Starting at 4pm ET, 8pm UK, today, Wednesday 1st November, and I'll be around for at least a couple hours, or as long as your questions are coming!

I've worked on dozens of games as a writer, narrative designer and voice director. I started out in 2005 in the QA department at Lionhead on Black & White 2, before running story on Frictional Games' first release, Penumbra: Overture.

I am currently adapting 1984 with Inner Party, an indie studio established by myself and Subnautica's Lead Programmer (please support us by wishlisting at the Steam link below!). We have already hit some IP censorship controversy, which you can read about in the press release further down.

I am also working on a super exciting unannounced indie FPSRPG in Unreal 5.

And of course Talos Principle 2 releases tomorrow! Launch trailer just dropped today:

In other news I will be speaking this Saturday on 'Narrative Anarchy' at AdventureX in London, which I believe will be live streamed or otherwise available to watch after the event.

Questions welcomed on all topics, including Talos 2 spoilers, previous games, future projects, general games dev, philosophy, futurism and aliens.

1984 here (please wishlist!):

Inner Party Press Release here:

Talos Principle 2 here:

AdventureX here:

Previous AMA here:

My website here:

Proof here:

EDIT: If you'd like to support me in my work FOR FREE, RIGHT NOW the best way you could express your appreciation would be to wishlist 1984. This won't only help us build that game, more importantly it will empower me and my two brilliant friends at Inner Party to build our own indie studio and make tons of games that we really want to make.


If you'd like to support me in coin then my Patreon is abandoned so you won't get anything for it but knowing that please do subscibe if you'd like to:

EDIT: I'm answering a couple more questions but I'll likely log off shortly. Thank you so much, all of you. It's true when I say I get more joy from your questions here than from any other interview platform. DID I SAY WISHLIST 1984?!


Comments: 151 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

Jonas_Kyratzes24 karma

What's the difference between the world being analogue, binary, or both?

tjubert22 karma

Fuck you, Jonas, I love you.

For those that aren't travelling back to this question from a future where Talos Principle 2 is already out this is a reference to a set of vetting questions I wrote for joining the different factions in my subplot in Talos 2. I would answer that analogue is wavy with infinite possible values, while binary/digital is concrete with finite possible values; however I think the real real is that they're one and the same: two different ways of interpreting a base reality that is both and neither, just like pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin. It's just Alan Watts that I'm reciting here really (and he's just reciting others, who are reciting others, and so on forever). What's interesting is that in the game for obvious reasons you're encouraged to commit a binary answer so I can label you, but you can totally just respond with fuck you this is a false dilemma.

EudaimonicBeast18 karma

The Alexandra Drennan audio logs in TP are wonderful, truly emotional, more impactful because they are the little, lonely bit of humanity in the sparse, lifeless, in-game world (it's a beautiful place, but you aren't allowed to forget that it's an artificial, dead world!). Can you say anything about the narrative role of the AD audio logs, how they came to be included? What's AD's narrative role in TP2, where there's many voices and more life?

tjubert14 karma

Alex is all Jonas so kudos to him. He does the heartfelt character stuff and the historically-informed serious stuff, I do the snippy philosophical stuff (although he also does a bunch of the latter!).

IIRC Alex came about some way into development when Jonas said we needed almost exactly what you described her role as being: something emotional, human, hopeful and melancholy. I may be wrong and he may have had her planned from the get go, I don't remember any more.

In Talos 2the player character from the original game emerges into the physical world and becomes the founder of the robot city, and aptly enough chooses Alex's voice as her own. It's really beautiful. He's a clever man. I still think Verena must have a hand in that.

Tothewallgone17 karma

With the dynamic between TP1 and TP2 changing from what is essentially a game where you are alone to a game with companionship, are there still moments of introspect in TP2?

tjubert16 karma

Woo, this question has meat on its bones.

First of all I should state that I shifted from being co-lead writer with Jonas on the first two games to something smaller on Talos 2. I don't remember what I'm credited as, but take your pick from Guest Writer, Junior Writer, Supporting Writer, Additional Writing From... So I can only speak from that perspective.

Surely the vibe has changed, and I'm certain as writers we prefer the vibrancy and dynamism of live voiced dialog. I think and hope the audience will too - but there will always be people who preferred the old thing, and that's lovely.

But I would say... YES! It's a huge game and there is lots of quiet time. Besides voiced dialogs there are also loads of text messages, downloadable documents, photography mode, just like the first game.

And here's a little teaser for the subplot that I wrote specifically:>! it is literally introspective.!<

DragonFaceUK16 karma

Very much looking forward to the next Subnautica game - it was a masterpiece of story and exploration. Are you involved in Subnautica 3 at all, and if so, can you give us over at r\subnautica any hints about where the direction of the next game is going?

tjubert11 karma

Thank you, but not at all I'm afraid.

IIRC there was tentative discussion of 'Skynautica', but I am pretty sure they will go with more underwater action.

NotYetSoonEnough14 karma

How can I break into story writing for games?

tjubert41 karma

Ah, the classic question, like slipping into a warm bath.

