sensible game design decision, but I can’t help but wonder if the game really needed to water down the purity of the “half minute” constraint. Oh well, I suppose I should actually try the damn thing first before I judge…

In retrospect, 30 seconds certainly feels more appropriate (and more hilarious) than five long minutes. The vast majority of 5 Minute MMORPG sessions end in under a minute anyway, so we might just have well gone even more extreme. The bigger problem, of course, is that the simulated lag mechanic just wasn’t as interesting as we hoped it would be. The game is certainly cute, but not very addictive. Nils beautiful character design is clearly the main draw.

Still, I remain convinced that the simulated lag mechanic has some real potential. In particular, I think a more experimental, more interesting use of the mechanic would be to foreground the way that time “collapses” when the lag suddenly decreases (or expands when lag increases). Well, maybe some day we’ll take another crack at it… or at least revisit the 5 Minute MMORPG universe!