Bad Cop: Hands-On With Sleep Is Death

By Alec Meer on April 7th, 2010 at 12:46 pm.

Last week, I played the upcoming two player indie adventure game Sleep is Death with its creator, Jason Rohrer. He’d created a custom story for me to follow, shape and/or resist. I did all three. Read this to understand what Sleep is Death is, then read below to find out what happened, and why you’re going to love it.

I am Amy. I am also Brian.

The GM’s story posits me as a police officer named Amy. I decide to be a nuisance, announcing that I am to be addressed as Brian. The story’s characters dutifully do this from hereon in.

The day commences, as days so often do, with a visit to the bathroom. I look around. I open the toilet.

The GM does not have an ‘opened toilet’ graphic in his pre-made tileset. In the space of 60 seconds, he manages to draw a blue oval on top of the existing closed toilet graphic. I am none the wiser – to me, the toilet simply appears open come my next turn.

A handsome officer – David- awaits me in the corridor outside. I tickle him, and compliment his moustache. “You fox!” he responds. “I’m a married man.” Rebuffed, I proceed to the interrogation room.

This mousatchioed man is there primarily for direction, to steer me away from visiting the men’s bathroom and get on with the story. Though the GM has the lion’s share of power, they cannot force the player to do anything. I could shilly-shally in this corridor as long as I wanted. By this point, my childish mind is stuck on a puerile course, refusing to take anything seriously. Underneath this is a gentle, slow-burning guilt that I’m not doing this properly.

There is no ‘properly’ in Sleep is Death.

A man in priestly robes stands behind a table, crying his innocence. David, another police officer and two video cameras are also present. “Admit it!” I bellow, and push the priest to the ground.

Options. Choices. Decisions. From now, I’m setting the story – looping into the pre-ordained structure the GM has in mind, but forcing him to respond on the fly to my actions. I choose to Shove the priest, simply typing the verb and setting a directional arrow. Some of these – e.g. attempting to Drink from the toilet earlier – have no apparent effect, as the GM/game lacks the tiles and animations to represent them. Pushing a guy around, though? Easy. The course is set: the priest is outraged, and I am Bad Cop. On the other hand, I have zero information about what the priest’s supposed to have done, and why I’m whaling on him. That guilt I mentioned earlier? It takes over. Finally, I roleplay.

I didn’t have to roleplay.

There’s been a murder. He didn’t do it, he says. I ask for witnesses. Just one, a page boy. Now in the company of one Sister Anne. “That’s what I’m worried about”, claims this Father Jarvis.

Options. Choices. Decisions. I could believe him, I could pin it on him, I could ignore the case completely and dick around with the people and items in this room. To a point, I do – I stand on the table, I refuse to call the characters by their proper names… The GM plays along, the characters vaguely outraged but treating me/Amy/Brian as though I’m just having an off day. The GM could have had a strop, killed me, ended the game, abused me, anything. Or he could have rewritten this story’s reality entirely to reflect my words and actions. But we find accord this time.

I believe him. He’s too pathetic to be a murderer. I demand Sister Anne’s brought in for questioning. David instead suggests I take the other officer, Frank, and pay the sister a visit. I shrug, agree, go.

Options. Choices. Decisions. I could have pressed the issue, demanding Anne was brought her – this would not have fitted the GM’s grander plan, but had I remained entrenched his hand would have been forced. I could have demanded David, not Frank, accompanied me. Even Father Jarvis. For now, I’m playing along, playing the story as intended.

‘Intended’ does not matter a jot in Sleep Is Death.

A spooky church. Frank is scared, I want to barge straight in. I have an opportunity to prepare, to seek more information. I draw my pistol and proceed. Rookie error.

I’m rushing things, keen to see where this going, unimpressed by Frank’s cowardice. This means an elaborate, gothic outdoor scene the GM has taken some time to create is all but wasted, there for a mere two turns before my demands to move inside the church are heeded.

There is no ‘wasted’ in Sleep is Death. The story is the story we both create, not the story the GM planned in advance.

I take point. Inside: a nun, a gun, an altar, a door to the cellar. “Nobody move.” I move.

I’m shot.

She’s shot.

What if… I’d made Frank go first? I’d shot the nun right away? I’d taken cover behind the pews? I’d said something to make her change her mind, confess her guilt, consider me a friend?

What if I’d never gone in at all?

Darkness falls. “The boy? What about the boy?” I’ll never know what’s in that cellar. If I hadn’t been such a reckless cop…

Hopsital. Blood. Beeping machines. The surgeons can’t hear me asking about my chances, about the boy, about the sister, about Frank.

No choices. No options. No decisions. Perhaps there was something I could have said to make the GM steer me from this doomed course, but by this point he seems intractable. He’s made his operating room tileset, and he wants to use it. I can lie there and die, I can scream abuse, I can beg. Maybe something would happen. But every story has to end eventually.

I can move again, but there is only blackness. I’m naked, and alone. I do the obvious, the completely, depressingly obvious. “Hello? Is anyone there?” Someone is. A green lizardman/demon, who speaks only in cryptic riddles. I’m being toyed with.

Until now, I’d felt surprisingly in control. I had options, choices and decisions. Now, I can affect the words that emanate from Amy/Brian’s mouth, but little else. At least, that’s how it feels. Could I have punched the demon? Could I have attempted to summon objects, clothing, weapons, people?

That’s for the GM to decide. This time, he wants this story to end.

The End.

The End.

Unsatisfying? A little, perhaps – the GM – the game’s developer opted in this instance for an arch, cryptic resolution, but my own unserious flailing throughout has scarcely given this narrative a logical backbone either. This I do know: I’ve experienced a tale that was genuinely unique, and which genuinely involved me, and truly reflected my actions and decisions.

Sleep is Death requires a signficant amount of preparation on the GM’s end, at least if the players are to avoid total nonsense and incoherency. With an ever-growing archive of graphics to choose from (expanded by everything you create, and everything you experience in any session of Sleep is Death), pruning it down to create entire rooms and characters on the fly within the game’s 60-second turns is an incredibly tall order. No, better to have locations and their contents ready in advance, and spend your turns on the words.

Crucial: at no point during this story did I feel as though I was playing against/with another player. It was always me and the game. A game as omniscient and omnipotent as any other, and a collection places and characters rather than a single voice challenging, encouraging or hectoring me.

This is why Sleep is Death cannot, must not be dismissed with “but why don’t I just play pen and paper roleplaying with a friend?” You can’t see the GM here. You don’t have even the slightest inkling of what he’s thinking, what he’s planning, or how he feels about your actions. The game responds to you, but it and its reality feels all-powerful and complete in a way only a game can.

You’re playing a videogame. Videogames don’t show you their faces. No other videogame, however, allows you to shape a ostensibly fixed story to anything like this degree. Sleep is Death doesn’t need able storytellers – it merely needs two people, and the story will happen by itself.

Sleep is Death is released in 40 hours. It’s $5 cheaper if you preorder it. You should.

