OK, so Pleo, Ugobe's robotic baby dinosaur, isn't exactly a game, but Leigh Alexander did take him for a week-long spin, and has interviewed Ugobe's chief technology officer, John Sosoke, on Pleo's design, NPCs, and its future as ... a little game platform? The NPC connection is more immediately apparent:
He likens developing Pleo to "building this really cool NPC that exists in the real world." Non-player character AI is getting more and more sophisticated with time, he notes, and part of the appeal for players is discovering just how deep that sophistication runs, and figuring out the rules - and the absence thereof - of interaction with those NPCs through experimentation. Like Pleo, says Sosoka, they do things you expect, and then you gradually come to understand what special, unexpected things they can do, too.
Leigh's experiences with the little dinosaur and this followup make for good reading. I think Pleo is adorable (and would love to see the look on my dog's face when the thing woke up), and it is interesting to think of the game-like components of a more physical object. Pleo as a platform? I'm not so sure about that, but Ugobe has clearly left a lot of room for creativity and user-driven creation.
Ugobe's Sosoka On Pleo's Game Design Philosophy [GameSetWatch]