Two high-level principles:

  1. Practice writing a lot and/or be some kind of narrative wunderkind.
  2. Persevere because it's a numbers game.

Don't just apply for listed jobs, they're a fraction of the opportunities out there and often require experience.

Find indie studios, research their games, email them with tailored samples and/or links to your portfolio, and a sentence or two on why you're a great fit. Don't bullshit.

Go to conferences, schmooze (politely).

Make your own games. It's a lot easier than it used to be with the tools available now, and it was never that hard in the first place. If you can't build a game in Twine, you can't get a job as a games writer (but you'll be brilliant at other things).

Persevere. Don't expect writing to pay your bills straight away. Consider it a hobby and enjoy it. Look at getting paid to do it as a possible future development that's truly a double-edged sword. Writers write.

Good luck!

Maldrenn11 karma

What are some of your all-time favorite narratives in games? What other games/books/movies/stories have informed your writing?

tjubert30 karma

Quick random list. The common thread through most of these is ambitious (interactive) narrative creativity and innovation; dark humour; philosophy; mind-openingness.


Planescape: Torment

Fallout 2


Vampire Masquerade Bloodlines (Malkavian!)

Telltale's Walking Dead (finally finished the final season last month, I had a tear, I don't care if they're almost totally linear)

Disco Elysium (of course, feels like home)


Best ever funny philosophical guide to the answer to the Big Question: I Heart Huckabees. Really, this is my movie. I LOVE IT. Amazing. Exactly what I would want to write if I was brilliant. It's perfect.

Classic satirical scifi: Starship Troopers, The Thing, Brazil, Robocop (topical!)

Best action movie: Die Hard by far, such character, such realism, so Rickman

Best alien movies (I am super into non-human intelligence right now because I only realised it's really here about 5 years ago when the gimbal vid dropped). These movies capture the phenomenon in a realistic, philosophically intelligent and appropriately spiritual fashion for me: Arrival, Communion and Alien Code.


The two books that changed me that I recommend to everyone all the time: Marshall Rosenberg's Non-Violent Communication, and Alan Watts' The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.

I don't read or game so much any more, but as a kid I loved Discworld and Hitchhikers' for obvious reasons.

Recently I also enjoyed Demian by Herman Hesse.

I also think if you're looking into philosophy books then Bishop Berkeley's writing on Idealism (or probably anyone else's) is vital because it's probably right. Materialism always has a problem with explaining consciousness. But if existence is fundamentally conscious then it has no problem explaining the creation of the physical world. We're one big consciousness pretending to be separate things. The sooner we realise that the better.

EDIT: I forgot! Inglorious Basterds is the best Tarantino movie. The way he gets the audience to laugh at and morally judge Nazis laughing at a propaganda war movie glorifying violence, then gets the same audience to laugh at his own propaganda war movie glorifying violence. Because when the violence is against Bad People it's okay, right? I do love his movies - although he fucked up bad with covering for Weinstein.

gIory19998 karma

When did Talos 2 development start?

tjubert21 karma

Checking my records... We were certainly talking about it way back in 2015 after completing Road to Gehenna. I think mild pre-production actually started in 2019, and we properly ramped up once Serious Sam 4 was done in early 2020. That's when we started weekly meetings and proper story planning at any rate. So long in the making, so worth the wait.

basic0108 karma

For Talos Principle 2: Have any review copies been given to the press in advance? If so, is there a review embargo in place or they could pop up today?

tjubert15 karma

I don't know for a fact so I can only provide an educated guess. It would be very unusual not to provide review copies, and the lack of reviews so far suggests to me they're embargoed until tomorrow.

Sometimes embargos mean the publisher's being shifty because the game sucks and they want the pre-orders. In this case the publisher's Devolver so they're definitely being shifty, but certainly not because the game sucks. It's really cool. Pre-order now!

Honestly, I am blown away by its beauty and tone, and I prefer the puzzles this time around.

Bashfluff6 karma

How did you handle the transition from writing traditional narratives for games to writing interactive ones? Since you’re not a game designer yourself, how did potential gameplay concerns inform your writing process?

tjubert6 karma

I was only ever a professional writer for games, but I grew up writing short stories. I handled the transition extraordinarily well because I was so excited that I was making games that a bunch of people would play. Dream come true. And also excruciatingly hard work. I had never worked on something long-form before. I am ADHD. I get bored. It is so hard to finish. BUT going pro and knowing people will see my work drives me to finish, so there's that. But once I'm done with this big RPG I'm working on I will be done with long-form, multi-year games and will return to making little indie things that I can drop the moment I get bored.

I don't think I answered the question you actually wanted to ask, which was about linear vs interactive narrative, and I didn't answer it because I don't have an answer that doesn't bore me. I played a lot of games. I just did what I wanted to.

