Kerkerkruip is looking for dreams

Dreams in Kerkerkruip

One of the new features of the upcoming release 9 of Kerkerkruip is sleep. Monsters can be put to sleep using Morphean grenades (and other means), in which state the player can simply walk past them, or prepare for a devastating attack. It also possible for the player herself to fall asleep, for instance, when a Morphean grenade is tossed back. To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub!

Whenever the player falls asleep, she will experience a dream, and the normal game will only continue once she has escaped from this dream. Dreams are short stand-alone scenes. They can be beautiful or nightmarish; they can involve combat, or exploration, or choice; they can be highly fantastic or reassuringly mundane; and most importantly, they can have effects on the real world. The player might gain or lose items during a dream, might be strengthened or crippled, and might even die. Dreams are dangerous enough that you’ll normally try to avoid falling asleep; though they may also turn out to be extremely beneficial.

Kerkerkruip is looking for dreams!

The Kerkerkruip team would like to invite everyone with even very modest Inform 7 skills to contribute a dream to the game! Contributing to a big project like Kerkerkruip can be somewhat daunting: you need to get all the source code, need to make sure you understand the ATTACK system and all of the specific Kerkerkruip systems, and so on. But none of that is true for these dream sequences. You can simply write them as a small stand alone Inform 7 program, and I’ll plug the code into Kerkerkruip. So it is a perfect opportunity to contribute something to the game that is useful, easy to write, and as interesting and creative as you yourself care to make it.

The framework

You don’t need to worry about how dreams get started (though you can check out the code here). But it might be useful to know that:

  • Dreams can have a rule that determines whether they can be dreamt or not. So if you want to write a dream that only makes sense under certain circumstances, that’s fine.
  • Dreams are very flexible. I imagine that the standard situation is just the player being transported to a new location, or set of locations, in which the dreams play out. But if you wan’t the player to arrive without any items, that’s fine. If you want the player to take on a new avatar (in game person object), that is fine as well. (I can imagine dreams from the perspective of Mirande, or the Reaper, or some other character from Kerkerkruip.)
  • In the interest of code and user experience compatibility, interactions with the dream should use (a) normal IF commands, (b) the combat stuff defined in ATTACK and Kerkerkruip, and/or © numerical menus created by Michael Callaghan’s Questions extension. You should not use an ask/tell conversation interface.

If you want some combat but don’t know the intricacies of Kerkerkruip, ask me about it, and I might be able to create it for you. If you don’t know Questions, I can also easily turn your pseudocode into a working numerical menu. The same goes for body/mind/spirit checks.

The game mechanics of dreams

Dreams are allowed to be weird. They’re also allowed to be unfair. Even a dream that means certain death is possible, although I’ll probably make sure that it comes up less often than other dreams. But these two rules should be adhered to:

  • A dream should have some effect on the real world. Possibilities include: having to survive a fight (with normal consequences); gaining or losing points of body, mind, or spirit; gaining or losing health or maximum health; gaining or losing items; changes to the properties of your items; death; any kind of special status that Kerkerkruip allows; gaining or losing a power; gaining or losing piety; changes to the dungeon.
  • Whether a dream has a positive or negative effect should not depend on a choice. A choice between positive alternatives is fine. A choice between negative alternatives is fine. A choice between mixed options is fine (“will you sacrifice 5 health to get this item, or do nothing?”). A challenge (which might be a fight or a body/mind/spirit check) where you are rewarded if you succeed and punished if you fail is fine. (“Make a body check against target number 12 to jump the bridge; if you fail, you receive terrible scars; if you succeed, the grail is yours.”) But what is not fine is a choice between something good and something bad, where the player needs to be “spoiled” to make the right choice. So no “do you open the blue or the red box?” where it turns out that the blue box kills you and the red box gives you 20 health.

Substance

Dreams can be weird, and the universe of Kerkerkruip is rich. Everything that fits the sword & sorcery theme is fine – from Lovecraftian horror to fairy tales, and from everyday scenes in the harsh world of Kerkerkruip to high fantasy battle scenes. Modern items like guns and computers should be avoided.

I can imagine …

  • scenes from the childhood of the protagonist (give him/her a human face!)
  • dreams of other creatures in the dungeon
  • dreams inspired by descriptions in the game (what is it like to be a condemned criminal at the Feast of Flesh? or the knigh who killed great Tooloo?)
  • and so on!

Adding new stories, places and concepts to the Kerkerkruip universe is encouraged.

Kerkerkruip is mostly harsh and filled with the darker aspects of life; but your dream can of course be funny, abstract, or sexy, as long as it fits into the general sword & sorcery feeling. Maybe not slapstick or AIF. When in doubt, let’s discuss it.

Questions?

Just ask them in this topic. I’d be very happy to discuss ideas and help you out with the programming. The more dreams, the merrier, so everyone is invited to participate (and as often as you like).

