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sunandshadow

Amnesia, false memories, etc.

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sunandshadow    7426
One of the problems in creating RPGs and other interactive fictions is the fact that the player-as-character always starts with no knowledge of the game world, the stuff in it, or what role they are supposed to be playing. There are a few standard ways to deal with this problem - make the player character someone who is supposed to be ignorant, like a little kid or a generic fighter; spend the first segment of the game delivering exposition about the player character''s current situation and personal history; or, make the player character have amnesia or have been brainwashed to believe in a simple, false idea of themselves and their pasts. This is pretty cliche, but what if we try to think outside the box a little? I bet there are lots of interesting variations nobody''s thought of yet. For example: Okay, the PC has amnesia. Yawn. But so does everybody else. And I mean everybody, every single NPC. What the heck? How did that happen? Will society collapse if nobody remembers anything? Will people make up new identities for themselves based on who they always wanted to be rather than who they actually were? Do you really want to get your memory back? Okay, your turn - you can play with this ''everybody''s amnesiac'' idea or you can come up with a variant of your own. Be creative!

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TechnoGoth    2937
One of the best games to solve this problem was fallout. You play a charchter who has lived for generetions in closed environment and you are the first and only person to leave the vault. Because of this you have no knowledge of the outside world or the kind of people who live in it.

I also had an idea for a character with anmesia game. It would similar to the resident evil series but blended with rpg elements such as skills, and not just walking around shoot zombies. I takes place a futuristc industrial city surroned by wall and divided into diffrent areas from slums on the outerskirts to a tower in the center where the rich live.

You play a character who awakens bleeding and burned in an alley in the slums. With no memory of who or clues to his identy. Lying in a near by pile is an old trench coat and an damaged id card saying Trent, P.I. After seeing it a a few memories return and you become Trent. The game consits of trying to remeber your true identity and shifting from persona to persona.

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Avatar God    1072
Man, I can''t imagine what would happen if EVERYONE woke up not knowing who they were... I imagine some people would figure it out - soldiers, some doctors, some farmers, cops, and generally anyone who had an ID badge and uniform.

For the normal people - the programmers, the game designers, the writers, the artists... I wonder what they would do? They might see something that sparked a thought, and just like you said, they become who they always wanted to be. So Mr. John Doe becomes Mr. John Travolta after seeing a video laying by his TV with a man on it that looks quite like him.

Anyways, that would make for a heck of a confusing game (in an organized manner, of course), but would certainly be interesting. Heck, it would make a great novel or short story, as well.

I recall there was a thread not too long ago about how annoying amnesia stories were and substitutes to start... I think I''ll try and search for that...

-geo
red eye is coming back (the old site is still around, albeit in a weird transitional form)

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onyxflame    203
How about if you wake up with amnesia next to an ID that isn't yours? What if the ID belongs to a dead man? What if it turns out the dead man was killed by YOU? But you think you're him anyway. (You'd probably end up in the nuthouse over this one. Although you *could* run into various therapists who attempt to make you think you're various other people instead.)

How about if you're part of a group of people who put themselves into stasis 300 years ago because they thought some idiot ruler was gonna start a nuclear war that would destroy everything living on the planet? The world would be totally new to you, but with strange resonances. Of course amnesia could potentially be mixed in too, i.e. the stasis machine malfunctioned and ruined your memory at the same time it dumped you out into the world.

Or you could have a group of people on one of those multigenerational sub-light spaceships, at the point where it reaches a planet. Unfortunately, everyone's lived there so long that they don't remember they're supposed to be colonizing a planet, and the planet might be inhabited by a sentient species that looks like hamburgers.

Or pherpahs in this game, reincarnation exists and is widely believed in. Perhaps your character is one of the few who fully remembers his past life, and is disoriented by the way the world works now. Not to mention that he keeps thinking that the CEO of VasTech Cryogenic Services is his brother, and the mechanic down the street used to be his dog.

Ok, that's enough ideas for now. Maybe I'll think of more after I've increased my caffeine intake.

