ten weeks in the head bin

a flic treatment by .M.

Branching mechanism
Character development
Dramatica personae


This treatment for an interactive movie, or flic, is written specifically for compact disk. The reason? The CD also happens to be the movie's first character. You are looking at an official government file with a less-than-official attitude. It contains a rollercoaster ride through Australian net space, heaps of virtual memories, and the perspective of life inside a mental prison facility.

On loading the flic, the user is immediately immersed in the technology of the near future. It is now 2017. The user experiences an exhilarating run through virtual memories and networked experiences concerning one Blade Harkensen - notorious State fugitive, and somewhat silly eco-activist. Visually, the flic provides a believable experience, as far as what can be depicted with humble 90's tech.

The file in your possesion has been packaged with a talking custom personality that moves through these virtual memories on your behalf, responding to your feedback, and presenting the data it contains from a variety of different perspectives but mainly Blade's. It is his personal vehicle, customised to perfection to interface with his freaky mind. The CD character plays the role of hardcopy, browser, and somewhat annoying personality, preserving the illusion that it is a rather nifty networked interface to all known data (both official and private) on the main character.


You, as user of the flic, are part of the story, but your actual identity is revealed over time. On starting the flic, this identity is not fixed but, depending on your actions, it will eventually be resolved to one of five characters. All that is revealed at first is that you, whoever you are, are using the CD to explore virtual records relating to Blade and to Interlink, a secret and sinister State-run prison (otherwise known as the 'head bin'). Over the course of the movie, your actions will affect how the story plays out.

ten weeks in the head bin is set in Australian virtual space, specifically in four contempory computer systems, or domains. Each contains fragments of the life and times of Blade Harkensen. The physical world is mentioned throughout the flic but seldom seen. It is largely irrelevant to the plot.

The domains are:

  1. HOME
    The compiled State file on Blade Harkensen, the CD itself.
    Blade's home computer, lavishly packed with virtual recordings of his past mischief.
    The horrific mental containment facility where Blade was imprisoned four years ago.
    A virtual hideaway Blade has created for himself, outside the reaches of the State. This domain is only revealed late in the flic.

Each of these domains appears to be self-contained while the narrative moves constantly between them. A key aspect of the flic is that the user can also switch between these domains through the interface, triggering new scenes on request. While this action should never force the flic to break its narrative clumsily, it does allow scenes, and therefore the following paths, to be ended as soon as possible in favour of others.

All this user feedback is used in weighing up which of the five identities the user will eventually assume. This identity crisis is resolved two-thirds of the way through the flic.

Your trip through these virtual landscapes is punctuated with commentary, and nonsense, from an artificial personality, CD, that is along for the ride. This is Blade's personal profile, cutting-edge software intended to streamline the virtual experience to a user's individual needs, tastes, and desires. For some reason you have chosen to use this profile, an extremely casual and light-hearted affair, to guide you through an otherwise serious subject. Interlink was technology at its most oppressive. You obviously have a hidden motive for wanting to get this far inside Blade's head.

The flic experience does not rely on you having to make choices. The interaction is primarily aimed at triggering emotional, rather than action, responses. The CD character provides the action, narration and your custom interface, automatically weaving the story through the separate worlds, with your hidden agenda in mind. Scenes play out as you, whoever you are, would 'want' them to.

Without any involvement whatsoever, you will experience Blade's encounter with Interlink through an exploration of the four domains. The flic's default ending comes with the realisation that you are Blade himself, stealing one last look at your own official file before destroying it. If however you participate with the flic , especially in giving reponses that reflect the other personalities involved, the flic will play out differently and you may find yourself in the role of someone else.

Regardless of how it resolves, the flic ends with the CD's destruction. Simulated, of course. {;-).


It was four years ago, in 2013, that the 'head bin', an experimental virtual containment facility, was taken offline following a spectacular crash, and the subsequent media exposure. What was supposed to have been an innovative prison system, saving tax-payers' money and providing productive community workspace, had run completely amok. The State, a sinister form of local government, had lost control of its own creation. A far more productive environment than invisaged, the 'bin', known officially as Interlink, had comprised one hell of an intelligent infrastructure.

