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January 28th, 2008, 20:30
Gamebanshee links to the RPGCodex forums where a post from former Fallout Tactics artist Gareth "Section8" Davies announces his plans to develop a new indie horror-themed RPG, Synaesthesia, and decribes it as follows:
…The world you've woken into is the gameworld of Synaesthesia. What is Synaesthesia? It's a …word that makes for a cumbersome game title that will inevitably be colloquialised into something much shorter. Literally, it's a condition where your senses get their wires crossed, with effects ranging from perceiving letters or numbers as colours, to being able to taste or see music. It's a common theme throughout the game itself, and marries with the interface to form a numberless RPG, with colours and shapes taking their place.

So how best to talk about it? Answer questions nobody has even asked yet!

What is the game?

Synaesthesia is a horror-themed RPG focused on an ensemble cast and the evolution of a narrative created through the player's actions and the supporting cast's reactions. It's Lost meets Silent Hill, with thirteen strangers imprisoned inside a twisted nightmare world, and relying on each other to survive and possibly escape. The game is presented as a digital graphic novel, and focuses only on significant/enjoyable content, keeping downtime "out of frame".

Why create this game?

This is the game I was born to make. It's the outlet for my passion of game development, with the freedom that being an indie developer can provide. It is born out of over twenty years of gaming “research” and countless discussions of design. That and a very big part of me wants to prove that a game can take advantage of the strengths of the CRPG medium without straying from P&P roots, and without insulting the intelligence of the end user. Synaesthesia is an attempt to be a CRPG done right - nothing too wildly unfamiliar, just a collection and evolution of the high points of the genre….
What’s different?

A lot. Synaesthesia is intended to fly in the face of mainstream RPG offerings, but not to the point of being inaccessible for most gamers. Rather than opting for the expansive world that is current en vogue with today's RPGs, Synaesthesia keeps the scope to a minimum, and focuses on exploring characters and possibilities as opposed to locations.

Synaesthesia also moves away from the tradition of stat crunching that is prevalent in all RPGs. The player still develops their character, but through different methods, generally directly tied to the narrative. Other statistical information is conveyed through visual cues and textual descriptions.

The setting moves far, far away from the typical. High fantasy and space opera are nowhere to be seen, instead, replaced with haunted mansions, albeit fucked-up, broken imitations of haunted mansions. The synaesthetic elements alter the perception of the world.

Also, the key element of an ensemble cast removes the annoyance of shallow NPCs who either repeat themselves, others, or serve merely as quest dispensing automatic tellers. Instead, the limited number of NPCs allows players to explore personalities in depth, in the manner of traditional "party NPCs", but without rigidly defined personae, and a linear narrative script. In reality, a person spends most of their social time with the people they choose to have around them, so it seems strange that most CRPGs have the character spending more social time with complete strangers in need of an adventurer.

The game also features a fresh twist on turn based combat. Each "turn" is framed as graphic novel "strips" (typically of around 2-3 panels) - showing any significant actions, and their outcome. This keeps turns short and keeps the gameplay flowing. It also addresses the stylistic issues the abstraction of turn-based systems present. There are no drawn out periods of non-interactivity, and the sequential nature is a necessity of the storyboard style presentation.

The AI does not necessarily attempt to be “smart”, but instead strives toward interesting behaviours. For instance, creatures may be hostile toward a certain colour, or thirst for blood. They may be deaf, blind or numb. AI may respond to other AI shouts, actions or vocals of characters. A broad range of variables encourage differing behaviours, rather than an attempt at displaying “intelligence”.
He stresses however that as yet this is in it's conceptual stages:
Why am I telling you? Why am I talking about a game that is at this point, nothing more than a concept and an insignificant handful of art assets? For a couple of reasons:

First of all, I've got a heap of design that makes sense to me, but I want to explain and expound the concept, both as a whole and with lower level detail. With a bit of curiosity from you guys, I can better nail down the design docs.

Second of all, I want to sanity check some ideas and bounce them around inside more than just my own head. I think I have a lot of good ideas and a solid concept, but I'm also aware that I'm overly ambitious with the whole thing, and possibly quite mad.

Last of all, I'm looking to get a programmer on board. I can find my way around code, but it takes me a long time and the end results are usually horribly inefficient. So I need some help, and it would also be good to have a second head to nut out various concepts and designs.
There's quite a bit more detail to the post than I've quoted so head over via the link above for the whole story.
More information.

