When I first read the announcement that Linden Lab had acquired adventure game studio LittleTextPeople yesterday, which will help the company "roll out entirely new types of social experiences and products" (as Emily Short, Chief Textual Officer of LittleTextPeople put it in the company's press release), these were among my first thoughts:
- This acquisition is probably the source of the rumors last year that Linden Lab is developing adventure games, which Linden CEO Rod Humble denied at the time. But yesterday's announcement strongly suggests something like adventure games are being made by Linden Lab (broadly defined as interactive fiction.)
- LittleTextPeople is co-founded by artificial intelligence researcher Richard Evans, who developed the AI for Electronic Art's The Sims 3 (which Humble helped develop during his time at EA), and before that, led the incredibly innovative AI development for Peter Molyneux's groundbreaking game Black & White. I even mentioned Evan's work on the game when I reviewed it for Salon over 10 years ago, and interviewed Evans himself for an article for Lingua Franca, a now-defunct pop culture-and-academia magazine. If I remember right, Evans explained to me how he programmed the villagers in the game to follow Consequentialist and deontological ethics. (Like I said, dude's an innovator.)
What this means in terms of actual products to come from the marriage of Linden and LittleText is still unclear (and insiders were mum when I asked them last year), but given the background of Evans and Short (who created the game Galatea, also considered groundbreaking), I think we are bound to see some very innovative products soon.