Rather than physical imprisonment, the system connected the minds of its inmates in a twenty-four-hour-a-day web of public exposure that allowed for total surveillance and scrutiny. Within this mental framework, it was believed, the thoughts and mental cabilities of prisoners could be harnessed and pooled for the common good, for use in public software, and in providing sorely needed mental resources for the networked world at large. In reality it was a complete disaster, an experiment gone haywire, awaiting something or someone to push it over the edge...

Talented nethead and aspiring social critic, young Blade Harkensen had managed to put himself on the wrong side of the law once too often. After a flamboyant, and highly illegal, jaunt through the Department of Environment and Network Resources, he was 'invited' to spend ten weeks inside Interlink. A hard space for hard-core offenders. He found himself part of a society where primal instincts played havoc with the technology of the day. A place where strong minds preyed unhindered on the weak, and where no thoughts or memory was safe from the prying senses of others.

The true nature of Interlink was a closely guarded State secret. An experiment with mental oppression, slowly being refined by its administrators. With no memory or experience able to be concealed, the bin was a communal cesspit of emotion. Like the other inmates, Blade had no time left to enjoy his own head space. His talent for stirring up trouble had become life-threatening.

Unlike most however, he could see a way out of it. Using a natural talent for social engineering and network manipulation, Blade triggered the collapse of the Interlink system and disappeared.

Four years later, you have begun accessing all records relevent to Blade and Interlink. All that the official file shows is that on January 13 2013, Interlink suffered a systems crash on a scale never considered possible. Thousands of prisoner records were lost in the resulting confusion, effectively enabling the disconnected inmates to vanish offline. Over two hundred, including Blade, still remain unaccounted for at this time.

As you uncover the story behind Interlink, you will discover your motivations for doing so. As the horrific memories of Interlink are re-played and experienced first-hand, you will also learn that Blade is still around online, far less naive than he appears in the records, and even more capable of foiling the State plans for virtual exploitation.

There are different endings, depending on which identity the flic chooses for the user. All however record the success or otherwise of Blade's return to cause further disruption to the State.


ten weeks in the head bin functions around the use of a two button interface for indicating feedback and direction called mood cues. There are two ways in which users can provide these during the course of the flic.

Mood buttons

The first method is similar to how Cyberswine operates; positive or negative feedback can be given by pressing an appropriate button. The flic interprets any feedback as being in response to the foreground action of the playing scene. How these mood cues are used by the flic, however, is sufficiently different from Cyberswine. This is covered in the Character Development section .

Button menus

The second method of using buttons involves holding either button down for more than two seconds to produce a minimalistic floating menu with a small number of options.

Switch domainCommands
* unlisted until Act III

The Switch Domains menu is used to support the illusion that your CD (and any interface you see in front of you) is part of the story itself; an environment of multimedia data that you, the participant, are being moved through. In addition to more subtle mood cues (via mood buttons), the user can also override the scene, 'physically' shifting to another listed domain at any time. As each domain is depicted in its own style and surroundings, the user is given considerable freedom to explore the story from different perspectives. Even when not interacting with the flic, the switch interface will be triggered by the CD character, whenever the narrative shifts to a new domain. This branching mechanism is sufficiently important to be covered specifically in its own section.

The second button menu controls the flic's basic control options. Since these should be fairly obvious, I'll leave it there.

The slight lag involved when selecting either button menu should not matter to the flow of the movie since none of the menu options need to respond to, or issue real-time events. The constant use of button menus, ie. continually switching domains, is however implicitly discouraged through this arrangement.

The look-and-feel of the button menus is very simplistic as the CD personality is always depicted as being the actual interface. The user must suspend belief and accept that, domain switching aside, what they experience is a flow of networked data customised to their needs. Once the user's identity crisis is resolved (in Act III), the interface adapts to one more clearly suited to each individual. For example, a Terminator-style tracking display would be more appropriate for Karma, as she hunts down Blade.

