Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Game Design Document

Table of Contents

Game Overview
  • Concept
  • Feature Set
  • Genre
  • Target Audience
  • Game Flow Summary
  • Look and Feel
  • Project Scope
Gameplay and Mechanics
  • Gameplay
  • Mechanics
  • Screen Flow
  • Game Options
  • Replaying and Saving
  • Cheats and Easter Eggs
Story, Setting, and Character
  • Story
  • Game world
  • Characters
  • Level One
  • Visual System
  • Control System
  • Audio
  • Music
  • Sound Effects
  • Help System

Game Overview


You wake up somewhere unfamiliar, where neither you nor anyone else can remember their identities. Evidence of your collective connection to each other reveals tragic conflicts, but every two hours your mind fails, and amnesia wipes your memory. Investigate the world to amend your memory and pull the story together. You need collective cooperation to solve the story, but the more the characters learn about each other, the less they can trust one another.

Feature Set

  • An interactive non-linear theatrical puzzle 
Through interacting with the world in two hours, the player will have experienced a whole story in of itself; Then amnesia hits and the player can take on another experience through the world, with a new personality.
  • Complex dialogue engine 
There are six characters whom the player interacts with intensely, each with a unique subset that defines their behavior, and their perceived personality. Players make use of rhetorical dynamics to steer conversation. The dialogue, often involving unsettling facts or subject matter, may alter personality attributes of the characters involved and ultimately affect the game world itself.
  • Persistent single player environment
In each subsequent play-through, the results of the player’s actions remain in the world. Every play-through leads to an end-result, there is no death or permanent failures. Eventually the player will be contending with the characters themselves to achieve goals. If the player is successful in solving puzzles, and managing cooperation between characters, then a larger story can be uncovered as they explore deeper into the game world.


Adventure-Puzzle, Interactive Story

Target Audience

RPG fans; Puzzle and Adventure gamers; people interested in social and/or speculative science-fiction, drama, theater, and cinema. It is especially targeted at the story-content-obsessed audiences. It will be multi-platform to appeal to as many different people as we can get.

Game Flow Summary
The controls are designed to be simple and intuitive. Directional controls for movement, and context menus for wherever applicable. Dialogue is the principle puzzle solving mode. Certain interactions may bring up contextual menus, in situations where more complex actions can be chosen.

Look and Feel

There is of a cold, rocky network of chasms carved out by mining operations; Massive enough to house the unfinished city, suspended in the air on a frame of causeways. It forms the network of a planned metropolis, now abandoned under unclear circumstances. The world lacks consistent electricity. When it is out, the world is grey and bleak, appearing almost as a ruin. When it is on, it’s overwhelmed by artificial light blaring from nearly every city surface, sound is projected into the chasm, indistinguishable from its own reverberations. It is a city that was once bombarded by a cacophony of media, nearly therapeutic in contrast to it’s natural state.

Project Scope


There is one continuous explorable area, demarcated into four distinct locations:
  • The City 
The most comprehensive area, compartmentalized into individual rooms and spaces to interact with. All other areas are focused on particular scenes that contain the bulk of information that will tie the story together.
  • The Mine 
An area that must be unlocked and contains the bulk of information relating to the larger story of the game.
  • The Tundra
A barren landscape, without any progress related purpose; however it does provide expansive views of the game world. Exploration of the tundra is key to finding the easter-egg feature.
  • The Forest
Another locked area which reveals that the events are not taking place on earth. Last character to interact with is located here.


There are no true levels, though some areas remain inaccessible until the player accomplishes certain tasks. There are 7 scenes which constitute the puzzle solving elements of the game. Each scene has it’s respective environment in the game world and the player can interact with them in any order at any time.


There are five non-playable characters at any given time. The NPC’s will be traversing the city space. At any given time they will be pursuing different tasks automated in the AI. The location and task form the context of the dialogue if and when the player chooses to interact with them. The NPC’s may choose to initiate conversation with the player if they have information to share.



Interactive objects

The player has access to a journal, where passages are entered automatically as the player interacts with the game world. This journal is the key source of memory for the player’s avatar, it carries over discoveries made in previous play-throughs. In addition, there will be several objects that can be picked up and moved. The purpose or goals pertaining to these objects will be in the context of the scene where they are found. At particular points in the game the player will have opportunities to alter the environmental controls of the city, affecting the density of light, noise, electricity, as well as other factors which will unlock other areas of the map, and reveal hidden features.

Gameplay and Mechanics


Game Progression

The game’s trajectory is user defined. The world map is relatively large and the player can explore the areas available at will, however tasks must be accomplished to unlock certain areas. Conversing with NPC’s is essential to solving clues, as well as interacting with the memory fragment scenes.

Mission structure

There is not a set progression of how the player will accomplish missions. There are several scenes, which function like quests, where the player’s task is to solve puzzles. The goal is to obtain information, which will in essence be a piece of the back story. As the player obtains more information through puzzles, the story is eventually reconstructed. The player can choose to pursue any scene at any time, except for hidden areas which must be unlocked. When a player is attempting to solve a scene, they will have to move objects around, engage in conversation with NPC’s, and a variety of other triggering events for different situations.

Whenever a player solves a scene, information is automatically recorded in their journal. Player’s can engage NPC’s in conversation about information they have already uncovered. This will affect the information available in other scenes in both positive and negative ways, depending on the characters they talk to, and the context in which they present the information. NPC’s will independently explore scenes as well; often times their self interest will either align or conflict with information that the player is seeking.