And I reject the framing of your second question (please don't take me seriously, thank you for your questions, I'm just being Milton-snarky for fun). I AM a game designer! I made the fantastic Irrational Redux which you can still play here: It garnered half a million plays largely thanks to this site. Actually, that was when I first came to reddit! Here's some history:

More recently I made the very silly Door Game, which you can play after clicking through the link on my abandoned Patreon (but please by all means support me financially there, you just won't get anything for it):

In fact, as a narrative designer rather than a straight copy writer I'm involved in all the high-level design decisions on a game. For example, on FTL I originated the idea for the ability to set crew to custom default stations in the ship. I actually wanted to be a designer rather than a writer in the first place 20 years ago. It's just that the writing went really well, and let me do all the fun bits of design without the boring bits (although I do get the boring bits of writing, so whatever).

Phuka6 karma

How do you feel about games that require a lot of work for no happy ending (like Vanilla Cyberpunk 2077)?

Do you think that a AAA high-graphics quality roguelike is possible? What do you think that it would look like?

Are there too many tradeoffs between narrative freedom and high-quality stories? Can a bethsoft-style open world game have a truly good main story or are the good stories forever relegated to side quests?

tjubert9 karma

Oof I saved this for last because it's a broad theory question and I don't have interesting answers (also I don't know how Cyberpunk ends).

In general I feel good about game stories that don't have happy endings. As someone whose name I don't know who wrote for God of War once memorably said: let the hero get what they came for, but let them realise it wasn't what they wanted.

I don't know why we don't have that AAA rogue-a-like, except that why would you ever spend big money on something so dangerous when it works just fine letting smaller teams experiment and then copying what works.

There are obvious risks: rogues depend on tons of remixable content, which is cheap in ASCII art but the single biggest expense on a AAA game. BUT there are certainly ways to get round this - for a small example see Borderlands' infinite guns.

Voice is also an issue if you're cutting together loads of dynamically selected dialog lines.

But the elephant in the room is AI, which will change all of that. It might be fast, it might be slow, but like VR it's on the way. There are already tech demos using AI voice and writing to let player say anything they want and receive a sensible response.

Right now it will mean a big dip in voice and writing quality, so it won't take off in AAA just yet. But indies will be experimenting, and sooner or later the holodeck will exist.

Ilovealltheslothes5 karma

I want to say thank you for the subnatica story. That story was amazing and kept me going back for weeks. Just curious will subnatica 3 be launched in the nearish future or will it be a long ways out?

tjubert2 karma

Thank you. That one went really well. I suspect SN3 is a long way out. Then again, I know a big part of the team will be clamouring for early access ASAP.

BoundaryInterface4 karma

Do you think the Universe is a finite place with limits that can ultimately be known, or is it an infinite place that contains things eternally beyond our ability to know, or do you prefer to subscribe to a third argument such as "numbers are purely imaginary" or "the universe is too complex to be accurately labelled"?

tjubert3 karma

Sounds like the sort of question I prefer to ask than to answer.

I think there's a universal consciousness we're all expressions of that you could call god, and that it probably knows all of it except what it's like to not be god and not know all of it, and that's where we take over.

BoundaryInterface2 karma

Thank you, Tom. Now that you've answered my silly question I'd like to know how you would like your perspective in reality to change in the upcoming future, specifically in regards to having more certainty or having more mystery.

Do you crave an existence defined moreso by certainty, or one defined by adventure?

tjubert3 karma

Woah that's deep for me arriving here 5 hours into this AMA.

I'm glad you specified mystery or certainty. That's a narrower question that I actually have an answer to that I don't know now and won't until I write the rest of this response.

I crave certainty, and I think people do. But I love mystery. But only because I can turn it into certainty.

I like this question, it's a nice formulation of the metaphysical unity/bipolarity thing.

I'm totally dissolved into the whole non-human-intelligence mystery right now. I want more than almost anything to get more data on that that I can make sense of - although I'd rather get pregnant, and on that I'd like certainty - but nothing is ever certain.

But my first instinct is to say that I want more mystery, because I think that learning about NHI, and/or whatever humanity is going to become next (and I think rather shortly) is going to smash us all the way back to the other side of the pendulum.

It's been an era of remarkable apparent certainty. We've almost totally forgotten how to treat the world like something which has surprises we may never understand. That's built spaceships but it's closed our minds.

So I'll embrace the certainty that this whole thing will always be waves of answers and questions, and relative to our context I think I'm not the only one that's craving some new questions.

It's scary. Certainty is relatively safe. Where we're going is a total gamble. But there's no other way, so let's prepare for the worse (I have tinned food in the cellar), and dream for the best - that way certainty or mystery it all works out the best and only way that it can.

BuckriderPaw4 karma

If you could describe the theme of Talos I and Talos II both in one word, what would the words be?

P.S. I discovered the games through a trailer of Talos II, played Talos I and fell in love with the story and the vibe and the quality of the writing! Thanks for this masterpiece!

tjubert3 karma

Thank you!

I think Jonas might say 'Hope'.

I think I might say:

YesIDoPlayGaren4 karma

This might be a little early to ask but are there already some plans or ideas for a potential DLC or third game?