Branching mechanism

The branching mechanism used by the flic is similar but distinct to that used by Cyberswine. As with that movie, a two-button interface is used to indicate mood cues which, over time, allow the flic to determine which way to head when reaching plot branches. However, unlike Cyberswine, ten weeks in the head bin also allows the user to manually branch between the four virtual environments used in the story. This action, described as switching domains, plays a fundamental role in the flic, in giving direct feedback on user actions, something which can not be provided through pre-scripted plot branches not matter how frequently they appear.

Since this switching/branching is also a mood cue, it allows the flic to express the non-linear freedom of the characters as they move around the network landscape. Obviously with any user freedom of movement comes greater complexity on the part of the developers. Nevertheless it does seem appropriate at this stage to try...

Plot threads

In essence ten weeks in the head bin is about five characters experiencing four worlds over the course of three acts. Simple huh? Not quite. This view of the plot does however highlight the fact that the flexibility of users' movement never needs to be quite as complete as it seems. This is after all a movie, not a simulation. Rather than scripting all possible variations of movement through the landscape, there are five distinct plot threads, each roughly corresponding to a different character. When the user switches domains, the flic uses the state of the identity crisis to determine which plot thread the user should go to.

As the flic commences, the user is in Blade's thread. Without any interaction, the narrative will simply continue along this thread, switching between different domains along the scripted linear path. Once the user starts giving feedback however, the other threads come into play. As the flic shifts between these narrative streams, it reflects different character motivations for using the CD.

As mentioned earlier, domain switching is interpreted as a mood cue, using whatever negative weights were present in the script at that moment. It is also the primary branching mechanism used in the flic. The user selects a specific alternative domain, the flic decides what thread is selected. A system of character weights, described later, allows the flic to use any previous mood cues from the user in making this decision.

No doubt the sequences connecting domains are crucial to the flic's integrity. Care would need to be taken in maintaining the flow of the story through these changes. Nevertheless, since the story, up to the final act at least, is set in the past, it should be possible to weave amoungst the various virtual events using the CD character as the narrative glue.

Switching domains

When you command the flic to switch domains, two things happen. Firstly, the scene in progress is interupted at the next possible break (once all playing action and dialogue has ended gracefully). Secondly, the action is is depicted on-screen.

The user's hand reaches out in front.

A small menu appears, the user's index finger highlighting each option as it runs across it.

Without user interaction, the narrative will trigger the above sequence whenever the plot thread shifts domains as scripted. In the last Act, where the setting becomes the present, users may find the interface malfunctioning, or overriding their actions as the virtual conflict plays itself out in real-time.

This type of branching mechanism is therefore strongly integrated with the story itself. You are accessing the CD through a software profile, trusting it to guide you through vast amounts of material which would be otherwise unaccessable. The simplistic interface you have in front of you, represents the extent to which you need to respond to this software vehicle overseeing your experience.

As a rule of thumb, the flic makes the most of its virtual setting, ideally making its interface appear less of an intrusive necessity, and more as a tool for role-playing. Certainly there is great scope for visualising this flic than would be ever possible with a real world setting, the user should feel as if they are online. ten weeks in the head bin is based on the assumption that Internet awareness is now sufficiently wide-spread as to be both marketable and sufficiently evocative as a social landscape. It is envisaged that following any successful online marketing of the flic, new domains and scenes could be made available via some client-server protocol.

To provide a meaningful form of interaction with any movie is however a real challenge for developers. As I see it, one shortfall of the Cyberswine approach is that the frequency of plot branch decisions limits the user's involvement on an emotional level. Being aware of how easily your actions might affect a scene quickly dispels the movie experience and replaces it with the urge to experiment only for the sake of it. This flic aims to provide an experience in which serious attempts to respond to the story are rewarded, on top of delivering a quality non-interactive movie.

Domain structure

In ten weeks in the head bin each domain represents a particular computer system, with different stored data and its own three-dimensional environment. As such, every scene in the flic takes place in one of these four places.