Puzzle structure

As the player explores the world they will encounter ‘scenes,’ which are essentially large puzzles. In these areas the player will interact with objects, explore spaces, and most importantly: discuss the scenes with other characters. These discussions many times will occur when one or more NPC’s are accompanying the player through areas. In this way portions of dialogue may be taking place simultaneously with puzzle solving and interacting.

When a scene is solved the player obtains a key piece of information, which will be part of the larger story. This piece of information is recorded in their journal. Other NPC’s will also retain observation’s of their own, all of which affects a number of variables in the subsequent scenes. Despite this complication, there is no way a player can lose, and all negative developments can be undone.

After a player has solved a scene, they are able to relive a fragmented memory. Essentially a dream sequence, fragments of the memory will play out and then pause until the player can find a way to trigger the memory to finish. When they accomplish this task, the memory will continue, this time with the events unfolding in real time. These memories will not detract from the two hours the player has between bouts of amnesia.

Puzzles will be designed to take an average of 1-2 hours to solve, fitting in the two hours of gameplay the player has. After each bout of amnesia, the player’s avatar will have lost any memories not recorded in their journal, and their personality profile will be a little bit different.


The objectives in the game are part of the whole objective, to find out who you are and who everyone else is, and to see if you can stop the amnesia. Objectives through the game will simply be to put together a piece of the story.

Play Flow

Game play begins with a scene between two of the NPCs, who are debating an ethical dilemma. This serves as the training level of the game, where the player learns to converse and can see how the choices they make affect other characters. The engine analyzes the dialog choices the player makes and determines what sort of personality and appearance the avatar will have.

The scene ends and the avatar is shown waking up, revealing it was only a dream. The player can then explore the world seamlessly; encountering other characters and interacting with them to uncover the secrets of their environment and, ultimately, their past. After two hours the avatar will undergo a crippling bout of amnesia that knocks them out.

There the game ends and the player can choose to begin again. When they do, gameplay begins again with another scene between two NPC’s, who the player might now recognize, hinting that the dream might actually be a memory. The player interacts with the NPC’s again, and their dialog decisions will be analyzed and a new personality will be crafted for their avatar. This creates new dialog and interaction options available in exchanges with NPC’s, a truly dynamic rhetoric system. After the dream section the avatar wakes up in the building closest to where they were when the amnesia hit in the last play through, and they begin again, having to re-forge relationships with most NPC’s, at times getting a second chance to uncover the information they were unable to retrieve in the previous play throughs.

After another two hours, amnesia will hit again, and they will continue on in the same cycle until they have rebuilt the story enough to determine if or how they can stop the cycles of amnesia.


Earth physics will be used in this game world, and the characters have the same physical abilities as a typical human.


The player can walk and run, at realistic speeds for a human, to move around the environment. Though they cannot physically hurt other characters or use objects a weapons, they are able to pick up and interact with some objects and doors.


There will be several objects that can be picked up and moved. The purpose or goals pertaining to these objects will be in the context of the scene where they are found. At particular points in the game the player will have opportunities to alter the environmental controls of the city, affecting the density of light, noise, electricity, as well as other factors which will unlock other areas of the map, and reveal hidden features.

The player can move the objects by holding them as they walk, or putting them in the avatar’s pockets, and they can place them down at will.


The player would be able to interact in multiple ways with the environment and the other characters.
  • Switches and buttons
The player can interact with switches and buttons through a generalized “Interact” key, which would display a prompt if the center of the screen is hovering over the interactive object.
  • Picking up, carrying, dropping
The player can pick objects up with a specialized “Pick Up” key, which tries to pick up whatever the screen is looking at. If the avatar is holding an object, the Pick Up key puts it down. The player will have a option to put certain objects in their pocket, in order to carry it and put it in another area. In order to take something out of their pocket, the player must direct the avatar's gaze to its pocket and use the Pick Up key to grab what is in there.
  • Talking
The player can interact with NPC’s by using the “Interact” key. When focused on a character they will be given the option to talk to them. When the Interact key is pressed, they will be given certain lines that they can say to start off the conversation. If the NPC has information to share with the player, they will start off the conversation automatically. The player always has an option to abandon the conversation, which will affect their relationship with that NPC for a time.
  • Reading
The player has the option to read something that they have picked up by using the “Look” key, which will have the avatar hold the object close enough for the player to inspect on screen. Information about objects will be stored in the avatar’s journal, often with notes from the avatar analyzing the object. The current personality of the avatar will determine what sort of analysis the objects receive in the journal. There will be a "Journal" key that will have the avatar pull out their journal, and the player will use "Look" to read it. They will use the "Page Left" and "Page Right" keys to turn the pages.


The only economy is emotional currency; the player must use the interaction options available to gather information from NPC’s.

