My email inbox explodes from the deluge of inquistive email sent by my legions of rabid fans wondering just what am I doing with my time instead of blogging. Sure, I could go into copious detail about the adventures of contract programming, but there’s more to life than being paid to code. There’s also recreational programming!

I have been interested in designing computer games for many, many years. It is one of the things that compelled to learn programming in the first place (What? Automating business workflow isn’t my driving motivation for coding?). My gaming interests lie in the more traditional turned-based variety than video games. I find that the former are much easier to model in real-life (with cards and a chess board, for instance) than 3D shoot’em ups. Also, I have no discernible talent as a graphic artist. So, turned-based games are it for me.

I have mentioned in this blog before about the many wonderfully bizarre games of Seth Able (some of the content I generated for Funeral Quest has been graciously incorporated into the latest release). Another important influence on the kinds of games I’m interested in is the “gaming lunches” I used to participated in during my time at O’Reilly. This is another way of saying Jason MacIntosh has deformed my brain in a pleasant way about what makes a fun game. Thank you, Jmac.

All this leads up to my announcement of my first game, called State Secrets. It aims to be a turn-based, multiplayer web game in which players become either FBI Agents or Men in Black pursuing the Truth of an untold number of conspiracy theories. Players must find and haggle with information Sources that hold Secrets and Rumors which must be collected to win. Players may also fight each other. Other surprises as I think of them await.

The game is in less-than alpha condition right now. I’m following the opensource credo of “release early and often.” The game consists of a standalone single-threaded perl web server, XML configuration files and images lifted from Google’s image database. You can log in and create an account. You can then move around and look at the different locations. You can see the Sources (and read the hilarious descriptions of them!). The instructions provide a glimse of where I want to go with the game. Drop me a line or comment on this journal with your thoughts on this project.

Or just leave me twisting in the wind, you cruel, heartless jerks.

Update: I just updated the game with “about” and “rules” docs. Additionally the server now logs out idle users. The server reload caused a new batch of Sources to get generated. I also started a Yahoo group for this game.

[Original post and comments.]