We shape our tools, and then our tools shape us

Making the first tool for theystory has been a completely new workflow, for me. I’ve never gone into such an unknown system with someone else, before; I’ve either worked on relatively well-defined systems with others, or I’ve explored unknown systems on my own.

The first thing I’ve noticed is that my code is a MESS. This is pretty normal when I’m exploring systems with code, coming up with an idea and quickly getting the code to just stable enough to test it. But usually, after a while, I’ll seek out the messiest parts, and try to work out the systemic uncertainty there, to clean it up. In this case, the whole point is creating a space for Alayna and myself to explore those systemic uncertainties together – easy solutions to the coding problems would steer the discussion around the systemic problem, so I need to hold back. The upshot is that I’ve done awful things like created database tables that just store lumps of stringified JSON next to IDs. It’s embarassing, but it’s working.

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Character ecology: a daunting task

Creating a vibrant, diverse character ecology sounds fantastic, but what does that truly mean?

This was a question that drove our first development meeting for theystory, and resulted in a stack of A4 paper covered in scribbles, as any good brainstorm should.

People are complex and difficult to figure out, but to create a system that allows characters to interact with each other in a way that is representative of reality, they need to be simplified and solved. This means breaking people and their interactions down into categories and lists, a series of abstractions that can then be populated with information and narrative that are specific to the characters we want to create.

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theystory and its story

Welcome to the theystory devblog.

theystory is an infantile game idea, and is being developed by Ben Rolfe and Alayna Cole. It features a vibrant character ecology, with diverse characters interacting with one another through complex systems that are designed to represent reality.

This devblog will follow the journey of theystory’s creation. You can find out more about the project and its creators here.

We look forward to sharing this adventure with you.