Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Sole

An Exploration Game for One Player

You have left the world behind on an almost-fully automated, one-person spacecraft, with the mission to scout the galaxy and see what's out there. Your craft will navigate you to places of interest and record everything it can via its sensors: your job is to provide the human touch by means of a commentary on how each discovery makes you feel.

Image result for starYou can play this game as a daily blog, via text, audio or video: each day represents a different discovery as your spacecraft takes you to another remote part of the galaxy and invites you to record your own feelings about what you are experiencing. The game rules below exist to support you in creating that content, not to proscribe you from doing what you want with the game.

Discovery

On each day of playing the game, you discover something new: you can play every day or as infrequently as you wish, but each time you play, use a random word generator like this or this to create some seeds for your imagination. Use the randomly generated words to suggest the details of the discovery you have made; you can use the last digit of the day of the month to suggest a category of discovery from this list:
  1. A star with unusual properties.
  2. A remarkable planet.
  3. A unique anomaly in space-time.
  4. A spectacular gas or dust cloud.
  5. A planetary system with a peculiar arrangement.
  6. An interstellar but non-sentient life-form.
  7. A rare event involving two or more bodies.
  8. An asteroid belt with notable features.
  9. A comet hurtling through deep space.
On days ending in '0', you discover the remains of a mega-structure of unknown purpose, the last remnants of a vanished civilization. Your discovery should never involve contact with other sentient beings in any form: the game is about your own personal experiences and reflections, undiluted by the influence of others.

For example, today ends in '7', so my discovery will be some sort of rare astronomical event: the random word generator gives me 'script, sink, harmony, shortage, impress.' I can use any of those words (or none of them) to suggest my discovery: 'sink' and 'harmony' appeals to me and makes me think of two co-orbiting miniature black holes which are finally about to merge.

Commentary

Image result for gas giantYour blog should take the form of your personal log, recording your own impressions of the discovery you have made but most important, how it makes you feel. Your ship's sensors can provide you with as much detail about the discovery as you wish, extending your information about it right the way across the spectrum of all possible data, so don't feel confined to only describing what you can see out of a window. Other sensations to think about include:
  • The sensation of gravity affecting different parts of your body as you pass close to a very massive object: think of how tidal stress can make your ship creak and groan.
  • A build of up static electricity from passing through charged dust or gas might make your hair stand on end or create a St. Elmo's Fire effect inside your ship.
  • By converting low frequency radio waves into an audio signal, sounds like this are produced, that echo throughout your ship.
  • Even when describing a discovery in terms of what you can see, imagine how it changes over time: light & shade vary as your ship moves past the phenomenon, different colours rise & fall in a gas giant's atmosphere and even the very shape of an object just passing through our set of dimensions can alter from moment to moment.

Empathy

Image result for asteroid beltEach discovery should elicit a different emotional response from you as the observer, but that response should in some way connect back to your own personal experiences: imagine each discovery making you recall something from your past. You don't have to state what that memory is or refer directly to it at all and you can choose whether to use a real memory from your own past or an invented one for the story you are creating. Below is a list of suggested emotional responses with questions that you may use to connect that response to a memory:
  • Anger: as you are witnessing a destructive or wasteful event, you might ask yourself what did I destroy when I was back on Earth? What made me angriest and how did I act upon that anger?
  • Delight: something is created or you discover something of surpassing beauty and you think when was I last this happy? What were my favourite things and what gave me pleasure about them?
  • Fear: a close encounter with something truly terrifying might leave you thinking what was my greatest fear back on Earth? Who was afraid of me and what did I do to scare them so much?
  • Melancholy: something empty or abandoned brings upon feelings of your own loss and regret, such as who do I miss the most from my life on Earth? What do I wish I had done differently and how could I go about making amends now?
  • Wonder: an encounter with the incomprehensible and enigmatic only leaves you with questions, such as why did I choose to come out here? Who did I lose contact with before I even left Earth and how did things end with them?

Journey

Image result for EarthThe game ends whenever you like, but I would recommend limiting yourself to a short time scale, such as five days if making a blog per day or one month if making your blogs infrequently. On your last blog entry for the game, after reporting your discovery as usual, you must make an additional entry that reflects on your whole experience so far and in particular your decision whether to carry on exploring the galaxy or to return to Earth. If the former, end your final blog with, "This is [name], journeying onwards"; if the latter, end your final blog with, "This is [name], coming home." Do not make any further log entries after this: the game is over.

For Philip, with all my love.