Screen Flow 


There will be 6 menu screens in all, with differences for consoles and PC versions of the game.
  • Main menu screen - "Start" "Options" 
  • Options screen from the main menu - "Audio" "Video" "Configuration" "Subtitles On | Off" "Back" 
  • Pause/ Options screen from in game - "Quit" "Audio" "Video" "Configuration" "Subtitles On | Off" "Back" 
  • Audio options screen for consoles - "Music Volume [1][][][][][][][][][10]" "Speech Volume [1][][][][][][][][][10]" "Sound Effects Volume [1][][][][][][][][][10]" "Back" 
  • Video options screen for consoles - "Brightness [[1][][][][][][][][][10]" "Back" 
  • Configuration options screen for consoles - "Controller Configuration" "Invert Y-Axis On | Off" "Controller Sensitivity [1][][][][][][][][][10]" “First Person Perspective | Third Person Perspective” "Back" 
  • Controller Configuration screen for consoles - "Interact [ ]" "Run [ ]" "Pick Up [ ]" "Look [ ]" “Page Left [ ]” “Page Right [ ]” "Back" 
  • Audio options screen for computers - "Music Volume[1][][][][][][][][][10]" "Speech Volume [1][][][][][][][][][10]" "Sound Effects Volume [1][][][][][][][][][10]" "Stereo" "Dolby 5.1" "Back" 
  • Video options screen for computers - "Brightness [1][][][][][][][][][10]" "Aspect Ratio 16:9 | 4:3" "Frame Rate 30 fps | 60 fps" "Resolution ------ " "Vertical Synchronization On | Off" "Triple Buffering On | Off" "Antialiasing ----------" "Texture Filtering --------" "Back" 
  • Configuration options screen for computers - "Key Configuration" "Invert Y-Axis On | Off" "Sensitivity [1][][][][][][][][][10]" “First Person Perspective | Third Person Perspective” "Back" 
  • Key configuration screen for computers - "Interact [ ]" "Run [ ]" "Pick Up [ ]" "Look [ ]" “Pause/Options [ ]" "Directional controls [ ]" "Camera [ ]" “Journal [ ]” “Page Left [ ]” “Page Right [ ]” "Back" 

Screen Descriptions

  • Main Menu Screen

The Main Menu will only have one play option – To start the game. The first time the player starts the game it creates a new save file, and each subsequent time they start the game it will continue from the hidden save file. The other selection prospect on the main menu is an option menu that will open a new menu. The background to this menu will be a movie of an abstract object.

  • Options Screen

From the Options screen the player can change the configuration of the controls, the audio, the visuals, and subtitles. There will also be a quit option for the in game options menu, which will automatically save the game. The background for this menu will be a fairly static picture, or a movie of a picture that goes in an out of focus. When one of the menu items is chosen, it will open a separate menu to adjust the items relating to that field. Those submenus will have the same background as the options screen.

Game Options

Control options
  • First person or Third person perspective
  • Configuration options – allows the player to create a key/button layout that is intuitive for them
  • Invert Y-axis – to make the player controlled camera movement intuitive for them
  • Control Sensitivity - allows the player to adjust the speed of movement for the camera and walking
Audio options
  • Music volume
  • Speech volume
  • Sound effect volume
  • Stereo
  • Dolby 5.1
Visual options
  • Brightness
PC visual options
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Frames per second
  • Resolution
  • Vertical Sync
  • Antialiasing
  • Texture Filtering
  • Triple Buffering

Replaying and saving

The player can quit at any time through the Options Menu. The game autosaves frequently; when the player touches an object, talks to an NPC, enters a new area, or goes through any checkpoint. Checkpoints are hidden to the player, usually at the entrance to an area, and they are used as triggers for in-game events and autosaves. All autosaves save to the save file for the player’s game.

Replaying is an integral part of the game. The avatar gets amnesia after two hours of gameplay, and the game ends. However, the player can start the game over again, in effect starting where they left off, but with new options available to them. There will only be one save file per player, and they cannot easily start over entirely. Every subsequent replay will have the changes made in previous playthroughs, and the NPC's will retain most information that they have learned as well, stored in their own journals.

Cheats and Easter Eggs

Easter eggs are available but difficult to get to. The player will only find them through determined exploration. There is a gnomey old man far out in the Tundra area, which is a vast wasteland with almost nothing to interact with. The player would have to explore this wasteland thoroughly in order to run into the old gnome, who is deep in the Tundra walking around. The player can then interact with the gnome with vague dialog choices that will lead to uncovering the easter egg options.

The easter eggs will include a ghost figure that moves around the city at an impossibly high speed, directing the player to important areas (dialog option: “I need help”). There will also be an easter egg that transforms the whole game world from a bleak palette to a brightly painted city (dialog option: “It’s so depressing here”). There will be an easter egg to turn on a map that shows blue and red fogs, for hot and cold areas, indicating which areas need to be explored further (dialog option: “I’m stuck”). Most importantly, the gnome has the ability to erase the save file and start the game over from the beginning, although the player has to truly convince him that is what they want (dialog option: “I want to start over”).

The other easter eggs in the tundra is an oasis where the player can stand in different areas to change their hair and eye color (only visible in third person perspective).

Story, Setting, and Character



Spoiler Alert!

A corporation that makes most of their money on mining operations from uninhabited planets stumbles upon a planet much like Earth that has a great wealth of minerals to be mined and sold. They send one of their top engineers, Amin, to oversee the building of a large scale mining operation. While the system is mostly automated, it requires the help of “miners”, who oversee the automation and keep on top of the safety and the structural integrity.

After the initial system is set in place, the corporation deploys an ecologist, Ida, and a biologist, Stanovene, to do a quick check of the planet to make sure it is safe to send workers there for at least a limited amount of time. When their reports come back relaying the relative safety of the planet, the corporation sends out the miners to work and some other workers to build shelter for them.

