Jason Rohrer’s Sleep is Death is an interesting game to say the least. Did you ever play the game where one person would write a sentence and the other would follow suit, taking turns and seeing where the story would end up? SiD is just like that, but with pictures. With a simple object editor and some of the simplest menus out there, Rohrer has created one of the most unique story-telling devices out there.
Here at Twinfinite, we’ve decided to take these tools and our imaginations and see what comes out. Each week, with me hosting, we will post a new staff member’s story. They will all start with the same first slide and we’ll see where each takes us. This week is a little intro to what makes SiD special. I’ll be hosting and Yamilia will be, well, Yamilia.
It’s hard to explain Sleep is Death with words. I’ll show you instead. Yamilia and I decided to play a test game to serve as the tutorial. As I said before, it’s basically an interactive storybook. A storybook created entirely by the players.
Here is the first room, a room I created as the host:
The room was created before starting the game, but sometimes the host will have to create assets on the fly. The game has a default turn time of thirty seconds, but a simple edit to a file in the text editor allows anyone to update it to however many seconds they want. I changed mine to one hundred, long enough to get things done, but still exhilarating trying to keep up. Just a simple room and some intro text is all you need to convey what’s happening to the player.
Then comes Yami’s turn, doing what she does best:
She can move her character (an object that I designated as the host) around a grid on her screen, talk through speech bubbles, and designate actions by typing them in. The object she is in control over is the player character, the host controls every other object on screen. When she ends her turn, the host sees her changes on their screen and their timer begins to run down. It’s up to the host to complete the actions designated by the player to the best of their ability. I don’t have anything ready for this particular situation, so I do the one thing I can think of.
I have no idea where to go next. I’m hoping that Yami will be side-tracked for at least long enough for me to prepare. There’s plenty of stuff in here to keep her busy.
So I thought:
Great. A situation I’m even less prepared for. I can’t keep stalling, though. That’s no fun for the player. They have to feel in control. I’ll just take her outside and we’ll see where it goes.
Hitting the road:
Now that we’re back on the road, I have a little more control. There’s hardly anything here, so I’ve basically left Yamilia with only one option, pressing forward.
In which I have no flying horse sprites:
The dog sprite was the closest thing I could find. One of the best things about SiD is that both sides, host and player, get to keep all assets they have ever played with. Someone I played with used a dog once, so now I get to use it. The more you play as a player, the more prepared you are as a host.
Descent into madness:
Yamilia has learned of her greatest power: screwing with me. Now that she knows that there are no rules, anything can happen. I no longer have the power.
Powerful player and potty-mouthed princesses:
Once again digging through my object list, I found one that looked almost like a princess. A tiny princess, but definitely a princess. Now that Yamilia has found her power and I’m becoming more and more comfortable with my available sprites, things really kick off.
This is far from the end of our story. As much as I would like to continue a picture-by-picture commentary, this page would become far too long. I won’t leave you hanging, though. It may actually be best without any more context. The whole story can be read here: http://sidtube.com/gallery/1369/#n10
Next week, there will be another story with another staff member. We’ll start out at the same place, but I guarantee the destination will be entirely different.
Needless to say, me and Yami had a blast doing this. When I asked her what she thought about her first time with the game, she responded, “Sleep is Death allows your imagination to truly run wild and create a story with someone you never even thought you could. Whether or not that will always lead to penis jokes is up to the people playing. In my case that will always happen.”
A truer statement has never been said.