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130 Comments »

  1. SquareWheel says:

    Preordered it, although it was 9 bucks in Canada. Strange, considering USD and CAD are at parity right now.

    • brkl says:

      $5 cheaper if you pre-order. Not $5. It’s $9 everywhere for a pre-order and $14 once it has been released.

  2. RagingLion says:

    Interesting to see how the story set up Mr Rohrer used on you was somewhat different that the one I’ve already seen that he used with Anthony Burch from Destructoid despite using almost exactly the same assets and locales. He was probably playing around as well – it’s interesting to think how your game with a GM may have an effect on every subsequent game the GM constructs. Both sides will be learning and this game may be far richer a few months after release.

    After downloading the exact stories played by Anthony Burch as both GM and with Rohrer I’m convinced that there needs to be a repository to store everyone’s stories somewhere so other people can see them. Some of the gems that will inevitably get created will surely deserve a larger audience than merely 2.

  3. Imperial Creed says:

    Holy crap.

    I mean, really.

  4. Alastair says:

    This is a fascinating experiment, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I request — nay, I demand — play diaries by the RPS hivemind, as soon as possible!

  5. Bobsy says:

    I’m still not convinced that this is going to work, but I’ve put my money down anyway because at $9 there’s really no reason not to give it a chance. My issue is that the GM will need to put in much too much effort compared to the player who’s just sailing along jerking it all around. When your audience is just one jerk, it’s likely that effort will feel wasted.

    Or maybe not. Who knows?

    • brkl says:

      Do what pen and paper roleplaying GMs do — find a way to waste the jerk and find someone better to play with. Or try again and see if he’s learned his lesson.

    • TeeJay says:

      Any multiplayer game can be spoilt by people jerking around, especially a two-player game.

    • Wulf says:

      Question is: Do you know only immature jerks?

      My partner and at least two of my friends would be able to take a story done in this very seriously, especially if it’s about subject matter that they care about. In fact, I all ready have a few stories that they’ll find joyous, poignant, and empowering in equal parts, and I’m eager to share it with them.

      But it really depends on how thinky, imaginative, and creative your friends are. If you have even one friend who could take this seriously then it’s probably worth the money you put down for it, because they could muster the aforementioned creativity and make the proceedings something quite special. But if you’re absolutely sure that your friends are going to dick around and not take any of your finely crafted stories seriously then it’s probably money down the drain.

    • Mr_Day says:

      @ Wulf

      One of the people Bobsy plays online with is me.

      So the answer to your question is well on the way to being a ‘yes.’

      For further proof – I have been looking forward to Sleep is Death for a little while now, but my only contribution to this conversation is “duh, I’m goofy.”

  6. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Extremely interesting!

    I particularly liked the fact objects get spread between people as they tell and play the stories they created.

    I will buy this as soon as I can. No doubt. I’m seeing this being a rather interesting experiment with my kids, as I tell them stories while they play them and, the tell each other stories. I’m just wondering if the GM interface is suited for children around 10 year old. It looks like it.

  7. Bhazor says:

    My big problem is I don’t really know any one who’d be willing to take it as seriously as me. If you guys would promise to start some kind of RPS server, or however the match making works, then I’d preorder this right now.

  8. Mario Figueiredo says:

    But NWN, while still worth of praise because it actually brought Pen&Paper to the computer, made the task nearly impossible to recreate the “I Tell the Story, You Play the Story” environment of P&P games. The amount of work needed to create the game world, the knowledge required to script it, and the arms and hands needed to run it made this a rare experience only at the reach of the obviously skilled and with lots of free time in their hands.

    Sleep Is Death is on a completely different level. It’s not even the same type of game. It’s something entirely different. It’s just one way to approach “Let’s play!”. I actually see its greater potential among children. But adults can enjoy it too. Heck… we’ve been enjoying Pictionary! What can be worse?

  9. M says:

    Quite excited by this. So now you have Rohrer’s content?

    Had he planned it out in advance or did he adlib it?

    • M says:

      Also, do you know what resolution the backgrounds are? It would mean we could precreate content now.

  10. sfury says:

    Jason should set up a forum on the site of the game for such match-making reasons.

    I’m still glad he didn’t make it with some chat-roulette option, now that would really unleash the power of the internet trolldom…

    Playing with a friend is nice, but if you don’t have many friends that are into games or a more intellectual type of games doesn’t help.

  11. vee41 says:

    This looks too interesting to skip for this price, preordered.

  12. WTF says:

    Gonna have to go ahead and be the negative one here for a second: What does this offer that would make it worth me spending money on?

    Now don’t get me wrong. Speaking as someone who played pen and paper Role Plays for YEARS on end I am all for this GM/Player dynamic. My point is, what do crappy, BBC Micro inspired graphics add to a role-play (which is what this is)? Surely all it does is limit and detract from the genre. My mind and the imagination of players I might GM for have a *far* superior rendering engine to any game out there, let alone something deliberately retro like this. Taking a form of interactive experience that is limited only by the bounds of my creativity and stifling it under this game is possible the daftest thing I have ever read about in my life.

    As I say, I cannot in anyway, shape or form, see what this offers or what point it serves.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      What did crappy BBC Micro inspired graphics add to adventure games, RPG, action games and platformers? Well, they were genre spawners, or otherwise seminal in their own right. It’s not because we now have polygon-based 3D that retro-gaming becomes useless or worth complete disregard.

      You may feel that way and I’m not going to argue with you over that. But there’s a whole legion of retro gamers out there who don’t feel like you do. There’s folk still doing games for the ZX Spectrum to this day.

      A game doesn’t need to serve the mainstream. This one clearly seems to aim at a niche. And even ignoring the graphical features for a moment, there’s an element of Game Design in there. And that is all it takes to create an actual game. A concept that unfortunately is becoming increasingly lost in the modern fad of graphical detail.

      Creativity — and it was you who used the word — is expressed in your work. This game sets the stage both to exercise your creativity and let someone else use their imagination. If the graphics get in the way of this experience for you, I can understand. But don’t devalue it with words like “taking a form of interactive experience that is limited only by the bounds of my creativity and stifling it under this game is possible the daftest thing I have ever read about in my life.” The only one not wanting to the increase the bounds of their creative thinking and imagination is you.
      Not many years ago we were exercising our creativity solely in our writing, and inspiring people’s imagination in our books. And we still do it today. Even more than before, judging by the number of new releases. You care to make a similar comment about books? Are they retro?

    • TeeJay says:

      @WTF

      A first I thought you were saying the graphics were not shiny enough and I was going to point out that this level of pixel art hits the sweet spot between having a limited set of shiny graphical assets (which you can’t create in 30 seconds) and at the lower end using ascii symbols which are also ‘limited’ (because they are a kind of fixed code) and inaccessible (because they need to be learnt).

      However I see you seem to be saying that people should be using text-only – written descriptions of rooms and objects etc. using IM / chat channels.