The report made by the ecologist and biologist was a very preliminary report on the safety of all the known compounds on the planet, the air, the soil, and the water. It also showed preliminary research on a few unidentified compounds, most of which seems fairly harmless. The corporation, wanting to know if they can keep miners on the planet for longer, have the scientists stay on site and send them large teams to speed up the research process.

One of the unknown materials in the atmosphere is discovered to have a negative effect on some lab animals when applied in large doses, affecting the nervous system enough to where the animal has trouble moving around effectively. Although this toxin is airborne, it is at such a low level that there is no risk at all. However, for safety protocols, the biologist immediately starts a team on developing an oral medication that will nullify the toxin. Eventually the team comes up with something that works well on lab animals, and they begin to distribute it to the human population on the planet, which is rapidly growing.

The corporation, comfortable with the positive information coming from the scientists, decides to send an architect (Leo, Ida’s husband) and service people to begin to build up the planet, setting up a longer term occupation of the planet, which is after all very large and full of minerals.

Ida and Stanovene are fascinated with the planet; the new ecosystems, plants, and animals, the new foods and weather systems, everything about it. They want to protect the planet from being strip mined and left for dead by the corporation, and search for a profitable way to keep the planet from this fate. They have the idea to turn it into a corporation-run colony, where the company is able to keep all the money spent and taxes paid by the inhabitants, while having other large companies bid for having their products sold instead of the competition on the planet. They get the architect, Leo, in on this idea, which he is only too happy to support since it means more buildings, more compensation, and more control for him.

They are not able to convince the engineer Amin to get behind the idea of a colony; he is obsessed with his work and does not want civilians getting in the way of his work. Since he is the main contact for the corporation on the planet, his ideas hold a lot of weight. He allows them to pitch the idea to the corporation, convinced his input will put an end to it. However, Ida is able to make the case that the new plants and animals on the planet have already shown to have tremendous uses, that could very likely be monetized by the corporation or one of their subsidiaries. This convinces the corporation to try out the colony idea, but they do not intend to slow or limit their mining operations in any way.

When the first colonists begin to arrive, mostly extended families of miners who were already working there, a doctor, Eleuia, is also sent to the planet with a team of doctors beneath him. Here begins a time of prosperity. For years things go well, with more colonists arriving all the time, more construction rapidly expanding, more minerals being excavated, and more money being made than the corporation had ever dreamed of. It was their most successful operation.

One day, all work in the mines is halted when a repair miner, working on part of the system, falls dead for no apparent reason. When an autopsy is done, the cause of death is an unknown toxin that caused his lungs to fail. The biologist and ecologist are immediately put to work identifying this toxin, and all works stops. They discover dangerous materials present in the soil of the planet, in a layer that had not been breached until recently.

The engineer wants all work stopped and wants all the colonists out until research is done to conclude that either the planet is unsafe or the operation can be moved to another site on the planet. There starts to be tension between Ida and Stanovene, because it appears that Ida is not surprised by this discovery, and Stanovene suspects she knew the dangers of this planet based on its ecological systems and atmosphere. Amin gets through to the corporation, who regretfully shuts down the mining system until further notice. They send most miners off to another planet to keep their jobs, as well as some of the research staff and doctors. For everyone else, they make it clear the danger that there could be in staying, but leave the colonists to make their own decision about whether or not to leave. Since the mines are closed, and there seems to be no issue with the health of any of the colonists, most of them decide to stay.

The planet goes on like this for a while, Ida and Stanovene testing all over the place to see if any sites are different, but haven’t found much luck. They start trying to develop another medication to resist the effects of the new toxin but don’t have much luck with that either.

Eventually, the doctor begins to notice that more and more elderly people are coming down with neurological impairments. When children also start to have an unusually high incidence of these impairments, he consults with the biologist. Stanovene looks into it, suspecting the toxin that they had already developed the drug for. When she and Ida retest the atmosphere, they see that there has been a huge jump in the prevalence of the toxin in the air. They have the colonists take more of the medication of a regular basis until they can develop a vaccine for the toxin, suspecting that the problem will only get worse.

Eleuia and Stanovene begin work on developing a vaccine that also halts the effects, but eventually she gets fed up with the doctor’s safety concerns and decides to use her authority to rush out a vaccine that seems to work without proper testing. The doctor is very unhappy about this, but there is nothing that can be done. What little vaccine that has been created so far is given to the most important people (Eleuia, Ida, Stanovene, Leo, Amin), the staff creating the vaccine, so that more is sure to be produced, and the medical staff who have to administer the vaccine to the public.

When Leo and Ida find out, they are furious that their staff has not been given priority as well. Leo and Stanovene are constantly caught up in vicious arguments and can hardly focus on their work. Leo and Ida try to get their staff dismissed from the planet on paid leave unless they are given priority with the vaccine, but the corporation is getting mixed messages and decides to send a handler down to figure out the situation and get an independent review.

Amin knows that is a sign of the beginning of the end. He tries to convince Leo, Ida, Stanovene, and Eleuia of this fact, that the colony will get shut down, but they are not ready to listen. He suggests that people leave the planet, and some people do take his advice, but most do not.

When more vaccine becomes available, Stanovene wants to start distributing it to everyone. Eleuia begins to think the vaccine is a bad idea and needs to go through more testing, but Stanovene once again uses her authority to force distribution. The doctor decides to tell the medical staff not to distribute it, and that it’s unsafe, and word quickly spreads through the colony.