HOME is contained on the CD itself. It shouldn't matter exactly where each of the domains is physically located but HOME is definitely here. It is a State document, the hardcopy on BAH4126. Once a reference work, it is now more a stage for CD than anything else. The default State home pages, which originally would have greeted the user, have been noticeably graffitied and shoved rudely asid. It is loud and obnoxious, just like the guy who wrote it.
This is the private domain belonging to Blade Harkensen and his family. Memories of Blade's previous virtual existence up till his arrest are stored here. It was seized by the State following his escape. EMBARGO is physically located in Bargo, New South Wales, halfway along the Sydney-Canberra axis.
The prison is administrated from Sydney, physically located in New Mexico. The landscapes are whatever the prisoners have contructed for themselves. Some replicate the traditional social conventions, eg. the bar, while others provide
This is Blade's fantasy landscape, one heavily influenced by his dreams of wildlife and the great outdoors. Vast open areas attempt to replicate the majestic wilderness he has never known.

Each of the four domains has its own colour scheme, texture, and ambiance. It should be obvious when a transition between domains has taken place.

When switching between domains, the flic continues the narrative by choosing a thread (based on the state of the user's identity crisis) and a scene in the new thread (based on which act is playing and the flic's running time). The act of branching itself is interpreted as a mood cue in itself, usually indicating a negative response to the current scene element. This mode of explicit user action is supported by the plot since each of the characters would want different experiences out of the CD. Indeed the user's rapport with the CD character helps resolve the crisis.

For example, the character Sim is the least likely of all the characters to respond positively to any disturbing scenes within the head bin. Were the user to cut short any of these scenes, cues within the script would add to Sim's character score. We will look at this scoring process more closely in the Character Development section.

Reacting to mood cues

As with its role model, FRANC, the flic aims to be highly reactive at all times, reacting to any interaction according to the circumstances taking place. While it is not any priority to developing the concept, it would be desirable for significent mood cues to give immediate feedback, for example, snide comments from CD.

Rather than labelling this a form of branching, it would be better to consider this as incidental feedback, indicated as script elements attached to any mood cues within a scene. This allows the user to receive some indication that their interaction was registered while enabling the flic to continue on its linear path along the plot thread.

Character Development

Central to the operation of the flic is the idea that, as you watch and ideally participate, you get to see the development of yourself as character onscreen. Initially presented as a generic user, your interaction with the flic, through the CD character, becomes increasingly personal.

In the first two acts of the flic you have the opportunity to affect who you finally become. This is the user's identity crisis. On reaching the final act, your identity as one of the five main characters is resolved (CD completes its customisation) and you go on to experience the conclusion with that additional perpective.

The plot branch at the end of Act II is the turning point in the flic. The five different endings encourage users to identify with the characters in the story enough to understand how their interaction affects any outcome. The flic nonetheless tries to reward user participation, not impose it.

Character development takes place in two ways, the first being visual. Once you have been assigned an identity for Act III, you no longer appear as the Raw User (in third person scenes) but as your actual character. Secondly, any plot branches or domain transitions use the state of your "crisis" in fine-tuning the choice of direction.

Character weights

So how exactly does the flic determine which character is represented by the user? In terms of the story, it is simple. The CD character learns more and more about the user through any interaction, thus enabling it to eventually distinguish a real identity from a handful of probabilities. Each of the five characters has a different motivation (and thus moods) for using the CD.

The flic itself uses the notion of character weights specified in scripted mood cues which indicate how each of the characters would have reacted at that moment. The mix of different character alignments in the story allows the flic to typecast user feedback as indicative of one or more characters at any time. In the most simplistic sense, three of the characters (FRANC, Sim, and Blade) will give positive reactions to Blade's triumphs and negative reactions to his troubles while the remaining two (Karma and the Chief) will generally react in the opposite way.

A mood cue consists of

the response type
Positive or negative, indicated simply as + or -.
any character weights
A value (between one and ten) to be added to the respective character's score.
Eg. K3 = add 3 to Karma's character score. C = add 1 to the Chief's score.
incidental feedback
additional script elements attached to either response, allowing the flic to react immediately to user actions without abandoning the linear plot thread.

Rather than affecting the moods of a single main character, as in Cyberswine, the flic maintains an score for each of the characters, keeping track of their suitability or otherwise to be assigned to the user in Act III.

