The Swapper

The Swapper

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Shaamaan Jun 2, 2013 @ 6:27am
What do you think happened in The Swapper?
I've just finished the game - quite awesome audio and visual design, and the game was outright creepy in a major way. Which was good!

But, having completed the game, there's a piece of the story that doesn't seem to make much sense. Or perhaps I've missed something from the logs.


So... who IS the main character? In the ending scene it is suggested she is the clone of the scientist with the 3 personalities stuck in her head. BUT, how is it possible for a clone to operate on it's own then? Throughout the game clones (as creepy as it is) just repeat the actions of one, as evidenced by the very ending. And another thing - it appears that swapping into some...thing with a soul would create a disjointed combination. But in that case, swapping into someone from the rescue crew should also create someone with a disjoined personality, no?

In other words - I'm confused. Has anyone got a handle of what exactly happened?
Last edited by Shaamaan; Jun 2, 2013 @ 12:59pm
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TJ  [developer] Jun 2, 2013 @ 8:01am 
Maybe we could convert this thread into 'What do you think happened in The Swapper?'

It'd be really useful feedback for us to know how all of you interpreted things, which details you picked up on, and what you thought overall.
Kein Zantezuken Jun 2, 2013 @ 9:29am 
Hmm, I thought that the cloning mechanism was just a part of the gameplay mechanics and not related to plot. I mean, if you want to take seriously the act that Swapper not just transfers "soul/mentality" into another being/container, but can momentarily create fully functional biomass-copy of an individual using the gadget... I don't know, man, under such circumstances the whole swap thing looks bleak, because to create such copy you need to gather corresponding materia/material, you have to transfer AND assemble properly, taking into account momentum and position and many other aspects, billions and billions atoms and electrons with the speed faster than speed of light. I understand teleporters there, it is a massive device using lots of energy, but a small tool (that additionally swaps souls)... I dunno, I didn't took it very seriously, I just silently agreed it is part for the gamepley/puzzle concept (like falling from boxes just fried turkey in platfromers, etc).

But yeah, that scene in the end really confusing, it actually mentioned clone, while whole game logs were hinting that the Device actually swaps "mind/soul" between subjects, not creating clones.

There is many moments that were not addressed by writer(s) at all thus, the ground for any hypothesis isn't solid enough to bother. So I quickly lost interest.
Luuthian Jun 2, 2013 @ 11:16am 
What I got out of it was The Watchers were all a connected species mentally. They're kind of like a hive mind. Their "conciousness" exists on a plane that we simply cannot comprehend.

If anyone has ever watched Evangelion I assume it's a similar concept: Humans are naturaly individual beings whose thoughts and experiences cannot be shared in any physical or mental form or explaination. We're self-contained units of existence. Take away that barrier though, and you get a collective of knowledge and sentience. Once this happens death no longer exists. The closest one can get is a separation from the collective. This is exactly why The Watchers are so hard to destroy... you cannot kill them; merely separate them. This is why death suddenly becomes an important expression: it means that your existence was defined as unique. YOUR existence ended. You own that death alone and all the experiences that came before it.

The scientests in-game used The Watchers collective mind to create a device that allowed a person to clone themselves; with the problem being that the clones developed a multitude of shared conciousness. Our brains were not designed for this, therefore it slowly drives them insane. The larger problem is the ability to swap souls, however, as it means as person has the ability to share, or even override, other peoples physical bodies. They become a vessel for the soul.

Realizing this at the end of the game, you're left to be abandoned by your rescue team. The danger of such an ability is too great to share with the rest of humanity. So at the end you're given a choice... Override the soul of one of the resuce party, which saves your single self but kills him in the process, or kill yourself and take the secrets of what you encountered to the grave, defining your individual self in the process.

...Obviously I'm going out on limb here but it's the best I could come up with, and I think it makes some level of sense. It's difficult to add too much depth to the story seeing as so much is left unexplained. For example, why do those brains house a conciousness still? Is a brain really where the "soul" is located? What is the main characters first expression upon being forced to transer his soul to another body before it dies? Too many things are left unanswered. It's both captivating and aggrivating :/.
FrodoBaggins Jun 2, 2013 @ 12:24pm 
What I got is this.