Also, what do you think about speedrunners who broke the first game and most likely will also break the second game?

tjubert2 karma

I am not aware of DLC, but I know everyone here would love to do T3 and that Jonas already has a plan.

tjubert3 karma

LumpN, lead programmer on Subnautica, and co-founder of Inner Party working on 1984 with me has this to say:

i don't have a reddit account but i do have a 1984 question: given the oppressive nature of the source material, what is an interesting story branch you envision in 1984 that doesn't end in a fast-forward to prison?

tjubert3 karma

Well, Jonas, we're trying to stay very true to the source material. We're including all of Orwell's narration, building the environments precisely to his descriptions, and generally trying to be the first and best proper simulation of his detailed dystopia.

BUT there are some really big branches that I'm excited for. My favourite is where you just follow the rules. You snitch on your comrades, you censor the news, you suppress your thoughtcrime.

Thoughtcrime and facecrime are distinct mechanics in the game:

Facecrime is always bad: it's your health meter, it goes up when you get caught doing something suspicious, and if it goes too high you end up in Room 101.

Thoughtcrime is subjective: it's your internal rebellion. Which path do you choose?

It's important that any deviations from Orwell's sequence of events be player driven, and true to his theme. If you manage to be a good member of the party then you may avoid Room 101, but that doesn't mean it won't be torture.

SamuRaiiUwU3 karma

Do you have a favorite Elohim quote?

And do you know if he will still have a major role in TTP2 or is that game more focused on all the new characters?

And I just want to say great job on Talos 1 and the Talos 2 Demo, really looking forward to the full release tomorrow :)

tjubert10 karma

"The words make the world...". It's so good.

Jonas wrote Elohim (I wrote Milton and most of the QR codes). Sometimes I read his stuff and it's too dry for me; sometimes it absolutely cracks me up (my favourite Jonas mode is silly Jonas, Jefferson Goldboom makes me ROFL every time, and there's plenty of moments playtesting Talos 2 that I just fell in love with what he's doing, it's so fucking funny when it just comes out of nowhere after all the drama and seriousness); and most rarely of all he writes something where I'm like - that's exactly the sort of writing that I would do, and it's the best possible version thereof.

"The words make the world" is so good because it works on so many levels. It's literally true in-game (the simulation is built from programming language); it's meta-true (our writing created that world); and it's epistemologically AND metaphysically true (reality itself is a subjective conscious construct that is and means whatever you take it to). So clever. LOVE IT.

Elohim is Talos 2 will only have a minor role. The robots in the game are built from the original simulation, so Elohim as a computational subroutine is something they carry with them. They hear him when the first boot up, and when they go into sleep mode. So he's a point of reference, not a major character, not someone who will be having lunch with you.


Tenrecidae771 karma

not someone who will be having lunch with you.

Can I at least take a fat bong rip with him? I think he needs it.

tjubert1 karma

No but you can have Margaritas with god in this game. Or at least watch while he has margaritas. Or at least have margaritas and bong rips while god talks at you.

TrashBrigade3 karma

I love ftl! How did you come to work with the team (who were mainly 2 people) and set the atmosphere of the game?

tjubert6 karma

Some of the best and most important games I've worked on came from cold calls. One thing I'm better at than writing is knowing when I absolutely love a game, and reaching out to see if I can help. FTL was one of those (as was Subnautica - but not Talos!).

I played the demo when OnLive was a brief before-its-time thing, and it was the Star Trek game we always wanted. No other game has ever come close.

That and Subnautica are the only two games I've worked on where I have massive playtime logged just for fun: FTL 275 hours, SN 348 hours (although FTL was all for fun, a large part of the SN hours was actual work).

This is why I don't play many games any more.

Mikniks3 karma

I absolutely loved the writing in The Talos Principle - some of the most thought-provoking stuff I’ve ever read/heard!

What do you think draws you to the themes you like to write about?

tjubert3 karma

Thank you!

Easy question. Age 18 I was doing a computer science BA because I wanted to make games, but I hated the maths so I dropped out to do English instead. It was the first time I had to admit a big mistake and make it good, and it made me question what i really wanted and how to get it, and then I realised that was a big question indeed and required philosophy to answer to I added philosophy to my English degree and I loved it and it helped me answer the big questions and lead a better life (relatively!).

I'm drawn to these themes because they are practical tools that in part saved my life, and like the scifi writers I read as a kid I wanted to share them with the world (without being boring).

It makes me so happy to hear that people have found them worth sharing.

kilakikitt3 karma

Hi Tom!

Can you share a few insights about the creation of the first game?

- For example, who was "responsible" for choosing those 3 worlds (Rome, Egypt, Middle Ages), and do you know what inspired them?

- Loneliness pretty much dominates the first game and the wonderful melodies of Damjan, apart from being really characteristic of the given world, further enhanced this solitary vibe, which I loved a lot! Do you have any info on the topic of loneliness in the game and about the soundtrack production? (Anything you can think of!)

I really enjoyed the first game as it entertained me like a great, interesting puzzle game would do, yet because of this melancholic solitude in the ancient worlds it also made me think a lot about life and our time here on Earth, which helped me appreciate a lot of people and things more.

I am really thankful for that for You and all the people who took part in the creation of TTP1! :)

tjubert5 karma

Croteam chose those worlds before we came onboard, mostly I think because they were cool looking and they could go and take photos of real places to scan into the game as textures.