Character chart

Scripting mood cues

You could view these weights as character tendancies. Scenes which would see only certain characters respond in opposing ways need only provide weights for those characters in order to interpret the feedback. By fully developing the respective personalities of each character, the task of adding weights to scenes becomes relatively straightforward rather than a technical contrivance. Any character's score is simply the cumulative total of user responses tagged to be similar to theirs. At the end of the day (ie. the end of Act II), the character with the highest score becomes the user.

How users react to the dialogue of the omnipresent CD character can be used as an example. Here is an example from the script.

A wooden frame is pulled across the space from an ancient and very CREAKY pulley system.

You are using a state-of-the-art piece of State hardware here. Lastest and greatest, honey.

INSERT Full red lips kiss the surface of a CD, leaving their mark.

This CD has been been loaded with the personal soft of the subject - BAH4216. Full name Blade Arthur Harkensen. You will be exploring the data through this profile - which I can only describe as... me.
+ B1
-  K7 S3

Let's see how a positive or negative cue for this moment makes sense in terms of the characters.

Blade's profile, CD, reflects his own taste and attitude to the network; a casual and chaotic mess of occaisonal insight and lots of babble. As its creator, Blade usually gives thumbs up to anything his own profile says or does. As such, he is the only character to view this dialogue in a positive light.

That said, there is nothing terribly controversial about it either. It serves as part of the CD's introduction, casually stating facts known to most characters if not the user. In this light, it is understandable that neither the Chief or FRANC would react. They receive no weights.

On the other hand, CD's casual patter registers some annoyance from both Karma and Sim. Was it the "honey"? The lips? That would be telling. You can however rely on Karma to react relatively stronger than other characters, luckily her fixation on locating Blade doesn't leave all that much time for other emotion.

To keep the experience fresh for repeated use, it will be necessary to play with the weight system to ensure that character weights were distributed relatively equally throughout the flic. It would also be vital that weights were relatively balanced between the characters. Nevertheless these values could be tweaked throughout the production process.

The main advantage of this approach is that it caters to various types of interaction, maintaining the illusion that CD is working closely with the individual user to give the experience. It allows the system to keep track of user involvement in a simple fashion, allowing greater resources to be devoted to the production of the scenes themselves.

The mechanism also scales nicely depending on how much feedback you provide. The values themselves are meaningless, it is the comparison between character scores that matters. If users treat the flic as a console game, clicking on anything and everything, they will have character scores much higher than those users who restrain their feedback to significant moments. Nevertheless both modes of interacting with the flic will have satisfying results if the relative weights of characters can be balanced (through the use of tools like the Script Navigator) to allow users to subtly influence their plot. It should also be possible for experienced users to replay their favourite versions of the flic simply by learning when and where to provide the cues that highlight one particular character over another.

Act III - becoming a character

Regardless of which one is chosen to represent the user, all five characters play a role in the story. The script is structured so that the first two scenes do not require any knowledge of the user's identity (while the CD attempts to determine with mood cues). Regardless of what paths are taken, Act III depicts a live confrontation between Blade and the State. The perspective from which this final sequence of "real-time" events is viewed, and the eventual conclusion, will depend on user involvement. The choice of characters means that some users will end up siding with Blade, and that others will be opposing him in the end. Without any interaction whatsoever, the user would be Blade himself, about to end his own virtual life.

Concealing the user's identity works on two levels. In terms of the story, the CD is after all only "teen tech". It is 2017, and really cool things still work slowly, just as they always have. It takes two Acts for CD to recognise you, to customise itself to you. The technology depicted in the flic is futuristic but by no means perfect.

This plot device is also a convenience for us interactive movie-makers. By providing the major turning point two-thirds of the way through, the flic steps up a gear (and fast-forwards four years to the present) once a user's identity is determined. The opportunity to build up to a dramatic finale is even greater when the user gives lots of feedback, effectively working through their identity crisis.

Dramatica personae


On loading ten weeks in the head bin, the user encounters CD, the personality/profile that acts as interface and guide to the contents of this State file, and thus to the story itself. It has been included in the file as part of the material seized from EMBARGO following Blade Harkensen's arrest in 2013. CD has quickly imprinted itself upon the otherwise dry material.

