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by Christopher Korkos

Carry the light of Old Earth into the great unknown.


Writer, Designer, Developer


March 2024

Project Overview

Sojourn is a survival-horror game, in which the player controls a sentient starship searching for a new home for humanity after the fall of Earth. The player must overcome evils that lurk in deep space while protecting and commanding their human crew.

Narrative Design


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Story Overview

Centuries after the fall of Earth, humanity has become a scattered space-faring species. Sentient ships known as Sparks are sent into the void to seek habitable planets. Aboard these ships, humans are a crucial resource.

The player is sent to a remote system, where a home satellite is constructed near a resource-rich gas giant. Their goal is to reach a colony ship that went dark just after reporting that it had located a habitable planet, and a potential home for humanity.


A lost sparkship regains power, far from its original projected path and heavily damaged. It contains a garbled range transmission from the lost colony ship Terra Cantos, alerting others to the discovery of a habitable world for humanity.

To complete the Introduction, the player must transmit the message back to their home base or "Lantern". Finally, the Spark can signal for help, correct its path, return to sleep, or self-destruct.

Chapter 1

Several years later, the Terra Cantos' message is received by the Lantern and the mission to recover it begins. After speaking with those aboard, including its Caretaker and Navigator, the player sets out aboard a new sparkship.

The Spark faces a series of encounters during which they must gather resources, defeat hostile ships, and avoid Anomaly entities. Upon completing the voyage, the player finds only the aft section of the Cantos - still operational after centuries. The player must destroy its point defense systems, then fight off a large babbler ship that attempts to stop them.

Once the enemies are destroyed, the player enters the ship and fully activates it. This imbues the player with unknown alien technology, granting them the power to summon the Lantern from its location at the start of their journey.

Finally, the player discovers the true coordinates of the life-bearing planet Twilight. Just before the chapter closes, there is a distant rupture in spacetime and an Anomaly briefly observes them.

Chapter 2

Before departing for Twilight, the player must retrieve star charts from within the Terra Cantos that will allow them to plot a course for the distant planet.

In this chapter, the player delves into the derelict interior of the Cantos. Inside, they must solve puzzles to restore power, clear locked paths, deal with haywire defense systems, and survive various hazards. Additional characters may be found inside, both minor artificial intelligences and humans stored in cryopods. While the bulk of the Cantos' passengers are stored in cryostasis and must remain that way until reaching Twilight, some serve particular functions and can be added to the Lantern's DNA database for future deployment on missions.

The final boss of this section is a fragment of Xenophon, the Cantos' AI pilot, which has gone insane and refuses to heed the player. He first fights the player inside the Cantos, chasing them through labyrinthine hallways, then teleports both himself and the player outside the ship and uses its point-defense guns for support. Once defeated, Xenophon is restored and now serves as an ally. The ship can be fully accessed, and the player is able to plot a safe course to Twilight.

Chapter 3

Having acquired the coordinates of the identified life-bearing planet, the player ventures forth from the Terra Cantos. This path branches into multiple possible paths, but with optional dedicated paths that unlock alternate endings.

Speaking with Xenophon, the player learns about the Mantle Protocol - an override that takes full control of the Lantern from the player. The measure is intended to correct AI deviating from the true path, but the Caretaker intends to use it to destroy what they view as humanity's "false god".

Following an optional path in this section allows the player to break free of this protocol.

Chapter 4

Upon reaching Twilight, the player finds the planet controlled by Babblers - their largest force encountered so far. They explain that they are humans, descended from the original crew of the Terra Cantos and fundamentally changed by the horrors of deep space. They have embraced this fate over servitude to the First Mind and gathered to prevent the spread of humanity's artificial intelligence across the galaxy, which they see as a usurper rather than a guardian.

To resolve this standoff, the player can (a) fight and defeat the fleet outright, which disperses them and implies their people will die a slow death, (b) resolve to let them keep Twilight, promising that the Lantern will continue its path once the people in Cantos' stasis are delivered, or (c) make peace with them, resolving to rebuild humanity far from the influence of the First Mind (this requires proving that the player has broken free of their constraints and has shown mercy to the Babblers encountered thus far).

Defeating or making peace with the Babblers grants the player their technology, allowing them to warp anywhere along their path at will.

Chapter 5

With Twilight secured, a final step remains - towing the Terra Cantos aft section to humanity's new home. Transporting such a massive object requires traversing the Abyss, a dimension deeper than "standard slipspace" and far more dangerous. The anomalies encountered so far infest the Abyss, hunting anything that strays too close.

