KWAAN is a different kind of MMOrpg. Although it retains some traditional features of the genre (experience points, skills, servers, quests), it is before all an ecosystem, in which the players will have to work together in order to maintain peace, harmony and life. KWAAN is pacifist, spiritual and non-gendered - although it softly challenges our institutionalized binary systems. KWAAN replaces combat, consummation and destruction with meditation, sharing and creation. The game features a complete non-scripted pollution system that players can use or get rid of, depending on their priorities. KWAAN also proposes a range of automated, ritualized daily tasks, a lot of free-spaces to draw, organize and communicate, and a de-linearized narrative based on contexts. The whole game is an experience, to be shared either as a life simulator - or as a personal storyquest. We are trying to adress the problem of designing a sustainable model for online adventures games, games that are as much emergent as they are "written". We are not sure we made it that far, but the path is magic in itself :)
Kwaan is made by Daryl Kamen and Maxime Plantady. The team is completed by Eric Léveillée and Mathieu Giguère. Two freelance artists are working with us remotely, Gary Lucken from England as art direction, and David Kanaga from Oakland as composer. The development is very informal, and we base a lot of our planning on the feedback from the community. We are not obsessed with process : we like to do what we do in a permanent state of happiness, and be surprised.
Kwaan started as an experiment, commissioned by a french cognitive science laboratory in Aix en Provence. The scientists approached us to develop a universe to test the theory of engagement, a key idea in learning. After the first successful tests, we were able to secure some more fundings to expand Kwaan into a full blown games, aimed at every kind of players, but wanting to be able to give back games to children - a target audience we feel was being let down and stuck in a never ending farandole of crappy free to play ipad apps. We wanted to cross breed Viva Pinata, Little Computer People and Paint. Our goal with Kwaan was first to create a living world, where algorithms are replaced by human chaos : every player is part of a collective, procedural AI, building fragment of the world to create an original experience on each server. The more we developed the game, the more we realized what really interested us was the relationship between players and the game - an aesthetics of relationships. We wanted to be able to provide a deep experience of what it is to be part of something, and care about something tiny and virtual. Because our expertise lies in MMO rpgs, we wanted to experiment with new mechanics to get rid of the old grinding paradigm, and offers new tools - although we retained a simple quest system : from the beginning, the game was supposed to be non-violent and fully cooperative, and we designed Kwaan to reflect that - creativity and what we call "non-gameplay". Meditation, contemplation and meaningful interactions, creativity and simple, daily tasks, allowing a systemic awakening, a paidia. We are no longer thinking in terms of "gaming" anymore : more about how to implement dreams into reality.