This is your Life is a text-based life simulation game and a self-authoring interactive novel. Players follow the life of a human being from birth to death by influencing important life decisions at every stage of development, and can add their own experiences to the story.
Experiencing different Lives - Story Mode
The player has no direct control over his life choices, but he/she can communicate with and influence the “inner dialogue” that makes up their character's emerging personality, represented as different, autonomous cursors.
When you discover the right approach in interacting with them, you can ask them to “step aside” and let YOU make the choice – exercising free will. If they don't trust you, they might choose something you think is not a good idea, resulting in tragic consequences.
The goal is to gradually raise the level of Consciousness points by developing a good relationship with your fractured sub-personalities, unlocking additional choices as well as Destiny points.
At the beginning of story mode you only have a very limited number of Destiny points, and you can spend them whenever you want to “force” your character's life into a direction YOU want, even if the character's caregivers or inner voices prefer something else.
At the end of your life you will lose all your Consciousness points, but you will keep the Destiny points, starting again as a baby. In this way you can lift up the quality of life for every person you play, but you can also see the dark side of life, witnessing tragic choices and suffering resulting from a lack of consciousness.
The key game-mechanic in Story Mode are the conversations with your character's sub-personalities - making this game separate from all the other RPGs or life simulations. It resembles very closely how our brains actually work, trying to deal with trauma, adapting and creating an identity that fits into our social environment.
If you want to learn more about the concept of sub-personalities, I recommend this video.
Exploring Consciousness - Free Will Mode
In this mode you have total control and consciousness over your all your life decisions independent from Destiny points, even as a small child. You can experiment with the freedom to see where life can go if it is all up to you for a change.
Writing your own Story - Self-Authoring Mode
This feature is a “level editor”, allowing players to create their own story or expand the existing one with unique choices and inner dialogue that reflects their own personality. You can choose backgrounds and music that matches the mood of every new stage of life.
You can create “mouse cursors” from 8 different archetypes that represent aspects of your character's personality - what they choose, what they would think and how they would respond in all the different moments of life that require a meaningful decision.
Creating a rich inner life offers a psychological puzzle for each moment, depending on nature and nurture, the developmental stage and the personality type - on YOU as the author. The challenge for players is to have empathy for each part and understanding for how it wants to help, even if what they suggest seems counterproductive.
The meaning of Life - Project Philosophy
The term “self-authoring” (exploring your past, present and future in written form) has been popularized by the success of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. He speaks to a growing audience of people that are looking for purpose and are motivated to “sort themselves out”.
Inspired by his work, I created this game in the hope that it addresses the longing for meaning and awareness, as well as the curiosity, that even very young children already have: trying to figure out what life is all about in pretend play, asking questions such as:
What is it like to grow up?
How can you be a “good” person?
What is it like to fall in love or have children?
What is a breakup or divorce and why is it happening?
What is addiction?
Why do some people commit suicide?
How does it feel like to be really old?
How does it feel to die?
What is it like to have a different skin color or grow up in the Middle East?
What is it like to be a gay teenager?
Or to have cancer?
Or to be a millionaire?
The main story of the game will offer a taste of what is possible - with only a limited number of choices, of course. The strength of this concept is the invitation to players from various backgrounds to contribute their own experiences.
The authoring mode is kept very simple and easy to use, and the text limitation of 280 characters per moment (twice the size of a tweet) prevents people from becoming overwhelmed when reading or writing.
I want to offer a playful experience of self-knowledge – players are able to gain insight into their own and other people’s personalities and the inner dialogue that everybody has, but rarely ever shares - or is even aware of.
You can have fun experimenting with the “wrong” choices to see how life can take a radical nose-dive or how addiction cycles can keep you stuck, and you are able to figure out in a playful way, how your mind works, and with compassion for your own sub-personalities and their sometimes tragic strategies, you can overcome even the worst situations.
When writing their own stories, players are encouraged to share their key life moments and the inner turmoil that they have been going through, promoting an anonymous creative outlet for experiences that are otherwise difficult to convey and getting acknowledgment and empathy over the in-game rating and commenting system.
Self-Authoring is scientifically proven to improve academic performance, and journaling is well known to be essential for personal growth. Creating this game is very meaningful to me, as I believe it can stimulate self-reflection, goal-setting and compassion by putting the players into the shoes of different human experiences. It may even facilitate self-healing by motivating authors to write about their inner struggle, and help them visualize positive and negative outcomes of their choices.
Wide Availability - Platforms
The game is made with Game Maker Studio 2.
The initial prototype will be available for PC, but I can release versions for almost every platform out there:
- Desktop: Windows, Mac and Ubuntu
- Mobile: Android, Amazon, Apple
- Consoles: Xbox, Switch, Playstation 4
- Planned features
A story that is open to everyone
The full version will enable players to add their story branches to the online branch, contributing to thousands of life moments and decisions of other people – to then be experienced in the online story mode, a constantly growing database of almost endless diversity and replayability.
An easy rating system for each moment (or author) to keep the best content upfront and to help filter out trolling.
A timeline overview at the end of each lifetime, to offer reflection, getting an impression of what you may have missed out on, or the chance to go back and make a different choice.
A background image editor that will let players create their own background images with just a few mouse clicks or swipes.
An atmospheric, ambient soundtrack that will set the mood for how your life is going, or to provide inspiration and relaxation while authoring.
An early prototype of the game is available for Windows PC:
Please be aware that this version is an unfinished, untested product with only limited features. Nevertheless I hope you have fun trying it. If you have suggestions for improvement or bug reports, please contact me.
Other Ways You Can Help
Please share this page and the project idea with friends, who might enjoy it!
If you have gained some self-knowledge and a great life story to tell, please contact me for a personal conversation or join the forum! I always love to meet interesting people, and your story can inspire additional content for the game!
And that's all there is to it. Thank you for your time!
More information: www.selfauthoring.games
Risks and challenges
I am very confident that I can complete this project, given that most of the framework is already completed and it is more likely to take 6 months this time rather than 6 years (like my first game).
However, as a single developer I am facing the same life challenges as everybody else, and the time needed for completion as well as any of the planned features are subject to change.
- (30 days)