Hanford Lemoore's experimental game sounded bad at first. He was showing it today in San Francisco at Game Developers Conference and got as far as saying that it is a first-person game in which the only thing you can do is pick things up and put them down. A few minutes later, after he was done showing the game, I was in awe.
Lemoore's game is called Maquette. It's an experiment, just a sliver of an idea that happens to be a very good idea.
The game is set in a dark walled city that's painted in simple, dark colours. The city's buildings are simple, the centre one little more than a circular wall with doorways and a roof. Inside of it is a miniature model of the city. Near the building is a blocked passageway. A huge red cube blocks it. It's too big to pick up. But, inside that central building, in that miniature model of the city, that red cube is, proportionately, tiny. Outside, it's the size of an elephant. In the miniature model, it's a mouse. So, inside, you can pick it up and move it. Outside, that huge red block is now standing in the location you dropped it in the model. (Added twist: You can bring the small city-model version of the red cube outside into the world. It stays small. Drop it in that real world, then go back and look at the city model and there's a tiny version of the cube in the model.)
That's the red block. There's also a key.
In the game's world, you can pick up a key, but the door through which you'd like to go is on the other side of a chasm. Another problem. The solution: bring that key into the central building and look for the miniature version of the chasm in the city model. Drop the key there. Outside the building, over at the "real" chasm, there is now a huge version of that key sitting across the chasm, right where you dropped it on the city model.
That is all of Maquette. You pick something up and you drop it. Brilliant.
No word on when the game is coming out. Keep up with it at maquettegame.com.