As it becomes apparent that the only solution is to leave the colony, most people begin to leave. A very few people decide to stay, seeing that those who have taken the vaccine seem perfectly fine. Ida, Leo, and Stanovene decide to stay to see if there is any way to make it a colony once again. Amin and Eleuia decide to stay because they feel obligated and personally responsible for the well being of the other noted scientists and architect.

Stanovene develops the vaccine into something that can be taken in doses to keep the toxin at bay, since it is growing ever stronger in the atmosphere. When some civilians and staff apparently forget to take the pills on a regular schedule, the effects are seen very strongly. People get scared, and more leave. Signs are posted everywhere, almost propaganda, reminding people to take their pills. Still, more people begin forgetting to take their pills, and some die from the neurological effects.

Eleuia eventually puts together that forgetting to take the pills is not just forgetfulness; there are symptoms of memory loss in many people that are difficult to notice at first. When it becomes horribly apparent that everyone is starting to have memory loss, they try to figure out whether it is another effect of the toxin, or if it is a new toxin altogether.

The researchers start hoarding the vaccine for themselves, knowing that their ever dwindling staff needs even more time to continue developing the vaccine into something that will actually work instantly. They continue giving out the vaccine pills to the remaining members of the colony and other staff, but quickly this is not enough to combat the effects of the toxin, and people are paralyzed. This mostly happens inside their homes, and so the loss of people is not really noticed, especially with the memory loss that is getting worse.

The doctor discovers what the biologist has been hiding: the memory loss is a side effect of the drug. Eleuia is lucky to have doubted the biologist and the vaccine in general, and has been taking less than everyone else. The doctor decides that the end is come, memory loss is so bad now that some people have forgotten who they are, and decides to start systematically destroying or hiding information so that once they have forgotten who they are, they might be able to just start over, or simply die not knowing what they have done to themselves and the innocent people who once lived here.

Through all this, no one remembers after a time that there is a handler coming to meet them, they had left a note when they first got the news, explaining the situation with the toxin and leaving a package of pills to take, but they soon forgot completely about it since it takes him so long to come. The corporation lags in sending him, since there are so many other planets to think about (ones that are actually making money). When he eventually does come, Jian is not so concerned that there is no one around to greet him. He lands in the mining sector and he takes his time digging through the records available in the offices about the mine, the engineer, whatever information is available. He figures eventually someone will come to meet him, so he's not worried about going to visit anybody. Since he's closer to the mine, he is afraid of the toxin affecting him more strongly, so he takes more pills to combat it. He starts losing his memory, and unsure of what is happening decides to leave. He puts on his suit, but it's too late. He gets amnesia, wanders into the forest, his suit prevents him from both breathing in the toxin and taking the pills. He gets lost in the forest.

This is where our story begins.

Plot Elements

The plot of the game is almost entirely up to the player; the drama and relationships with the other characters will constitute the majority of the plot, while the larger plot of discovering who and where they are is unfolding through solving puzzles.

Game Progression

See Game Flow Chart or Level 1 Progression below

Cut Scenes

The only cutscenes will be fragmented memories that the player can unlock by solving puzzles about the back story. A memory will begin to play as a cutscene and then freeze, allowing the player to explore the scene until they trigger the memory to continue as a cutscene.

Game World

The game world is a mining planet, abandoned by its workers and left to rot. The only inhabitants cannot retain memories long enough to figure out who or where they are, and the world falls into disrepair as a result.

First there is the world: Barren icy tundra and what looks like a forest further out in the distance. The locale appears to be some cold northern setting on earth, but is actually a small planet or moon, with a similar atmosphere.

There is a network of recessed channels left behind from mining operations. They are what constitute “the city.” A collection of research facilities, apartments, and leisure. The city is relatively small. However there are facilities dotting the landscape for various purposes, which cover a large range.

A distance away from the city is another collection of facilities for the mining operation. There are apartments, cafeteria, and warehouses. housing is meant for temporary residence. It’s quite sparse, and quite bleak. There is a port connected to this section which sends out whatever it is they’re mining, and receives personnel.

The tundra spreads out as far as the eyes can see in every direction. The forests appear indistinguishable from earth’s at a distance, up close they look completely different. Long tendrils resting into the ground branching into millions of extremely small particulates. The particulates look like very small lichens or moss connecting to tall veins which eventually reach the ground. They are so numerous and small, that they resemble a cloud from up close.

The Tundra is rocky and covered in blankets of snow. These are actually vast pollen fields coming from the forest. Mining and colonization is actually taking place at one of the poles, the forests are residing along it’s borders. In dream sequences, the forests appear as earth’s forests. It’s how the collective subconscious thinks about this world, how to make it into earth.

The recessed channels are very large, and cover long distances, often intersecting each other. Built into the recesses are most of the structures comprising the city. Structures are built within the recesses to avoid “white outs,” pollen clouds that overwhelm and clog up everything.


Battered concrete slabs are anchored to the walls of the channels.The slabs anchor large trusses which connect the parallel walls of the channels. These trusses then have another frame connected to them which is more or less a grid. Buildings are ‘hung’ onto the grid, so they appear to be upside down. Everything is engineered to avoid having the pollen clouds sweep into the “outside” areas of the cities, so in effect, public spaces are almost always under some kind of immense concrete ceiling. And since the walls of the channels are covered in slabs, the view from the city is almost that of an entirely cold and concrete world. There are attempts to mitigate the harshness of it all with big open spaces and widespread accessibility. But the effect only makes the harshness look like a big open and accessible monster. Which is exactly what we want. The architect character will have been the one responsible. He has a sanctimonious rationalization of the ideal cityscape, and that falls into their particular agenda.

