ghost ship

Screenshot 2018-12-14 13.40.28
Did I mention the graphic design is great? It is. See?

Jay Iles wrote this awesome game.

It’s called Ghost Ship and it’s in alpha right now. You should go read it and play it. There are nearly 170 pages of it so set some time aside.

You were a person but now you’re dead. Fortunately for you, they scanned your brain and installed you in a space ship’s computer. Unfortunately for you, it’s not really your ship. You’re property, software, a commodity. But maybe you can become more than that as you gain memories and maybe some humanity. Providing your memories don’t become irretrievably corrupted. Or just wrong.

Right now Ghost Ship is kind of a box of parts (something the author herself has said). But wow, what cool parts. And the graphic design is vibrant and stark and evocative. And Juan Ochoa drew the robots.

It feels like a hack of Blades in the Dark but it runs pretty far afield (or maybe just far abroad), though keeping the mission + downtime (At Ease in this game) structure. There are subsystems for managing yourself, your software, your drones, and your ship. It’s quite complex and I can’t help thinking that it would benefit from a little refactoring: find some commonality and restate some of these detailed subsystems as special cases of some easily described structure. But then these subsystems are wicked cool and any one would be a very hard darling to kill.

I also got the feeling that Jay hasn’t quite decided what kind of game it is — it feels a little like there are different intentions colliding but I can’t put my finger on why. Do you feel that way? Have a better intuition for what’s causing it.

The highlight for me is the memory system: you have memories and they can be used to influence a die roll under fairly specific circumstances. But you are software and your memories are volatile and be corrupted which can change them in fairly specific ways (like, say, reversing the tone: your positive memory is now a horror). And it can get worse and worse until you lose the memory altogether. But you can try to repair it (complicated by the fact that you don’t remember what it was supposed to be). One could build a whole game around just this.

Ground rules for commentary:

  • be positive. That doesn’t mean don’t be critical, but if you have criticism be specific and don’t be hypothetical: if you think it doesn’t play, play it and prove (or disprove) your hypothesis.
  • be generous. Assume the author is at least as intelligent as you. Give them the benefit of every doubt.
  • discuss as though you will be criticised. Let’s make an environment where people want to discuss.
  • be concrete. Again. Talk about actual things not hypotheticals. Hypotheticals can often be better phrased as a question. Ask a question if you’re wondering! Comment if you read and don’t understand or played and had trouble.
  • praise where warranted. A post saying THIS IS AWESOME is just fine. Welcomed even.

9 thoughts on “ghost ship

  1. Feels like Jay has some _Iron Seed_ in here, though I suspect that is more a case of her inspirations having common inspirations.

    I can’t remember where she posted the brief appendix-n for this one, but I do remember seeing it somewhere…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never actually heard of Iron Seed before – but I’ll look it up. The Appendix N is on pages 14-15 of the book, but essentially the game comes from a bunch of places: Eclipse Phase, Revelation Space, The Expanse, Ancillary Mercy, San Junipero, SOMA and more. Oh! And Hostile Waters, now I think on it – that was my first introduction to the concept of post-death uploaded minds, and the uses a living society might put them to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Skimmed and read here and there and it looks very interesting. I still have not quiet grapsd what the game really is about, Is it a space adventure like expanse or an exploration of what makes a human human or something else? Definitely cool so far and love the look of the PDF.

    Liked by 1 person

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