A Game-less Game Demo

"What did the astronauts say?" She slips into a bit of a Texas drawl for the quote. "'I ain't no cosmologist, babe. I don't care nothing about that. I just know we're here and it's tremendous to be here'? They were right, but I still think there's room for improvement. How tremendous can it be without you?"

EX ASTRIS SCIENTIA is a game I haven't made because I don't know how to make games! But I came up with a whole plot for it for a scifi class a few summers ago and I really like it.

The following is my final proposal, outlining the basic plot, characters, and game mechanics level by level, as well as some ""screenshots"" (from other games, but often edited by me) to give you an idea of what it would look like! Plus: a demo of the first level, since it's a regular text game lol

Please enjoy! ^_^ And if you have any comments, plz consider hitting up my guestbook!



Ex Astris Scientia ("From the stars, knowledge") is a multi-genre science fiction game about Teddy, the sole operator of a deep space relay station orbiting Tau Sagittarii. She took the job to find herself and the days are fine if lonely until she begins receiving what she assumes is an old human broadcast that has finally reached this region of space. As the stories start to sound more and more familiar, however, and things start getting stranger and stranger in space, Teddy realizes the woman from the radio is from her wife, stranded in an amnesia zone near Chi Sagittarii which Teddy's station has begun to enter, allowing her to remember and rescue her wife and crew.



The story begins with an average day in the life of Teddy, the sole occupant of Tau Sagittarii-5, a deep space relay station orbiting Tau Sagittarii. After a disastrous five years dominated by the death of her overbearing mother and a messy divorce, she took the job to have some time to "find herself" without anyone's influence. There she spends her days as an interstellar air traffic controller/ phone operator, coordinating ships and relaying messages—although, with the remoteness of her station, she rarely hears anything but centuries-old radio broadcasts that have finally made their way out from Earth.

One day she hears what she thinks is one of these, a woman who talks for hours at a time about everything and nothing at all, addressed to a "you" that's never explained but she obviously loves very much. The stories quickly become a source of comfort for Teddy, to the point where she starts dreaming in the woman's voice, but something about them remains eerily familiar as a few offhand details hit too close to home—and, even more suspiciously, seem to be originating from deeper within the galaxy, rather than from Earth behind her.

Over the course of a week, it becomes apparent that the reason the messages are so familiar is because the woman is Teddy's wife, whose ship the Ariadne was lost in space after a mission to investigate the famous 1977 Wow! signal: a mission Teddy herself was supposed to be on. Her estranged mother died not long before they were set to launch, but Teddy insisted she would catch up with the others on the next shuttle from the Earth-orbit light speed station to their ship in the Sagittarius region. However, the area they were headed to, south of Chi Sagittarii, exists behind a distortion that causes the people who cross it to be unwritten, erased from the memories of those who knew them—and so Teddy, originally only delayed a few weeks, forgot what she was doing, where she was going, who she was meant to meet, and eventually nearly who she was, missing the wife and friends so central to her life.

After a few years of miserably trying to unknowingly rebuild the life she doesn't remember losing, she found herself drawn to the region in her quest to find herself, unknowingly ending up one star away and drifting over the line they crossed ten years ago. What she thought would be a journey of self-discovery has inadvertently become one of re-discovery, as the uneasy and destabilizing return of her memories (triggered by her wife's letter broadcasts) returns Teddy to herself: the brave, sometimes reckless, deeply caring woman she's been hearing about.

When she remembers this, there's no question that she will try to rescue them, as they were stranded immediately when the (since outdated) type of fuel they were using was vaporized upon crossing the amnesia barrier. With her keen sense of direction, mechanic skills, and most importantly the knowledge of who she once was and could be again, Teddy survives being battered by the amnesia waves and brings the six crew members (all of whom survived thanks to her overstocking the ship's reserves) back to Tau Sagittarii-5 and eventually home to Earth.


Theodora "Teddy" Rousseau

She/her. Age 35, recently orphaned, even more recently divorced. Spaceship mechanic. Relatively smart, great at directions, a little abrasive but cares fiercely. Has a vague sense that someone out there loves her. Only her mother and ex-husband called her Theodora. Kind of twitchy and prone to outbursts.

Physical appearance: short, expressive eyebrows, fine dark hair cut herself whenever it reaches her shoulders and often tied up (think Kaylee from Firefly but less effortlessly cute), small scar on her left cheek and right eyebrow from minor technical issue that she totally had under control and dimples. Wears exclusively standard issue coveralls and well-loved boots in space and an array of button-downs in dream sequences.

Louise "Lou" Rousseau

She/her. Age 34. Very obviously a former class clown, but only because it was a better option than being a nerd. Physicist, astrobiologist, and acoustician (growing up she had a lot of free time and not a lot of friends). A little self-deprecating. Loudmouth, but loves her wife with a fierce quiet.