Edit: Good grief, pherpahs??? Now THAT could only come from a half-asleep mind. I don't think even a non-native English speaker who couldn't spell or type could mangle "perhaps" THAT bad.

[edited by - onyxflame on July 6, 2003 12:21:35 PM]

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Waverider    169
What degree of remembering is permitted? People still know how to breathe, what to eat, feed themselves, talk, do math, etc.

What components of their memory are gone? Just their identites, their names, professions and related job skills, people they had in their life, etc.?

Everyone would be wandering around town figuring out who should do what. You could run the neighborhood store easy enough, as long as someone figures out how to deliver the goods to your shelves to sell. Schools would have to figure out where they left off, or just start over. Hospitals would have a big problem with the ill. Security codes would be disabled at business and government facilities.

And mercy on those who password their PC''s! Oh yeah, they wouldn''t remember how to use them, anyway, would they?

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Chentzilla    122
Well, it''s time to remind about my idea: everything the character remember becomes true.
So suppose he awakens next to a shovel, a gun and a book. Depending on what he takes first, he may become a worker, a soldier or a scientist. Also, at crucial points there will be a choice for the player what to remember, and the plot will unravel accordingly. Like you meet someone, and the dialog appears:
- This is my brother.
- This man is hunting me.
- I don''t know who this is.

You can choose any - and it becomes so.

Or you may try to remember what''s behind the closed door, or significance of some things. It will be one hell to design, but very replayable.

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Ketchaval    186
quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
One of the problems in creating RPGs and other interactive fictions is the fact that the player-as-character always starts with no knowledge of the game world, the stuff in it, or what role they are supposed to be playing


Yes, being a kid or a newcomer is a good way to deal with this..

Half-Life is one of the games that dealt with this well expceptionaly well. It was your first day at a new job, and so you didn''t know your way around the complex. So the player is in the same position of knowledge as "Gordon Freeman".
Other characters reminded you of your defined role (scientist), and your original duties.. saying as you passed them "shouldn''t you be in the test-chamber".. or somesuch. (That is until the situation changed...)

I believe Morrowind has you come to a new island so evidently you wouldn''t know your way around it..

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kseh    3837
You wake up to a blinding light. Your ears pounding, your head throbbing, and you feel naucious. You have no idea who you are or how you got there. You feel the sudden urge to find the bathroom to keep yourself from being sick all over the floor. There, while on your knees, you realise you''re hungover and on vacation. But what the hell did you do last night?

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ahw    263
Mmmh, I dont know about you guys, but I seem to find a lot of cases (and rather good stories, IMHO) where amnesia is involved.

A case of "everybody''s amnesiac" ? Resident Evil, thank you very much.
I thought this was a actually a very nice idea, as it creates major paranoia as each character gradually recovers pieces of information.
It feels, if you allow me to stretch so far, a bit like playing Cluedo : everybody running around, trying to figure out who did it, with what and where.
The real nice thing, IMO, is to give people clues though. Something they can build upon, and most importantly for dramatic tension, something they can develop paranoia upon

I remember another movie, although the title escapes me. Possibly it was a series ? Anyway, those people, for some reason, where in a tunnel when "something happened". And no one can remember why. All they know is that now they are the last people alive.
The whole global amnesia thing seem to mix well with apocalyptic stories, dont you think ?

Another example ? Memento !
Beside the brilliant (and convoluted) way the movie is constructed, I absolutely adored the various situations the character ended up in.

Another one ? Deathwatch !
Ah whole platoon of soldiers in World War I get lost in the toxic fog unleashed by the opponents. Except the last thing they remember is that they were launching an assault at night... and now it''s daylight, and their company HQ keeps telling them that their whole platoon has been destroyed and wont send them reinforcements...

OK, it''s too easy, but just because SnS asked for original stuff, I have to mention it :
Dark City ! Check out a summary somewhere on the Net. Now here was an original idea.



Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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Inmate2993    222
I liked the method they used on FF7.

See, Cloud, being an ex-member of SOLDIER, knew a lot about combat techniques and how the world worked. All of the advanced stuff, he explained to AVALANCHE, even though you played as Cloud.

