Parasite: story games beyond the tabletop

edited August 2010 in Story Games
Parasite is a story game. Parasite is also a custom map for the recently released rts Starcraft 2.

It's one of those things I just stumbled across kicking around online. Starcraft 2 has an incredibly powerful map editing tool, and people have used it to create all sorts of shit: side-scrollers, tetris clones, racing games, first person shooters, you name it. Parasite is a custom map that implements a classic survival horror scenario: you're the civillian crew of a mining outpost, and one of you has been infected with a deadly alien parasite, but you don't know who.

If you spawn as a human, your goal is to survive until you kill the parasite. If you spawn as the parasite or become infected, your goal is to infect or kill every human.

The details of the scenario are pretty brilliant, in that tropey survival horror behavior seems to emerge from them naturally. You get people running through the dark station being chased by aliens frantically screaming out over chat for help, and everyone's afraid to come to their aid because how do they know the person asking for help isn't the parasite attempting to lure them to some secluded corner? You get people deciding that the only way to be sure the parasite is gone is to launch in a shuttle and shoot the space station down, and you get those guys being ganked by the humans who would be left behind on the station to die with the parasite. It's creepy, it evokes a real sense of tension and seclusion, and, I think, it's the first real story game that's purely defined by a computer implementation.

Has anyone else played this game?

Has anyone seen anything like it?

There are ways that Parasite takes advantage of its medium to accomplish things that would just be impossible in a tabletop game. For instance, the flow of information is naturally very different, and that's a big part of how Parasite creates its atmosphere. What are other things that we could do with computer story games that we couldn't do with tabletop ones?

I thought of SG immediately after tripping over this little gem; I hope those of you who have bought sc2 check it out!



  • So, weird thing: I have SC2. I used to download SC1 maps all the time. However, my community knowledge is dusty.

    Where can you get the Parasite map?

    And where is a good place to get other maps, like the side-scrollers, FPSes, etc?

  • Sign in, then hit multi player. There should be a 'custom game' box in the bottom right; click Join a Game then scroll down the list until you hit a game of parasite (or whatever you're looking for). It's usually a page or so deep.

    Or, to create a game, click Create a Game. Instead of scrolling through lists until you find the map, you can type Parasite into the little search bar, at the top right of the list of maps.
  • Tried it, but didn't find magic. I think it's been around long enough now that it has devolved to an extremely tactical exercise, where people know the tricks and optimal moves.

    Probably doesn't help that there's a big machine that tells you who isn't a parasite. That kind of spoils the suspense.
  • Posted By: Jeph

    What are other things that we could do with computer story games that we couldn't do with tabletop ones?
    I'm doing another guest post on the Failbetter Games Blog (They're the ones who make the highly addictive game Echo Bazaar) which will discuss just that. Vincent and I have been working on some theories which port/simulate play in the style of tabletop Creative Agendas into digital games with scripted narratives and interactive fiction. It's really exciting stuff, and my current obsession. I already did a post briefly touching on the ways that Echo Bazaar supports Right to Dream, if you're interested.

    Hopefully the new post will go up soon. It has diagrams and everything!
  • I gave it a shot. The premise seemed really cool, but the map was so damn big and nondescript that it would be minutes in between running into another player.

    But now I'm scoping around other custom mods, so that's awesome.

  • I haven't played it, but Space Station 13 sounds like a similar concept only extremely complex.
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