Sleep Is Death Is Very Much Alive

By Alec Meer on April 22nd, 2010 at 12:30 pm.

I’m still trying to find a chance to inflict my flailing imagination on some poor sap by acting as storyteller in the two-player freeform adventure game Sleep Is Death, but I know that when I do I’ll be spoiled for choice for art assets. (Do games have art in them? “Yes.”) The recently released version 1.4 is complemented by an incredible amount of player-made content for you to steal, you light-fingered wee blighter. Some of it goes way above and beyond what we ever thought the game was capable of. Pretties!

Pictured above is a scene from a story by former Maxis man Shannon Galvin, an artist on Spore and lead artist on Jonathon ‘Braid’ Blow’s upcoming The Witness. He’s absolutely gone to town, pouring an incredible amount of effort and detail into the game’s pixelly editor. If you thought SiD by necessity looked like a C64 game, think again – and read the charming, weird and beautiful tale Galvin played with SiD’s creator Jason Rohrer. SiD games can read so well after the event, like tiny, mysterious comics from another world.

You can download all the assets for your own games by accessing the private download page you’ll have if you bought SiD. There are currently three other packs lurking there too, which I’ll investigate in due course. You can read the stories they fuelled here.

Then there’s the fan portal sidtube.com, which aims to become an epic repository for SiD resources, stories and finding people to play with/against. If you’re thinking of making your own SiD story, you’re bound to find a head-start there. If you don’t own SiD yet, remember that buying it snags you two copies, so you can unquestionably play with a friend. Or wife/husband/cat/alternative psychotic personality/whatever.

What about you lot? How’s it going? Any fine SiD tales you’d like to share with the rest of us?

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36 Comments »

  1. AndrewC says:

    I asked all my friends if they wanted to play. I was all “hey, I could buy a double pack. it’ll be fun, yeah?”. A week ago I asked.

    So, as it is, SiD is making for some wonderful at-work browsing fun digging through other people’s stories.

  2. Oldskoolgamer says:

    I’ll stick with my Notepad and emailing stories back and forth with a buddy. Graphics…pshaw. Kids these days.

  3. Out Reach says:

    I love sleep is death.

    Sidtube.com (mentioned above) provides a great matchmaking service so you can get games going with random people.

    ATM its a bit short on the ground on controllers. A lot of people want to be the player. I however all most exclusively play controller. It’s fun, It’s fast, It’s exciting and keeps me on my toes. I’ve got 30 seconds to make the players dream a reality and most of the time i pull it off.

    I’d advise everyone to have a go as controller. If your struggling you can go to the game settings and increase the time limit (make sure you tell people about this at the start of the game or they might leave) and ALWAYS have thing prepared. Don’t advertise a game till you have the first scene ready with music, and you have any adjoining rooms ready even if in a basic form.

  4. AndrewC says:

    It’s about being able to share your story, grand-dad. You old-timers are so selfish!

  5. Sobric says:

    PC Gamer’s Blog posted some other art packs you can get for SiD now. There was a conversion of MayDays DF sprites and some TF2 sprites off of the top of my head.

  6. RagingLion says:

    That artwork is simply stunning. The stories pretty darn good too – neat idea to have to switch between 2 possible settings for each room.

    I’ve been reading some of the stories on sidtube already. There’s some good stuff up there. I especially liked the one set in the aeroplane which was pretty funny and the one set on some extraterrestial planet with the rocks was impressive in scope and story – just gone through the 5 star stories from a few days ago thus far.

  7. Honestly says:

    Let’s get this party started…

    Roger Ebert (picture pixellated portly guy with no jaw (ouch too soon?)) says: Games aren’t art.

    Random New Games Journalist: But they are. Here take a look at:

    Choose from the following:

    1) Braid
    2) Flower
    3) Sleep is Death
    4) Dwarf Fortress
    5) Tetris

    • Lewis says:

      Tetris is absolutely the one to pick for a games is art argument. I suspect SiD as a game wouldn’t work as the centre of the argument, but SiD players as collaborative artists using SiD as their canvas makes sense.

    • MadMatty says:

      Its all art. see the Wiki entry on…. “art”
      the definition is pretty wide.
      All i see in this “is games Ert?” is Journo┬┤s treading water.

    • Lilliput King says:

      It’s true! Wikipedia is the final authority on terms and definitions.

      No wonder the Greeks had difficulty defining ‘good.’ They were 2300 years too early.

    • duel says:

      Art has to have no function.

      Wheras a game’s main function is entertainment.

      I think games can have art in, but they can’t be art themselves, people get too hung up on needing to call their favorite game art

    • PopeSeanV says:

      @duel

      I disagree. The best art is often functional. The pyramids are functional as tombs but also serve as an artistic display of geometry and human accomplishment.

    • HarbourMaster says:

      Yeah and well “art must have no function especially not ever never entertainment” kind of removes film and theatre from being considered art.

  8. Schmung says:

    I’d love to try this out, but I’m sort of reluctant because it’s very dependant on having a sufficient number of folk to play with. What’s the deal with the double pack? Can you shift the licence around your mates as a sort of open-ended demo version?