Moving this idea around, rather then your badass character not knowing anything about the world, have him know everything about the world, and have him answer the questions of the less knowledgable characters that follow him around.

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Oh Gee Whoa    136
Since ahw brought up Memento, I am obligated to mention its follow up Insomnia. A step removed from amnesia, but still related. The story gradually twists Pacino''s memory of a pivotal incident in the movie. And, at the same time, presents a recurring image from the back story, each time altering the audiences interpretation of it. Good stuff. My neurons are crackling even as I type.

Live cheap.
Live Free.
Get it wrong the first time.

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Jolle    178
Well... there is always the fine old portal-to-another-dimension-solution, like in Outcast... and there are also the travel-in-time- and finding-ancient-world-in-volcano-solution.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
In a game where you Control the main character''s actions, but are not in fact them. (Ie. like a Sierra graphic adventure) Ie. They have a predefined personality, it could be interesting to have them remember things.. and the game would show that some memories are false, incomplete or distorted. Ie. He remembers two differing versions of the same incident. But the game would not tell you which memories were accurate. This would put the player in the role of a detective, making them think about what they have seen and how to corroborate the truth.

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Inmate2993    222
I forgot to mention the FF8 method, which is the games INFORMATION menu. That type of idea can be greatly expanded to cover all of that stuff thats printed on paper and included in the box that the game came with.

As for events that the player should have known, Flashbacking helps, but these things require timing. Watching a 3 hour intro movie to cover all of the flashbacks are no good.

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nightsavior    122
hmm. yeah amnesia is over used especially in japanese rpgs. its hard to cover new original ground. even as a designer of game ideas i''ve been forced to see the most any creator can hope to do is put new flesh on old bones. on a more hopeful note their have been rpgs that have nothing to do with amnesia or a cliche riddled past. my favorite hero is the average guy arch type. i like the thought of the guy or girl being ordinary having problems that we ourselves have than suddenly being thrown into an epic situation where they are forced to grow and adapt. of course that cow has been milked to death to when you think about it..

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MillaTime    120
How about you''re a cyborg first coming into existence. Maybe nobody tells you you''re a cyborg, as an experiment to test your awareness. As you learn new abilities and travel to new lands, you meet new people, and slowly come to realization of what you really are...but you wonder...just because you''re made up differently, does it mean that you''re not the same?

Kinda like Kikaider, only you don''t find out right away.

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sunandshadow    7426
Okay, I did a little research and found out how actual amnesia works. What happens is you lose your conscious knowledge and short-term memory, especially verbal or numerical strings you have memorized such as your phone number, house address, and full name. But you retain all your habitual and physical skills like sports or fighting techniques, object and acquaintance names (only the name you call them all the time, not full names), sound and scent meanings (especially reacting to your own nickname, knowing that a particular scent is that of your favorite food or that the sound of lawnowers always bothers you), habitual reactions to alarms and bells, paths that you habitually walk or drive, and basically any skill you can perform without thinking about it, like cooking, painting, throwing pottery, knowing where in your house the object you''re looking for is, etc.

You''re more likely to get false positive knowledge (I am John Travolta) than false negative knowledge (this is not my house, I''ve never seen it before), but both kinds of false assumptions happen because your subconscious likes the fiction better than the truth. Amnesia removes the known distinction between the fictional and the real in other ways. You may forget that someone you knew well has died, that dinosaurs are extinct, that no one uses awords anymore, that superheroes aren''t real, etc.

Memories are most likely to return when you encounter a familiar object or while you''re dreaming. You may get the sensation of your own voice reciting to you something that your subconscious remembers but you don''t, especially poetry and mnemonics.


So, what can we do with this? Well I really like the blurring of the line between fiction, myth, and reality myself. I can just imagine various fans walking around looking for their heroes/idols because they''re certain they''re supposed to be their sidekicks or lovers. And they would get hyper and glomp anyone who looked like the person they were searching for, and try to convince this person to play the role of the hero/idol. And then the player would have to figure out how all this was working and try to take advantage of (or escape) it.

