Restless

AnnaScreenshot.png

So I released a new game! Here’s its blurb:

You’ve been haunting old Mrs Fagles for decades. Now she’s sold the house, and the new owner’s moved in. Sylvie’s broke, bad at plumbing, and anxious about everything.  And with a living, breathing, fretting roommate, how are you supposed to rest in peace?

Drink blood. Set fires. Tell lies. Give advice, loan out a wedding dress, reclaim your true name.  Remix your dialogue options to reflect your mood or dig deeper into the topics that interest you.

I mentioned this briefly in yesterday’s link round up, but I wanted to give a little more background on it than a link round up typically allows for.

Restless is a game written for ECTOCOMP, a venerable Halloween-themed IF competition. There are six endings, if you’re counting — though some of those endings mean different things depending on how you get to them.

It’s a purely conversation game. As in a lot of choice-based games, you have up to three options, and you can pick one. But in contrast to the typical dialogue situation, you can do something about it if you don’t like your current menu. Click a mood, and your options will shift to reflect that new attitude. Turn on moods individually or in combinations. Discover conversation topics and you can set your dialogue to explore those too.

I’ve been working for a long time — about twenty years now? — towards an engine that would have the exploratory freedom of old-school parser ASK/TELL; the discoverability of hypertext; and a systemic underlying model of knowledge and behavior that would make NPCs juicier, more believable, more compelling. Something that would max out the expressiveness of player choice. Something that would support gameplay ranging from the puzzly to dramatic, something where players could have flashes of inspiration or fits of drama or pursue a genuinely personal roleplaying style.

That’s the big dream. This game is a little game, though. Restless uses a limited slice of Character Engine’s abilities. It’s a game jam entry, and the content is the work of days rather than weeks or months: it started out just as a little demo to roll into our SDK distribution to show new users some of what they could do with one particular set of engine parameters. (It’s a little tricky to say how big the script is. There are 16-17K words in the script, but those combine into over two hundred million potential wording combinations, depending on randomization and recombination choices.)

I got pretty into the story as I wrote it, and I thought others might enjoy it too, so it turned into an actual game, and we got Flo and Dustin at Tea-Powered Games to make art and a front end for it. It would not be the same game without their work — or the wallpaper. I hope others will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed building it.

If you’re an IF author and you’d like to get access to our beta program so you can play with the tools yourself, email me. (emily@spiritai.com is my work email.)

2 thoughts on “Restless

  1. Note for Windows users: a few Windows folks with particular OS installs have let us know the game doesn’t properly start up for them. zarf has worked out the issue, which he describes thus:

    “On Windows, you need to install the 2017 VS C++ redistributable, from this page: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2977003/the-latest-supported-visual-c-downloads

    Sorry about that. In the future we’ll make sure that’s bundled.

    (If you play a lot of Steam games, you almost certainly have this installed already. But obviously that isn’t everybody.)”

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