The user has chosen to use this personality to gain a deeper insight into Blade's life and possibly his whereabouts. This is his personal interface, reflecting much of his attitudes and inclinations. It offers the user the experience of running through State evidence, linking Blade Harkensen's experiences to the collapse of Interlink. To that end, it acts as narrator, as well as comic relief, to the virtual environment.

Reflecting its origins, the CD is motivated by three things.

  • the user's identity crisis
  • Blade's whereabouts
  • the Interlink story
Throughout the first two acts of the flic, CD works on its image of the user, using the customisation thingy, a pet project of Blade's which allows CD to convey the identity of its user most effectively in cyberspace. When inside the HOME domain, CD's personality is the most visible. The constant stream of babble is designed in part to stimulate responses from the user, enabling it to complete its identification. This is intrusive software at its most childish.

Within the HOME domain, the CD plays host and director to most of the action. Within the other three domains, it has more the role of guide, drawing the user's attention to items of interest, and providing background material on the unfolding events.

During Act II, CD starts giving feedback to user mood cues, hinting at how the flic perceives the user's identity. The flic also constantly uses CD's voice to provide clues as to any available mood cues.

Blade built CD to be a playful vehicle for cruising networks and so much of the frivilous detail it goes on with can, and will be, disregarded by the serious user. In establishing a relationship with this central character, the user does much towards affecting which identity will be chosen.

Blade Harkensen

Blade Arthur Harkenson is the central character around whom the story revolves. One of a new generation of netheads, the teen is gifted with the ability to effortlessly fiddle with software environments to his dreams and desires; a talent consistently getting him into trouble. Disheartened by the State, and the hive-like society he sees it trying to create, he has turned his back on any respectable or lucrative career prospects and taken on the role of eco-activist. By 2013 he has been a consistent nuisance to the State for years. His anonymous stunts regularily draw unwelcome media attention to their less-than-caring attitude towards the real world.

Rebelling against all he sees technology being used for, Blade uses his skills as a hacker to function outside of the law. He is a self-righteous media critic who uses every opportunity to pick at the holes in an immature networked society. In a world where social interaction increasingly takes place online, Blade is a form of virus that no one has yet worked out how to contain. He knows as much about the tech as anyone.

Somewhat naively though, Blade has been going after bigger and bigger targets for his exhibitionist pranks. He has no idea there are systems that he cannot just walk away from unscathed. All he knows is that he can get in.

Records seized from his home system EMBARGO, contain the memories of his past escapades, and the events leading up to his stint in a place he calls the head bin. A hard space for hard-core offenders.

Blade now wishes that he had taken up basketball instead of bulletin boards. The ability to work his way through any computer system has now landed him in big trouble. At the age of 19 he has been arrested and thrown in the State's most dangerous prison facility. Not only is his body defenceless to physical abuse at the hands of those outside the mental prison, but his mind is wide open to all kinds of substance abuse that ensures he will not be logging out unscathed. His experience in the head bin is a sobering point in an otherwise frivolous existence.

He is quite wet behind the ears. Somewhat unaware of consequences, he has taken to the virtual stage with ever increasing enthusiasm. His self-promoting antics have just earned him an ex and a boot from Lisa, and he's not really happy about it. We don't get to see Lisa in the flic, she doesn't have a computer... but Blade has been taking out his excess emotion on the establishment as a consequence. He seems to have immersed himself in the buisiness of making enemies in high places.

Users will likely be typecast as Blade if they

  • do not interact at all
  • support all his actions
  • repond unfavourably to the Chief


Sim comes from the poorer side of town. After years of financial hardship supporting her parents and younger sisters, she has finally begun to make some headway into her own life. She has only a verge of a clue about the State and its sinister activities, but now she is working for them , free of charge.

This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and one she can't afford to screw up; two weeks work experience at the State Department of Environmental and Network Resouces. Unforunately her timing is terrible, the State is suffering from a power hangover and the media is at the door, howling condemnation. She is however a loyal type and not one to bite the hands that may feed her, if she has the chance to prove herself.