      I’d argue that there are a lot of people who prefer having an immmediate image to look at and interact with rather than relying on reading line by line and remembering or transcribing what/who is in a room or where people are moving , what they are doing.

      Sure, I can see you prefer a much more ‘descriptive’ process – the kind of traditional DM-player discussion. I don’t see this game as trying to directly replace that for people like you who prefer that style of story telling or RPG-playing.

      If this doesn’t capture you imagination and you are not curious to try it out then, no – it isn’t worth your money. I’m in a different category in that I’m curious about trying this out but I have never really wanted to try out a traditional DM-led ‘text/talk’ RPG game or even a DM-led CRPG (I’ve only ever played single-player RPG).

    • WTF says:

      Mario, read TeeJay’s post – he got what I was talking about – your rant about “retro good” was miles from the mark.

      @TeeJay – I am not saying we should have text only RPGs – I think what is being attempted here is to make a computer version of a *real* Role-Play and what I am saying is that if people want to RP, they should get together and bloody well RP! This entire concept is just a massive backwards step as it is patently worse than sitting around a table RPing and will offer far less in terms of a visual experience then even the most basic of current RPGs on a computer.

    • Sobric says:

      @ Mario

      I think you misunderstood everything WTF wrote in his post.

      @ WTF

      Funnily enough, I have to agree with you, but I’m coming from a different angle. An angle in which I may very well buy the game.

      I have never tried PnP RPing, and almost certainly never will. However, this game offers something close that I may well try.

      To answer your question: I don’t think this game does offer you anything, since you already have what you need in traditional PnP RPing. However, what is offers to me and others like me is a way in. Something similar to traditional PnP RPing in its creativity, but softly enfolded in a comforting gaming environment.

      And that makes it sound totally mainstream and unexciting, which it is absolutely not.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Indeed. My apologies WTF. I totally misread your post.

      And yes, from my new-found knowledge of what you really meant, I have to agree in some way. Especially because there are out there already (and since pretty much ever) all the tools necessary to more precisely mimic P&P RPG on a computer. I can’t locate them now, but throughout the years I’ve ran across all sorts of RPG online alternatives (browser-based, forum-based, client-server applications, P2P applications) that more closely relate to P&P.

      But maybe that’s why my immediate thought for this was children, since they will definitely be more open to something like this, than they will to text-only approaches, or actual P&P. And I really see an immense value for P&P in the lives of children. And I certainly would put my time to play this with my daughters.

    • The Hammer says:

      “what I am saying is that if people want to RP, they should get together and bloody well RP!”

      Sure, I’ll just get onto my legion of friends who enjoy RPi-

      Oh.

    • Hypocee says:

      Wowie zowie. I wonder if the writer specifically addressed that stu-… Ah. Yup.

  13. TeeJay says:

    The way I see this working is that stories and assets are “seeded” – one person will create a scenario/story/assets which other people “play”.

    People will then recount and write up their experiences and maybe discuss the ‘alternative paths’ that were not used (like the dungeon under the church mentioned above). Then people will use the same scenario/story/assets to tell the story to their friends, but along the way they will add their own stuff or go off on a different tangent. Soon there will be a whole “library” of stories that people can use: A pair of players can chose from the mini-descriptions and take turns in playing the ‘DM’. The DM will prepare by reading up on all the spoliers and feedback from all the people who have tried to tell the story before – seeing all the ways players have sabotaged the original idea, and all the routes various DMs have taken in response. This will give a prospective DM a whole range of possible stories they can have in mind when starting their own story. There might even be pre-prepared “cheat-sheets” or “walkthroughs” that the DM could use.

    Another thing that might develop is that a single DM / author keeps telling the same story to people again and again or using the same location and cast of characters (which *they* are role-playing). Each time they will build up assets, deal with people trying new actions and maybe branch off on different tangents and endings if they feel inspired to do so. A single DM could end up gradually building a whole world and cast of characters – all of which would be “seeded” to anyone who came and played in their world. So rather than a linear “story” being re-told it would be a kind of “persistent world”.

    A final possiblity: people will use it for non-story-telling purposes… for example people wanting to discuss level design, plot development or writing a script/stage directions for something or making a different kind of machinima.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    I’ve pre ordered and would be very much interested in trying it out with some fellow RPS folks once I’ve tried it out a couple of times and have my head around it.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      Count me in….I do intend to do some pretty wierd stuff…

  15. Kyle Francis says:

    It sounds kind of like improv: the game. And I don’t say that to reduce or simplify, either. I think that’s terrific.

    Games tend to borrow from film most frequently, but I’ve been thinking for a while they should be borrowing from theatre. In theatre–but especially improv–the creators have a stage, some objects and some characters. You can do whatever you want with them, but you’re always bounded by a set of predetermined rules. Sometimes those rules are decided upon in advance (no one dies, no crimes over $5000, etc.), but what it is, is a system you can manipulate to generate meaning.

    In the words of theatre kids, games–almost all games–”give you an offer.” Story, narrative, context–whatever you want to call it–suggests a direction for you to move in order to co-create meaning with the author within the system. On a stage, this might look like one actor saying to another, apropos of nothing:

    “Are you ready for your kidney transplant.”

    But the problem with most games is that they either let you accept the offer completely (“yes, I am ready for my kidney transplant.”) or reject it completely (“actually, I think I’ll loot these medicine cabinets for opiates, then drive a car through a billboard.”) What Sleep is Death seems to do is increase the number of ways you can accept the offer, because the game is being controlled by someone who can “play” against you (“You bet I’m ready. Hand me that box of gloves and prep my scrubs. I’ll meet you in the OR in five.”)

    In short: This is terrific, and I will purchase it immediately. I only hope that the ideas driving it find their way into the mainstream eventually.

  16. Chizu says:

    pre-ordered. I just hope my friend and I can come up with something worthwhile, otherwise it will probably be alot of people throwing furniture about in each scene. :v

  17. Oozo says:

    @everyone asking about the match-making
    Rohrer has actually answered that over at boingboing (go read the write-up there, the lay-out is amazing): http://boingboing.net/features/rohrer.html
    Here’s what he has to say:
    “I don’t know where people got the idea about Chat Roulette… but yeah, I saw that too! No random stranger pairings here. I mean, can you imagine what that would be like? P—S!
    As is hopefully clear from the website, when you order, you get *TWO* downloads of the game, one for you, and one for a friend. There’s no DRM on the downloads, so if you want to play with more than one friend, I suppose that you will.”

  18. the wiseass says:

    This is incredibly impressive, unfortunately it’s two player only. I would have liked if more people could enjoy the creative interactive story of the GM together. Because, honestly, playing pen & paper with only one player and one GM isn’t very fun at all.

    But I’m still eager to play this, even if I doubt any of my friends will be eager to test it with me.

    • TeeJay says:

      Well you could always have a few people gathered around the computer at each end contributing ideas, or (at the DM end) “voicing” different characters.