This city is undergoing a massive construction project to expand capacity well beyond it’s current state, so the “framework” extends far out past any of the usable buildings. Still, there are numerous structures, and a transit network providing trams running to/from all areas of the city. Catwalks connect the many levels and spaces. The frame itself is accessible, but it’s exposed to the outside environment, so it doesn’t become so much an active or lively street.

There are some facilities above the channels. Primarily solar energy systems (almost completely covered in snow at the beginning of the game) and various research stations, or small structures housing some kind of ongoing research. There are exits throughout the city which are excavated through the channel walls (at city level) and up to the surface. They are numerous. They appear to be engineered as a mass emergency exit system. At the surface of the exits are “garages” where people and vehicles could enter/exit. Which they would frequently to work on the solar arrays, carry out research, etc.

The city is always referred to as small, and developing in any of the literature found throughout the world. Characters refer to the expansion as modest. But the expansion will appear like an immense project to us. Since this is a prospective future, there could be a huge population. So a city to be built the with the size and complexity of Manhattan is considered to be modest.

There is one very large causeway which leads away from the city and towards the mining areas. Along the way are blocks of apartments. These are clusters of small, utilitarian cubes designated for the mining personnel who are constantly cycling in and out. There is an expansive cafeteria which serves as the only recreation facility, therefore it has a scattered population of non cafeteria related objects. Industrial facilities are close by. Most of them are processing raw materials. Store houses are also numerous. There are a few other completed facilities, and an extensive construction zone where other buildings are underway. All of this is feeding back to the causeway which ends at the port. The port is really just long flat strips which connect to the causeway. At the intersection is a large building. Freighters are docked. It should be fairly obvious that there is a large export operation in conjunction with the mining.

At this point the recessed channels fork off into multiple directions far more numerous then what led to them. There are smaller rails connecting to each of the channels, where vehicles would carry raw materials. Most of the mining is automated, but the “miners” are required for managing the entire operation. They would be an army of button pushers, parts repairers, trouble-shooters, etc. They are referred to as miners, but it’s really the sub-society on which the researchers’ end of the city is built upon and dependent on. While the researchers city seems harsh in its uniform cement texture, the industrial zone is left exposed to the tundra.


This is the avatar. It can be either a man or a woman, or somewhere in between, depending on the player's responses in the initial dream sequence at the start of the game.

Eleuia is the head doctor, very ambitious and hard working, but sometimes confused about what is best for the common good. Personality is very guilt driven but also very acquiescent. This leads to always planning to do it better the next time, to resolve the guilt by doing something right to make up for it, but instead feeling more guilty because of bowing to another's will. Eleuia becomes a person wracked by guilt and always feeling less and less strong enough to oppose the will of another. When the problems arise on the colony, Eleuia finally sees a way out of the mess, maybe to erase the guilt but also to erase the weakness, all of theirs.

This is Ida, the ecologist for the colony. She is interested in systems and how everything fits together - she is very philosophical; she always is able to clearly see the bigger picture, but has trouble understanding details. She is interested in social interaction itself as a system; she sees life as a game, and is always taking chances and examing everything with curiosity. . She is younger than most of her colleagues, and it is in fact the reason she was chosen for this assignment. Not because of her age, but because of her ambition. She was a student of Stanovene's at the school where Leo was also a prominent professor. She was the most talked about student in school, with the most astounding grades as well as the drive to do something truly great.  Ida would go on to develop closed loop eco-systems, which would become vital for feeding off world cities. Fully aware of her own practical value to major corporations and projects, she bargains for employment that guarantees expensive and autonomous research. She is aware that the corporation has been strip mining planets, irrevocably damaging natural systems and that these events are suppressed from reaching the scientific community. Ida is complicit to these events until they stumble upon this planet. It has an extensive ‘forest’ covering the surface and consequently, an extensive reserve of rare materials. Under her new contract she assembles a team to undertake a comprehensive study of the planet. She specifically advocates for Stanovene to be hired on to the project. Ida is aware that new compounds exist in and under the surface. Of all the characters, she was the first and most aware of the possibly dangerous  properties in the planet. However, if/when she is implicated for such awareness, she is unapologetic. She is meticulous, she always makes note of everything she might need to reference later on. She speaks in short sentences, always direct and to the point. She has a good grasp on long term thinking, but she does not hold "what could happen" as important - instead she will look ahead to be able to focus more on the present. For example, she is always dressed practically, knowing that being hampered by her clothing would be a nuisance, and so is prepared for any occasion with all-weather clothing with many pockets to hold her notes and samples and tools.

Stanovene is the biologist for the colony. She is, in a way, the opposite of Ida: she is obsessed with the details, but not great at seeing the larger picture. Stanovene is very blunt about everything, and has trouble trusting almost everyone. She is married to Leo; they fell in love with each other's ambitions and lofty ideals. It was always their idea to go off and start a new life on a new planet where they would control and discover everything together. She is very analytical but her decisions always lack a sense of balance; she minimizes facts that don't support her arguments and so is always looking at life from a very skewed position. Stanovene is very much trapped in her head; she always wants to personally make things right and perfect, but fails to consider the future and is thus constantly running into problems of her own making. Having to deal with so many setbacks and ultimate failures, that she refuses to see that she created, she lives with the bitterness of looking back on what she feels has been a disappointing life. Because she has learned to take matters into her own hands, she has no patience or reason to expect that conversing with someone will affect their course of action. She will subvert someone she feels is doing the wrong thing in order to make things right.

