The Talos Principle

The Talos Principle

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.p-png?! Jun 22, 2014 @ 5:36am
Suggested premliminary readings
Just looking to get an insight into some suggested readings before tackling this game

I'm thinking Spinoza or something
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Showing 1-15 of 37 comments
Jonas Kyratzes  [developer] Jun 23, 2014 @ 6:50am 
I should start by saying that it's not actually necessary to read up on anything before playing the game - we're telling a story, not testing you on Philosophy 101! :)

That said, if you want to read Spinoza, he's certainly an essential part of the history of rationalism and his influence, direct or indirect, can probably be felt in the game. (He's definitely worth reading, game or no game. Not exactly light reading, though.)

Other recommendations? Well, I think one of the things that are cool about The Talos Principle is that you'll be able to approach it from a variety of angles. It's a game about synthesis, and it contains a multitude of ideas. Which reflects the people making it, too. I believe Tom Jubert, for example, is a fan of Daniel Dennett, whom I can't stand, whereas I'm more likely to be influenced by Marx - or Carl Sagan, for that matter. And Croteam have their own ideas, which are also part of the mix.

One more thought - I think it's a great idea to read stuff you don't already agree with. It can be quite thought-provoking and fun. For example, I adore G.K. Chesterton's theological writings, even though I disagree with about 95% of his ideas.

So, some potential candidates could be...
- Aristotle
- The Bible (whether you believe in it or not)
- Baruch Spinoza
- Friedrich Hegel
- Ludwig Feuerbach
- Karl Marx (or Friedrich Engels; no need to be a communist yourself)
- Immanuel Kant
- Bertrand Russell
- G.K. Chesterton
- Albert Einstein
- Carl Sagan
- Daniel Dennett

But the game also has many literary influences, so you might enjoy reading...
- Isaac Asimov
- William Blake
- John Milton (bloody hard to read, but valuable)
- Philip K. ♥♥♥♥
- Olaf Stapledon

That's just off the top of my head, really, and I'm probably forgetting the most important names. Just pick something you think is really interesting, or that challenges you. (Philosophy anyway tends to function like one giant forum discussion across the ages, so everyone is constantly commenting on everyone else, and it gets messy quickly.)

And hey, maybe you'll find something *in* the game that will make you want to look up this or that writer.

Edit: LOL at the automatic censoring of Philip K. D*ck. I was going to add some names but now I've forgotten them.
Last edited by Jonas Kyratzes; Jun 23, 2014 @ 6:51am
Jonas Kyratzes  [developer] Jun 23, 2014 @ 7:05am 
For a fun mental ride, you could combine something like Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Chesterton's Heretics and/or Orthodoxy and Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Add Kant's Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose for flavour and finish with Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.
.p-png?! Jun 23, 2014 @ 7:39am 
That's a really helpful comment. Thanks a bunch

I can certainly say that the game appears to have high aims
Last edited by .p-png?!; Jun 23, 2014 @ 7:39am
Jonas Kyratzes  [developer] Jun 23, 2014 @ 7:55am 
It does have high aims! But I hope it doesn't have high requirements (in the intellectual sense, not hardware). You shouldn't need to be an expert in philosophy or formal logic to enjoy it.

We're trying to make something that'll be fun, but which will also have additional layers interested players can dig into. If you don't care about the game's philosophical underpinnings, it'll still be a cool atmospheric puzzle game.

So, you know, treat that list as some fun or interesting reading, not something we think everyone should have read.
TJ  [developer] Jun 24, 2014 @ 9:26am 
Seems Jonas has this covered, but I'll chip in a few different ideas.

As he points out, one of the coolest things about this game (for me as a writer, but hopefully for the player as well) is that the whole thing is a dialogue, in a bunch of different ways. It's a dialogue between Jonas, Croteam and me; it's a dialogue between the player and the game systems, and a dialogue between various seemingly opposed schools of philosophy. This isn't Bioshock, where we take one particular source (Ayn Rand's objectivism) and focus all our attention there, so there's no primary reading resource either.

For some starters on philosophy of mind you could check out this thread:

There are certainly crossovers here, dealing as we do with questions about artificial intelligence and personhood. And again, you can read our dalliances with such matters in the game as commentary on the real future of robotics and brain science, but also as a kind of case study into what qualifies as a person, and what that tells us about our moral obligations to one another today.

For me, one of the most interesting angles on this tale is a sort of contemporary retelling of the garden of eden. What happens if we step past the religion that story is couched in and ask what ideas of our own time would play the different roles in that narrative. What is our serpent? What is our tree of life? What are we?