Physical appearance: tall; shoulder-length, dark brown hair, perpetually messy; thick frame glasses (near-sighted); lots of stupid graphic t-shirts beneath her standard issue uniform, usually wears a lot of jackets that her wife loves to steal; overbite but in a cute way.

Ariadne Crew

The other five crew members of the Ariadne mission, Teddy and Lou's very good friends and all of a similar age. They are:



Tau Sagittarii-5, "Reality"

Sample description in Teddy's
(full image)

Text-based. Teddy's average day. Tutorial-like stage (no explicit instructions) to explore the Tau Sagittarii-5 station consisting of five rooms: Quarters with bed, sink, and chest; Switchboard Control Room with switchboard relay and ship's computer interface; Kitchen with various appliances and supplies; Belowdecks with maintenance stations; Air Lock connecting to shuttle. Various items throughout, including Switchboard, which can be programmed to different (equally empty) channels, and journals, which can be read or written in.

Level 1

Tau Sagittarii-5, "Reality"

Sample description in kitchen
with radio dialog
(full image)

Text-based. The next day. Teddy hears the first signal, where a woman tells her wife about the day they met in a research station in the Arctic, beginning mid-story and presented in text. If the player continues to explore while the broadcast plays, it appears randomly amid responses, with phrases like, "The woman's voice continues," and "The woman's voice can be heard through the wall", etc. (seen above). Level ends when player goes to bed after broadcast ends.

Level 2

Arctic Research Station, "Dream"

Research station desk and display with
puzzle map and point-and-click HUD
[img from Stories Untold]

Point-and-click. Arctic research station (and outlying equipment). Player must work to restore power to the station and guide home the expedition team during a storm, repairing generators and communications relays. Holding the other side of the radio in the snowcat is the woman from the radio, whose voice appears for the first time. Puzzles include circuit repair (see level 9) and relaying directions to expedition through dialog choices, consulting maps found around the room. Level ends when the player guides the team home and the door to the station opens with their return (light spilling in, fade to white, etc).

Level 3

Tau Sagittarii-5, "Reality"

Sample description in quarters and
workspace with radio dialog
(full image)

Text-based. A few days later. The woman from the radio (whose name is revealed to be Lou) tells the story of moving into their first home together, with the help of some friends. Incidental encounters in her quarters if the player looks at the wall above the bed, where she thinks there should be photos hanging, etc.

The story is occasionally interrupted by minor alerts from the ship about small fried circuits that need to be repaired in the belowdecks through simple commands (see below). These and the incidents in level 5 are echoed in Lou'd small talk introductions to the main story of the level. Level ends when player goes to bed after broadcast ends.

Sample circuit repair sequence in
(full image)

Level 4

House, "Dream"

Teddy and Lou's home map
[img from ShelfLife dev notes (edited)]

Side-scrolling, third person. Move in day. Put the labelled boxes in their proper rooms before they pile up like an episode of I Love Lucy. Player can interact with friend NPCs (who otherwise walk in and out of the map carrying boxes and furniture) to hear anecdotes of their friendships and delay their box deliveries for time. Upon entering the bedroom, when the player walks past a mirror for the first time, for an instant it shows the 8-bit version of Teddy (as described in quarters mirror description) before reverting to another blurred face. Level ends when all boxes are put away and the player choses the "Time for dinner?" option when talking to Lou, which is only available after. Ends with a cutscene of the friends eating pizza in the living room, fades to black.

Level 5

Tau Sagittarii-5, "Reality"

Sample description in quarters
with radio dialog
(full image)

Text-based. A few days later. Teddy hears Lou's next broadcast about a camping trip in Yellowstone where she proposed to her wife with a scavenger hunt laid out the night before, culminating in their initials carved on the fence of an overlook and Lou's proposal speech, glossed over here. The story appears in-game as both the usual text and now audio, narrated by the same voice from level 2 and changing in volume and quality if the player moves from the Workspace area.

The story is occasionally interrupted by minor alerts about the ship's stability that need to be fixed by adjusting tilt and course deviations on the ships controls in the workspace. The longer the player takes to fix them, the more adjustments are needed; for example, if the player ignores an alert for three actions ("read book," "go to hallway," "go to workspace"), tilt may increase from 5° to 15°. Two options are given to fix issues: thrusters and gyroscopes (similar to the ISS). If player uses thrusters, fuel reserves gradually decrease, affecting difficulty of level 10. If player uses gyroscopes, no such fuel depletion occurs, although gyroscopes will saturate and player may have to use thrusters if adjustments become too big. Level ends when player goes to bed after broadcast ends.

Sample orbit repair in workspace
with radio dialog
(full image)

Level 6

Yellowstone National Park, "Dream"

Hiking trail where Lou proposes
[img from Firewatch]

Walking simulator, full FOV. The camping trip in Yellowstone. The player explores the environment with no linear narrative, accumulating the clues of Lou's proposal as described earlier. After a certain amount of clues found, dialog and NPC movements railroad the player in the direction of the remaining encounters until the proposal at the overlook. Optional incidental encounters in the tent, where the player can uncover photos of people whose faces are all blurred except for the woman from the radio. Sun begins setting after a certain amount of play time and level ends when player uses sleeping bag.