All I have to say about the music is that Damjan is brilliant, and everyone who ever visits the Croteam offices gets a compulsory guided tour of his extensively equipped sound studio.

On loneliness I'll refer you to my answer further up on the topic of isolation.

Glad the first game helped you to appreciate the people around you, I don't think we could hope for anything more wonderful - except perhaps that the new game will provide a suitable ballast by immersing you in a vibrant society torn between love and hope and fear and cats.

EudaimonicBeast2 karma

When's someone going to offer to sell me the TP2 soundtrack? (Selfishly, I think Steam should have included it as a preorder gift!)

tjubert3 karma

Devolver needs that sweet sweet Gold Edition money.

Tenrecidae773 karma

Ooh, who’d you write for in this game? Who are your babies?

Also, what in the world does Milton mean by “who do you think gave you your voice?” In TP1? Is it just nervous breakdown crazy talk?

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions, and thank you for your fantastic work! TP1 was really something special, and I look forward to the sequel. :3 b

tjubert2 karma

I did Lynerks, Helga, Rand, Jeremy, and someone else.

Does Milton really say 'voice'?

I think what he means is you've been interacting with him by selecting pre-authored sentences presented to you on the screen by him.

It's a bit fourth wall, since the player character is shown typing them out, but I always worked on the assumption that what we see onscreen in those interactions isn't one-for-one with what the robot character is experiencing (in fact it must not be, since we see dialog choices, but they are typing their responses).

I am not totally sure, but I think that when robots play text adventures where we see words, they see entire worlds.

Deitaphobia3 karma

Why did 1984's release date get pushed back 40 years?

tjubert1 karma

I don't know, why DID 1984's release date get pushed back 40 years?

SoldierHawk3 karma




I know there's no official date yet, but is there anything approaching a "maybe?" Like, 2024? 2025?

Do you have a Patreon I can throw money at you on?


Edit: oh my god I just watched the video on your steam page. Other than some of the environments being a little bigger than I pictured (because first person game I assume) you could have ripped so many of those screenshots right out of my imagination from the, probably literally hundreds, of times I've read this book. I wish I had caught this AMA sooner, but man. Just. Thank you. Thank you for all of the wonderful games I've loved that you've done, and thank you for giving me a game to look forward to that I'm more excited about than...maybe any other other I've ever anticipated. I just hope I'm able to play it. How ironic that this of all games might be censored because of draconian IP laws.

God Bless America.

tjubert2 karma

Aha, someone noticed 1984. Thank you. Yes, it could be kind of a biggie, huh? But we have very poor wishlists for it so...

Being honest is all that keeps me connected so I will say that the idea for this AMA actually came out of LumpN (Jonas, Lead Programmer on Subnautica, and co-founder of Inner Party with me and Soenke) telling me we didn't have enough wishlists to justify continuing 1984, and I was now in charge of marketing it.

We have a demo we could polish and release, but we need ALOT MORE wishlists for the game to be economically viable.

I think we have a lot going for us, but this business is hard.

If you can contribute in any way to getting this game in front of other people that would help us the most.

If we ever get the wishlists we need then the game would be quick to make. No more than a year.

Wishlist now, here!

You know, thinking about it, I think Jonas gave me a poison chalice. I think I need to get him to release the demo. Good idea, SoldierHawk, thank you.

Yes, I do have a Patreon, I probably should have linked it in the header. It is totally abandoned so please don't sign up if you expect anything for it besides my appreciation - but please totally do sign up if you want and can afford to show your support.

Psychological_One8972 karma

i found old girl scout cookies while cleaning out a bag of mine, opened and just sitting in their noisy crinkly packaging. i ate two and i feel fine but im scared. do you think if i have the rest i will become sick?

tjubert1 karma

I think no sicker than you already are. But my advice is save them for tomorrow.

NeedForSpeak2 karma

Since the "are frogs people" discussion is now banned, my question is - are toads people?

Jokes aside, the first Talos is my favorite game, and I'm extremely excited for the part two. What is your favorite easter egg and/or obscure reference that you have included in any of the games you have worked on?

tjubert3 karma

I really should have started two decades ago sneaking my own easter eggs into my games to establish them as all being set in the same universe. I probably have some repetitive writing tick that I can retrocontinuitize.

I actually steal names and character quirks from my friends, or just people I meet, all the time, so they all have some special easter eggs that only they will recognise. Those are my favourite.

I was sitting round the kitchen table in the warehouse community I used to live in and my lovely friend Alan heard me say what I just wrote to you and immediately asked if he could be next. I was like, yeah, that can work. And Subnautica Below Zero's Al-An was born.

EudaimonicBeast2 karma

Like you (if Wikipedia is to be believed), I was an English/Philosophy major! Your philosophical denomination: deontological, consequentialist, or virtue ethics? (Does Talos Principle take a stance either way? Does framing philosophy this way even mean anything outside of a classroom?)

Do you have any philosophical influences that haven't yet worked their way into your games, but need to?

Thank you! Talos Principle has been my happy place for years!

tjubert6 karma

Aha, a question I wish I could discuss verbally instead of textually (please don't take that as an invite to stalk me, but if we bumped into one another in a bar I'd talk your ear off).

