I also went back and reread the first few dev logs of this project, mostly to look at the notes and add any big-picture stuff to the to-do list that slipped my mind. Well, going back and rereading it revitalized me a little bit. I forgot lots of things! This will certainly end up being far more complex than just the little basic things I've been working on so far, and that gets me excited to work deeper on it. Getting little things like plurals to work properly is a mind-bending enough task on its own, but to get particularly big mechanics in like the multiplayer functionality and puzzles and stuff will be a deep challenge (and hopefully a fun one).
On Easter I did a bit of yard work, and it seems like my mind thinks about this project a lot when I'm raking. Thinking over the old notes and what the scope (and for that matter, theme) of the game should be, I've come up with what I think is a great direction to go. When you think about this as being an allegory of growing up, you wonder, apart from the other players you meet in school (common zones), what about adults? Why are there no adults at all? Well, what if the player is a latchkey kid? A latchkey kid is a child who comes home from school to an empty house because both parents work. So what if that's basically the commonality between all players? Each player is a latchkey kid, and the puzzles of the game revolve around self-reliance and learning to occupy your time or figuring out the world on your own, because your parents aren't there to help. Each player's situation is different, but there are enough commonalities that players can still give general "life tips", as it were--tips on playing the game. Clues can come in the form of notes or answering machine messages from parents as to what to do to solve puzzles.
I think this is a really interesting way to go about things. Hopefully I can subtly add this layer of story and symbolism into the game without getting to pushy about it. In the meantime, of course, just getting basic mechanics to work is the first step.