A scavenger arrived to Theseus, and she recovered the Swapper, she cloned herself and launched the clone into Chori. Then, the scavenger swaps minds with Dennet and Chalmers, and then the clone launched into Chori gains own control and is no longer attached to the scavenger. That's when your mission starts.

And at the end, obviously, Dennet-Chalmers-Scavengers merged with The Head, and you can see it with the last 3 watchers just before the rescue team guy comes at you, the messages from those last 3 watchers are things Dennet-Chalmers-Scavenger said previously. And if you chose to stay, I think the watchers save your life and merge you with them.
Shaamaan Jun 2, 2013 @ 12:53pm 
TJ: Good idea. Done.

Ryamadeus: that's a great explenation and I had the same feeling regarding the fate of Dennet-Chalmers-Scavenger. Also, the "great chain" the Watchers reference is simply the fact that they were once part of a greater whole, when they were on the planets surface.

There's, however, a small detail regarding the creation of the player character you missed...

You (that is, the player, and subsequently, the scavengers clone) can hear parts of the conversation as you're making your way to the first teleporter. At least, I had the impression what you hear is in real-time and not juat a recording. But even IF this was a recording, once the very game starts you can see your character flail in panic inside the shuttle - meaning it would have had to have it's own personality by then.

Kein Zantezuken:
Yeah, it's even mentioned in the logs that the swapper device doesn't follow the conservation of energy principle - so it really does create fully functional clones. I SUSPECT that, since you can "recover" them when you touch them (or enter a white light... for some reason) the clones aren't as stable...?

Which is another reason why I find it strange that the players character exists at all (given that she's clone on the scavenger).

I do realize I'm trying to explain the story with the game mechanics (and vice versa), but it's a really creepy mechanic when you think about it - and this only makes the game ever so better.
Last edited by Shaamaan; Jun 3, 2013 @ 9:10am
Kein Zantezuken Jun 2, 2013 @ 4:28pm 
Yeah, it's even mentioned in the logs that the swapper device doesn't follow the conservation of energy principle
Shaamaan Jun 3, 2013 @ 4:31am 
I'm pretty sure I've read it in one of the many logs found inside the ship. It was a log of a conversation between two people - I'll try to find it when I get back home.
Shaamaan Jun 3, 2013 @ 9:58am 
Kein: Check out Log #16. I think she's refering to the swapper device in general, but it might also be related to the fact that you can use the "swapping" mechanism to propel yourself through zero-gravity (you need to throw something away to move... what are you throwing away?).
Sheep Jun 3, 2013 @ 10:26am 
"The chain" is society. These self-sufficient space stations have been disconnected from the rest of human society. Ultimately, the Sisyphus project shuts down because all of the stations have ceased contact and become derelict. The real enemy is isolation.

Originally posted by Shaamaan:
(you need to throw something away to move... what are you throwing away?).
A simple directed jet of air from your pressurized suit can accomplish that.
Cryoned Jun 3, 2013 @ 12:32pm 
Originally posted by TJ:
Maybe we could convert this thread into 'What do you think happened in The Swapper?'

It'd be really useful feedback for us to know how all of you interpreted things, which details you picked up on, and what you thought overall.

I would also like to hear from you or the writer what were your intentions and what are your true ending and interpretation.
TJ  [developer] Jun 3, 2013 @ 2:11pm 
I think Olli, our team lead, would kill me if I did that!

Originally posted by Cryoned:
I would also like to hear from you or the writer what were your intentions and what are your true ending and interpretation.
Cryoned Jun 3, 2013 @ 2:24pm 
Originally posted by TJ:
I think Olli, our team lead, would kill me if I did that!

