Preview: Sleep Is Death

By: Derek Yu

On: February 28th, 2010

Sleep Is Death

Sleep Is Death is the next game from Jason Rohrer, who’s best known for creating Passage. You can pre-order SID now for $9 or purchase it for $14 when it comes out on April 16th. It’s described as “a storytelling game for two players”. You can find out more about the game by clicking through this fun slideshow.

  • Matt L.

    This is a really crazy concept and I think I’m going to preorder it, but have to admit that I have some serious questions about how it’s actually going to play and work.

    He’s got a really tough sell in a lot of ways, especially at a 15$ price point. Please note, I’m not saying the game isn’t worth 15$…I’m just saying that for such a hard to grasp concept 15$ may be too much for the average person.

    I guess we’ll see. It really is a cool idea though. I hope it pans out…

  • Marcus

    I was sold on the slideshow at first but as it became apparent that it’s turn-based and you have to wait up to 30 seconds for the environment (i.e. the other player) to react to your actions, it lost a lot of its cool. It’s still an interesting idea and it sounds like a cool experiment, so I’ve actually pre-ordered it.

  • Wolfgang Wozniak

    I saw this at “The Art History of Games” in Atlanta.

    Hopefully this has some sort of online mode, and an expanded graphics library when it releases commercially.

  • mark

    This looks great, hopefully some good story-tellers out there are going to get into this, I might want to do some Lovecraft stories :P

  • Kyo

    Seems brilliant, might be the first game I actually preorder.

    I wonder how pairing the players works. I’m guessing you can select a friend, and maybe go for someone random online?

    Sounds dangerous. = )

  • Ciro Continisio

    @Wolfgagn Wozniak:
    As pointed out in the slideshow, you can draw your own objects. I assume there’s a simple editor, and that’s why the style is so low-res too.

    I guess you can share a pre-made story online, or its objects, but to interact in real-time you can only play locally. That’s only my guess though.

  • Valter

    I think it’s more like “Jason Rohrer is best known for being Jason Rohrer”.

  • surrounded

    From the system requirements page:

    “There is no single-player mode. It is easiest to play over a local network. Have a friend over and plug in two laptops, or play over local WiFi. It can be played remotely over the Internet, but one player will probably need to fiddle with his or her router settings. Instructions for remote Internet play are included.”

    Sadly this means no pre-order for me. I was hoping for a proper online mode that would pair me with random players.

  • nikki

    interresting idea.

  • Jay

    no online play?

  • MisterX

    As surrounded quoted, you can play online with friends, but apparently you’ll have to set it up yourself.

    It’s a really cool concept and should make for some pretty fun stories, especially if played in communities. For example on the TIGS Forums there already were some nice “game threads” where one player starts a story and draws it like a comic book and everyone else gets to decide what happens in it. Sleep Is Death looks very similar, only with a proper “toolset” for this kind of game.

    But, I am also doubtful that this is going to sell well considering how basic it seems to be.

  • Brad

    It’s kinda tragic that it’s only two-player. This is basically a role-playing game: player 1 is an adventurer and player 2 is the dungeon master/storyteller. With its (apparent) lack of combat mechanics, this might be better suited to a digital jeepform With more players one could run a game of Mafia

    With only two players and the pixel art graphics, it kind of reminds me of an 8-bit Neverwinter Nights.

  • Scientist

    I identifeied the genus. There are several sub games like that already available in social websites and stuff for free. Let’s not get too excited because of jason ROH ROH FIGHT THE PORHER

  • Andy

    Reminds me of a little project I made a while back:

    Two people converse on a subway platform in a conversation entirely created by user generated content.

    In my experience, people creating stories generally always want them to devolve into sex or violence. I’d expect no different here. The “normal” stories will likely be the outliers.

  • Jad

    The foundedest opinion in the universe:

    very unenjoyable colors in the preview. I enjoy the fuckedup perspective and stuff, but general color usage doesn’t feel good. Rohrer should read up on that stuff O:

  • Daniel

    Sound awesome. It’s like an adventure game, but were everything is potentially possible since Player 2 will just implement it as the game progresses.

    Seems that the “30 seconds” is a worst case scenario.. And probably once people get the hang of it, most things wont take longer than some seconds to “Happen”. Also I believe that things already defined wont need to be redefined (probably).

    A way of maybe minimizing this (and making the “game” more interesting) would be to allow multiple authors for a single “story” – so as Player 1 interacts, there are many “Player 2″‘s managing all the possibilities. Of course, they should be in sync about the general feel of the story.

    I’m curious to see how much Player 2 really can alter in the game.

    I agree the price seems a bit steep, specially considering the extremely experimental nature of the game. Maybe release a limited free version first?

    @Andy Your project seems cool!

  • snapman

    This is MS Paint Adventures, as a one-on-one experience. This would be a lot more Dungeon Master-esque if you could have more than one player affecting the story. Maybe just alternate between players getting their 30 second response to affecting the story? That would be preferable to telling a story to only one person…

  • micheal

    i think this is simply splendid and has so much potential. i shall preorder.

  • Phoomegaishun

    A cybering game waiting to happen.

  • st33d

    Sounds like a nice interface idea for running a table top RPG, all it would need is the ability to have more players.

    The DIY online bit is offputting. Maybe he’ll add something to help GMs find players later.

  • SEH

    I haven’t had time to play games recently, but it looks like I’ll have to make some time for this one.

    Just wanna echo everyone’s excitement for the idea, as well as their concerns about how well it’s gonna be pulled off. This would have tons more potential if with online player pairing… Maybe in a future release.

    And of course, one great idea will often spawn others.

  • SirNiko

    I was skeptical at first, but this could be pretty fun. Well, in the sense of “Neat, but I’ll probably never play this.”.

