The logic of Ir/rational discovery

Ir/rational Investigator is an upcoming noir detective adventure rooted in philosophy and the concept of propositional logic. We caught up with developer Tom Jubert who explored the possibility of assumptions, conclusions and reasoning in videogames.


“Well, it’s not terribly sexy, is it? You think of the traditional publisher risk aversion – no one is beating anyone over the head to try and do a philosophy game, right?”

Tom Jubert speaks with the confidence and conviction of a man enlightened as he explains how switching from a computer science degree to study philosophy made him consider life as a whole, as well as his actions within his own. Publishers may not be queueing up to fund games rooted in ancient Grecian study, however that is not to say there isn’t room for such entities in the modern market.

In the absence of face-to-face interaction, audio calls prevent interviewers from gauging their interviewee’s expressions. I couldn’t see games writer and narrative designer Tom Jubert’s face as we spoke about his upcoming game Ir/rational Investigator via Skype chat, but his infectiously upbeat and enthusiastic tone gave the impression he was grinning throughout – a sign of just how invested he is in intertwining two of his life’s passions: canada pharmacy videogames and philosophy.

Granted, philosophy games may not be considered “terribly sexy” but Jubert, whose repertoire includes varying degrees of work on FTL, the Penumbra series, The Swapper and Driver: San Francisco to name but a few, plans to introduce gamers buyviagraonline-rxstore to something they’ve probably already experienced at least once in their lives, consciously or otherwise, but probably not something they would largely associate with gaming: the concept of propositional logic.

“Propositional logic is a way of modeling mathematical arguments with language,” says Jubert. “So, when we have an argument in everyday life we kind of just talk over the top of each other, we yell viagra dose size at each other until someone’s been beaten into submission, and that’s not the ideal way to get to the truth of the matter. Ideally, you carefully explain your assumptions, you consider the implications and you draw conclusions which, if your reasoning was correct, you can expect other people to be convinced of.

“It’s a way of simplifying the language that we use which otherwise is really quite imprecise when it comes to this sort of stuff – this is why philosophers are always making up new words – so that you can form if/then/else statements. There are other more complex logics further down the line but propositional logic generic viagra legal in its most basic is: you take a claim, and if the claim is true, it implies another claim. No matter how complicated the argument is, you break it down into that rough form and then you see

what maths comes out the other end.”

Thought progress

Following in the footsteps of its popular Newgrounds predecessor Ir/rational Redux, Ir/rational Investigator is set viagra tinnitus to facilitate a natural progression from flash game to commercial release donning the facade of a noir detective episodical adventure whilst remaining clearly rooted in logical argument. Redux, it would seem, was but a brief insight into the nuts and bolts of propositional logic as conveyed by a videogame; its success paving the way for its more developed, more expansive older brother.


Jubert hangs the premise of his game on logical thinking, pointing out that games often guide us through their narratives without much independent thought. I suggest to him that players might rarely consider their actions as illogical, so cialisonline-certifiedtop how will Ir/rational Investigator introduce the overarching and decidedly profound concept?

“It starts off fairly straightforwardly, compared to the previous iteration,” says Jubert. “We start off much more simply – the first thing you’re doing is basically convincing yourself to pick up a ringing telephone, and we’re just kind of guiding you slowly through the simple opening in the classic puzzle tutorial style.

“The idea is if you present this stuff in the sort of fun noir world and if you can relate the solutions of the puzzles not just to everyday things but to interesting murder-related things, and have you doing cool stuff with it, then hopefully the maths is hidden enough for you to enjoy yourself and get into it without it feeling too much like a critical

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thinking lecture.”

Being lectured, in essence, is being told what to do. In his book ‘The Existential Journalist’ John C. Merrill, Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia, praises those journalists who avoid being “robotised” by the pressures of society to conform. Merrill argues that today’s culture of media convergence often has the power to shape impressionable reporters into “functioning androids”.

He suggests that self-censorship – the use of cialis after prostate surgery worst form of censorship as far as any journalist is concerned – is a byproduct of not thinking for yourself. Propositional logic is exactly that – thinking for yourself. It was with this correlation between an area of personal interest with propositional logic that made me realise just how relevant it is, underpinning almost all aspects of daily life.

And what better medium to convey this considered and logical thought process

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in motion than order cialis that of videogames? Jubert highlights gaming as the perfect interactive platform to ensure an educational yet fun balance is maintained when conveying the message.