Hmm, you know, it might work even better to ave your character be the only one who _doesn''t_ have amnesia. And then you would have to wonder whether it actually was everyone else who was acting wierd, or whether it was really you who was delusional.

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ahw    263
S&S : I can smell PHilippe K Dick in the air...
what was the quote ? "I am alive and you are dead" ? :-)


Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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Kougra Girl    122
i''d make is so that something bad happens, and like u said sunandshadow, have them no nothing of the world. but they would know something to they have to do, which is find where the bad dude is and to get rid of him.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Personally, in a story driven game, I think that you can focus on the immediate situations you place the main character in, while only hinting at the grand scheme of things.

I liked how Final Fantasy IX accomplished this. *Spoilers* You were in a briefing of sorts, discussing the immediate matter at hand(Acting out a play, and during which, kidnap the Princess). The player didn''t need to know anything about the play, nor the particulars of why they are kidnapping her. Later there excape vehicle crashed, and the focus was on survival, while trying to get to their destination.

There was always immediate circumstances, including personal ones such as love interests, friendships, and personal crisis, that kept the story interesting. However, pieces of the plot were thrown in, yet immediate concerns always took presidence.

So I believe that a player need not know entirely what the main character(s) knows. Thus, amnesia isn''t the only valid solution to this problem.

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Geocyte    196
Flashback had a great story based on this type of thing.

I think it might be confusing for everyone to have full amnesia. Partial amnesia (and electronic equipment faliure leading to corruption of records) could maybe be caused by a massive EMP weapon.

The PC's mission could be to discover not only who they are but also who set the weapon off and why. You can make up your own who and why if you like but maybe a rich powerwul guy was gradually engineering society to be more and more under his sway (owning major banks, transport systems, hospitals, prisons, getting the big military contracts etc. ) until his evil schemes were finally exposed ( by the PC, of course ) and he set off the weapon to erase the evidence and cover his escape.

Naturally, he would have protected himself and a chosen few and would be using his advantageous position to recover control of a world in disarray. To most of the amnesiac population he would probably appear to be a good guy but the PC's investigations would soon put them back on his trail and once he knew the PC was after him again he would send his minions to kill them. Because of his influential position a majority of the population may turn against the PC if he told them to. Paranoia! Creepy atmosphere! But, of course, there would be a resistance movement who instinctively rebelled against this guy's attempts to impose his order on them and they would help the PC out. Rebellion! Freedom!

Bah. Story based games are difficult to develop, though, without access to professional resources. It's much easier to make SuperCrashHyperDestructionApocalypseGunVII where you shoot at big green blobs because otherwise they shoot little green blobs at you.

Geocyte Has Committed Suicide.

edit: grammar and spelling.


[edited by - geocyte on July 20, 2003 9:03:57 PM]

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Xgkkp    122
Reading some of the posts on the first page of this thread got me thinking back about the "Foundation" books (Isaac Asimov).

At the beginning of the books a character named ''Hari Seldon'' basically predicted the entire course of history for the next few thousands of years, and created a ''Foundation'' to store all of the galaxy''s knowledge. Now, someway along the line there was a random mutation which couldn''t be predicted, and this caused the whole of the predictions to be set askew.

The character could have been put into ''statis'' and wake up expecting the world/galaxy/universe to be how they had predicted, but wakes up instead completely unprepared for how the universe really is.

On a side note, I think I''m going to go read the Foundation books again soon.

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MillaTime    120
quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Personally, in a story driven game, I think that you can focus on the immediate situations you place the main character in, while only hinting at the grand scheme of things.

I liked how Final Fantasy IX accomplished this. *Spoilers*



THANK YOU! I hate it when people don''t post spoilers messages...even if it is a PS1 game! I haven''t beaten the game yet, and it''s greatly appreciated. Okay, on topic, how about everyone else in the world except your party is simply not real. The world in a sense...does revolve around you. Perhaps it''s some big experiment to see if the characters would accept a false reality. That''s what I think this world is anyways...

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