Ohh, thats a shame. I like open endings, but I hate when the writer doesn't speak later about his true intentions or ending.
SpeckObst Jun 3, 2013 @ 2:37pm 
Originally posted by TJ:
I think Olli, our team lead, would kill me if I did that!

Originally posted by Cryoned:
I would also like to hear from you or the writer what were your intentions and what are your true ending and interpretation.

It would certainly not help, because it would destroy the creative process of different theories regarding the project since they would be "wrong" in the sense that it's not the way the creator imagined it.

You always want to know what happened and that drives you to interpret things and think about it which leads to new discoveries and different theories. If you can just read up on what happend excactly, this kind of drive gets killed.

I liked the way you did it and just posted a few works on different philosophical aspects that are brought up in the game.


For me the aspect about the clones themselves is the most interesting part. Are they just a body copy without a mind, memory and willpower? Or are they excactly you with the same mind? When killing your clones it reminded me of Nolans The Prestige. You can never know which one you are, when both still have the same mind. Are you the one that is still standing there with the Swapper or the "new" one that's standing over there? And then what happens when you swap?

It is kind of like time travel. You can think about it all day long, but without actually doing it, you will never know how it works exactly.


Oh, and nice work on the game. Not just from an aesthetic or gameplay viewpoint, but the way you make the player think about this stuff, amazes me. I've sometimes looked up stuff on wikipedia that came up in games (certain real life personalities or locations for example) but I never spend hours after finishing a game reading through texts explaining different arguments on philosophical standpoints. Just for that I bought an extra copy for a friend so I could discuss this stuff with him afterwards.
Last edited by SpeckObst; Jun 3, 2013 @ 2:39pm
Shaamaan Jun 3, 2013 @ 3:59pm 
L0cke89: I don't think The Prestige is a good example.... specifically, if given the choice, you wouldn't jump into a chasm to your death.

This is what happens to the clones. They follow "the one" (whatever we agree on "the one" is) mindlessly.
Last edited by Shaamaan; Jun 3, 2013 @ 3:59pm
Boink Jun 3, 2013 @ 5:04pm 
Actually, the game is kinda simple if you know the referents (please: this doesn't mean you're "stupid" for not understanding it, it's here to entice you into learning something).

Sisyphus Project. -- Originally (Greek myth) Sisyphus was cursed in the after life to endlessly push a large stone ball up a mountain, only for it to roll back down. It was a metaphor for Humans attempting to understand the world. Later (MUCH later, 4000 yrs), Albert Camus (a famous French writer, friend of Sartre and the extistentialists) adapted the myth and made it into a humanist parable: As a HUMAN you know you are endlessly pushing the ball up, but you do it as a sign of REVOLT. (And thus acquire freedom).

Dennet / Clones / Mind-sharing. Author has already given you links to their philosophy. It's fun to read them, but seriously: Dennet is wrong, and only interesting as a thought experiment (which a game is, get the joke?)

The ship / whatever is called "Theseus" because that's the dude who went into the Labyrinth and defeated the Minotaur. (Get it? Game = Puzzles = yeah, it's that simple).

Game Logic / Story:

Station arrives at desert planet with minimal organic life. (Lizards are mentioned; makes no sense if you've read Dune, but hey). Humans explore.

Discover Rocks with weird properties. Weird rocks consider "our dimension" unexplainable.

Scientists ship rocks on board and test them with lots of science.

Rocks get freaked out, especially as scientists are chipping / torturing them.

Rocks learn human language: tell Scientists they're sentient.

Scientists aren't moral, 'cause science and profits and stuff (handwave): SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND (it's a jackhammer)

Scientists ignore data that shows rocks are sentient to use their data to develop weird science stuff. SCIENTISTS LEARN ROCKS KILLED ALL ORGANIC LIFE ON PLANET!! Science team has no ecologist (yeah, DERP, not like you'd take one to explore a new planet or anything anyway, this was sponsored by BIG OIL corps) so ignore this REALLY IMPORTANT BIT OF DATA!

Scientists do their science stuff. Handwave, handwave, handwave. Yeah, they do it on an exploration ship without a CERN, but who cares?