If things like political anarchy, nihilism and consumerism turn out to be the serpents of our time then you could check out:

vgreeson Oct 21, 2014 @ 2:01am 
For AI-oriented fun for laypeople,the anthology The Mind's I is both solid and pleasurable. And for moral choice and responsibility in the face of determinism, how about some SF - The Demolished Man by Bester, who lives up to his name by being Bester than the bestest.'
Last edited by vgreeson; Oct 21, 2014 @ 2:04am
LemurNipples Nov 1, 2014 @ 9:55pm 
An amazing collection of recommendations there... this just intrigues me even more
Rezilia Nov 22, 2014 @ 1:31pm 
Though a webcomic instead of an ancient tome, Questionable Content focuses directly on the place of AIs within society.

Perhaps the most notable piece is this page:

(Oh, and yes, the pink-haired girl is a robot.)
Last edited by Rezilia; Nov 22, 2014 @ 1:33pm
uka7777 Dec 4, 2014 @ 10:17pm 
My #1 on suggested reading list would be a book on Greek mythology.
Just to remind myself who Talos is :smallcreature:
Nathan Dec 5, 2014 @ 2:21am 
Listing Dan Dennett and Carl Sagan was a sure fire way to add this game on my wishlist! :D
DarkFire Dec 12, 2014 @ 4:22pm 
Firstly allow me to add my voice to those expressing sincere thanks for developing and releasing such an amazing game. Puzzle games aren't really my genre but this is a work of amazing quality.

In terms of philosophy I think that existentialism would be a very relevant field of thought. I'd always recommend people with an interest in philosophy to start with Platos' collected dialogues, but from there I'd recommend reading works by Soren Kierkegaard, Lev Shestov, Martin Heideger, Sartre and the like.

For those wanting to dip in to some very well presented philosophical topics, look up Dr. Gregory Sadler on Youtube. I'm in no way afiliated with him or his videos but I've certainly found them to be the most accessible as a "life-long learner" with an interest in philosophy.

Thanks again for sunch an awesome game!
MFHOOD Dec 12, 2014 @ 5:37pm 
Originally posted by Rezilia:
Though a webcomic instead of an ancient tome, Questionable Content focuses directly on the place of AIs within society.

Perhaps the most notable piece is this page:

(Oh, and yes, the pink-haired girl is a robot.)

I absolutely love this webcomic and I'm glad you mentioned it!

On another note, I love how philosophy ties into this game. I also love how we, as players, really have to search and tease our brains to uncover the story. I'm still just absolutely shocked Cro-team made this. Fine work.
This might be a bit of a stretch for what people are asking for (in the original context), but I really like what this thread is about, so maybe branching it out might be interesting...

If you enjoy The Talos Principle's terminal archives system and AI dialogue interaction, I have to recommend Analogue: A Hate Story and it's sequel Hate: Plus.
Steam Page

I actually played both these games before I ever got to play The Talos Principle, and it actually made me really enjoy TTP a lot more. The premise is you're an investigator aboard a ship and you have to go through its system archives in order to determine what happened to its previous civilization. In a similar manner, there is an AI that you interact with that reads along with you and asks you questions about the things in the archives, so it can get a better understanding of events and why people behaved the way they did (it's an AI and doesn't necessarily understand feelings.)

I believe the archives were loosely based on old Chinese dynasties (or at least had similarities to social structure and politics of that time period.) It's really a ton of reading, but I think that's what you guys were looking for. Names / family names can also be hard to follow due to them being so similar... that may have just been me, though. There is a family tree to help out a bit, and character portraits (at least in the sequel.)

I suspect the visual novel / anime / manga style of the game might turn a lot of people off, but both games are really well executed and hooked me after about an hour. There's also a bit of a "love interest/cutesy" aspect in the AI, but I assure you everything is PG :P From what I recall the sequel has a way better UI, and more stuff going on (you're on battey power and can only recover so many files at a time.) It is also a continuation of the previous game (you can carry over your saved game choices from the previous game.)

If anyone decides to check out the series, I'd like to hear what you thought of them.
Last edited by A Fancy Fridge Magnet; Dec 12, 2014 @ 9:13pm
Ben McLean Dec 12, 2014 @ 9:35pm 
One thing that kind of annoys me is how you end up killing god in every freakin game these days, and somehow people are still like, "that's deep man." If you really have read Chesterton then you know that thinking for yourself and believing in God are not mutually exclusive concepts.

I hope the Talos Principle manages to surprise me in being a cut above the rest in this regard, because if you're betting on "OMG god is a bad guy!" to be a novelty in 2014, then you're about 150 years too late to that party my friend.
Last edited by Ben McLean; Dec 12, 2014 @ 9:42pm
Ben McLean Dec 12, 2014 @ 9:40pm 
One thing that the Talos Principle reminds me of is Portal. Yes, I mean the interactive novel from 1986, because that's totally the game you were thinking of. I know you, you crafty bastard.
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Date Posted: Jun 22, 2014 @ 5:36am
Posts: 37