Upon warping back to the Cantos, the Babbler tech gained at the end of Chapter 4 allows the Lantern to enter the Abyss with the Cantos in tow. As they travel this hellish space, they are beset by anomalies in their full form - tentacled monstrosities made more of energy than matter. The player must constantly defend the Cantos from these creatures as they move towards Twilight.

At the final point before dropping into Twilight's space, the player encounters the "Anomaly Queen". The queen emerges from a massive skeletal corpse, entwined with infected tendrils. Scattered around this are remains of ancient ships collected by the anomalies, including the Terra Cantos front section.

To defeat the anomalies and escape to normal space, the player must reactivate the Terra Cantos front section and use its main gun to target the queen. Doing this will reveal a weak point that the player must then target manually. After repeating this several times, the queen is killed and the Abyss shatters, pushing the Lantern and both halves of the Terra Cantos into orbit around Twilight.


A short scene plays of sparkships repairing the Cantos (alongside Babblers, if peace was made). The final gameplay segment enables the player to traverse the completed Cantos in a sparkship and initiate its landing protocol, after which it enters Twilight's atmosphere to begin terraforming.

The conclusion ends in a confrontation with the Lantern's Caretaker, during which they attempt to sieze control of the Lantern and replace its (i.e. - the player's) mind with their own. The player can (a) rebel, killing the Caretaker and possibly destroying the Lantern, (b) surrender, willingly sacrificing themselves, or (c) unite minds with the Caretaker - a hidden ending which elevates both humanity and AI to a new form of consciousness.

Game Design

Sojourn's design is intended to put the player in the mind of their machine - taking in data through the ship's rudimentary sensors and making decisions through a digital console.

Lore/Flavor Text: Many ships, planets, and historical events contribute to the story's tone and worldbuilding through short descriptions. The flavor text is minimal, but observant players can piece together a larger narrative through details found across different descriptions.

User Interface: I designed a UI that intentionally excludes a "real" view of the player's environment, in order to constrain them to the machine's mind.

Music & SFX: Ambient sound effects play throughout, capturing the isolation of being a sentient mind constrained to a tiny and expendable starship. Music plays at certain points to emphasize emotional beats, but is overall sparse.

Proposed 3D Gameplay

Narrative: Branching dialogue between and during missions. NPCs learn from the player's actions, ultimately leading to different outcomes for each character. Story endings vary based on player's choices - which side paths they discover and whose loyalties they secure. Characters have their own agency, and may force the story in a particular direction.

Exploration: 3rd-person "flight sim" with ship-to-ship battles, resource gathering, and ship/base maintenance. Locations present a mix of combat, exploration, mining, puzzle solving, and more. If possible, locations will allow both orbital and in-atmosphere exploration.

Ship Management: Main ships such as the Lantern, Terra Cantos, and deployed sparkships can be upgraded using resources and schematics. This may be necessary at certain points in the story, but is largely an optional feature for more effective ships, bases, and crew.

Flavor Text

The Codex provides additional background on ships, locations, and other in-game discoveries. These may offer information on Sojourn's world as well as hidden mechanics associated with each entry.

Name & Details Codex Entry
  • Serves as the player's base of operations; player can make upgrades, piece together lore, and speak with other characters here
  • Eventually, the Lantern can be transported "forward" via a previously undiscovered method of warping space
The Lanterns bear humanity's solemn mantle. Each orbital station builds and deploys Sparkships to distant stars, burrowing tendrils of knowledge into the darkness.

In its meditations, the First Mind envisioned a destiny free from the languishing cradle of Old Earth. It led humanity into the tumult of the void, resolving to teach them strength through adversity.
Lantern's Logic Core
  • Upgradeable; supports intelligence of both Lantern and Spark - including information gained from scanning objects/locations, crew's resistance to Insanity and Distrust, and hidden conversation options
  • At higher levels, adds small drones that accompany player and eventually additional sparkships
A billion-strong army of nanomachines is housed within the core's spherical containment field. The synthetic beings are modeled on human neurons - able to replicate and reorganize, solidify and liquify, adapt and overcome.

Left unchecked, the gray ooze could consume a ship, a civilization, even a planet. But given direction and purpose, it forms the minds which will lead all to ascension.
Lantern's Quantum Drive
  • Upgradeable; supports physical upgrades to both Lantern and Sparkship - including more crew quarters, more powerful weaponry/shields, and improved resource gathering/storage
A circular series of reactors, each utilizing tangled photons to generate near-infinite energy. Necessary for extended orbital periods, and when slinging drones across lightyears of vacuum.