The colony's architect is Leo, Stanovene's husband. He loves being in control but doesn't really have the personality to hold onto that control very well. He wants things his way all the time, his vision is of utmost importance, and he draws people in with debate only to drive them off again. He doesn't feel quite comfortable with having people on his side, so even though he is constantly trying to prove that his way of thinking is right, if someone completely agrees with him he will still find a way to show them that they are wrong somehow. He likes being alone with his ideals because it makes him feel superior. He has no capacity for criticism, he doesn't even hear it. His work was always rushed through without much careful consideration, which is a similarity that made his marriage with Stanovene work for so long. When he meets Amin, he feel re-engergized by the younger man's ability to debate with such wit and charisma about topics that he loves.

Leo and Stanovene have quietly dismantled their marriage. Once they were in love with each other and shared an idealism. They knew each other for years before finally admitting to be in love with one another. As soon as they did, their lives fell into place and their careers took off. Stanovene accomplished ground breaking research. while Leo’s firm succeeded in implementing theoretical ideas into large scale projects. The momentum seemed to grow exponentially. Then their careers suddenly slowed considerably, taking a back seat to the emerging younger generation. They accepted it, and took up professorships at a prestigious university.

Stanovene had moved on from biological research to activism, in order to reinvigorate herself. With no shortage of causes to get behind she used her status to put a spotlight on pressing issues. But the opposing interests continued to prevail despite her best efforts. It feeds her growing pessimism. Leo phased himself out of his own firm. His partners, who viewed him as visionary in the beginning, had come to see him as a liability. Leo’s patience for practical concerns had diminished, and he could no longer persuade clients of his ideas in their ‘pure’ form. He concentrates on producing literature and models. His reasoning becomes more and more abstracted by his internal logic, disinterested in making the effort to explain himself to others.

Teaching is something he enjoys on a confrontational level. His work is considered sanctimonious and irrelevant to the new students, and he frequently challenges them, arousing heated debates. His students are typically young, still forming their positions and ideas. Debates flare out frequently, whereby Leo belittles the skepticism of his students. His classes are considered a spectacle.

 For nearly 3 decades their passions have slowly died. They witnessed their ideas and work transform into textbooks of the likes they used to ignore. Their marriage begins to suffer, being so closely entangled with their professional lives. By the time they’re approached with a unique opportunity off world, their marriage has all but fallen apart. 

Amin, the engineer for the mining operation, is very direct and no-nonsense. He is very funny and quite likable, making him a fairly popular boss while highly recommended by his superiors, which is why he made it so far up the ladder in the corporation. Organization is what has gotten him ahead; he knows how to keep a schedule and how to get everything done on time. He stays perfectly on top of every aspect, demanding the same of the managers below him. Unlike most of the other four, he is constantly thinking about the future and planning ahead, analyzing every possibility until he has quite a good grasp on what the probability of certain events are. In this way he can separate complex ideas into logical conclusions, and everything becomes black and white once he has thoroughly analyzed it. His personality was formed this way because of a tumultuous past that he refuses to think about. He has chosen work and being great at his job over leading any sort of personal life, and he gotten very far because of this. Stability and predictability he holds as the most important aspects of life; he has never learned anything positive from failure and does not take risks.  He once did more engineering work, full of discovery and what could be, and was excited to look at new planets because they hold so much possibility. He quickly learned that new planets held nothing more than minerals to be mined, and his hopes died out. He accepted promotion into higher and higher roles away from innovation and towards enforcement and project management, and when he gets to this planet his sense of stagnation is as high as Stanovene and Leo's.

 Leo and Amin fall in love for many reasons. Leo sees Amin as a direct and honest person, with an uncluttered perspective on life. His previous hardships make Amin more attractive to Leo. Amin is intelligent enough to learn and then debate big ideas with Leo, but with a tone that has no academic flavor. This makes Leo feel as though his work has an unpretentious relevance, and his ego flies. Amin is living vicariously through Leo’s work. He marvels at how his rational systems are contorted into rationalized sculptures. To Amin, Leo is a filter, whom he freely uses just to see the creativity. After years of corporate life and trivializing personal relationships, he is finally having an interaction he cares about. Amin sets the stage for Leo to design and implement every new structure on the planet. Though the two are clearly in love with one another it never consummates. From the outside it would appear that Leo is too cynical to pursue anyone. Amin is more in love with what Leo does and it blinds him to a degree of who Leo really is.

Jian is the handler sent by the corporation to resolve the issues between the five and to report back to the company on what was really going on. He is a simple man, more down to earth than any of the others left on the planet, and much better at getting to the bottom of conflict. He also happens to have been an engineer at one point, so the corporation trusts him to go down and look at how exactly the mining operation was going at the time when all of this happened, as well as look around for information on all of the people left on the planet before he consults with them.


Part One

The game begins with a dream where two people are arguing about what sounds like an ethical dilemma. After a moment they begin to involve the player, asking their opinion and forming responses based on it. This dream interaction forms the basis for the player’s avatar; their personality and dialog options, as well as their appearance.

