A look back at Neurocracy's Kickstarter campaign

With 376 backers having pledged a little over £12,000, we're beyond thrilled to report that Neurocracy's Kickstarter was successful! We even managed to push on to our first stretch goal in the campaign's final hours, meaning we are now able to contract and work with an illustrator for the visual aspect of Omnipedia.

In this blog post, we'll take a look at why we decided to go with crowdfunding for Neurocracy, the preparation that went into our campaign, and what we learned from the experience. Please note that this is specific to Neurocracy and not meant to be a general roadmap for success! There's no single way to guarantee a Kickstarter's outcome, but there are ways to increase its chances.

Creating a futuristic Wikipedia for Neurocracy

Hello! I'm Matei "Ambient.Impact" Stanca and I'm responsible for the development and design of Omnipedia, Neurocracy's futuristic counterpart to Wikipedia. In this blog post, I'll be touching on what we're using to construct Omnipedia, two specific systems of Wikipedia it simulates, and how accessibility and responsiveness remain paramount all throughout development.

When we first started work on Omnipedia, the obvious choice of software to build it on was MediaWiki, which is open source and powers many wikis across the web (including Wikipedia itself). The issue was that I have virtually no experience with MediaWiki, which is designed to be an actual wiki. Given that Omnipedia only needs to sell the appearance of a wiki on the outside, we decided to go with Drupal.

How Neurocracy blends science and fiction

We have two blog posts for you today! The first is over at Gamasutra, which goes into specifics on how exactly Neurocracy leverages Wikipedia as an interactive narrative device. It looks at whether Neurocracy is more of a novel or a game (spoiler: it is) and examines how using Wikipedia as a medium can provide novel approaches to interactivity and non-linearity. We also posted a Twitter thread that highlights the problem of having to replicate Wikipedia's sheer expanse of content, or at least the feel of it, and how the solution led to an interesting narrative mechanic. The second blog post, which follows just below, details the balance between science and fiction that we're attempting to establish with Neurocracy.

The story world of Neurocracy, such as it is

Hello again! We are so very pleased with the initial response to the unveiling of Neurocracy, with the premise of browsing a futuristic Wikipedia immediately resonating with people and our nascent Discord community taking its first deep dives into the world of 2049. If you're interested in joining that community and getting early access to Neurocracy, you can do so right here!

In our introductory blog post, we painted the broad strokes of what Neurocracy is and what we hope to achieve with it. In this follow-up post, we'll be taking a closer look at the story world of Neurocracy as it's presented through the various articles available on 2049's version of Wikipedia, which we have dubbed Omnipedia. To do that, let's highlight one of Neurocracy's principal characters: business magnate Xu Shaoyong (with his surname written first in accordance with Chinese naming conventions).

We are making Neurocracy, and you can too

Hello! Welcome to Playthroughline, a narrative design team composed of writer Joannes Truyens (that's me) and web developer Matei Stanca (that's them). We've previously used this blog for musings on narrative design in videogames and a series of movie scripts that poke fun at them, but now we are focused on something new. We are currently developing Neurocracy, an anthology of sci-fi stories told entirely through a futuristic Wikipedia. That's the elevator pitch, and what follows is the stuck-in-an-elevator pitch.

In generous terms, Neurocracy is an interactive narrative experience that combines elements from alternate reality games (or ARGs), hypertext fiction, and epistolary novels. It depicts a near-future society (set in the year 2049) in which a Chinese biosecurity network has come online and grown to encompass the entire world, elevating China to the status of global superpower. Neurocracy uses the medium of a fictional web-based encyclopedia known as Omnipedia that exists within the world of 2049 and closely resembles present-day Wikipedia in style and layout.

Quaking in my reboots

Doom is an integral part of many people's personal gaming histories, but it only briefly waved at me as it passed me by. I was thrown into the world of shooters with a copy of Quake instead. I recently had a chance to play through MachineGames' additional Quake episode, which they released for the game's 20th birthday. MachineGames already breathed new life into another of id Software's venerable gaming properties with Wolfenstein: The New Order, and so proved that they could combine a solid grasp of the original game with a range of fitting new elements. That design philosophy is also apparent in their new episode for Quake, which demonstrates a keen insight into what makes Quake tick and a willingness to play around with it.

So, Wolfenstein has been successfully pulled into modern gaming and Doom followed suit with its celebrated 2016 reboot, but what of Quake? The next entry in the franchise was announced last year, but it's set to be an arena-based multiplayer shooter named Quake Champions. I was left with a feeling of oh-okay because we wouldn't see a return to Quake's singleplayer, and playing MachineGames' episode got me thinking what that kind of reimagining could look like.

Tacoma's immersive simplicity

Tacoma
How many of your phones would unlock if I tried 0451?

In the later stages of Fullbright's Tacoma, you have to enter the code 0451, a set of numerals that has become synonymous with a lineage of games labelled as immersive sims (as explained in this video). Such games generally offer a specific set of tools and systems so that their interaction provides emergent, open-ended gameplay – unpredictable results from the combination of predictable variables. Tacoma decidedly does not fit that sandbox gameplay mould, but its inclusion of 0451 is more an homage to the overall legacy of immersive sims rather than a desire to be lifted into their pantheon. There are in fact a few recurring narrative elements inherent to immersive sims that Tacoma unifies and streamlines with a very clever conceit.

Script: Assassin's Creed

Note: The top of the Scripts page mentions that Hollywood still hasn't churned out a successful movie based on a videogame license, and it doesn't look like the recent Assassin's Creed adaptation has turned that tide. That's why Craig is here with a one-two punch: over at The Editing Room, he has gloriously abridged the Assassin's Creed movie, and here on this blog, he has written a new script that does the game a lot more justice.

-- Joannes

With approximately ten thousand Assassin’s Creed games out there, it’s strange for me to remember that I was a bit surprised when Assassin’s Creed II was announced. Assassin’s Creed was a decided disappointment. Everybody (myself included) was dazzled by early footage which showed off the fluid and adaptable “free-running” element of the game, but then when it actually came out, everybody (myself included) was dismayed to find how tedious most of the other elements of the game were.

Script: Watch_Dogs 2

Let’s talk for a minute about guilty pleasures. I have firm ideas of what I do and do not consider a “guilty pleasure.” I like the movie Speed Racer, but don’t consider it a guilty pleasure, because to my sensibilities, it’s a good movie. I understand that this isn’t a popular conception, but who cares – I have a high opinion of the film, I can articulate it when called upon, I am not ashamed of having seen it several times and owning it on Blu-Ray.

Script: Titanfall 2

Back in 2007, the people at Infinity Ward laid the groundwork for all military shooters since with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Now we have Titanfall 2, a game put together by a lot of the same developers. That shared DNA is apparent in how understated both games are in their accomplishments. The main difference is that, in contrast to the first Modern Warfare, Titanfall 2 never ruminates on how war is a terrible thing that only leaves spent lives in its wake. The story helps in that regard by painting a very black-and-white world in which there are only clear good guys and cartoonish bad guys. Nothing deeper is required.

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