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Disco Elysium: Introducing the Thought Cabinet
Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 30 September 2019, 18:46:08Tags: Disco Elysium; Robert Kurvitz; ZA/UM
Six days after the long-awaited Disco Elysium release date announcement, Robert Kurvitz published a devblog update all about how colossal the game is going to be. Excellent hype material to be sure, but here on the Codex we're men of substance. You might remember that waaay back in May 2018, we were told to expect an update about the Thought Cabinet, Disco Elysium's unique mental inventory system. Well it's finally here, and they even made a video about it, which means it's definitely important enough to post about. Here's the video and an excerpt:
The time has come to talk about the Thought Cabinet, Disco Elysium’s illustrious “inventory for thoughts.” Let me start by presenting an image. A rather detailed image. Of all the icons of all the thoughts you can get in Disco Elysium, woven into a single tapestry. The Thought Cabinet art is made by Anton Vill, a concept artist known for, among other things, his work on the film Mad Max: Fury Road.
Each little composition on that image is one “Thought”. It’s impossible to get them all in one play-through, or even two. Each Thought comes into play face down. Only its name and some initial info are known to you. It takes in-game time to reveal its true identity by “internalizing” it. To truly uncover the mysteries of all these bad boys takes years of hard-core roleplaying. There are a total of 53 thoughts in the game. On average, a single character discovers and internalizes 16 of them in one playthrough.
And that, in a nutshell, is THC – how we’re abbreviating Thought Cabinet This mega-feature has gone through multiple iterations. It’s a unifying element that ties all the game’s systems together. Thoughts are like Fallout’s “traits” (back in the 14th century when Fallout had traits) crossed with Civ’s “world wonders”. They’re loot for your mind that you collect from the world by talking to people. They function as traits, perks, reputations and alignments.
You store Thoughts in your Thought Cabinet – your mind-lab, where you cook up new ideas and obsessions. Conduct research into futuristic armour, become a free market evangelist by thinking about indirect taxes, or just contemplate suicide. All with the power of your mind.
THC IS THE GAME’S REPUTATION SYSTEM.
In Disco Elysium there are tags you can acquire that make people think of you in a certain way. Say something stupid and they will remember it, help someone and they’ll remember that too. So far, so routine. But Disco Elysium also has an internal reputation system. Your skills – your faculties that talk to you in your head – develop notions about you too. Have you said three artsy things in the last hour? Been telling people you want your name to be Raphael? Trying to recall a lost memory, or your home address? Your skills can turn these into full blown Thoughts: “Actual Art Degree”, “Detective R.A. Costeau”, “The 15th Indotribe” and “Lonesome Long Way Home”. You can turn yourself into a deranged “Torque Dork”, constantly thinking about auto-mechanical trivia. Or torture yourself with the “White Mourning” – the shadow of someone you used to love. This adds a new layer of role playing options I like to call soul customization.
THC IS ALSO THE GAME’S PERK SYSTEM.
In addition to producing dialogue options and story events, thoughts have mechanical implications. Once processed, they can provide bonuses and – more often – diabolical side effects. Each is a riddle, posing a question for you to answer. The bonus (or penalty) is the Aesop at the end of that story. Thinking of love lost corrodes your soul, but it also gives you an expanded perspective: Your maximum zoom-out range is increased, letting you take in breath-taking vistas. Recalling that memory can lead to drugs being more powerful for you. When the Art Cop uses his Conceptualization skill they gain XP for every criticism. There’s even a thought that (temporarily) makes you fail all your skill checks, turning you into a walking disaster, which in turn, can lead to new thoughts.