    • ynp7 says:

      But it isn’t like pen & paper RPGs at all. While a similar game that allowed for more Players might be interesting it actually has almost no relation to Sleep is Death. The problem Rohrer seems to be trying to solve (and he’s been quoted stating it explicitly in a number of places) is that of video game AI being too primitive and restrictive for really dynamic narrative gameplay.

      Think of it like a single-player adventure game, that’s a much closer analog than Dungeons & Dragons. That’s basically what it is really, just with the pre-made narrative and canned actions replaced by the Controller’s brain.

    • the wiseass says:

      Well I don’t know if I can agree to that. first of all, the pen&paper analogy did not come from my part but was derived from the above article. Second of all, the game calls itself a “a storytelling game for two players by Jason Rohrer” and that’s what it is. I think the main selling point is the immediate interactivity between the story teller and the adventurer, something that’s only really been successfully done before with pen & paper games. It’s the possibility that the storyteller can actually react to what the player does which makes this really interesting (at least to me).

      On the other hand I’ve tried playing several online version of pen & paper games, allowing you to draw stuff on a canvas while chatting with your fellow adventurers. This has all been done to various degrees of success but technical limitations mostly made playing this more awkward than actually meeting up and playing face to face. On example is Fantasy Grounds a virtual Tabletop, where you can pretty much do the same things and even more:

      http://www.fantasygrounds.com/screenshots/

      So while I think that sleep is death is an interesting execution of this same idea, I’m afraid that its own limitations will also be its own downfall. But it is a step in the right direction, which hopefully will entail many more iterations of interactive gameplay storytelling. Nevertheless, my criticism won’t keep me from trying this out, hopefully with a friend or two.

  19. Wulf says:

    I’ve been following this since it was first announced, I’ve enthused about it many times on RPS, and of course I preordered it a bit ago. As I said in an earlier comment, I do have some friends who could engage in a serious story with this thing, I know them well and I know the sort of subject matter they’d take seriously, I also know what makes them feel. And I’m reasonably confident as a story-weaver that I can fashion something that will make them feel absolutely awesome at the end of each respective story. If I can achieve that respect then this game will be worth the $9 and so much more. And I do have a lot of stories to tell… oh yes.

    On the topic of matchmaking: There is none. None at all, in fact. You ask your friend for their domain (if they have one) or IP and then you plug that in, that’s it. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something like this ourselves. I spoke on this previously but I’ll repeat it here for relevance. We could do something like Neverwinter Connections, but a little bit different. We could use the all ready existing WebCalendar CMS for it. Basically, people would set out a schedule for telling stories, people could look over the calendar and apply for stories. When both agree then it’s set, and the IP of the GM is shared privately.

    The scheduling system can easily have a short description of the story you’ll be telling, and that way people can look for a story that suits them that’s going to play out within a reasonable time-frame to sign up for. And via this method people can arrange Sleep is Death sessions that won’t interfere with life outside of the Internet.

    It also has to be said that I’m all ready creating sprite art for this and seeking out some sprite sheets that I can use to save myself some time. I found myself a beautiful werewolf sprite sheet that I’m no doubt going to make some use of, for example.

    Yes, I’m very excited about this and looking forward to it!

    • JB says:

      Wulf, once I’ve got my head around the game, I’ll have to get in touch with you. I’m interested to experience some of these stories =)

    • Taillefer says:

      Actually, that raises an interesting question about people using copyrighted material, since it will be distributed among users. Do you have to agree not to? Or, why don’t I go and look for myself…

    • Wulf says:

      @Tal

      I’m sorry I can’t answer your question, but providing you say where the resources are from before you use them I can’t imagine that there’ll be much of a problem. This is why I have a huge horde of links for all the sprites I’m going to use. I plan on being very fair, and using the sprites to advertise the work of the people who made them, and I plan on providing these links before I start just so people know which work is and isn’t mine. I’ll also ask the person I’m playing with to pass along these links if they’re going to use those resources. Most artists I’ve met are okay with this kind of personal use, if you credit them fully and link to them.

      @JB

      Thanks! I’m going to have so much fun with this.

      And here you go, here’s a snippet for you:

      The setting is a particularly dark alley behind an old country pub, two men are present, one is dressed up in a particularly tatty way, looking as though they get their clothes from a charity shop, the other is better dressed and he’s standing at the entryway to the alley. Fear emanates from the well-dressed man, his eyes dart around as he scans the alley before warily stepping in.

      “If you want to be one of us, you’ll have to understand the rules,” the tatty one informs, under his breath. The tatty one is Paul, second in command of the local ‘pack’, and that’s probably just what you think it is. A Wolf pack. This is a story about werewolves and the journey of one ordinary fellow whose life was pretty ordinary just last Tuesday, until it was turned on its head, just after tea time. About 6pm.

      “What are the rules?”, the well-dressed one asks.

      “Pretty much common sense, but you have to have a good head on your shoulders. I dunno whether you do or not, that’s why we’re testing you. Now, listen up…”

      The well-dressed man is named Steve, who had an interesting conversation with a friend just last Tuesday, just after tea time. About 6pm. The conversation revolved around mythical creatures and whether they were real. He’d known Paul for a good few years and he seemed like a particularly ordinary bloke, a little eccentric at times, he had poor taste in clothes, and he’d disappear for long periods without explanation, but that was just Paul, he hadn’t really considered this or asked why, that question was put in his head for him.

      “I’ve got a bit o’ a hypothetical scenario for ya, so to say. So, try this: You feel the change coming on you, you absolutely need to shift, it’s taken you so hard you can’t resist it. You’re at a disco, late at night, and you rush out through a back door and find yourself in an alley, just like this one. You look around and you don’t spot anyone right away, but it’s hard to pick up anything in particular because there’s so much life-mess here. You decide you’re safe and strip off your clothes, the shift takes you and you throw back your head, your body changes, and you take on your new form. Your new eyes gaze down the alleyway, more accustomed to the blue light of night. They fall upon an old homeless guy who’s looking quite startled, he has a whiskey in his hand, he might be drunk, but there’s every chance he saw you shift. What do you do?”

      >_>

  20. Oozo says:

    That’s already the third write-up I read – the first one being the one on boingbong, the second one coming from Leigh Alexander. Each one was custom- tailored (with only a few tile-sets reused) – Jason surely puts a lot of effort and love in promoting the game.
    It’s interesting to see how the first reaction seems to be the same for almost every player: Trying to “break it” – even though it is of course a crucial difference that you are not trying to break a system here, but, at best, a story. It’s not breaking, it’s provoking, taunting the other. Guess that will be one of the biggest assets of the game, even though I wonder if, after a while, you won’t settle with playing along – not stressing so much the improvisational-aspect of it, but the story-telling one. Guess it might come down to different player-characters as well.
    Either way – preordering it now.

    • Wulf says:

      If you go to his site, there are actually quite a few other previews as well, all as fun to read!