Level 7

Tau Sagittarii-5, "Reality"

Station kitchen (8-bit version) map
[img from Undertale (recolored and edited)]

Third person open map and random encounter turn-based combat. The next day. Teddy, as seen from above, wanders the station and has to "fight" random objects (dishes, spare headset, books by her bed) which attack her with "déjà vu", their only attack. Player's attack options are "remember" and "forget", which are equally ineffective. Level ends when health bar reaches zero, causing Teddy to fall asleep on the floor of whatever room the player is in.

In the background, Lou tells the story of the day her wife's mother died, which sounds eerily familiar to what Teddy remembers of her own mother's death of cancer seven years ago, before she went into space.

Battle start animation (books)
[img from Awkward Silence Games
(recolored and edited)]

Level 8

Hospital, "Dream"

Hospital hallway with
Lou's subtitled narration
[img from Stories Untold]

First person. The hospital where Teddy's mother died, empty. Lou's narration (changed from the broadcast, oddly somber compared to her usual tone) appears as audio and subtitles. The player's inventory consists only of a phone, which appears as an icon in the lower right corner, that doesn't work until the end of the dream when it rings with an incoming call from "Lou". Level ends when the player tries to answer, causing Teddy to wake up in the "real" world.

Level 9

Tau Sagittarii-5, "Reality"

Switchboard control area of
workspace with point-and-click HUD
[img from The Umbrella Academy]

Point-and-click. The next day. The switchboard already on, picking up another broadcast. Lou talks about her and her wife signing up for the mission she is still on, along with the rest of their friends mentioned in previous stories. At first vaguely and then more explicit, she explains how her wife was supposed to follow a day behind, how the Ariadne was set adrift after crossing the amnesia zone barrier destroyed its fuel reserves, and how much she misses her wife, whose name she finally says.

Concurrent with this, the player must respond to increasing safety alarms as station undergoes stress of finally reaching the amnesia zone and ready shuttle for departure outside standard range, overriding safety commands and rewiring controls using the manuals found in the storage chest. Level ends when Teddy enters the airlock after finishing all puzzles or when broadcast ends, whichever comes last.

Circuit puzzle
[img from Moons of

Level 10

Tau Sagittarii Region, Shuttle

First section of flight simulator
intended as pseudo-tutorial
[img from "So c'mon"
by Awkward Silence Games]

Side-scrolling; text-based, combat. Teddy pilots the station shuttle into the Sagittarii zone and fights "amnesia waves" in cutscenes of various memories in the text-based adventure form narrated by Lou rather than the impersonal voice, resetting when health reaches zero. The closer the shuttle gets to the Ariadne, the clearer and louder Lou's latest broadcast comes in, live, which she intends to be her last as she gives up on returning home. Success rates in combat increase as the broadcast continues. If successful, Teddy reaches the Ariadne at the end of the map, docks, and brings aboard its crew of six.

HUD detail


Tau Sagittarii-5, One Month Later

Epilogue excerpt (full image)

Text-based. Narrated by Lou, audio and text, and addressed to Teddy, still in the second person. Five months after their reunion, on the rescue transport, she narrates her own experience and conviction that Teddy would one day find her. At the end, Teddy responds, also in audio and text, in the first. Fade out, credits, etc.


Everything in the world of Ex Astris Scientia is both old, new: lived-in, textured, worn. For example, Tau Sagittarii-5, which has a vaguely industrial feel akin to the Nostromo from Alien; the switchboard, which is Cold War colored with fiber optic wires that glow a faint yellow. The future, but not unrecognizably so. Somewhere between time.

Ex Astris Scientia is mainly restricted to one area shown in various modes: Tau Sagittarii-5. The station orbits the nominal Tau Sagittarii, the closest constellational star to the origin of the famous 1977 Wow! signal: humanity's best indication of extraterrestrial life, 122 light-years from Earth. Also seen are various locations on Earth (a scientific research station in the Arctic Circle, Yellowstone National Park, Teddy and Lou's house, a hospital).

Tau Sagittarii-5 Maps

Main Floor


Sample Room Inventories

(made using textadventures.co.uk/)



Easter Eggs


This is a playable demo of Teddy's quarters, as a text-based adventure. All objects listed in the inventory sheet under "Areas, Items, etc." should be playable, plus some hidden extras.


(The website it's on is a little finicky and sometimes doesn't load or breaks item trees so things that should be visible aren't, so here's a video example.)

(Also, don't look at the "Places and Objects" tab in the upper right-hand corner; because of the way the site keeps breaking I've had to make everything visible from the start, so it doesn't work the way the template layout wants it too.)

© lamphouse 2020