I have an ethical theory I present unprecedentedly directly (thought not comprehensively) in Talos 2, which I invite players to judge, both in-game and out. I would love to do a doctorate on it. I have been desperately trying to work out which category of theory it fits into, so maybe you can help me.

The foundational principle is: Action is moral to the extent it is motivated by empathy/compassion and true knowledge.

I think it could be a version of ideal observer theory.

I also think it's a valid and superior interpretation of Kant's categorical imperative. I think the golden rule to 'do to others as you'd have them do to you' is true, but I think inferring from it that if stealing is sometimes wrong it's always wrong is stupid. If I were in John Rawls' hypothetical original position deciding a rule for how I and other people would be treated, I would not ask for carte blanche rules that punish people who steal from me; I would ask for societal contract to value and work towards empathy and sound knowledge.

The difference between this and Kant is that mine is subjective and his is universal. He thinks there can be universal priciples like don't steal which can apply to everyone always. But I think only the categorical imperative is supposed to be universal: it's implications can be specific/subjective.

So the choice is between specific universal rules on 'types of action', vs universal rules on 'types of motivation'. And I choose the latter.

Here's the thought experiment I think proves this.

Imagine you are to be thrown into some random dramatic situation, at the mercy of some random person or group.

If you could make one binding demand of them which would also apply to yourself (ie formulate a golden rule) which would you prefer?

  1. Don't steal (or insert literally any other transgression here, eg don't harm).
  2. Act with compassion and good knowledge/reasoning.

The first choice absolutely protects (and prevents) you from theft (or harm or whatever), in any circumstances - but that's it.

The second choice protects/prevents you from theft - unless it can be done with compassion and sound knowledge/reasoning. This is a small cost (I would say a zero cost) and a huge gain.

But further: it has everyone acting in the best possible way to ensure one another's well-being.

If I'm well-fed and a hungry man steals from me it's a small cost (I would say actually a gain). But if I'm the hungry man and I can steal to eat it's a huge gain.

I'd rather live in that world.

This took me ages, thank you for the question.

EDIT: I suppose therefore really the location of my PhD thesis would be on objectivity vs subjectivity.

I really do think that the answer to the trolley problem depends on the person pulling the lever, I think the real fight academically is amplifying our intuition that what makes something right is about motivation rather than action, and accepting that sometimes what's right isn't pretty.

lessmiserables2 karma

What can you do to assure me that Talos 2 doesn't have any video recorder puzzles?

Because while I solved those puzzles...I didn't enjoy them.

tjubert4 karma

I can PROMISE you.

Although now that I think about it I wouldn't put it past Croteam to sneak one in as an easter egg.

I hated those as much as everyone, and the new body-swapping mechanic scratches the same problem solving itch but is way way cleaner and more fun.

And this response wouldn't be complete without saying "The Swapper did it first." (and someone else before then).

Mememeistah2 karma

Considering phrases from demo (and some spoilers from the full game), Pandora sounds almost like luddite. Will there be a way to convince her otherwise or at least convince her to admit drawbacks in her point of view? Or is she supposed to be more... Milton-like (thus, quite egotistical and close-minded)?

tjubert1 karma

Jonas wrote Pandora, and there are definitely branches where she responds differently to you, but I couldn't tell you exactly how you can change her mind.

PedroNether2 karma

Hey Tom, I'm a big fan of the first Talos Principle, and I'm currently finishing my third playthrough to prepare for the release tomorrow! If you don't mind, there are three major topics I would like to hear your answers to:

  • In The Talos Principle, there are three major "periods" that the player can explore: Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, and Medieval/Gothic. Each of them has logs within the computers to contextualize some of the mythology, philosophy, and religion for that specific period of human history. All of them provide the player with information and questions that fit thematically with some of the game's messages. How was the process in early development to select these specific periods? Were there any other cultures that you and the team considered for the game, or can it be said that in a way, all of them have specific nuances that correlate with the game, and these three were simply the most popular ones?

  • This one, I guess you've heard a lot in the past few months and will continue to hear more in the future, but what do you think of the current impact of artificial intelligence on your society and its future? I remember Hideo Kojima saying in an interview that Covid-19 had a major impact on the narrative of Death Stranding 2, and he had to rewrite multiple things. Did these developments in AI have any effect on the narrative of The Talos Principle 2 as well?

  • Now, a question about general narrative development and storytelling. I would say that The Talos Principle is a game with a very open story structure. The player can immerse themselves in gameplay without caring for the story, and even if they get all of the files and logs, there's a chance that all of it will go over their heads. Finally, all of the themes of the game and even some endings are open to interpretation, so there are multiple scenarios impacting the player's experience of the story. How does the narrative design work for these open stories in contrast to a more linear and objective one? How can you weigh the pros and cons of this open structure within a game, so that the story isn't completely vague but also not bombarding the player with information all the time?

Thanks for your time, Tom. I can't wait to play The Talos Principle 2 and hope that the game succeeds even more than the first one!

tjubert2 karma

Question 1 I answered elsewhere, Croteam chose the environments.