    If it was me, I’d push this on the roleplaying communities. I could see a Final Fantasy roleplaying forum or a furry forum picking up a few copies to play online games. Micro-transact to sell additional art asset packs, and you’ve got something that could be pretty profitable.

    But yeah, I don’t think this is something I’d pay to play.


  • nihilocrat

    Since it’s a commissioned game it makes a ton of sense that Rohrer concentrated on the game tools and local LAN play. Playing randomly with strangers online was not a core mechanic of the game, as it was expected you would play with friends or strangers in a gallery.

    A properly motivated community could probably write a game lobby application, or repurpose one of the open source ones.

  • Adamski

    I’m led to wonder how a man so tall got through a door so small? T_T;

    But seriously, being a graphicsy kind of person more than technical, this really winds me up, especially knowing he is trying to sell it.

  • fuzz

    isn’t rohrer an open source hippie? what happened?

  • paul eres

    ya, the graphics to his games seem to get worse with every game, but the idea is pretty great.

  • Zaphos

    @fuzz, the game comes with full source code when you buy it, so it is still open source.

  • Nicol

    Maybe play online chess with it?

  • Dzzk

    I can see where he’s coming from, but I have to say I just don’t see the point.
    Fundamentally, it’s a 2 player roleplaying game with a 30 second delay. Why not just…play a roleplaying game? Seeing as there are no rules, a completely freeform RPG, or even a chat RPG, seem just as good. Aside from being online, you could do the same thing with a whiteboard. It seems like it’s going to a lot of effort to be a limitless adventure game, but we already have those…
    Secondly, the experience is going to be utterly dependant on the writing and “scripting” skill of your partner.

  • Only Slightly

    “There is no single-player mode. It is easiest to play over a local network. Have a friend over and plug in two laptops, or play over local WiFi. It can be played remotely over the Internet, but one player will probably need to fiddle with his or her router settings. Instructions for remote Internet play are included. ”

    For those worrying about no online play.

  • raiden

    He probably means Hamachi. He’s not selling the game with built in built in online multiplayer support. He’ll just include the trick to get it working in the readme.

  • raiden

    what the hell? that last post kinda gliched there. i’m pretty sure I said “built in” once

  • be

    @Zaphos, that’s not “open source”, that’s “source available on purchase”.

  • No Way

    The idea is nice, but I’ve better & cheaper one:

    Step one: switch from (lousy-graphics, unresponsive, broken-looking) point-n-click adventure game to text only (“Interactive Fiction”) adventure games.
    That’s an amelioration, for sure.

    Step two: use a chat instead (like skype or messenger). Done.

    I can’t how this “game” could be any better than using messenger.

  • celluloseman

    It really is a shame (and a big deal-killer, I’m inclined to say) that Rohrer isn’t doing a pairing mechanism of some sort. Perhaps he could use a few pointers on doing that sort of stuff with PHP and such.

    At any rate I think I’ll wait until then until I get a copy of this.

    (Cough, this certainly wasn’t directed at Rohrer himself, cough)

  • ChrisL

    This sort of thing seems perfect for a random matching system like Omegle or ChatRoulette. Might be a difficult to build up a community for such a niche experiment though.

  • fuzz

    as much as i like art games (though not most of rohrer’s stuff), this really seems uninspired and quite frankly, a waste of money. why buy a game for making stories when i can make my own, much better stories, armed only with a pen and a friend or two?

    (and a better graphics library would be a nice touch for a graphics-focused game like this)

    the name also seems a bit pointless. why? that title would have suited a very different game much better.

  • Matt L.

    I disagree that this is uninspired. I think it’s a great concept. Just because there are pen and paper RPGs (that tend to have somewhat rigid rule sets and worlds) does not instantly make this a weak idea.

    Further even just writing a story with a friend isn’t really the same as what this will offer.

    This is a customizable game and world where the interplay between players could create all manner of stories you’d never see in either a pen and paper RPG or a traditional story. Yes, it is similar to both in certain ways…but you’re doing it a disservice to just say that it IS those things.

    This is COOL. I mean how jaded do you have to be to not at least acknowledge that?

    Also I love the people bitching about the graphics. Don’t you get it, the simple art style (on top of looking just fine thank you very much) allows people to easily create their own art and still have it match up nicely.

  • Dzzk

    Well…I mean, we’re not totally sure what it will be capable of when it comes out, but “a customisable game and world where the interplay between players could create all manner of stories”, sounds exactly like a pen and paper RPG.
    You could get near perfect emulation, in fact. I’m really not sure what this could do that a pen and paper rpg couldn’t.

  • Kyo

    Let’s emulate movies with books then.

    I’m with Matt on this one, I don’t really get what you guys saying “just do it with paper” are on about..

  • nikki

    or do it with public toilet walls and markers !

  • nikki

    ps. offcourse it’s open source when the source-code is available, doesnt matter if it’s free or not..

  • anonymous

    o/~ Rip-off! o/~

  • fareed

    for those saying “why not just play an RPG?”, there are several points you seem to be missing;

    a) There is no rule-set that drives the experience in a particular direction (i.e. towards dungeons, etc.)

    b) The player does not necessarily role-play! The player can enter into a game and just be themselves, and it’s up to player2 to adapt the experience to accommodate for this.

    c) Most importantly, there is a deliberate layer of abstraction between the two players! Rohrer leaves the explanation of the mechanics as a “reveal”. This gives a similar sense of wonder and amazement to the person watching the slideshow as the player playing the game would feel.

    On that note, imagine playing this with a younger sibling or a son/daughter! A world that is fresh each time they enter into it, where they can do literally anything? A game where every action they take has a consequence that cannot be undone. It’s extremely exciting, and I cannot wait for its release.