I think that, as someone who wants to be designing games of my own someday, having a goal is important to my development. It would help me focus on certain aspects of game design at a deeper level - like choosing a specialty.
There are people who work on making fun toys or who chase after dynamic storytelling or push toward photorealism or ever more convincing physical simulation.
One thing that's in my head is largely an abstract at the moment, though becoming more concrete the more I work on planning out actual game mechanics and deal with the nitty-gritty stepwise calculations. No design ends up as smooth as the one in my head (of course).
Anyway, on to what I will call The Focus: I'm fascinated by the idea of merging human social/political/emotional interactions into an actual gamespace. I'm thinking The Sims, only instead of pictographs and Simlish you're swapping tagged and valued snippets - facts, arguments, music, smells - that determine . . . something.
I'm not looking to do some kind of 3d social space - I found Second Life to be far, far from compelling; Awe-inspiring, maybe, then horrific, then boring.
But I'm thinking more of actual stories that play out with some kind of beginning and end, only they incorporate real discussions.
If a game right now were to deal with Socialism, it would be at the broadest, most idealized level. A few simple characteristics, the way RPGs set up racial structures, uniform. But in that game about Socialism there would be nothing about social contracts or alienation from labor or the rumor that the foreman has been skimming from the till or strikebreakers jumping you and half-beating you to death.
In my system, each of those list members could function as a token with its own associations.
One might appeal more to intellectuals/upper-class/noble. One might be hopeful/working-class/metaphysical. Those characteristics don't have to reside together - after all, you could have a hopeful/intellectual. Or a noble/working-class. Or maybe something a little negative, a vengeful/prideful.
But of course, how to do this?
If I knew that for sure, I wouldn't be setting it as a goal for myself.
Now this isn't meant to be an everything-engine. But the system could be used in different games as a social system that does more than dialog trees.
Who knows, though? Maybe dialogue trees will end up being the better route.
One of the more specific ideas I have for this system is a game centered around growing a religion in a harsh desert climate. Talking to the locals to find their hopes, fears, dreams, nightmares, desires, lusts and then using your oratory to grow your followers.
Think Black & White, except you're deciding the actual text, not just the tone. "No pomegranates before Febtember." Maybe that would be an easy one to follow. "Don't breathe." Hopefully your followers aren't too fundamentalist.
The system of conversation wouldn't be the commands, but a way to influence people. And I want something that would be nebulous but responsive. You would learn who amongst your people is reliable and who is lazy. Maybe you want to keep the lazy but loyal.
I'm getting far away from myself.
But at least I've got something to pursue.
Tokenized information exchange with nebulous but directable consequences - and memory.