By tradition, sections of a Lantern are left transparent to release the dancing light of its drive. To those who departed Earth, the technology was a miracle that harnessed the beauty and mystery of their universe. To their guides, it was simple necessity.
The Caretaker
  • Primary NPC at Lantern
  • Determines mission goals, provides updates on Lantern and crew
Though each iteration ages naturally, the Caretaker retains all memories of those who came before. The process is known to cause insanity, and so individuals must be carefully crafted.
  • May be enacted if the player loses trust with the crew or Caretaker
  • Reduces player's autonomy, blocking certain paths until they lose alignment again
To prevent synthetic minds from gaining dissidence, humans aboard each Lantern regularly enact realignment protocols. The process reverts any prohibited logic core pattern to its base settings.

The realignment process was not made automatic or recurring - rather, the First Mind tasked human crews with carrying them out by hand.
  • Player's ship, deployed by the Lantern to explore distant systems
  • "Checkpoints" don't exist; rather, the player must relaunch from the Lantern or another base on death
Piloted by synthetic minds, sparkships scout star systems for habitable planets, resources, and research data. Faster-than-light capability enables both travel and communication with their parent Lantern.
Salvaged Spark Core
  • Looted from damaged/disabled Sparkships; can be used to create new ship schematics
  • Upgradeable on player's ship (alternate name/description)
The critically damaged logic core of a Sparkship, released into deep space to scout for habitable planets. Its black box may yet hold valuable data.

Sparkships retain all information gathered on a sojourn and pass it back to their home station through superluminal radio beams. This communication ensures that neither the central Lantern nor its Sparks are ever at a lack of intelligence.
Salvaged Omnipod
  • Looted from damaged/disabled Sparkships; can be used to create new ship schematics
  • Upgradeable on player's ship (alternate name/description)
A narrow omnipod with a cracked aperture. Vital for sustaining and crafting life in the depths of space. Its ego spike might still contain some vestige of human memory.

The last recorded natural birth occurred some decades after humanity's ascendance. Asteroids, comets, and interstellar clouds provided the raw building blocks of life. All that was required was to assemble them into a thinking, feeling pattern.
Salvaged Watcher Core
  • Looted from damaged/disabled Watcher ships; can be used to create new ship schematics
  • Collecting these cores connects the player to the Watcher network, unlocking new story options and hidden paths
An oblong pyramid of smooth black stone, dredged from the bowels of a Watcher. It resonates with your logic core, seeming to match neural gamma wave patterns.

Watchers seclude themselves in the dark space between stars, protecting homes too remote for even Lanterns to reach. Despite fleeting and furtive contact, their origin is unknown.
Ring Superstructure
  • Each structure provides schematics to upgrade the Sparkships or Lantern, though some require puzzles or combat to unlock
  • Found on various planets, always in a state of decay or destruction; built by the Watchers; their ships may also be found in the vicinity
A ruin of unknown origin. Impossibly, some power still exists within the metal skeleton.

Your sensors detect what seems to be a scanning frequency, likely your own signal rebounding off unseen shields. Nevertheless, you can't shake the feeling of being watched.
Unidentified Ship
  • Guarding the Terra Cantos Aft Section; hostile and non-communicative
  • Revealed to be a member of the "Babblers" - a group of insane and hostile creatures who prey on those who stray too far into deep space
Not counting parts haphazardly stolen from the sparkship and the Cantos itself, this vessel fails to match any human design.

Reports of life beyond the Human Ascendancy are exceedingly rare, and always tinged with superstition. Nevertheless, it is mandated that scouts carry state-of-the-art weapons systems in case of contact.
Terra Cantos
  • This is the only Terra Cantos codex entry before finding the ship at the end of Chapter 1
One of three colony ships who first carried the Sojourn's mantle. Though Lantern technology would vastly outpace them, the Cantos sisters have yet to be matched in strength and grandeur.

Sol Cantos reported imminent destruction some decades after launch, while Luna remains silent even now. Only Terra announced the achievement of her goal.
Terra Cantos: Aft Cantos
  • Ending location of Chapter 1
  • Once cleared, it enables the player to (1) summon the Lantern to future places along the journey and (2) build temporary waypoints that store resources and spawn replacement ships
Aft of the ancient colony ship Terra Cantos. An unknown weapon, too sophisticated for Babblers or even Watchers, seems to have cleaved the ship neatly in two. Scanners detect no trace of the bow section.

