Games That Remember - Leaving a Legacy (Part 2)

Idan Rooze | April 2022

In the previous part of Leaving a Legacy, I discussed the history of legacy elements in games - those powerful moments that tie us to our gaming history, give our decisions weight, and empower us to feel like we matter in the story. This time, I would like to share some thoughts about how game developers can further broaden the sense of agency and identity of players using cross-game meta-narratives.

Call to adventure

Imagine playing an action fantasy game, one of those you go around fighting a bunch of monsters to gain loot and level up. You happen upon a party of goblins trying to rob a passing merchant. Being the powerful and just being that you are, you slay them easily with your flaming sword. The merchant thanks you, and you go about your day.

The sword remembers

A few weeks pass, and now you’re playing a different fantasy game, this one leans more towards roleplaying and politics. You encounter a goblin village and decide to enter. As you approach the main gate, the village chief appears in front of you. You never met a single goblinoid in this game, but for some reason, he starts yelling at you: "Murderer! Flame-Wielder! I can smell goblin blood on your sword! We shall avenge our fallen brothers and sisters!". Half a dozen goblin archers start shooting at you from a nearby watchtower. The game prompts you with a message: "Your past actions have consequences. The sword remembers".

A conversation between creators

In the past few months, I’ve been working on a new project. Totem is a decentralized platform that allows game experiences such as this one to happen. We provide game developers with tools to tap into a world where games can communicate with each other via shared assets.

In the example above, the player carried the same flaming sword with them in those two independent games. The first game developers decided to log the number of goblins slain by the weapon as public knowledge. The developers of the second game used this information to make the goblin village aggressive toward goblin killers. It’s a conversation between two game developers that allows players to participate in a larger story.

Now imagine there are thousands of games that use this simple primitive to communicate ideas, values, and story moments between them, to establish a persistent universe where players and their actions matter. As a game developer, you can start collaborating with other developers, reacting to their games through your game design, or expanding upon your brand and allowing players to carry the consequences of their decisions between your own games.

Myths of the future

Totem is the perfect world for gaming myths to emerge and provide players with thoughtful, surprising, and meaningful, never-before-seen experiences.

With utter respect to the legacy of the originators and inventors in narrative games throughout history, we wish to draw from their lessons and empower the gamedev community worldwide to create amazing shared games.


Totem Game Development Network 2022