Question 2 on AI.

I wrote more on AI elsewhere as well, but I do think it will change a lot very quickly. Maybe felt less in games than elsewhere - I'd happily prompt story bots for a living, and in games we're used to adapting to fast tech changes - but I don't think teachers for instance realise yet that many kids will learn many things from chat bots in future.
It hasn't affected my work on Talos. We always say: the story features AI, but isn't about AI - it's about people. But I can tell you it's increased my research efficiency by about 250%.

Question 3 on how to do openworld story.

Make sure your top level plot is super short and simple, then write lots of separate, non-reactive sideplots and duplicate vital plot information across them. This way your top level plot doesn't break or need massive branching, because it doesn't depend on or happen much. And at the detail level if you have a bunch of small sideplots that don't affect anything else then it doesn't matter if player discovers the bank was robbed before or after they learn who the thieves are. Endings before conclusions are natural suspense - there's just a limit to how disordered a story can decently be, so you need to keep them short.

For example in Subnautica the linear top level is: Crash ship > Gun (get infected) > Alien bases > Emperor. The story would break if you could talk to the Emperor before learning about the infection (or we would need a bunch of branching). But beyond that it doesn't matter if you find the middle of the Degassi story before you find the start, because it's only three plot beats, and they don't affect the wider story.

This is harder if all your story is live dialog rather than passive readables/audibles, because then you have to do some branching. But keep the stories as short as you can, keep in mind they might be played in any order, and it's totally possible.

kerener1 karma

Hi Tom, first of all thank you for your efforts, loved TTP and the swapper!

Now for the questions: did you ever watch a movie or played a game, where the plot is so interesting that you wished you came up with that idea/twist?

tjubert1 karma

YES! So many, but the biggest is I Heart Huckabees. I talked about it elsewhere.

Maldrenn1 karma

Holy cow I didn’t know you did the story for the Swapper. What a good game. Can’t wait to dive into Talos 2 tomorrow.

A boring question for the story lead: does Talos 2 on consoles have mouse + keyboard support? My PC is ancient, but I would love to play the new one with mouse/keyboard just like the original (which I just replayed this week in anticipation of 2, phenomenal stuff).

tjubert1 karma

Thank you! One of the most common things I hear is 'I had no idea all these philosophical scifi games shared you as a writer' and I love hearing it every time. One day I may find a non-tedious way to properly market myself so it doesn't come as such a surprise (maybe I can talk my clients into doing a philosophical scifi bundle with my name on it), but that will be a bittersweet day if it ever comes.

No idea on mouse and keyboard, but I'm a PC gamer through and through so I will ask the guys to drop in here to see if they can field some of these more practical questions, but TBH they are probably very busy with the first patch.

scope_creep1 karma

Would love to play Talos Principle on my PSVR2. There’s no chance is there?

tjubert1 karma

I applaud the VR lobby for their efforts, and maybe some day they will reach fruition on SOME game, so keep trying.

Also there must be hacks/emulators/virtual environments *whatever the kids call ROMs now*.

So, no chance of official support right now, but a guarantee you'll be able to play bootleg Talos Principle 2 on VR platforms eventually (barring acts of god).

Ok-Feedback56041 karma

What can we see your adapted version different from original?

tjubert1 karma

I'm sorry I'm very impressed with your english learning but I don't understand the question. If you try to ask it a different way I will come back to you :-)

tjubert1 karma

Oh okay now I get it because I read the comment before you. I'll answer some 1984 stuff now as I work back through the new comments!

Ok-Feedback56041 karma

I mean is your video game totally based on Orwell's novel "1984" or you make some changes in your game's story?

tjubert1 karma

Totally, but you can choose different things.

random9010291 karma

Is Athena same as Talos 1 player?

How can Athena leave QR in Gehenna DLC? She must not be there. Or left before ending?

Then Gehenna story happen the time within ascension of Athena?

Blacksmith, @, Lilith left QR in Talos 2 simulation. They entered there again?

How many stars are there in game? I think 24 stars. One island, twelve sites, and two stars for each site.

How many sparks in game?

While reveal trailer Elohim voice tone is same as Talos 1. In Talos 2 demo, he said same word in trailer but different tone. Why do make it different? And how did record it?

Cornelius, Eustathius and other 10 first companions. Are they the 12 apostles?

Robots know what is old Jerusalem in past?

Robots have voice. They chose their voice or was decided randomly before birth?

Athena and Alexandra have same voice actor. Then their voice is same or little different?

I heard there is no new alexandra audio in Talos 2. Reveal trailer voice is Athena?

How can ancient Greek Straton leave voice log? I think it is not his real voice.

There are more human who has voice like Alexandra or Trevor?

In first Trevor audio, he said 'Frank'. Is he Frank Ngatai from EL team?

Would Croteam add other language voice later?

Italian is one of few translated language in Gehenna DLC with voice. But why Italian is not available in Talos 2?

tjubert3 karma

Is Athena same as Talos 1 player?


How can Athena leave QR in Gehenna DLC? She must not be there. Or left before ending? !<

>!I don't recall if she did do that. If she did then it's because *hand wave* as the simulation shuts down time is compressed and weird things happen.

