Journeyman Project, The

Tagged: Game

Videogame series (from 1993). Presto Studios (PS). Designed by David Flanagan.

The Journeyman Project is a series of linearly plotted graphical Adventure games dealing with Time Travel. Their designs emphasize graphical quality over interactivity, in a similar way to the popular fantasy game Myst (1993 Cyan Worlds, Mac, Win; 1994 Saturn; 1995 3DO, JaguarCD, PS1; 1996 CDi; 1997 Amiga; 2006 PSP) designed by Rand Miller, Robyn Miller. The base time period for the games is the twenty-fourth century, depicted as a technocratic dream of universal peace and democracy. The first game, The Journeyman Project (1993 PS, Mac, Win; rev vt The Journeyman Project Turbo!, 1994, Mac, Win) designed by David Flanagan, begins with the Earth about to be admitted into a galactic association, the Symbiotry of Peaceful Beings. However, as an ambassador arrives to complete negotiations human history is altered to include acts of aggression against alien species, and Earth is refused entry to the Symbiotry. The changes are detected by the Temporal Security Agency, an organization of Time Police who had believed themselves to be the sole guardians of humanity's Time Machines. The player, in the persona of "Agent 5", is dispatched into the past to reverse the damage. After solving various puzzles the player can discover that the culprit is the creator of the Pegasus Time Travel technology, who suffers from an irrational fear of aliens. Agent 5 must repair the timeline and prevent the scientist's planned assassination of the Symbiotry's ambassador. The game, while intriguingly plotted and well designed as an Adventure, suffers from limited interactivity; players can only move to specific points in space, and the viewing window is unusually limited in size. It was remade (and notably improved) with Full Motion Video featuring actors from The Journeyman Project 2 as The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime (1997 PS, Mac, Pippin, PS1) designed by Eric Dallaire, David Flanagan.

The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time (1995 PS, Mac, Win) designed by David Flanagan, Michel Kripalani, Phil Saunders is a direct sequel, using similar technology but incorporating footage of human actors. It begins with Agent 5, now named as Gage Blackwood, receiving a visit from himself ten years in the future, when he is about to be arrested after being framed for tampering with the past. The player, as the present time Blackwood, must clear the name of his future self. After a number of visits to historical time periods, it emerges that in the future another agent of the TSA, Michelle Visard, has decided that humanity is insufficiently morally advanced to be allowed to retain its monopoly on the secrets of Time Travel. After being discovered by the future Blackwood in the process of smuggling Pegasus technology to an alien race, Visard forged evidence implicating him in the theft of historical artefacts. The aliens, however, turn out to be interested in Time Travel only so that they can tamper with their own evolution and become more powerful in the present. The player can defeat their plans and clear Blackwood's name, but Visard escapes. In The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time (1998 PS, Mac, Win) designed by Eric Dallaire, David Flanagan, Tommy Yune, Visard reappears as an ally. Hiding in the deep past, she discovers that Atlantis, El Dorado and Shangri-La had all existed, but were destroyed by two alien races fighting over a mysterious artefact. She deliberately alters the past to alert the Temporal Security Agency to this potential threat to humanity; the player, in the guise of Blackwood, goes to investigate. Meanwhile, ships belonging to one of the races are detected approaching Earth in the twenty-fourth century. With Visard's help, the player can broker a peace agreement between the combatants. The Journeyman Project 3 is the most accessible of the three games, featuring the ability to look in any direction (though movement is still restricted) and a full-screen viewing area, as well as human actors.

One interesting aspect of the series is its approach to interactions with computer-controlled characters. In the first two games, Blackwood is forbidden to talk to humans in the past, ultimately for technical reasons, though the improved technology used to implement The Journeyman Project 2 allows him to observe them while invisible. This makes playing the games a surprisingly lonely experience, focused almost entirely on the intellectual challenges of puzzle solution. In The Journeyman Project 3, by contrast, Blackwood can interact with other humans while wearing a "chameleon suit" which disguises his identity. The series as a whole is remarkable for its literate use of sf Time Travel devices and its strong espousal of pacifist principles; conflicts generally arise from characters' divergent ideas of what is for the best, and are resolved without violence. [NT]


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