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January 28th, 2008, 20:30
Literally, it's a condition where your senses get their wires crossed, with effects ranging from perceiving letters or numbers as colours, to being able to taste or see music.
This is a rare physical trait, rather not uncommon among people of High Sensitivity ( I know several from this field ) .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 28th, 2008, 20:36
The man is either a genius, or utterly mad, possibly both. Either way, I can't wait — if he can pull it off, this sounds like several dreams come true.
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January 28th, 2008, 20:44
No numbers? Was the part about "numberless" meant to be taken literally?

No numbers? But I like numbers

And lost sucks. REALLY sucks.

Other than that… what my fellow finlander Prime Junta said.
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January 28th, 2008, 21:08
Numberless means that you dont know exactly the every statistic of every character. At best you might have somkind of descriptions (colors and shapes?) but nothing in fine detail. If you really want to know who is strongest (or whatever) then you should run somkind of weight-lifting/wrestling competition or somthing. I think its great system. I once proposed system like that to one mmog (adellion) many years ago.

Lost is great too btw.
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January 28th, 2008, 21:16
Just in case folks don't know, Gareth was an artist on Fallout Tactics.

-= RPGWatch =-
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January 29th, 2008, 15:15
Thanks for providing that wiki link, Alrik.

I only discovered the term, and the fact that not everyone is like me, about four years ago. My specific conditions are Grapheme Synaesthesia and Personification Synaesthesia, both very pronounced. The strongest synaesthestic trait I have however was not commented on - associating colors with people. Best I can tell, the color represents how I view that person's personality. I even have a color for myself, and no, it's not green like my avatar.

..& so they take the fiction all out of the Jabberwock & I recognize & accept him as a fact. - Mark Twain, May 30, 1880
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January 29th, 2008, 16:37
Whoa, cool! Do you get that about on-line people as well? If so, what color am I?
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February 1st, 2008, 00:51
Sounds very interesting.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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Default Okay, here it goes…..

February 1st, 2008, 05:56
No, PJ, it doesn't seem to work with online personalities. I guess they aren't personal enough to work that way, or maybe it's a visual thing.

I will try to explain it below. If anyone is interested, great. If not, it helps me to type this out anyway, because I don't fully understand it myself and I've shared this with very few people.

Myself = Light blue-gray
My mother = Yellow
My father = Reddish Brown
The best friend I've ever had = Dark Green mixed with Navy Blue
One of the craziest friends I've had = Somewhere between Orange and Yellow
A person I felt like I completely understood in an instant = Deep Purple
A person that I was often in conflict with = Burgundy with Red on the outside
Many people that I would consider average friends or acquaintances = Black
The girl I am currently interested in = Burgundy and Purple and Pink swirling around.

Like the Wiki article explained, this is not something that I consciously 'choose,' it is completely involuntary and just 'happens'. I describe the colors as 'seeing' them, but it is a feeling as much as anything else. I can't explain how I 'see' the color, it's sort of there at the back of my mind and if I concentrate on it, I can catch it and say aha! - I'm looking at the persons' 'color'. I suppose it's sort of like objects in your peripheal vision - they are there, but you don't really notice unless you think about noticing.

The colors are usually solid, but sometimes they can move as I'm 'looking' at them in my mind's eye. As you can probably guess, I'm of course trying to figure out this new girl in my life, and so I've got the general idea of what her color is, but it's not quite locked in yet and is dancing around similar shades. And that's just it - often the colors evolve as I get to know a person better, so it's not based on anything visual like skin tone, hair color, or wardrobe. But once I reach a certain point with someone, that color is locked in, and never changes.

Best I can tell is that it is based on either a person's personality, or how I respond to their personality, or both. I've tried looking for patterns, but they do not always hold true. For instance, the person I was often in conflict with, mentioned above, eventually became an amiable friend, but her color stayed the same. In contrast I have always had a good relationship with my father, and yet he is in the same color spectrum. I also notice that I'm most often attracted to females that 'are' red or one of its variants, but I never pursue a relationship because for some reason that color is like a barrier that I can't get past.

Let me preface the following by saying that I am a person completely grounded in reality - I don't believe in psychic stuff or auras or any of that nonsense. BUT, I cannot find any logical explanation for what I'm about to relate. Both experiences happened before I heard about this condition, but after I realized that many people are not the same:

The first experience is concerning the person who I completely understood. She was purple. We hadn't just met, but were only acquaintences from a couple of brief encounters. An opportunity presented itself in which we got to visiting for about an hour or so. This girl's 'color' asserted itself in my mind so intensely that I couldn't ignore it, and very randomly I spouted out to her that I knew what her favorite color was - purple. And I was dead on. She wasn't wearing purple, I hadn't seen her in purple, that I recall, and there was no issue of attraction there - she wasn't just agreeing to draw us closer. She ended up being so much like my own personality that it was weird how easily I knew what she was thinking. But my favorite color isn't purple. Go figure.