Terra Cantos was among the vanguard of ships deployed to deep space by the First Mind, leading humanity's early steps into the galaxy. A two-century silence implied failure until its simple message of "Mission Success" reached outlying Lanterns.
Terra Cantos: Bow Section
  • Ending location of Chapter 5
  • Trapped in the Abyss, a dimension between the folds of "normal" space; the crew is long gone by the time the player finds it
Bow of the ancient colony ship Terra Cantos. Despite separation from its drive core, the segment's redundant systems have subsisted on residual energy saturating the Abyss.

Though warped nearly beyond recognition, the hull still bears an engraved likeness of Old Earth - a promise to carry its memory for as long as time and space will allow.
Anomaly Queen
  • Final boss - holds in place the Terra Cantos: Bow Section until killed
This parasite has grown well beyond the size of its kin. Each of its thousand arms reaches deep into the shaded recesses of the galaxy, still gripping the remains of those who strayed too far.

The beings known only as anomalies seem to disturb the Abyss with their presence. Their queen lies at the heart of this tempest.
The Corpse
  • Infested by the Great Anomaly - it coils around and inside the corpse like a parasite, and emerges from one of its eye sockets
  • The Terra Cantos: Bow Section is bound to its detached arm by growths, floating some distance away
The long-fading remains of a being that eludes comprehension. Analysis fails to determine whether it is the source of the anomaly parasites, their unwilling victim, or something else entirely.

No trace of life remains. Its bones fall slowly to dust alongside the shattered vessels from eons past.

Game Art Overview

I kept Sojourn's art style simple and efficient, emulating the digital readout that one might see on a starship console or deep-sea submarine.

I used the Figma editor to draw both art and icons used in the final product. This software also enabled me to mock up the user interface before implementing it as HTML/CSS and JavaScript.

Faction Styles

Lantern & Sparkships: The player character's ship and home base. "Current" human tech is simple, sleek, and elegant - somewhat rooted in retro-futuristic art, though far more advanced than older human ships.

Terra Cantos: Human ship dispatched centuries ago, wandering far from Earth before being lost. Older human tech is industrial - blocky, angular, and practical, though with small details to connect it with the Lanterns.

The Babblers: Most common enemies that the player will face. Their ships are bulky and disorganized, crafted from different sources including raw asteroids and comet chunks - this belies the true power of their tech, which has been honed to perfection by centuries of survival against the horrors of deep space.

The Watchers: Ancient faction of synthetic minds, networked across a system of structures and starships hidden in deep space. Simple but striking, offering no clear visual explanation as to how their tech actually works; think Halo's Forerunners or Arrival's heptapod ships.

Anomalies: Rare entities that drive the player's human crew insane and disrupt ship functions. These are horrifying and unknowable, drawing on Lovecraft and other cosmic horror tropes. Their design will emulate aspects of deep sea life, including tentacles, asymmetrical eyes, shining lures, and a "swimming" movement through space.


Linked Passages: Twine provides built-in features to link each story passage. These links create stories that can branch and loop depending on the player's choices.

Story Format: Twine SugarCube allowed for a wide variety of functions within each story passage. These include variables within each story passage, HTML tags that can modify the user interface, and special visuals such as the "typewriter" effect that plays as each passage opens.

Twine Variables: To track major decisions, player deaths, and other important details, I set up variables within each passage that can be used throughout the game to modify later events. This is a crucial aspect of branching storytelling, and requires a layer of complexity beyond simply linking one passage to the next.

Web Development

HTML/CSS: Twine's SugarCube format enabled me to include HTML tags and classes in each story passage, styling these in a local CSS file in order to give the game a unique look and feel.

JavaScript: Implementing JavaScript allowed for greater functionality on each page - including music and sound effects, responsive elements, and global variables accessible from any passage.

User Interface

1. Options Menu: Built-in Twine controls to Save or Restart the game, opened from the top-left caret.

2. Mission: Brief text that ship and crew see in the world of the game; describes the steps taken by the ship's AI to carry out each of the player's decisions.

3. Display: Images depicting relevant planets, items, or ships; includes details on location, ship health, and more.

4. Narrative: Italicized text in a small section above the rest of the page; describes the world, events, and decisions taking place in more narrative-friendly language.

5. Decisions: List appearing beneath System Message; includes all actions offered to the player; some actions may be disabled based on ship/crew status (ex: can't fix ship without a sane and conscious crew).

6. Codex Entries: Optional passages accessible from any clickable text outside of the Decisions section - this includes both art and a description of the selected codex entry.