    • Bioptic says:

      The client’s completely DRM-free (and installs entirely independantly of your OS structure, so you can have multiple installations/versions at the same time) – and I don’t believe that download numbers are limited. You’re buying two licenses to use the software, so as long as the license is transferred from one of your friends to the other, I can’t see any problems.

      You can make SiD as pretty as you like (think it’s 24-bit colour), resolution permitting. I’d just imagine it’s a pain to edit nicely shaded sprites on the fly. As ever, the problem’s with content generation – ensuring that the fruits of your labour aren’t just used in a single half-hour session.

      I’d be really interested to see something akin to D&D adventure packs – sets of rooms, characters and objects with an associated backstory and characterisation. Rather than have each session being entirely unique, the interest would lie in seeing the same scenario played out in a multitude of different ways. Having a dozen players all starting at ‘A’, and comparing the deeply strange places that ‘B’ ends up at.

    • Schmung says:

      ah, most helpful, thanks muchly. I shall trawl my contacts list to see if anyone wants to play and if it is therefore worth getting.

  9. Sev says:

    SiD is delightful. I’ve tried my hand at DMing a few D&D campaigns in the past, but never actually managed to reach the phase where people play the campaign. Sleep is Death, i believe, will actually give me a chance to do so, in an even more imaginative, unrestricted way.

  10. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    I prefer the more primitive graphics for two reasons, one emotional and one practical: when the graphics are simpler, I pay less attention to them and more to the text and talking of the story. So I feel more emotionally involved (the graphics still aid in quickly grasping the gist of a scene without reading a long description). But more importantly, when all the rest of the graphics are simple, my improvised-in-30-seconds graphics in response to an unexpected player action aren’t going to look out of place. Even with a longer time limit, my graphics are still crappy, since I can’t draw.

    I’m not sure that Jason Rohrer can draw either, but it certainly appeared that the primitive graphics actually support the game’s design goals (instead of just being retro styled to appeal emotionally to people who played games in the 80s).

  11. Tei says:

    I have never managed to “express” myself in a game. SID is a game where you can have a crazy idea.. (lets say.. a workbench to ‘repair’ brains using a computer and a screwdriver) and 2 minutes after that you can be “playing” a history about such workbench.

    bonus url: The best stuff.

  12. robrob says:

    http://sidtube.com/gallery/333/ is probably my favourite so far, very eerie to begin with although it doesn’t quite sustain it throughout.

    Also anything by DisgracedCop. All of his stories so far have been wonderfully juvenile. There’s a lot of rubbish on SiDTube about violence and space beer but his stand out as being actually funny.

  13. BooleanBob says:

    This is a good’un. Took me all of about 15 seconds to find following the link to sidtube. Promising stuff!

  14. WiPa says:

    I got bored of Sleep is Death after a few hours unfortunately.

    The interface is far too clunky for me.

  15. CaLe says:

    I haven’t a friend in the world. This game is lost to me :’(

  16. Wulf says:

    I’ve done a few test runs, one of which ended in pure hilarity since I was totally unprepared.

    Player: “How did I end up in the bathroom?”

    To which I was very tempted to respond; “I am the genie of the toilet, I summoned you here!”

    Regardless, I’m getting better at it, I’ve done a few single-player runs to practise, too, and at the moment I’m gathering resources like a mad, mad, mad fool, because eventually I want to be totally prepared. There is one story I wish to tell with this, one, and I want to tell it to a lot of people, and I want to tell it well. So I’m biding my time, I’m not going to rush this, and when I’m done I kind of hope it’ll be special.

    • Curry says:

      Wulf, I’d love to experience your story once it’s ready.

      Is there any way I can contact you? My steam account is Curry the Great.

  17. SomeCallMeDave says:

    Got a copy and created a quick story which was fun to be the controller for, my Mrs has said she wants to give it a go but want to come up with something interesting first, its hard to get the gray matter pumping after a day in the office

  18. Bassism says:

    Why haven’t I bought this yet?

    -sadface-

  19. Daffs says:

    Are RPS-types hooking up to play games of this?
    If I was looking for a go-around, how would I go about this?
    (I joined the Steam group, and posted in the forum thread which I now … can’t see.)

    • AndrewC says:

      I’m still completely lost as to how you link up with someone – is it really based on those naked IP addresses? And what is my IP address?

      Anyway, i’m going to spend the weekend hacking through the controller interface before I head out into Internet land. It took me three turns to add a pee stain to some trousers last night! Sheesh!

    • Bioptic says:

      The game provides your IP when you join/create a network game. You can also use http://whatismyipaddress.com/ and similar.

    • AndrewC says:

      Ooohh. I’ve got a bunch of learning to do.

      Also: I.P. Freely.

    • 0graham0 says:

      If you sign up at sidtube.com (free) you can use their matchmaking service which will at least minimize how public your ip address becomes (your ip is only displayed to those who attempt to join your game and is removed from public view as soon as the game starts).

      You can also join the sleep is death irc chat room at http://sidtube.com/social/irc/ if you need any help.

  20. zipdrive says:

    I’m willing to be subjected to your story, Alec :)

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