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sunandshadow

Amnesia, false memories, etc.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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