“I think videogames are just intrinsically, to make the obvious point, the casino pa natet only medium where you’re feeding back on your player based on the sorts of actions and thinking that they’re undertaking,” he continues.

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“So we have this unique opportunity to do things like this, I mean I can’t imagine a film which tackles propositional logic and maintains the quality of a good film.

“You can’t imagine that film, where you have a couple of characters, god knows, even if it was a noir film, it would be horribly boring if the character was solving will cialis lower my blood pressure everything all the time with hard propositional logic – even Sherlock Holmes doesn’t stoop quite that low. But as soon as you’ve got it in an interactive environment, as soon as the player’s actually engaging with the stuff, you’ve hopefully got a cool interactive experience rather than a dry, logic workshop.

“I think the most exciting things in games are ones which really embrace the unique options we have and develop their content a bit more procedurally, I prefer something a bit more simulation-like. For Ir/rational that doesn’t really work because it’s a puzzle game, we need to ground the content to the puzzles, it needs too much of the designers hand to go too much in the other direction. My hope is that I can get the tone of the writing right. I think there’s always polishing and improvements to be made, but I think there’s a good space in the noir genre for something with this sort of tone – something which can do some sort of black comedy like that, but something which doesn’t take itself too seriously.

“As long as you’re having fun and you’re not [constantly] confronted with a casino online seriously long dialogue that’s getting in the way of the puzzle, then I think we’ll get that. Working on all the sorts of games that I’ve worked on in the past, hopefully I can get a good balance between pushing story at the player and keeping them moving and letting them dig around for themselves if they want the extra stuff.”

Everyday logic

Although Jubert admits that the subject matter runs the risk of being a bit dry, he highlights that there is certainly room for this kind of thing in classic adventure games. Broken Sword, for all its compelling narrative, often relied on exhausting George’s options until he struck the right conversational trigger. Whilst Jubert acknowledges other games that have attempted to tackle critical thinking – Socrates Jones a good example – he notes they have perhaps relied too heavily on everyday language, failing to be rigorous enough with the background logic. In fact, level ten of Redux, the game’s final level, completely replaced everyday language with symbols and numbers, forcing players to really think about what they had learned in the preceding levels.

“Do you know, it really surprises me how many people got stuck on that one,” Jubert admits. “It shows you the different mindsets that you can approach something with and obviously everyone, as soon as they get it, realises it’s terribly obvious. I think showing the maths in that way, in the way that I did at the end of the first game, is cool because there’s a lot of interesting philosophical content around how to be free and how to live your life and how the rules of logic kind of play into that.

“How if you’re just obeying these kind of mathematical laws then how can you really be acting freely, this is what a lot of rationality or logic naysayers would say – what’s the point of rationality when you don’t get to make a decision for yourself. And the popular philosophical

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response is to say that actually, no unless you’re following a set of rules that everyone kind of agrees on, you’re not really acting at all – you need to internalise the rules and act within the rules in order to truly be free. You don’t win a game of chess by disobeying the rules; you win by innovating within them. So that’s kind of a feel that generally I’d like to strike with these games.”


At the heart of Ir/rational Investigator lies propositional logic; at the heart of propositional logic lies questions. As long as you think logically, and can appreciate the mathematics behind the logic, it’s all relevant. Why did Tom do this interview?

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Why does he do any interviews? Publicity generates interest which in turn sells games. If Tom does interviews he will get publicity.


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does interviews. Tom gets publicity. Therefore Tom sells games.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for a second that Tom Jubert is quite as cynical as this – after all Ir/rational is a labour of love – but I think I’m starting to get the hang of the concept.

Juggling an inordinate amount of work at any given time is an affliction faced by many an indie developer, and Jubert is no different. Having just announced FTL: Advanced – working alongside price of viagra 100mg none other than Chris Avellone – work on Ir/rational has been unfortunately momentarily postponed.

“Basically I’m always balancing my own work with working on other stuff and it really all does just depend on what I have on,” he says. “If I get a nice big break on my schedule where nothing really exciting pops up then I can jump back onto Ir/rational and when something cool pops up I have to put

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it back on the back bench a little. So, it’s moving in bits and pieces, but there is no more solid a release date at this point.”

Ir/rational Investigator is expected “whenever it’s done” as noted on the game’s Steam Greenlight page. In the meantime, check out its forerunner Ir/rational Redux here.

Joe Donnelly

Author: Joe Donnelly

Joe is the line editor at BeefJack and often wonders who introduced the whole 'talking about yourself in the third person' thing. Maybe one day I'll, ahem, he'll find out.

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