Chronicles of the Principii

Developers' Journal

Memorata Magic

Posted on: January 10th, 2013 by Orrick the Mighty

I’m a big sci-fi and fantasy geek. One of the fantasy powers I enjoy the most in books and movies is time-traveling into the past. As Ann and I began thinking about magic spells to create for Mage Faire, I realized that finding a way to create the experience of time-travel was something I desperately wanted to try. Ann is not the time-travel fan that I am, but she has happily tolerated my obsession over this.

Early on, we had to decide what kind of time-travel experience we wanted to create. There are many versions of revisiting the past in fictional literature and cinema, including

(1) You can go to any time in the past and change it, as many times as you like, but you risk the creation of paradoxes such as preventing your own parents from marrying (think: Back to the Future)
(2) You go into the past, but you can’t change it no matter how you try (as in The Time Traveler’s Wife)
(3) You can enter your memories of the past without interacting with them (Christmas past in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol)
(4) You can enter someone else’s harvested memories without interacting with them  (using Dumbledore’s Pensieve)
(5) You can rewind your past and do over (using the Dagger of Time in the Prince of Persia).

We ended up developing two different kinds of time-travel/memory magic. These are both still works in progress, so keep in mind that we may still modify some of what I describe below by the time Mage Faire launches. We also hope to produce a YouTube video illustrating Memorata magic within the next few months.

Revisitus Memoratum

When you cast the Revisitus Memoratum spell, you are transported to a location and time in your own past. You will see your past self as well as other mages that happened to be there, but they will not notice you (like A Christmas Carol). You can walk around and do magic while revisiting. You can also freeze time, so that only you can move around.

However, there are some Back to the Future aspects to Revisitus Memoratum as well. Every time you revisit the past, your revisit becomes part of history too. You can go back multiple times to the same memory, each time seeing not only your original past self, but all other past selves that have revisited there too. It gets crazy and crowded with past selves if you go back lots of times to the same memory. It is silly fun just to chase your past selves around, like a crazy game of tag. And it is fascinating to watch your past self perform some world-building magic, experiencing your creation of something from a different point of view. You can also plan out elaborate group performances with “yourselves”.

One issue with Revisitus Memoratum is time paradoxes. You will probably not be able to resist going back into your past and deliberately changing things that would interfere with what your past selves did. For example, if I moved an artefactum around and customized it, I could go back and Destructo the artefactum before my past self made all those changes. It turns out that creating a time-travel paradox like this, even in a computer game, often does not end well. Paradoxes can destroy the very fabric of the virtual space-time continuum — that is to say, the game crashes! We are currently working on ways to have you survive such paradoxes. For now, we just try to resist the temptation of creating them.

Extractus Memoratum

The other type of memory magic is Extractus Memoratum: harvesting your own memory in order to make it available to other mages (and they won’t even need a Pensieve). Entering another mage’s memory will be much like entering your own, except that revisits don’t become part of the memory. We expect this to be a key type of user-generated content in Mage Faire. You can harvest silly fun things you have done, or puppeteer magic/dance performances, or demonstrate how to do magic for future mages, or show off a clever magic shortcut or trick that you discovered in tutorial memories, or show off multiple avatar looks that you have created, or show off one of your estates that you have customized, or perform your own magical play with guild/circle members, OR create treasure hunts with clues in memories, OR do things we can’t even imagine now! Whew!

There will be some limitations on what you can do while revisiting another mage’s harvested memory. Your ability to do magic there will be greatly curtailed to minimize the creation of paradoxes, and you will not be able to re-harvest someone else’s memory as your own.

There will be contests to create the best training memories for introducing spells to new mages, and contests for the most fun and entertaining memories to provide as “easter egg” merriments in the Faire. Memorata village will be dedicated to housing many of the contest-winning memories, and for making the current contest submissions available for revisiting. We may also encourage some mages to act as Witnesses — they harvest their memories of awesome busker performances or public events and generously make them available later for others that missed out.

Your harvested memories will be stored in thought bubbles associated with a gold statue of your own avatar. Memorata will eventually become filled with golden mage statues, each with one or more fun memories to enter and explore. Our current plan is to have these statues magically grow in size as they are revisited, so that mages can see at a glance which memories are the most popular.

Well, that’s all I can say about memory magic for now. I hope you will enjoy revisiting and sharing memories in Mage Faire as much as I do!

33 Responses

  1. Piece of Serenity says:

    Oh the possibilities are almost endless with this. How much fun! Thanks, Gordon. :D

  2. Im4noles2 says:

    OMG!!! I love, Love, LOVE time travel!!! That is why I always play adventure games, that I can explore different parts of the world, or even different worlds! My all time favorite movie, was back in the 60′s… The Time Machine! Every time he got into the machine, we were looking out the window, and I was always so fascinated to watch a house build up, then watch as it delapitated. Well, anyway…I am a big Sci-FI fantasy fan of movies and books!! Hurry up March!!!! lol

  3. Princess Fi says:

    Mindboggling fun! Can’t wait :) Umm.. guess I gotta do that.. OR, do I?? Revealio!

