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mnemoscene:start

Summary

Mnemoscene will be an engine for creating digital RPGs or card games with unusual narrative vitality. There are two aspects to this: a way to log player choices and events in a database structured around potential narrative meaning, and way to present key events based on available story-elements rather than a branching tree structure. The first part is about systemic memory, and the second is about decentralizing the player and changing the approach to writing, choice, and input.

How the Final Digital Game Might Play

There's a 2D JRPG, closest perhaps to Final Fantasy 7, where the player makes choices for a cast of characters that have their own storylines. The player feels like they're simply playing out the storylines, but their incidental choices in the 'grind' of the game, in navigation of the map, conversation, and conflict, affect the characters' storylines.

When actions are taken in the course of play, they are logged to a database. The log focuses on meaning for other players/actors. For instance, a PC giving an NPC a potion may be logged as a giving event from the PC to the NPC. Events may be given special weight based on the circumstance: if that was the last potion in the party’s supply or the PC was very low on health also, then the event may have greater weight. There will be many events, most seemingly inconsequential.

At frequent points in the story, at the end of scenes (or battles, etc.), the recent log is reviewed and character relationship networks updated. These would be nets of standard feelings, and are generally hidden from the player. When a connection is updated, the events that updated it are linked. In this way, at the end of a scene, the engine can notice that the PC has given the last health potion to the NPC despite being very low on health; this has never happened before, so the NPC’s feelings toward the PC shift significantly, perhaps creating a feeling where there was none before.

Authors in the system spell out Events and Encounters that can happen: World Events, General Character Events, and special/scripted character Events. Each has conditions that must be met for it to be chosen: a type of scene, location, characters, specific relationships with relevant characters. The engine then picks (randomly?) from relevant Events whose conditions are satisfied. An RPG-standard example is that on the road between the town and the ruin, forest encounters can happen. After a climactic encounter, as another example, since this character is dying, his nemesis is dead, and he loves the PC; the special/scripted “character dying triumphantly in his lovers’ arms” Event can occur.

Implementation

This is a HUGE idea. It STARTS with a JRPG, and includes a form of writing that I'm not practiced with and that's proven difficult for others. So I'm expecting to build toward it through at least three forms/stages:

  1. a card game testing the systemic memory and aspects of player choice (Card Shark)
    1. directly modeling Hamlet! in Card Shark to test the basic system (CS Hamlet)
    2. modeling a new story, where player choice is further removed to abstract tarot-like choices (Tarot Colony)
  2. a basic digital version (the Mnemoscene Engine) around the content of one of those card games, or a new one like Sleep No More or Homestuck
  3. an AI for the Mnemoscene engine, basically so that a player can have inputs into the system, but does not determine it because they're 'playing with the AI'
  4. a digital RPG which chooses scenes like the player does, and which substitutes low-level (grind) actions for the player input. (Emergence)

There's a design log here in the wiki.

mnemoscene/start.txt · Last modified: 2018/05/06 02:17 (external edit)