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  Gods Among Stags  
Posted 2006-03-02 by Tony Walsh
Gods Among Stags
A god and stags in The Endless Forest. Image credit: Tale of Tales.
The strange and mystical Endless Forest is described as both a "social screen screensaver" and "game" by its makers Tale of Tales. The online experience bears slight resemblance to both a social space and game, involving inhabiting a stag (male deer) avatar and interacting with the gorgeous environs populated by other user-controlled stags. There are no rules, there is no structure, and there is no universally-accepted meaning to communication, which consists of various actions including making a "mooing" noise. It's the kind of place that's nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

The Endless Forest has recently been updated to include a new system allowing its two authors to play at being god. "Abiogenesis" facilitates real-time intervention in and alteration of The Endless Forest's virtual world. From the official site: "At any moment they can make it rain, make flowers grow and beasts fly. Either randomly, whenever they please, or in an organised event, during a live performance." As the creators of The Endless Forest, its arguable that Auriea Harvey and Micha�l Samyn were already "gods," of their virtual world, but the deliberate addition of a god mode, extending exclusive powers to the authors within their user-populated environment, is an interesting design choice--it could be considered a conceit, a reward, a means of making the world more mysterious, or another facet of the social element. Who wouldn't want to lord over their own virtual world?
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