  4. JW says:

    Can’t wait to unravel the very fabric of the space time continuum!

  5. Asthner the Nameweaver says:

    I wonder who will be the first to create a certain blue police phone booth…

  6. Palindrome says:

    Very interesting!

  7. Talia says:

    Asthner…….that will be me lol.

  8. Brib Annie says:

    Lots of possibilities! It sounds fun as well as confusing – Lol!

  9. mercurialMalconent says:

    This sounds absolutely amazing. It’ll also be really neat for people to record memories of events and cool things that happened for people who missed it to come and visit later. I’m really looking forward to it!

  10. Vialdana says:

    Wow!
    If I was looking forward to being ‘in game’ before, Now you can imagine me peering under it and through the keyhole Alice in Wonderland style just desirous of getting into that lovely garden of magefaire :)

  11. Cats1524 says:

    There’s also the Quantum Leap time-travel tv series where Sam went back in time and could not leave until he righted a wrong.

  12. PANsy says:

    This makes me very excited just thinking of all the player created stories/plays, puzzles/mysteries that can be made using these spells!

  13. Malakh says:

    Temporal paradox… ouch. :)

  14. Breezy_Meadow says:

    Very interesting ideas……very excited about all the possibilites.

  15. Miss Melody says:

    Wow, I love Science Fiction, time travel, wonderful. Where would I choose to go? Looking forward to this game very much, just hope it is not to complicated.

  16. Kookaburra says:

    I have come back from the future to tell you all that Mage Faire is all that you could dream of. And time travel is very very cool.

  17. Ann DramaDuh says:

    This sounds awesome! Especially the “multiple me’s!”

  18. Llewella says:

    As a huge sci-fi fan I am really looking forward to this! Just waiting for that blue phone booth….

  19. kastlin says:

    Sounds like fun!! You might also want to check out Connie Willis’s books about a group of Oxford University time traveling historians: “To Say Nothing of the Dog”, “Black Out”, “All Clear”, and “Doomsday Book” (which I just finished listening to – unabridged audio books).

    These historians travel to the past, and interact with it, without creating continuum-destroying paradoxes. The paired novels, “Black Out” and “All Clear” could give you some insight on the paradox issues with Revisitus Memoratum.

  20. kastlin says:

    Oh, and feel free to e-mail me if you just want a synopsis. I didn’t want to spoil the books for anyone who decides to read them.

  21. Ashley says:

    I’m so excited for your website to get up! If there are spells like this to do, this alone can be endless fun with endless possibilities, then who knows what else is out there and what we can do? I love your ideas!!! :)

  22. Mochamai says:

    Innnteresting… I like these ideas…

    Definitely something to look forward to!

  23. Oo, can we imbue an object with a memory?

  24. Robert Hughes says:

    I just saw MBIII and liked the humorous take on multiple timelines caused by changes that the time travelers made (was that the one where we blew up?). This causes some confusion about what memories get carried to the different timelines but it could be fun.

  25. Rainy_the_Pluvious says:

    This reminds me of a book I read a while back (title eludes me!), where the main characters could watch the past. Like a history lesson. At some point they are able to visit the location to see it from a closer point of view, but had to be careful not to be seen.
    Eventually, the future world had gone to pots; so a couple rouges decided that if they go back to the age of discovering the Mayan and intervene… the future may (probably) would be saved. It goes on.. but really made you think.
    Kinda want my own ‘look into the past’ book to see what really happened!!

  26. CoffeeSnob says:

    Sounds so cool! Cannot wait to play!!

    *stands at imaginary door saying “open, open, open…”*

  27. Solstice says:

    Can`t wait sounds great.

  28. Neon Tetra says:

    I’d like to take a giant Quantum leap into the future of the game just so I could magically leap into my futures past! lol! Can’t wait!

  29. Pale Queen says:

    This post has been up for a week and nobody’s mentioned Braid? It’s a platformer, not an RPG, but it did some amazing stuff with time correction, even going so far as to incorporate the protagonist’s desire to change the past into the overarching plot. There’d be no shame in looking to that game for inspiration, especially when it comes to dealing with non-crashy game mechanics.

    As for movie inspirations, I DARE you to do time travel 12 Monkeys style. Just dare you! ;)

  30. riscy says:

    Cool stuff – sort of like GroundHog Day as well :)

  31. Yeoman (Kaushka) says:

    I wonder what would happen if you went 20 minutes into the past, but stayed there for an hour… :-P

  32. Aiden says:

    Is it March yet? D:

    No, but seriously. You guys are making me really excited for this game. I hope it runs on my crappy, obsolete netbook. :D

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