Then Gehenna story happen the time within ascension of Athena? !<


Blacksmith, @, Lilith left QR in Talos 2 simulation. They entered there again? !<

>!Huh? I think they ascended and became part of the robots who populate the city in T2.

How many stars are there in game? I think 24 stars. One island, twelve sites, and two stars for each site. !<

>!Dunno. Too many for me.

How many sparks in game?!<

>!Dunno. Not enough for me.

While reveal trailer Elohim voice tone is same as Talos 1. In Talos 2 demo, he said same word in trailer but different tone. Why do make it different? And how did record it?!<

>!Probably we just needed slightly different words or performance for the trailer vs the game.

Cornelius, Eustathius and other 10 first companions. Are they the 12 apostles? !<

>!I suppose that's a comparison you could draw.

Robots know what is old Jerusalem in past? Human history is not fully known by the robots.

Robots have voice. They chose their voice or was decided randomly before birth? I think they receive a default random voice, and can change it at will. This is adressed in wonderfully comic form by the Kyratzes in the game.

Athena and Alexandra have same voice actor. Then their voice is same or little different? !<

>!The character has similarities but is not the same, so I'd guess the voice performance has differences.

I heard there is no new alexandra audio in Talos 2. Reveal trailer voice is Athena? !<


How can ancient Greek Straton leave voice log? I think it is not his real voice. !<

>!I think you must be right.

There are more human who has voice like Alexandra or Trevor? !<

>!Trevor was a relatively late addition so I'm actually not sure if the Kyratzes wrote others.

In first Trevor audio, he said 'Frank'. Is he Frank Ngatai from EL team? !<

>!Knowing Kyratzes, probably.

Would Croteam add other language voice later? !<

>!I doubt it unless the game sells millions.

Italian is one of few translated language in Gehenna DLC with voice. But why Italian is not available in Talos 2? Funny story. I think it didn't occur to Croteam NOT to do voices in other languages in the first games, even though that is the norm. In T2 with all the extra voice work it would be a big expense to record everything in many languages.!<

Tothewallgone1 karma

Will there be a physical release for TP2?

tjubert4 karma

I don't know, but my guess is that if it hasn't been announced then it's probably not currently planned - but that could change if you all make enough noise!

Faptasmic1 karma

Who is to blame for giant alien spiders?

tjubert1 karma

Definitely Justin and/or Matt.

SQRT42Pi1 karma

Are Miltohims people?

tjubert1 karma

Are SQRT42Pis frogs?

Bashfluff1 karma

What are your thoughts on the layoffs hitting the tech sector this year (the layoffs at Bungie only being the latest dramatic example in the gaming space)? Do you feel like your job has gotten easier or harder?

tjubert5 karma

My thoughts on the layoffs are:

- Sympathy for the people, it sucks to lose a job, and sometimes especially when it's a stupid decision that loses long-standing talent that committed to and defined a generation of a studios' games.

- Big corporations gonna be evil so none of them should be surprised. By all means deal with the devil if the terms suit you, but don't ever fucking trust the fucker.

- More broadly, this is just the big wave with its peaks and troughs. Many of these people will go on to work for startup studios and do brilliant things they never would have done working for the Man, and that will lead us into the next peak.

My job has gotten harder because I'm not as hungry and I'm less tolerant of hard work. I don't want to work hard, I want to be excited to write and having fun. But finishing things always seems to come with a bunch of hard work.

In terms of the industry, I suppose it's gotten easier. There's more appreciation for the value of writing in games.

Modo971 karma

Hello, big fan of your work, I hope you're having a nice day :)

Is there a chance to see TTP3 in the future? Is there any plans? And if the answer is (yes), is it something to expect anytime in the next few years, or maybe we will have to wait for another 8-10 years? 😄

Another question about TTP2: how important are critic reviews for you guys? Is it something that might decide the future of the franchise? Are you all expecting positive reviews? Let's say 85% on Metacritic or you guys looking for higher than that?

Thanks for your time, and sorry for my English ❤️

tjubert2 karma

I said elsewhere that we'd like to do TP3, but no current schedule.

I love reading reviews, but that might change when I finally release the stinker that's long overdue in my career.

Critic reviews matter in the sense that they can still really drive sales. 90% vs 79% is a lot of sales. Although user reviews on steam might matter more.

Personally I am expecting very positive reviews, I hope and expect they will be very similar quantitatively to Talos 1, although I have no idea if slightly higher or slightly lower.

cauterize20001 karma

Do we find out what does It mean to be human?

tjubert1 karma

Eventually, yes, but by then it may be too late - jokes, it's never too late.

Interesting-Debt-2791 karma

Will Milton appear in game as a character or a cameo? Or is he just forever engraved into the consciousness of every new human?

tjubert2 karma

Wherever you go, you'll always hear that voice in the back of your mind asking, 'Why?'.

xXx_-SWAG_LORD-_xXx-1 karma

Does subnautica even have a story lol?

tjubert6 karma

Lol xxxYY_Swaglo4d-69420xxxzy lol lol stfu troll your mum savage