  21. WTF says:

    @Sobric

    Hmm…fair enough. Maybe you represent the potential customer that I am overlooking with my criticism.

    To all who intend to buy this – good luck to you but I would strongly encourage you to try PnP RPs instead as this game will never achieve even the tiniest fraction of the thing it is imitating.

    • Oozo says:

      @WTF and Igor
      Can’t say I disagree with you completely – putting the game in question by comparing it with traditional P&P was the first thing I did as well. I mean, if you really only want to have ANY storytelling-tool/storyproducing-engine, there are a lot that are far superior out there.
      But of course there are reasons why this game still has a right to exist. There were three perfectly valid once already mentioned here, one in Alex’ text, the rest in the comments. The lower entry-barriers is one – if it really is as intuitive as they say, it’s miles from learning the rules-set of a P&P RPG, let alone the fact that you don’t have to have people coming over to your house. (Distance and lack of time can be an issue). The second one was the aesthetic appeal of the retro-graphics: Mario’s post was not completely off the mark – there can be a genuine pleasure found in retro-graphics, looking at them, producing them, tweaking them. I like pixel-art. I like conjuring pictures into my mind, too. One is not a substitute for the other.
      The most important reason is Alex’ one, though, the one he mentioned in the final paragraph: The game feels like playing a VIDEOGAME. Playing a game against a digital system. It’s not the same as talking to somebody hiding behind a curtain. It’s like saying that animated movies should only be for stories that can’t be done with real-actors, because the CGI is not there yet. Or, even worse: Your argument recalls me the bs we have to go through because uninformed people refuse to see that the medium IS important (I won’t quote good ol’ McLuhan, but it basically is that). You know, politicians thinking that you actually CAN be trained to shoot people by playing games on a keyboard. You know that is not true, so maybe you agree that the differences between Rohrer’s game and P&P RPGs are as important as their common characteristics, too? It’s not as if they were competing for the spot on top of the bad-ass-story-telling-tools. The fact that you are playing it on a computer, with a very restritive rules- and tools-set, with mouse and keyboard, listening to (tweakable, btw) music, looking at sprites on a screen, simply makes it a thing of its own kind.
      You won’t be able to tell the same stories you could in an P&P-session, of course. If freedom is your yard-stick, it can’t help but fall short (even though you could think of “Sleep is Dead” as a set of rigid restrictions – it’s well known that those can lead to new kinds of creativity, it’s the whole point of improvisation, after all.) In the end, you don’t have to like any of the things that make it different from a P&P RPG. But there are there, and I like to think for good reasons.

    • TeeJay says:

      @WTF

      “…if people want to RP, they should get together and bloody well RP!…”

      People “should” do what they want to do. There are *loads* of reasons why people might want to interact online instead of meeting up in real life.

      “…this entire concept is just a massive backwards step as it is patently worse than sitting around a table RPing…”

      Again, this is your subjective take on it. “Worse” for you, other people may prefer this to sitting round a table RPing.

      “…offer far less in terms of a visual experience then even the most basic of current RPGs on a computer…”

      The most basic RPGs are text- or IM- based and/or rogue-likes, so this isn’t correct either. Some people prefer a pixel art style in all sorts of games, so it’s your subjective take that this is offering “less”.

      “…this game will never achieve even the tiniest fraction of the thing it is imitating…”

      Again, you are makin the mistake of thinking that your preferred activity is the ‘real thing’ and this software is just trying to imitate it. Have you stopped to ask yourself why plenty of people who simple don’t want to RP round a table are interested in Sleep is Death? And how can you claim that this will “never” achieve things when you haven’t even used it even once?

      Finally, if you managed to give me one concrete example of a better equivalent (and sorry but saying “sit round a table RPing’ is neither an equivalent or even an option for me) then I’d be more impressed: ie “software X does this better” >>> what is X?

    • Vinraith says:

      @WTF

      I know what you mean. Personally, I put up with the restrictions and limitations of PC RPG’s (as opposed to true PnP RPGs) because they have one fundamental and critical advantage over their PnP cousins: they don’t require other people.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      WTF: Allow me to cut down everyone else’s responses to a simple one liner: You don’t have to stare at your mate’s dumb face when playing this.

      EDIT: I also can’t believe no-one’s jumped on your “real thing” statement. Rockist!

      EDIT 2: Let’s be slightly less sarcastic. Here, the Wizard is behind the curtain. In P&P, the Wizard is there in your front room, scratching his hairy balls.

      EDIT 3: I did say only “slightly”.

      KG

    • WTF says:

      LOL@ all, esp. KG

      Points well made and well taken =)

      I can see what you are all saying in defence of this but it is clearly just not for me. While I have argued that such a thing could and should exist (a graphical, user created system for GMing and RPing over the intertubes) this is far from what I would have ever envisaged. Oh well – maybe I can look at it as the start of a genre, albeit a niche one, and that more will follow culminating in the experience I desired.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      WTF: Yeah, I think they’re just very different things. I’ve got a piece half written which I may post tomorrow about this. IT IS VERY SHOUTY.

      KG

    • JB says:

      Come on KG, now you’ve told us about it you have to post it. I’m sure I read that rule somewhere.

      I look forward to reading your SHOUTY bit tomorrow.

    • Wulf says:

      It’s a shame really, I get where KG is coming from because WTF’s argument is a bit of an apples exist, therefore oranges suck and are useless, everyone should eat apples one.

      It really is apples and oranges, because this is more like a televised serial. You don’t put on your robes and wizard hat, there are virtual tabletop systems better suited to that, you put on your trousers and your shirt and you engage in something that’s quite different to what most forms of roleplay have offered prior. In fact, this is one of the reasons I loved World of Darkness, despite it being too dark and violent for me, because it eschewed a lot of common D20 traditions in lieu of a better system.

      And no matter what you think of World of Darkness, they do have one of the best systems out there, if not the best. And the thing is is that Sleep is Death is as different from traditional D20 as World of Darkness is. I’ve done tabletop, D20, Ironclaw, World of Darkness, Warhammer, GURPS, and a bunch of other things I can’t even bloody remember any more, and I’m still excited about this. I’m excited because it provides something different. There’s no need to make zealous screams of better/worse, is there? That is the first step on the path of elitism, and I don’t think anyone would really want to be an elitist if they realise that that’s what they’re being.

      As someone with a lot of experience under my belt, I can honestly say that I have room for this, and if one were to deny oneself new experiences, any sort of experience, then the only loss is one’s own. If both apples and oranges exist, why not enjoy both? The one is no threat to the other, and they’re both great in their own right.

  22. Igor Hardy says:

    Cool write-up – fun to read how the player gradually starts to treat the game world more seriously. However, I’m not convinced this game’s concept is that hot.

    This is why Sleep is Death cannot, must not be dismissed with “but why don’t I just play pen and paper roleplaying with a friend?”

    Nevertheless, dismissing it as such is what immediately comes to mind when you first hear about the game.

