The Cosmonet games are a pair of thematically linked branching narratives about the small decisions that affect personal stories. These two epistolary games center on connected characters dealing with their own lives, which the player influences indirectly.
In Cosmonet, you are an avian biologist on a space station studying how well birds can fly in zero gravity. Your job is really boring so you spend most of your time chatting with your friends on Earth and taking online personality quizzes. These allow you to indirectly control the character's personality, dialogue, and responses to adversity.
In FROM IVAN, your job is to manage human resources, which you do by picking out the best greeting card to send people on the many occasions when sending a greeting card is appropriate. Your choices affect the way that your friends, family, and coworkers see you and themselves, and can change the course of your romantic and career prospects.
The Cosmonet games are small games that explore an alternative interaction structure for narrative games, where the choices you are asked to make are smaller than you might expect, and their consequences are much larger. In many examples of branching story games the player chooses a course of action or line of dialogue that directly determines the main character's actions. In these cases, differences in characterization are filled in only implicitly as a consequence of these decisions (e.g., what kind of a person must the character be to have made that decision in that moment?). The Cosmonet games flip this dynamic, asking the player to make decisions that determine aspects of the character's personality, and then allowing that personality to drive the character toward different actions. In Cosmonet, for example, this is presented quite literally: you fill out personality tests for Lena, the results of which determine how she deals with conflict in her own life. The personality tests score the character along two axis: independence and idealism. If the player has made Lena highly idealistic, her reactions and problem-solving strategies will be different than if she is highly practical.
This elevation of the small and personal moments within a larger narrative context extends to our development of the world that connects the two games, as well. The world of Cosmonet is built to be evocative and intriguing without pulling focus from the characters that inhabit it. It is a reflection of our own, where global politics and power structures played out in dramatically different ways but the lives and problems of our protagonists are surprisingly familiar and relatable. Ivan works within a cyclopean bureaucracy that borrows heavily from the dystopian fiction of the Cold War era, but the conflicts in his life are relational, rather than cultural.
Martzi Campos - Designer, Artist
Sean Bouchard - Designer, Programmer
Will Campos - Writer
Kyle Laporte - Composer