Back in grade 11 (1996) I started to dream up my version of the future of gaming. I remember it was Grade 11 because I shared a room with my brother and it was definitely in that room that Dave had to put up with my detailing for my plan to dominate not just the gaming world, but the software world too.
Back then we gamed a lot with Quake, over IPX/SPX and a 10BaseT cable. I also gamed a lot with Grand Prix 2. A lot. Anyway, my plan was not so much to supply the games but to supply a framework: a pluggable architecture that game makers would use to plug their games into other games. My framework, which I'll refer to now as "The Portal" would provide an entryway to every other game in the world.
For a small recurring fee players could subscribe to The Portal and in doing so would create an avatar of themselves, perhaps even uploading a close digital representation of their real life (RL) selves. In (role playing game) RPG fashion the avatar would be assigned some base statistics and pool a points to assign to the various statistics to best represent the style of character they want to play (I realise now a better way to do this would be to get the player to answer a series of moral questions and perform a few games and puzzles to work out their play style and mental capacity). Once through the portal the player would be free to wonder through an online world where selecting a game to play is as easy as going to a location on the world.
Want to play a racing sim, travel to a race track and you'll pass through into a Formula 1 game made by a third party. The same for any other style of game; playing quake would involve travelling to maybe a spaceship that takes you to the quake planet. Maps or in Portal terminals would be provided to allow players to find location of the game they wanted to play.
Playing a game would build up attributes that would be used in the game, such as if you focused on playing first person shooters, statistics on your avatar would increase in perception and agility. Those stats would be increased across all games and your ability to succeed at games utilising those stats would be increased. It would also be possible to train your statistics outside of any game, and this would give an increase in the trained skill larger than if you just played a game focussing on said skill.
An obvious example would be if you played a boxing game you would slowly build up strength, agility, and stamina, but it if you spent time in a Portal supplied gym, your strength, agility, and stamina would increase more quickly and in turn you would be better at that boxing game.
Over time your avatar would reflect the type of games you played and in a way, the type of person you are in real life.
Why would other companies develop games to interact with The Portal?
I was hoping the portal idea would be so cool that people would flock to it, and thus, developing your game as a Portal plugin represents a great opportunity to gain access to a massive customer base.
Companies would be paid a small amount for time each The Portal subscriber spends in the game (I see a few holes in that logic now, but it sounded good circa 1996). To get started all a company (or person) would need is a copy of the SDK, which would include the game engine and a set of API's to interact with The Portal systems.