    You can’t see the GM here.

    If I don’t want to look at my friend, I can ask him to hide behind a curtain. Or we can communicate through Skype over a distance. He can pretend to be many different people just as well.

    • Taillefer says:

      I think you’re underestimating the presentation as a game. To look at it another way: if a graphic adventure game was released, and it stated you could do anything you wanted and the World would react accordingly, I, for one, would be highly impressed.

      Ignore the GM, imagine you’re in a game.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      @Taillefer That’s true, but first you need to organize your gameplay and you can’t jump over the fact that you need another person to become the GM and put a lot of time into designing a game experience for you. Also, in many situations the game will be only as good as the GM is interesting and quick-thinking – it’s a very different experience to a meticulously designed adventure game.

      Frankly, if I was the person asked to be the GM in Sleep is Death I think I would say I prefer to either:

      1) spend the time on creating a quick adventure game that more people can play.

      or

      2) become a GM in a pen and paper RPG, where I can get away from the computer, software, and visual assets.

    • Taillefer says:

      Well, you’re always relying on the talent of somebody else in some way. With other games, that will be fixed. The art will stay the same, the story, the rules. Here it can change every time you play (for better or worse).

      Admittedly, though. I’m looking forward to it more as a plaything with friends than I am to creating a serious narrative with profound meaning. And I think a lot of people will use it that way; improvising more than detailed planning. Others will jump right into to creating something spectacular. I do think the restriction to two people (although it makes some sense) may limit the growth of the community, which is a shame, but maybe that will change.

      Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

    • Wulf says:

      All I’ll say to you is what I said above: If you’ll deny yourself a new experience on the grounds of “A exists, B exists, I think A is better and therefore B is pointless (even without trying it).” then the only loss is yours, yours and yours alone. I won’t even try to convince you. Lots of people miss out on fun experiences because they don’t think they’re worthwhile, it’s hardly a new thing. But it is a loss. Me? Given the chance at a new experience, I’ll jump at it.

  23. JB says:

    If I remember from Mr Rohrer’s site, the game matching involoves knowing the other person’s IP address. I don’t think it’s automated at all. But don’t quote me on that.

  24. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    I wish I knew enough people who I might be able to persuade to play this, but it seems that it will have a remarkably restricted audience. I fear of real life friends it will be too difficult to find someone who is open to improv, gaming, and has sufficient time available. I seem to be unusual here in having few RL friends who are also PC gamers, and although sleep is death obviously doesn’t require a gaming powered PC, it will be difficult to persuade your average user to put down the money to buy the game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      @ James

      I think that is why when you buy it you are buying two copies of the game. I’ve got a couple of friends who would probably be interested in this but probably wouldn’t stump up the cash (stereotypical Scottish tightness!) but I’ll be able to foist the game on at least one of them – it’ll be fun to see what they think of iit.

    • Sam C. says:

      I’m kind of worried about that myself. I can’t think of anyone I know that would be all that interested in playing even if I bought the game and gave it to them. I guess informal communities will form up around it, but some form of built in matchmaking would be nice. If I read correctly, it seems you’re given the source code as well, so maybe someone will jury rig a basic matchmaking system.
      I still think I’ll buy it and hope for the best.

    • Premium User Badge

      Norskov says:

      I’ve pre-ordered it now, even though I can’t imagine any of my friends will play this. If people were interested we could probably set up a Hamachi network or some other VPN.

    • Wulf says:

      @Norskov

      No need.

      It has the capability for Internet play via a direct connect.

      And if we put together my matchmaking site idea (see above post, sear ‘Neverwinter Connections’ then all of the interested parties will be able to share stories!

  25. Quests says:

    Beautiful.

    This should make people realize how much time we wasted on FPS, and how much Doom and all 3d was harmful to gaming, taking space away from pure interaction and its possibilities(like this game), that is, if you have graphics, you can’t interact, you can only kill.

    • M says:

      I disagree, I think this is a very analytic approach to gaming – what does it mean to interact, how can we emphasise these connections, et cetera. To say that the FPS has stifled our ability to interact with things, or is somehow ‘wasted’ time, does a great disservice to the many great games that came out.

      Games don’t all have to be meaningful experiments.

  26. Andy says:

    I’m really trying to get excited about this. I think Rohrer is a seriously important figure in the ‘Games as Art’ camp (if you buy into that kind of thing) and I’m tempted to buy this simply to support his work but I know I would never ever play it.
    I pay good money for professional designers to come up with this stuff for me and while I’m not naive enough to presume that the great gaming public aren’t capable of creating something that can surpass the narrative in premium games there will likely only be a very few diamonds in the rough. I have so many great games piling up around me that I desperately want to get through that there’s less and less time to plough through something like this to find any good content.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t buy that at all. Not even slightly.

      The Neverwinter Nights campaign was shit, but there were player made modules which were better (too many to name, just take a look at the Neverwinter Vault).
      Unreal Tournament 3 was pretty shit, yet there are worthwhile mods for it which are so much better (The Ball).
      Half-Life 2 was good, and there are mods around that make it worthwhile to keep on my HDD (Dear Esther and Minerva).
      Baldur’s Gate II was okay, but a campaign by a guy named Wesley had a far better story.
      Morrowind was fun, but the mods made it shine, and it had some beautiful story mods (The White Wolf of Lokken Mountain).

      Do I need to go on? I honestly don’t think I do.

    • Wulf says:

      The point I’m making here is that I believe that Sleep is Death will have at least as many good stories knocking around as Neverwinter Nights did (and that had hundreds). Since the evidence is there with Neverwinter Nights, I have no reason to believe that this wouldn’t be the case.

      Amateurs are more creative than you think, sometimes even brilliantly more so than professionals.

  27. vee41 says:

    I think the big thing that some people miss when comparing this to other similar ‘RPG’ games (NwN, Vampire, PnP games) is that this isn’t trying to be RPG game at all. It’s a storytelling game. Neverwinternight and others had basically the same storytelling abilities in some form, but it was all buried under combat system, sheets, skill rolls, stats and stuff. This game delivers the pure essence of storytelling, just two people interacting and simple tools to make that interaction possible and as limitless as possible.

    Man I’m looking forward to this thing way more than anything in… decade?

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      Nail on head.

      I like RPGs, but I prefer adventure games. Pen and paper RPGs have never held much appeal for me as my perception of them (emphasis on my perception here, which is based on conversations with a few friends – there may be many contrary examples out there, which is grand) is that they get somewhat bogged down in stats and rules and so on. The adventure game style interface is one which is much more appealing to me and one which I’m instantly comfortable with.

      Different ways of doing things appeal to different people and I find this instantly more appealing than traditional pen and paper RPGs and really hope that it lives up to its potential.

    • Wulf says:

      I can’t say much other than that I agree! Very eloquently said!