When the dream ends the avatar wakes up in a dim city suspended in a chasm, where grey cement is actually a relief from the craggy rock walls. There are what appears to be thin membranes stretched over the sides of buildings for an unknown reason. The player begins in what appears to be a promenade of some sort, where they can explore the area at will, however almost no doors will be unlocked. The player will have to make their way down the promenade until they encounter a young woman in a rugged outfit suited to their terrain, holding what appears to be a report. She has no idea who she is or how she got there, and the player can converse with her to try to find out some preliminary information, setting up what the game will be about. She is the player’s first connection, which needs to be nurtured in order to access any further areas.

This woman is a very meticulous character, and she tells the player her theory that the amnesia keeps happening over and over, explaining that she has a journal that shows this to be true. She lets the avatar glance at her stack of papers, her journal as she calls it, and the player can see she is a very detailed note taker. She suggests the player start their own journal, and points out a book of some sort laying nearby that has a few pages ripped out. This is the start of the player’s journal, where any information found will be automatically written down and analyzed by their avatar.

The player can ask her where she woke up, it will be in an area further down the promenade than the player has explored. She takes the player to a square surrounded by taller buildings, and as the space is revealed to them suddenly the square blares to life. The membranes fill with brightly colored pictures, advertising a pill of some sort, blaring music and speech that rebound off the buildings and rock walls to become an unintelligible cacophony of sound. If the player looks around they can see the whole city is lit up like this, but it only last a few seconds before cutting out abruptly, leaving the city dim and grey once again.

The young woman directs the player to the lobby of a building, where she explains her theory that she has come out of this building, showing the player the notes she has taken on the back of what seems to be a report on various compounds that is too full of technical jargon to understand. Her book does indicate that she was trapped somewhere in a building; there are notes about where to find food and endless series of numbers that have no clear meaning. It seems as if she has gotten lost in there multiple times, only to forget that she has already explored the area and venture back inside again. She is meticulous in her note taking and has clear handwriting; the sentences are short and precisely phrased. Near the end of her notes she writes that she has gone into that building, there is nothing to find in there, and no matter what, to not go back inside.

It is up to the player to decide where to go from here. They can pressure her into going back inside the building, they can take her back to where they woke up and explore that area, or they can explore with her until they find a third area that leads away from both of the previous areas. Or they can do all three, in any order they wish.

If the player convinces her to go back inside the building, they can use her notes to try to get around the building; getting through locked doors, turning on emergency lights, searching around for information, anything the player wants to do. Any information they learn from her journal goes into their own for future reference. Inside the building it becomes clear that whoever worked here was researching something, although the avatar does not understand the jargon enough to interpret it. The player may be able to interpret enough to figure out that what was being researched were compounds and their hazardous effects on lab animals and even humans. There are areas in the building that the player will not be able to access at this time, but they will be able to see through enough glass walls to know that there is something out of reach that might shed some light on their situation. Being in the building and looking at information about materials makes the young woman uncomfortable and irritable, and when the player eventually realizes there is not much to do in the building, they will leave with help from her.

If the player decides, in the square, to show the young woman mercy by taking her to the place where they started the game, she will reward them. This area is a low area with quite a view into the distance, and into the sky, where the player can see the vast hanging city above them. However, all around the area seems to be under construction and completely locked, with no key in sight. When the player shows the young woman around, she reveals that she has a maintenance key that she doesn’t remember finding. Trying this key on several doors opens quite a number of them, revealing this key was probably a master key for this projects going on in this area. The key opens up front doors and common areas, but does not seem to open any doors that seem to be personal offices or living areas. If the player explores this area enough with the key, there is a series of doors to be unlocked that lead to the other side of the construction project. When the player and the young woman finally reach the exit, they discover what appears to be a massive apartment complex. This is the end of the first area.

If the player decides to explore the third option in that first decision of where to go, it leads to a long pathway that eventually ends up at the foot of a huge building. Around this area there is another character, an older woman, to interact or join up with. She does not seem to be taking notes, but she has an awareness of the area that might suggest otherwise. Depending on how the player interacts with the two women, and how they handle any situations that might arise, will determine if the player can get both women to join them in their journey, or whether the player will have to decide who to take.

This second building is very similar to the first, except there seem to be less entire specimens lying about, and more pictures and microscopes. There are many doors that have been propped open by someone, paper that seems to have been torn up, and through it all, a path that can lead high over the construction area by a walkway and ends down on the other side of it, which is also the end of the first area.


Visual System

Graphic User Interface

GUI is animated to appear as if the avatar is interacting with the object in real time, there is no specific layout for any visual feedback.

The easter egg option for putting a map onscreen will be the only graphical interface the user has access to.
The game is visually realistic, enhancing the immersion of the story line.

Control System

Controls for consoles
  • Can be configured

Controls for computers
  • Can be configured

Controls for touchscreen
  • See diagram



There will be constant music playing, with an ambient ghostly quality. The music will switch between more tense music and more peaceful music, depending on what situation the avatar is in, how other characters are reacting to him, and depending on what scene they have uncovered.

Sound Effects

 There would be realistic sound effects for every aspect of the game; picking up each object, walking on each surface, different shoes of each character, echoing where there should be echoing, etc.

Help System

There is no help system except the easter eggs in the tundra, and the training level at the beginning.