The second experience is concerning my best friend - the greenish blue one. He came home to our apt. one day and said the weirdest thing happened to him. He tossed me a rubber ball the size of a pool cue that was dark greenish blue. He said that a girlfriend gave it to him, and that this girl couldn't explain why, but she just thought of my roomate when she saw that ball. It was weird to him because, well, who gives a rubber ball to an adult and says "it reminds me of you?" It was weird to me because she saw my roomate in the exact same color that I did. This prompted me to explain to my roomate my Synaesthesia, who before this had no idea.

So based on those two experiences, I know that other people have this gift, and that somehow, someway, people project certain colors, or Synaesthetes percieve them in a similar way? It just blows my mind. The colors must mean something, but what? I've tried and tried to figure it out, but I haven't nailed down a definitive pattern yet. I haven't found anything on the Internet that suggests this concept of Synaethetes seeing people - only numbers, words, and sounds. I'm going to look into it more.

I'm sorry for such a long post, but it really helped to express all of this. Most of the time I have to keep bottled up because when I tell people these things, they want to know what color they are, and when I tell them, they are unhappy with it. Some people have even started to view me with suspicsion, wondering how I view them to give them such a color.. So again, thanks.

..& so they take the fiction all out of the Jabberwock & I recognize & accept him as a fact. - Mark Twain, May 30, 1880
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February 1st, 2008, 08:27
That was extremely interesting, Jabberwocky and thanks for taking the time to think it through and try to explain it.

The idea of people having "auras" seems like it might come from this type of ability, sense, or whatever it is…and I can sympathize with your conflicts with everybody wanting to know "what color" they are. People are always intrigued by the intangible, the symbolic and the paranormal, but really only want to know good stuff about themselves, I think, and it helps if it is clear and easily understood— something you certainly can't give them, since you don't even know what it means…

…and who knows, it may really mean nothing in particular. It could be some normally unperceived energy they're giving off that has nothing whatsoever to do with personality and is a purely physical thing about them, like whether they sunburn easily or are allergic to shellfish. It would be different if you got some consistent pattern, like people you like are usually one color, etc but from the way you describe it, it seems quite variable.

This is definitely something that it would be interesting to know more about and well worth some serious study by the scientific community. And it actually could be quite interesting in a game although I can't begin to imagine how that would be implemented.

Sounds extremely trippy to live with, though, and I can see why it would be rather uncomfortable to be honestly trying to explain it or describe it to people, and then have them decide you're not hunting with all your dogs.


(Don't worry—around here no one will even notice .)

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February 1st, 2008, 09:53
Jabberwocky, that sounds awesome!

I read about these color things in an article once. It was among others about people literally seeing the colors of music. Imagine shades of sky-blue swirling through the room when you hear a particular classical song..

I'm not really prone to Synaesthesia, but I did try to associate colors with letters once, after I discovered that I like names that start with the letter 'A'. (So I imagined 'A' as a warm red, 'R' as brownish, 'T' as yellowish green and so on). I think it was very arbitrary, a bit like trying to match a "feeling" you get from a certain letter to a "feeling" you get from a certain color, but it was fun to do.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
Last edited by Arhu; February 1st, 2008 at 10:05.
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February 1st, 2008, 09:59
Very interesting, Jabberwocky.

I remember hearing about a drug that, as far as I know, constricted certain muscles, making nerves touch - and getting information crossed - resulting in strange perceptions. Things like: smelling a sound or hearing a sight. I never realized this was a condition some people lived with, even if it isn't exactly the same thing.

After reading that wiki page I think I may have a minor case of the number form synesthesia. As far back as kindergarten I have always seen, in my head, numbers having their own spot in a graph. Well, somewhat like a graph. They are in boxes, not a crazy line like the one shown on the wiki.

The first twenty numbers go vertical, in one column, and the rest up to one hundred are in columns of ten moving left to right (except for negative numbers, which move right to left and mess my world up!). At one hundred they start a new 'page'. But, after one hundred they only start new pages at every thousand.