    • Wulf says:

      Addendum @Lamchops

      I agree in regards to pen & paper, mostly it does. This is actually why I like World of Darkness, because WoD is a little more improv, and it’s very rules lite if you know what I mean, it puts much more of an emphasis on the actual story rather than having a million-bajillion numbers to keep track of. That’s why I was :/ about D20 in general (though I did play it) but I was :D about WoD. In fact, the only thing that didn’t appeal to me so much about WoD was the setting, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

      To me, this seems like a logical extension of that sort of storytelling, going from rules lite to no rules at all. I also think that a lot of people who claim pen & paper knowledge here haven’t played World of Darkness.

    • vagabond says:

      I suspect most people’s exposure to Pen and Paper RPGs is DnD and that’s about the extent of it. (And given the travesty that is DnD 4Ed, that’s really just sad).
      My reaction to most of the previews for this so far has been “have you people never role-played before?”, but I suspect I should probably be asking “Have you people never played anything but DnD before?”.

      I’ll try this (I mean, I did just pre-order it), but my gut feeling is that while it has qualities that make it better in some situations than PnP RPing, those things don’t matter to me enough that I will prefer it. I am curious about Alec’s “not being able to see each other makes it substantially different” (as opposed to Keiron’s argument which seems to be that all his friends are ugly and the less he has to be in the same room as them the better).
      As a GM I want to be able to see the expressions on my players faces. The conversation outside of them just telling me what they are doing is one of the things that lets me manipulate their decisions.

      If nothing else, this conversation is good, because up until now it hadn’t occurred to me to sit at the GM end of sleep or death rolling dice to determine whether what the player just tried worked… :)

    • Dreamhacker says:

      Vagabond: Full stop! You are overlooking the fact that a large part of the world’s roleplayers do not play english tabletop RPG’s and thus have managed to avoid D&D. Don’t underestimate obscure Euro-RPG’s! :)

    • misterk says:

      Indeed, it does seem most people associate roleplaying with d and d, which imposes sad face. I recently played a wod one shot in which I made about 4 rolls (the first three were perception, the final one was playing find the lady to succesfully claim my life back from a changling….), wod mortals is the closest thing i’ve played to these games, although the setting encourages horror more than anything else.

      The important difference here is actually a rather strange imposition of 30 seconds a turn- read the destructoid preview for more on that (destructoid also has a turn as the controller, which is pretty hilarious). I don’t think you’re going to get long form stories here, but interesting improvisation. It will depend on the story teller and the player- one could certainly start by introducing players to the story a bit more- a lot of these scenarios have the classic video game problem of attempting to get the player to understand who they are while giving them choice along the way.

    • Wulf says:

      Can I make a point, here?

      I’m not sure how to go about it, so this is going to be one of those Stokeresque ramblesome posts that I’m known for, so try to stick with me.

      How to start off with this…

      I said that I like World of Darkness, of all the roleplaying systems I’ve tried (and I’ve been roped into trying many) it remains my favourite, and other systems seem limited in comparison. The reason for this is that as a GM I always felt that D20/D&D really limited what I could expose my characters to, I got inventive with D&D on times, and in one campaign I even managed an ever-loving die-rolling mindfuck. And yet I still felt limited, because I didn’t really guide anything, neither did the players, the dice had the power and it was largely down to chance.

      A lot of people I’ve talked to find this overwhelming, that they find the rules are actually smothering and suffocate their character and their position in the story, that they can’t fully express themselves because they’re locked within the boundaries of the ruleset. If someone tells you that pen & paper is only limited by the imagination and they’re talking about D&D or any similar D20 system, it’s my opinion that they’re lying or they just don’t have the imagination to really fuck over the game in a way the rules can’t cope with.

      This is an issue for D20, it has a very static ruleset, the ruleset has expectations of the player. Does this make sense? The ruleset wants you to do this, the ruleset needs you to be that, and it’s very difficult to break out of, sometimes it can be a prison for creativity, not a bastion. World of Darkness is a completely different concept, because the rules in a World of Darkness game tend to play second fiddle to the story. It’s a they’re there if you need them dealie. The World of Darkness approach unchains the pen & paper player.

      More than that, the World of Darkness approach is very simple and intuitive, it’s easy to understand. You can look at a World of Darkness character sheet and immediately understand what’s going on. You aren’t overwhelmed by numbers, you’re instead overloaded by the creativity of the player. I dig that. And there are many concessions and different approaches that allow for a lot of movement within World of Darkness, it’s not at all a static system, it’s a very fluid system, and one that can account for creative players. This is why I’ve encountered fairly boring stories in D&D, but some absolutely, mindbendingly, awe-inspiringly fantastic one sin WoD.

      And you know what helps contribute to that?

      Okay, I’ll say it, brace yourself…

      The majority of D20/D&D players I’ve encountered aren’t that imaginative, nor are they great actors. In fact, I’ve had the best successes by introducing really flamboyant people whom I have hope for but know aren’t roleplayers to World of Darkness. They’re scared off by the very restrictive approach of D20/D&D, it’s just too many numbers for some people, but they can deal with the Lite approach of World of Darkness better. You’ll still have the odd bad actor, but generally this brings in new blood, imagination, creativity, and for me it’s brought about some of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had with pen & paper.

      Who are the target audience of Sleep is Death?

      Probably the same people that I tried to draw into World of Darkness. I can show them the game, I can explain that there’s no stress or pressure, they’re just playing a game and acting their character, they can have fun with it. And in this case, there are no rules and all they have to worry about is how I’ll react to their choices. Thankfully, my friends know me to be an even-handed and creative person, so I wouldn’t scare them off (I all ready have interested non pen & paper playing parties).

      The point I’m making here is that I can get people who are normally scared off by the nerdly numbermunching of normal pen & paper involved, and these are the people you want involved, especially if you know them to be a bit eccentric and prone to acting. In fact, they are the best possible people to have as players for a game like this, and by showing them that it is just a game in which a story is told (much like ruleless IRC storytelling, but with the added appeal of graphics) I can likely get their attention.

      It’s nice as well that it runs on low end computers and that new art assets can be created easily (which I’m currently doing), this means that people don’t have to worry about whether their prehistoric machines can handle the game or not, so it’s open to just about anyone that has some kind of a computer (and most people do, these days).

      To cement this point, read the previews. Look at what happened with Alec, and with all the people who were involved in a story with Rohrer. These aren’t people who would normally sit down for a game of pen & paper, and yet they can create a story which would match (and in some cases outdo) the stories provided by seasoned pen & paper players. New blood is always a good thing, and sometimes the most creative ideas come from people who just like to have fun with writing and playing, rather than getting bogged down with systems of rules.

      That’s why I’m sold on Sleep is Death. However… it’s totally going to depend on how creative you are and the people you know.

