Sleep Is Death (Geisterfahrer) is a new game that came out to pre-orders last Friday and comes out today to the public that is just packed with potential. Sleep Is Death is strictly a two-player game that provides the medium for visual story-telling over the Internet or a local network. I’ve had the chance to play Sleep Is Death where I just kind of jumped in and learned as I went along and even then I had a lot of fun with this turn-based, point-and-click adventure game infrastructure. Now that I’ve learned a bit more about it and through the experience, I look forward to authoring and seeing many more stories.
Sleep is Death costs $14 and is available for Windows, Mac OSX, and compilable on Linux. Your purchase gets you two copies, one for you and a friend assumedly. The exchange is entirely digital and handled through FastSpring. The download for Windows is 2.25MB and is simply extracted to a folder, not truly installed.
Once you extract the files, you just double-click the SleepIsDeath.exe file and the game will launch. If you didn’t change any settings, your screen will go black and you may notice it resize to a 640×480 resolution. After that you’ll be greeted with the title screen (Press any key to move past it.) and then a volume check screen (use the mouse to move the slider to adjust the volume and then press any key to continue). Finally, you’ll arrive at the main screen that allows you to host or connect to a game.
Choose the setup you want, you’ll have to coordinate it with another person outside of the game whether that means shouting across the room or using an IM/IRC client. If you want to play across the Internet, you’ll need to setup port forwarding to your IP address from port 7778. The game tries to do this automatically with UPnP, but you might have to login to your router to manually configure it (I did.). When you host a game, you’re also likely going to have to unblock the executable from Windows Firewall. You’ll be greeted by something like the following little window (you might have to Alt-Tab to see it when you’re in the game) the first time you host a game.
After you add the Firewall exception, you’ll be given your network or public IP address and the person connecting will need to enter that information to connect to your computer. Once they connect, the fun can begin.
Playing the Game
There are two roles in the game, one for each person. The first is the Player. The Player simply has a character in the world and the Player controls where their character goes, what they say, and their actions in the world. The second role is the Controller. They build the scene, make the environment react to the Player’s actions, and tell the story.
When the Controller first gets into the game, they’ll see their interface looks like this:
Despite looking complex, the buttons each have tooltips appear at the top when you hover over one. With a few clicks, they can set the stage and define the character. In this case, the boy with the gun will be the main character.
Let’s add a gentleman in the scene before we begin and make him say ‘And, Action!’. The player will then have the opportunity to say something or do something. Their screen will look a lot less active and they’ll have 30 seconds to get their actions in.
Once the Player completes their turn, the Controller will also have 30 seconds to make changes and get speech in. This can be quite a bit of work for the Controller especially when the Player has a lot of free reign in the environment, but that’s part of the challenge.
The game goes back and forth between Player and Controller, each having a maximum of 30 seconds, until the story ends. The Controller can change the scene allow the character to walk into different scenes, bring more characters and objects into the scene, and guide the character along the story. A lot of fun can happen along the way as the Controller springs some unexpected surprises on the Player and the Player has unexpected reactions in the environment.
I’ve just barely scratched the surface with making the most out of Sleep is Death and even less so in expressing it in this post. To get some better instructions on how you can create and edit scenes, create and edit objects, and create music in the game, check out some of the tutorials posted to the official Sleep Is Death site.
Keep up to date with what is going on in Sleep is Death by following their News page and find stories/resources for the game and people to play with on the Community page. You can also find a lot of resources and a gallery of stories told with Sleep Is Death at SIDTube.com.
The game has a number of configuration changes you can make outside the game. Inside your SleepIsDeath_v13 (or whatever you named it) folder there is a ‘settings’ sub-folder. Inside of there, you’ll find a bunch of different .ini files. Here’s a brief run-down of some of them:
I’m not a fan of the fullscreen 640×480 resolution of the game. Instead of changing the screenHeight and screenWidth files, I found the setup more enjoyable to switch the game to windowed-mode. To do that, edit fullscreen.ini and change it from ‘1’ to ‘0’ and save the file. (This also makes taking screenshots a whole lot easier.)
If the network port conflicts with something else on your network, you can change it in the port.ini file to whatever port you want to use. If you change this from the default 7778, however, the other person (Controller/Player) will have to change their port as well.
I found the free-for-personal-use Hamachi from LogMeIn to work quite well instead of doing an Internet game. Hamachi allows you to create a VPN connection between you and another person across the Internet. Use the IP address that Hamachi provides for the Controller as the IP address the Player enters.
Flipbooks are neat little recaps of the story. It’s a web-ready folder that can be uploaded or browsed locally through a browser that goes through each turn and retells the story exactly as it happened. The Player of a story gets a flipbook created and they can find individual directories in the flipBooks subfolder of the SleepIsDeath folder.
Have a Good Weekend
Pick up a copy and have some fun playing with friends this weekend from SleepIsDeath.net. Feel free to use the comments or the 404 Tech Support forum to setup some games.