I remember learning math and relating problems to an area of a column. So 3 x 6 would be near the top of the first column and eventually I'd focus on 18. Yeah, that's kind of a screwed up way to learn math. Maybe that's why I never liked it…

Certainly, not as interesting as Jabberwocky's though.
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February 1st, 2008, 16:08
Well thanks for listening everyone.

@ Magrette: Imagine a game where the puzzles could only be solved by a Synaesthete because they're the only ones that can 'see' it? - I'm not sure that's such a good idea for sales volumes!
You could be right, that there is no pattern, but I'm still clinging to the prospect that there is, it's just a matter of finding the common thread between all the people that show the same color. - And on that note, I feel that something must be projected from an individual for this to happen.

@ Arhu: That's definitely how a Synaesthete's mind works, but I couldn't quite gather from your post if your color selection was involuntary or deliberate. To be a true Synaesthete it has to come without trying.

@ Korplem: I haven't heard of that drug. Wow, trippy indeed. I wonder what would happen to me on that stuff, if I'm already seeing things? You're definitely a Synaesthete with that whole number thing. And it's funny you mention you don't like math - I don't either, and in my reading on this I found it documented that Synaesthetes often do not like math and have trouble with it.

I found my home last night - the ASA (American Association of Synaethesia) http://www.synesthesia.info/
They have research papers you can download and I was up to the wee hours reading them. I finally found reference to others seeing people in colors. The study was taken from a different slant though, and I e-mailed them to see about further research and offered to be a participant. We'll see what happens…

..& so they take the fiction all out of the Jabberwock & I recognize & accept him as a fact. - Mark Twain, May 30, 1880
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February 1st, 2008, 17:50
Jabberwocky, I'd like to copy your comments for myself and keep them for further reference, because I've never met a person like you (although I know a few other Synaestetics from a High Sensitivity forum), and would like to be able t prove if I must do so (including a link to this thread here).

Also, I'd like to mention your case in an appropriate thread at the High sensitivity forum where I'm in.

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February 1st, 2008, 18:28
Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
@ Arhu: That's definitely how a Synaesthete's mind works, but I couldn't quite gather from your post if your color selection was involuntary or deliberate. To be a true Synaesthete it has to come without trying.
Definitely more deliberate than involuntary, although still very much intuitive. But not true Synaesthesia.

I guess it's more of a way to associate one thing with the other. If you read or hear the word "sky", you probably associate it with the color "blue". But what if there were a new word you have never heard before. How does it sound? How does the sound make you feel? What color would make you feel the same?

As I said, not true Synaesthesia, but intriguing to think about.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
Last edited by Arhu; February 1st, 2008 at 18:35.
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February 1st, 2008, 20:48
As far as I understood it, I wouldn't say/call it "associate".

I'd say it's just there. Like you see an apple and instantly remember its taste. (As an example.)

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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February 2nd, 2008, 00:32
Sure Alrik, go right ahead. What exactly is this forum you speak of?

..& so they take the fiction all out of the Jabberwock & I recognize & accept him as a fact. - Mark Twain, May 30, 1880
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February 2nd, 2008, 12:24
The Forum is about High Sensitivity, which means "more sensorical input", which is a trait of some people. It seems to have something to do with an unnaturally high level of the hormone called Cortisol.

The Wikipedia page is in some sentences not very helpful, imho, because it writtes too much of "shyness", which is imho not at all typical for all highly sensitive people (HSPs). The German-language page is a bit better developed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highly_sensitive_person
A personal article: http://www.associatedcontent.com/art…d_my_life.html
The web site of Elaine Aron, the founder of modern HS research: http://www.hsperson.com/


Personsally, I believe that high sensitivity would be great to be incorporated in fantasy stories and modern fiction stories (especially thrillers and detective stories), but so far I haven't heard of such stories. But I'm planning to write some in the future.

The interesting thing is that high sensitivity is, like synaestesia, so bizarre that most people wouldn't even think of this (to be possible).

And to me, this is exactly what fascinates me of it as a possible theme for stories.

In an fantasy environment, someone with high sensitivity could be regarded in a range between a trickster, a mage or an elf, because of the more "sensorical input", as I call it.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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February 2nd, 2008, 15:03
True, the article I mentioned earlier also took this slant, saying that in other cultures or more superstitious time periods, a person's ability to see colored auras around people (in their mind's eye) would be considered psychic phenomena and they would be regarded as having special powers.

..& so they take the fiction all out of the Jabberwock & I recognize & accept him as a fact. - Mark Twain, May 30, 1880
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