Her reactions to the Interlink story is extreme, perhaps even too extreme for your average uni type, but then again she is one of them greenies. She is in for a rude surprise since the State Department is environmental in naught but name. In-house, they speak of damage control, not conservation. Nevertheless as she sifts through State evidence, her mind is set on completing the job that has been assigned to her. Her task is to search for any links between Blade Harkensen, some disreputible trouble-maker, and the Interlink crash of 2013.

Users will likely be typecast as Sim if they

  • respond unfavourably to Blade in Act I
  • respond unfavourably to any violence
  • avoid Interlink


A recent graduate of State Core, Karma is high-end security and one mean girl. She has been assigned a solo mission to clear out all traces of Blade from the network. Trained for military-style incursions into hostile domains, she has a deep hatred for the idealistic notions expressed by her quarry. Nick-named 'Karma' in the Academy for her increasingly volatile temperment (and for a tendancy for stomping on any sign of weakness) she is a time bomb waiting to go off. The Chief is hoping that Blade is nearby when she does.

Single mindedness is one thing, obsession is another. Karma does not like company or formalities. Her state of mind most resembles happiness when she is on the hunt. This case will offer her plenty of satisfaction if only she can come to terms with the stupid software that the hacker has covered his tracks with. Out of all the characters, Karma is the most negative towards CD and its casual spiel.

Users will likely be typecast as Karma if they

  • Encourage violence
  • Avoid HOME (and CD)
  • Oppose Blade


This is what you might call a digital detective. FRANCs or Federal Reactive Agents (Non-Classified) make their way painstakingly through file systems, looking for the truth in whatever case they have been assigned to. Government departments have been using them for years to chase up dodgy paper work in digital disaster areas. Whilst still relatively unheard of outside of secure government facilities, FRANCs have become extremely popular amoungst the very rich and bad info housekeepers.

This FRANC has been configured to work through the Interlink story from start to finish. It has been at it for a few months now but progress is being made. Not that it is in any hurry, the Chief has all but forgotten about this particular minion of his.

Reactive agents are still classified as experimental software. Many of the biggest shareholders in their development are waiting for the tech heads to eradicate several major bugs before using them in completely open spaces. Others, like the State, have been trialling their use in controlled situations. Interlink is too big to explore on foot, this is one place definitely benefiting from software navigation. Freshly compiled, always courteous, and always ready for an investigation; that's FRANC. m

Its most advanced feature, courtesy of some soul-responsive scripting, is the ability to simulate a mental hunch under optimal conditions. This is also the reason why many have so far limited their use to non-critical situations. The agent often deletes its State protocol in the lead-up to the hunch. Something about initiative and instructions just doesn't compute. There have been documented instances where FRANCs have disappeared off their assigned routes in suspicious circumstances. In one famous case, a Franc was recorded in the British media, portraying itself as a champion of the "o'ertrodden and oppressed" until the goodly folk at BBC1 found its plug.

Users will likely be typecast as FRANC if they

  • rarely switch domains
  • demonstrate extreme curiosity
  • respond logically
  • avoid breaking the law


The Chief is, for all intents and purposes, the personification of the State. As much as he may have neglected half his job description, this guy is certainly devoted to the other, the acquisition of power. As head of the Department of Environmental and Network Resources, he has paid responsibilities in preserving the balance between the tech and the trees. Pity about the trees.

The head bin was his own creation, the ultimate tool with which to grab control of the State. He suffered personal humiliation with its collapse and is eager to determine what went wrong. He acknowledges there were flaws in the concept, but he wants to have another shot at it nonetheless.

As part of his preparations for Interlink version two, the Chief has a number of people working for him in an effort to finally close the book on what happened to Interlink. Sim has been assigned to follow up any leads connecting Blade with Interlink. Karma has been dispatched to secure the network. He has also obtained a beta version of FRANC which has just been released into the State network. The Chief has however never held much respect for artificial intelligence, he prefers to use human agents to do his bidding.

He admires Blade's spirit but has never seriously considered the nineteen-year old to be anything other than a pest. The realisation that Blade caused the Interlink crash comes to him with a shock.

Users will likely be typecast as the Chief if they

  • Respond unfavourably to most characters
  • Avoid Kerela
  • Respond positively to the concept of Interlink