    • Devenger says:

      @ Wulf: I wouldn’t say World of Darkness is rules-lite. (I have only played WoD briefly, but I am currently in an Exalted game that uses a highly similar system, and I quite enjoy digging deep into game rules to see how games tick.) WoD is a good deal further along a gamist/simulationist-to-narrativist sliding scale than D&D, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go further yet. Have a look at The Pool ( http://www.scribd.com/doc/13967641/The-Pool-an-inde-RPG ), or Wushu ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wushu_(role-playing_game) ) – you can go MUCH further. This isn’t always a good thing – different groups need to strike a different balance, in order to have the most fun.

      I’m not criticising you – I agree, WoD does what it does very well, and is a blast to play with the right people. But it’s important to not over-simplify what is highly complicated.

  28. K.Boogle says:

    Hey Alec, thanks for covering this game for us.
    You’ve had two sessions where you were the player, but how about one where you are the GM? I’d really like to see how that plays out for you. Would you be as capricious playing the GM side, or would you try to steer the game as closely as possible to your pre-determined story?

  29. MrFake says:

    MS Paint Adventures does it better. You are encouraged to craft your own adventures for everyone to take part in as a forum game. It’s only missing the time limit.

    I look forward to the future of this art.

  30. Andre says:

    Expect a community portal to appear on http://sidtube.com around the game’s (pre-order) release on the 9th.
    If you don’t have anyone to play with or your buddies live in areas where they got the time wrong, you’ll find people to play with there. You will also be able to share resources (sprites, sounds, etc.) and, most importantly, your stories, thanks to magic. Even though I’m plastering about half the internet with this announcement, I’ll say it again: Monumental thanks to Jason Rohrer not only for the game itself but also for his approval and cooperation towards building a community/matchmaking/story sharing portal for Sleep Is Death.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      That’s amazing news, Andre. I was resigned to scrounging up games on forums and other such pathetic actions..

    • Wulf says:

      Yay! I knew someone would put together Neverwinter Connections for SiDers.

  31. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    I can’t wait to lead people into elaborate traps with an inevitable bad ending no matter what they do..AND IN THE GAME

  32. Yanko says:

    Seriously, RPS, go to hell and die.
    You activated my “OH NOES THE PREORDER TIME IS GOING TO END SOON!” switch and I made an impulse buy of a 18 (brazilian) bucks game that I could totally replace by pen&paper RPGs. Now i’ll even have to convince people to play with me =~

    Jason, if you’re reading this, please do something really cool with my 9 bucks!

    PS: am i the only one who thinks this will be a huge success on /b/?

  33. Mundus says:

    So i pre-ordered but have no friends (at least those interested in this kind of thing), don’t know where the extra code will go to, perhaps I’ll find a group or forum and see if I can’t hand it out there.

    Also I’m under the impression that you can play on-line as well as LAN. That right?

    Regardless, looks awesome. and cheap too, interesting to see what comes from it.

  34. Devan says:

    You’ve convinced me, Alec. I’m going to give this a preorder and try it out with my wife.

  35. JimmyJames says:

    I pre-ordered without anyone to play this with as well. It was cheap, and I think the character graphics triggered a massive wave of nostalgia for the early Police Quest games.

    Hope it’s cool. I’ll also have an extra code to give away in a couple of days.

  36. Cutman says:

    So are we setting up a forum topic for this game or something? Maybe a steam group?

  37. malkav11 says:

    Yeah, I don’t get it. It’s not impressive to have a game that reacts to whatever you do when it requires a creative and intelligent person running things on the other end. What’s impressive is getting a computer to pull something off that feels reactive in that way.

  38. GetOutOfHereStalker says:

    I’d be interested if it was more then 2 players.

    • Wulf says:

      Oh, I don’t know. Having more than two people lessens the experience of some things, doesn’t it? Sometimes just two people works really well for things.

      Personal preference here but I wouldn’t like more than two people involved in my…

      - Lovemaking.
      - Romance.
      - Street Fighter sessions.
      - Borderlands playthroughs.
      - Sleep is Death stories.

      >.>

      Yes, this post was primarily for the humour value, but I wanted to make a point with it, too. It’s not necessarily bad that something is designed to work with two people.

    • Yanko says:

      It would be cool if there could be a larger number of players as spectators, though. The only limitation would probably be how the network communications were implemented, but other than that, seems like a ton of “player one”‘s, without the options of interaction would be relatively easy to do.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Wellllll…. being able to have more than 1 controller and 1 player doesn’t mean you can’t still do it in the original way.

      I certainly intend to check out the source and see how easy it might be to expand the number of players.

      No doubt people who are less pathologically lazy than me will have the same idea, and actually do something about it.

  39. Jlewis says:

    If anyone is interested in helping to drum up some awareness for Sleep Is Death I’ve made a facebook group for the cause.

  40. Ian says:

    I want to try this, but I don’t know what to make of it or whether it’s worth me buying it.

    I’ve not been more conflicted about a game in a long, long time.

  41. billyboob says:

  42. Corey Willis says:

    Is anyone else not getting the pre-order link? The email I recieved said it was coming out on April 9th New York time…

    • Corey Willis says:

      I just received an official response from Jason Rohrer…

      “You’ll get an email sometime tomorrow morning, I think! :)

      Seems that everyone was hoping for a midnight release or something… I do need sleep too!”

      Bummer…the wording was a little misleading…

    • Daniel McElroy says:

      That’s odd, since I also emailed him about a while back asking when it would come out, due to time constraints, and he said that:
      “I plan on delivering the game to people starting at Midnight, on Thursday, April 8. :)”
      Hmm, bit odd. I have about 3 hours to download it before I leave the country, so fingers crossed it gets going before then.

  43. strugatzki says:

    http://hcsoftware.cvs.sourceforge.net/viewvc/hcsoftware/SleepIsDeath/
    Last commit 16 minutes ago.. Hope we’ll have a build soon :-)

  44. Daffs says:

    Yeah, nosing around the internet mega-impatient for this…
    Got Cartman’s Wii Syndrome…

  45. Daniel McElroy says:

    Thing is, I know that I can torrent it (curse the assholes that made this possible), and even though I’ve bought the game already, it still feels unethical.

  46. strugatzki says:

    You could also get the source from the sourceforge page and try to build it yourself, if you’re eager enough .. I wonder if Mr Rohrer is aware that you can browse the sources even though they are not listed on the Files page. But then again, why shouldn’t he be. The world needs to be a more relaxed place, right?

  47. Arreh says:

    Heh, I’ve got an email. Of sorts. It’s of v12, though the release version will be v13. Apparantly because I emailed him I get to be a playtester, and it’s pretty good fun, if tricky. It’ll take a while to get completely used to it, but it’s worth it :)

  48. Jlewis says:

    WHAAAAAAAAAAT? playtester? this late into the release? Is it coming out today (friday the 9th) or not?

  49. strugatzki says:

    http://hcsoftware.cvs.sourceforge.net/viewvc/hcsoftware/SleepIsDeath/gameSource/?sortby=date#dirlist

    This view of the CVS repository will show you the latest stuff he’s doing. If you refresh the page often enough, you get a free and exciting livestream. Weeeeee.