Game Devs: HUSSHSSSHSHHS. FFS, Just go with it.

Back to story....

Scientists are beholden to Corporation, keep shipping rocks up to ship against the human welfare of the crew.


Rocks are a networked Mind structure, aka they're computers.

Rocks form a threshold network on ship, panick.

Scientists ship the BIG UBER LEAD ROCK (er, right: why does it look like a human head again? *hand wave*!) to ship. This is a Bad Move [tm]

Rocks don't like experiments, BIG UBER LEAD ROCK allows them to "network" and... trigger defensive response that's an atmospheric poison (ROCKS - > Atmospheric toxin! (er, WHAT? yeah, ok, ok, nice Climate Change reference but logically ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥t. They're ♥♥♥♥ing rocks. The WATCHERS turn out to be masters of organic biology WHILE BEING SILICON based. DERP DERP DERP. Yes, this is dumb).

Ship: ALL PEOPLE START DYING. Yeah, that's bad.

Scientists: RUN RUN RUN. Urk. Dying now.

Ship: Well, I'm gonna start breaking now, because obviously having tech to cross galaxies doesn't include any robotic self-repair systems at all. My design requires a couple of people to push the big buttons or I break. $5000 trillion to build me, but I break like this. Hand Wave! Hand Wave!

Scientists: ALL DYING. URRRGH.

Brains in VAT: HA HA! You were using us to test SWAPPER, now you're all dead. Oh, ♥♥♥♥, wait. CRAP. (Nah, but we totally volunteered for this life, being terminal cases and all)

Player: SRSLY? They can put you in a vat and endlessly prolong your life, but are too cheap to like put you in a robot body?!? That's WalMart level science.

Brains in VAT: Crap. You're right. Next time, we'll look at our contracts better.

Back to story...

Brains in VAT: ♥♥♥♥, dude, it's been like 3,000 yrs and we're still in our vats. Bugger bugger bugger.

Brains in VAT: Clone some of these scientists, use SWAPPER.

Clone #1: Urrrrgh.

Brains in VAT: Clone use swapper, we'll help you!!

Clone #1: Er, ok then... ARUUGGUFGFGUF Three of you in my mind!!

Brains no longer in VAT but in Clone: Muahahaha! Now eject your other clone to the planet!

Clone #1: MFGFUHUH> "ok".

Player (who is clone #2): Cool intro, looks like 2001: Space Odyssey!


You do this by breaking the ship, on the orders of your (now mentally challenged) clone so that the watchers can return to the surface.

Like a monkey, you solve puzzles to do this, and look happy as the Game gives you your peanuts (orbs) but never actually realize it's a REALLY BAD IDEA from a self-preservation viewpoint. Any sensible monkey would be ignoring all this ♥♥♥♥ and building their own rocket as soon as the insane clone #1 came along.

She's female, so you sympathised with her, without realizing you're female too, being a clone and all. >>>> GENDER SPANK! Mind blown!! <<<<

So, yeah, you help her, thinking you might save her (WHITE KNIGHT TROPE) but she SWAPS into the big head.

♥♥♥♥. There goes your only chance at poontang this side of Alpha Centuari.

Deus Ex Machina turns up, you don't reason with it, you cosh it over the head with your SWAPPER and then take over the rescue ship, a la ALIEN films.

In the end, you're a clone psychopath monkey.


It's an extended allegory about Humans, AI (Watchers = AI btw) and Climate Change. Everyone dies. Even the monkey (you're the monkey). There are no aliens. Sartre smokes another cigarette and Camus still dies in a tragic motorbike accident.

You're welcome. If you complete it fast enough you get encoded pages that might tell you how to survive. Or they might be adverts for Ovaltine. Who knows?

The hook dll may or may not be a tracker that's registering your time / progress and identifying the smart monkeys among you for "testing". Wurble Wurble Wurble.
Last edited by Boink; Jun 3, 2013 @ 5:51pm
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