Corridor: Gerbil Journey

This is a game about procedurally generating corridors.

You are playing as a cute little rodent of some sort. Let’s just call it a gerbil. The progression path is to prove yourself worthy of the throne of the Intergalactic Gerbil Emperor, but it’s a sandbox game, so you’re free to get distracted. I’ll be describing the progression from the bottom up, but you can start anywhere in the progression. The game will fill in the previous steps procedurally! In fact, this progression path is the first corridor, the corridor of personal empowerment through increasing authority and responsibility.

Core Themes

The game themes are structured around three animal virtues: Food, sleep/security, and reproduction. For you to ascend to a burrow leader, you must master the basics of the three gerbil virtues. When applied to gerbils, these become Foraging, Burrowing, and Mating
To master foraging, you must master the knowledge of plants. The three virtues applied to plants are: Leaves/roots, stalks/roots/seeds, seeds
To master burrowing, you must master the knowledge of predators. The three virtues applied to predators are: Hunting/ferocity, nesting/ferocity, nesting/eggs/instruction/ferocity
To master mating, you must master the knowledge of rodents, thereby becoming burrow leader. Thus mating is the meta-virtue, that of reflexive knowledge, self awareness.

Once you are a burrow leader, you can begin applying your knowledge of the nine virtues (three each for gerbils, plants, and predators) to the actions and administration of your AI robot partners.

Oh, didn’t I mention that? This whole game takes place in the context of a space-faring cybernetic society of gerbils and robots. The back-story is, of course, procedurally generated. Anything from a regressed post-singularity society, to an intentional self-replicating bio-mechanical weapon. The point is you can start in an arbitrary position of authority in the context of an arbitrarily extensive, arbitrarily ancient, arbitrarily powerful society of self-replicating machines and self-replicating cute fluffy critters.

The three virtues, of course, apply to the robots as well, and they can take on the aspect of gerbils, plants, and predators. The three robot virtues are: Mining/Power/Reclamation, tunnels/infrastructure/spires, repurposing/tooling/calibration

As a burrow leader, you may apply your mastery of the nine virtues to the robots, who will obey you to the degree that you have earned authority. As you progress in mastering virtues, you unlock access to more powerful tools.

For now, I’m thinking that the way to “master” a virtue is to build an artifact, vessel, construction, etc commesurate to your current mastery level which is an excellent example of the virtue in question. But I’m not quite clear on how that all works at this point. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment!

Mastery Levels

The mastery level is the number of virtues you have mastered. The maximum command level (capability unlock)

0, Level Zero, personal freedom (suggestion)

At first, you simply have the freedom to roam around as a gerbil. You can open doors by pushing buttons. And, if you come to a door that doesn’t lead anywhere, you can make suggestions for what the robots should build there. Probably there are several buttons there with icons for what things they can build. You push them with your cute little nose. Or maybe your paw? You can tell them what kind of corridors to build! Corridors!

Once you suggest a group of spaces that work well together to some useful purpose, you move to…

1, Level One, artifact (equipment)

You can request, and design, tools, clothes, and equipment! You can also give instructions to individual small robots. This allows you to tinker with artifacts, and repair machinery.

2, vessel (vehicle)

You can request and design mobile vehicles, transports, etc. You get a vehicle of your own as well, which allows you to travel much more quickly. And, as a vehicle is basically a large robot, or a large tool, you can modify buildings!

3, base (implant)

Authority over buildings, installations, cities, etc. At this stage you gain access to a cybernetic implant, which allows you direct communication to robots including a data overlay. These first three levels are essentially locally focused. By the third level of mastery, you can completely control your bodily physical environment.

4, continent (psych-chamber)

Your authority can now encompass many cities. At this stage you’ve probably acquired enough resources to access space, and your strategic choices will begin to have an impact on the empire. But how do you hold a conversation with others who are light-years away? And why do the robots keep gerbils around anyway? Well, it’s because they have psychic communication abilities.

This psychic sense has strict requirements. Two similar gerbils need to match very closely in environment, hence a very specific environment chamber. The chamber has nine positions in it, which are individual channels of prescient communication. Oh, did I mention that part? The psychic communication can be across arbitrary gaps of time, as well as arbitrary distances.

So, this basically is your long-term quest system. Gerbils from the future will call for help, and if you concentrate your efforts, you can probably get there in time to give them aid. Or, if you really need something yourself, you can send out your own psychic request, and perhaps someone out there will send you help.

Oh, and one of the channels is reserved for communication with the Intergalactic Gerbil Emperor. You should probably pay attention to him if you want to advance any further in rank.

5, planet (physio-chamber)

Authority over planets, or planet-sized space stations. The physio-chamber is a set of tools for altering gerbil physiology. This is important if you want to communicate with physiologically different gerbils, and essentially broaden the number of channels in the psych-chamber. Or, you can adapt yourself and the gerbils under your authority for life in other environments. Or both!

6, system (gravity control)

Once you’re in charge of the whole stellar system, you’re going to want a way to alter gravitationally bound bodies and launch and catch relativistic packets to and from other systems. This requires magical gravity technology, which is what you unlock at this level. From here you can de-construct planets and stars, and send near-light-speed ships out to other systems. If you need to request aid from other star systems, you’ll probably want to have a gravity catcher constructed first, so they won’t have to slow down before they get here.

7, galaxy (mass exchange)

For when relativistic travel just isn’t fast enough, you can construct a mass-exchange device to swap equal-mass volumes at galactic ranges. Requires a psychic link to the target location, so you’ll want to stretch the limits of your physio-chamber. It’s also prohibitively expensive at less-than-stellar masses. Be prepared to teleport whole star systems around!

8, firmament (chrono jumps)

Frustrated by all those black holes that you can’t form a psychic link with? Now you don’t need to! Perform mass-exchanges with black holes at arbitrary range. The catch? You swap at the observed space-time location. Jumping a billion light-years away? You’ll also be jumping a billion years back in time.

9, None (Ascend to your throne)

After demonstrating mastery over all nine virtues, you may ascend to the throne of the Intergalactic Gerbil Emperor. Manage your empire across both time and space. Track down the origins of any who have opposed you, remodel the cosmos to best serve your people, or fritter your resources away in idle projects until the heat-death of the universe.

Sounds Too Easy?

Well, we haven’t talked about challenges, have we? Threats may abound, both within and without. How about malfunctioning equipment, alien races, malevolent mechanical planets, psychic star clusters, and time-traveling diseases? No, not where the disease makes you time-travel. That might be actually useful. I mean where the disease infects the psychic manifold, travels back in time, and alters your values and actions. Yuck! I’m playing with that one turned off. But who knows, maybe that’s your thing.

Point is, whatever scale, challenge, scenario, or strategy you’re looking to play with, Corridor should be able to help you get there.

Sounds Too Hard?

To make, I mean. Obviously a perfect game like this wouldn’t be difficult at all to play. But maybe it’s impossible to make. Well, next time I’ll be writing about the technological challenges involved, and a few ways we might solve them.

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