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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My config sys philosophy

I can’t promise regular updates to this blog owing too much to real life. But I am aiming for maybe thrice or twice a week.

I did just recently have a big epiphany when it came to the game called Source Code. It came during initial playtesting of the now defunct version.
Christian, one of my long time friends, set out to create a character that was (in his words) “a stack cleaner”. Stack being a leftover from previous incarnations of this game tied too closely to the works of Richard Morgan.
In the discussion surrounding this particular character I realised that I wasn’t generating a game about violence destroying the self, but about the questions of what is the self if we can digitize it.

Think about it. Even today we can not quantify it or agree to one definition of what the self is. Yet what we can do today, is measure the electric currents in the brain. Now adding what if we can map these and copy them" opens a whole can of worms. You get a Source Code for a human being.
This game does not set out to answer what is the self, but rather make you think about it (and have a good time while doing so). Thanks to this light bulb going nova I had found my “fruitful void”.

So going to Troy Costisick’s Big Three I end up with this.

Source Code is a game about identity. It is a cyberpunk game, and this particular version takes the film noir elements of lust, violence and desperation and mixes it with future shocks like uploadable selves, AI, memes and disassociation.
In a hyper-commercial world ruled by advertising and faceless mega-corporations chasing profit the characters of this game are desperate people chasing holes in their own souls, trying to fill them while the digital noise builds up in their source code.
The players of this game either play these desperate characters, spending the characters memories to change scenes into what outcome they want, give character control over to other players for bonuses in conflicts and then let their characters recharge through the character’s Releases. The Players choose when to use the Transients in their code to win conflicts. The Narrator builds a web of the characters desire and the world, counting the scenes won by the players and keeping track of the story progression.

Bringing this home are going to be rules for memories (which allows a player to replay a conflict and then going from there), relationships (a player ceding control of his character’s past to gain mechanical benefits for both him and the flashbacking player) and releases (that allow a player to recharge spent dice pools, memories and relationships.) Also as the character interacts with the setting and other character’s (through the film noir elements) the source code will take damage in the form of transients (digital noise that build up during reproduction) eventually turning the memories, relationships and releases bad, until the player decides to have them fixed by reprogramming them (literal future psychology).

I’ve posted a little on this on the forge, but I realise now that that post is incomplete.

Now I got to walk the dog.



Matthijs said...

This sounds way cool, and I'm looking forward to reading more when A) you have an example of play, and B) I'm not slightly intoxicated. Memory and identity are subjects I have a personal interest in, and I'd very much like to test this game!

4:14 PM  
Kaare Berg said...

Hoping to get some playtest next week. Got work this weekend so thats out.

2:10 AM  
Minamoto said...

Like we talked about yesterday midday, I'm really curious about this game and would love to test it out on my players when the pdf file is done.

I'm particularly interested in seeing how the players will react to the "that’s not how I remember it" mechanic of the game.

The die rolling seems simple and effective, perfect for those tired of the usual rpgs.

Just an aside, since I'm on break. I had the pleasure of talking with a neurosurgeon a few years back. I asked him if neuroscience had any ideas of where the self or the personality resides in the brain. The neurosurgeon said that neuroscience didn't have a clear answer to that question and that the self or feeling of self was suspected to reside in different areas of the brain, something like a decentralized function.

Strokes in some of these areas sometimes resulted in patients having difficulties distinguishing between themselves and objcts in the environment and this sometimes resulted in a lack of initiative in the patient.

Anyway, I think it's very interesting that you landed on exploring what constitutes the self rather than what happens with the self during violence as you initially did.

It'll be interesting to hear how the testing turns out with your group.

If you let me test it out, send the pdf file to

7:46 AM  
Kaare Berg said...

Hey Thanks Berit. I'll get you the pdf.

10:18 AM  

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