An example

I’ve put an example dream below. It is relatively short, and the consequences are terrible for the player. Note that the atmosphere of this dream is not something that needs to be maintained in other dreams. (If you want to, you can check out the code here.)

[rant]Garden Of Thorns
Roses scale the castle walls, all the way up to the window above, behind which your true love lies sleeping.

x roses
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet – as sweet as death, sickness, and decay.

x window
The roses cover everything except that one window, as if they mean for you to enter.

climb roses
You must climb the roses. You must. What is life worth if a woman give’s up the attempt to find her true love? So you start climbing. The thorns prick you, and soon blood trickles down your hands and arms. But you climb on …

At long last you reach the window, and collapse into the tower room. There, on the stately bed, lies the man you have been longing for all your life. And his beauty is …

(What do you see?)
1 - … so heartbreaking and pure that it alone makes life worth living.
2 - … all withered and gone, replaced by the horrific smile of death.

1
Here are the joy and peace that you have always searched for; here is the secret core of all your yearnings and the blessing which turns all that’s past to beautiful remembrance. You embrace your love – and the scene immediately dissolves, returning you to the harsh and ugly world of Kerkerkruip.

The will to live under such circumstance has deserted you: -10 spirit.[/rant]
(Climbing the roses lowers your health by 3 and can kill you. The second choice in the menu leads to: “The secret promise that you never doubted; the certainty that every ill will lead to good, that no matter how hard and difficult the path, love and life lie at the end of it – that promise and that certainty are shattered as you look at the skull grinning from your lover’s bed. You scream, and wake to the harsh world of Kerkerkruip. The meaninglessness of existence will haunt your thoughts forever: -10 mind.” As I said, this is a particularly harsh dream.)

This sounds really cool. I’m glad to hear that Kerkerkruip is still growing.

Nnnrgh. Too many projects. Soooo very tempted. (Possibly because all those projects are a bit stalled, so I want to play with shiny things instead.)

Well maga … you know, it’s just a small time commitment.

Surely it can’t hurt. Surely.

In fact, it will get your creativity flowing, and help you finish those other projects sooner. Right?

What if my dream contained combat with a monster that wielded morphean grenades? Could I dream within a dream?

Good question. In order to keep things manageable codewise, I’ll make it so that you can’t fall asleep in a dream.

Aww.

Am I a man dreaming about combat with a monster that wields morphean grenades, or a monster that wields morphean grenades dreaming about combat with a man?

Both, dear. Eat your vegetables, now.

Oohhh… dreams within dreams! Maybe after the initial set of dreams are released in version 9 we could look into adding that in version 10.

A mysterious sidequest involving getting lost in layer upon later of dreams. Can you find your way to the deepest subconscious level without driving yourself insane? My goodness.

I like that. Alternatively, any sleep-causing effect could force the dream to end immediately and wake you up… but with some curious side effects, of course.

I feel like it’s time someone checks this topic for Inception-ness. Have you guys all seen Inception? It’s the ultimate dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams film, though its dreams are mostly used as tools for deception and memory theft rather than for lyrical purposes.

Anyway, I can imagine this mechanism getting complex - maybe even hellishly - if you got into more than one layer of dreams, so I imagine you’d probably wanna get layer 1 working great before you considered it.

  • Wade

We could put the player’s totem somewhere in the dungeon, and if they don’t take it with them when they dream, they’ll get in deep deep trouble…

Until recently, I had no idea that not enough people are writing dreams for Kerkerkruip. I am working on this myself, but I’d love to hear some ideas from the wider community.

Here are some github discussions that I’ve started, if you’re curious:

Banquet dream: github.com/i7/kerkerkruip/issues/121

The Banquet dream is pretty much done, but I’d especially like to get some feedback on this next idea, or even find someone who wants to write it:

Astral travel dream: github.com/i7/kerkerkruip/issues/123

From the issue description:

This thread was started a few months ago, but I hope it’s still current. Are dream sequences still being accepted?

Has anyone submitted a sequence that centers on a character, and if so, what ones have been used so far?

Is there a big Kerkerkruip thread or discussion somewhere (and link if so)?

Thanks!

This is the main discussion thread right here, but there are a few different threads on github. If you have ideas you want to discuss, you can post them here, or if you want to just start working on something, you can check out kerkerkruip from github and work on it yourself. Let us know if you need help with git (the version control system, not the IF interpreter).

github.com/i7/kerkerkruip

To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure what GitHub is . . . I mean, I understand that it’s a site to communicate and work with other programmers, but other than that, I’ve never visited.

Also, I’m way too new at I7 to be of assistance, but I could write pseudo-code like Victor gave in the OP.

To me, the game seems to use intentionally minimalistic prose. Should dreams be written in the same style?

No, dreams can have super flowery language if you want to go that far!

And pseudo code is fine. You can just keep posting here, if we want to move the discussion to github later we can help you with that.

Thanks so much! I would consider it a great honor to contribute even a single thread to the yarn of this wonderful game!