Star Jack

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This minigame tests theory of mind and visual perceptual disembedding.

The mini-game's theory-of-mind component is an adaptation of the classic “Sally Anne” test of theory-of-mind. In the “Sally Anne” test one character, Sally, places a marble in a safe place, and then whilst Sally is out of the room another character, Anne, moves the marble to a new hiding place. The subject is asked “Where will Sally look for her marble?” or “Where does Sally think the marble is?” Many autistic children, like normal children under four years of age, answer this question erroneously in terms of what they themselves know about where Anne moved the marble, instead of what Sally knows. Those who correctly answer this first-order theory-of-mind question may still respond incorrectly to a second-order question: if, unbeknownst to Anne, Sally was peering through the keyhole and saw Anne move the marble, “Where does Anne think Sally will look for the marble?”

The player is infiltrating a subspace communications satellite. The player will have to navigate to and hack comm stations to steal Pirate communication messages.


You are a covert operative for the World Space Initiative. The Order of Orion is attacking merchants carrying WSI payloads, stealing their cargo, and stashing the goods at various planets or locations. Your mission is to infiltrate their communication satellites and to discover the location of the stolen cargo.


Recover as many communication logs about stolen Cargo as possible and determine where the merchants and cargo are.



Player: An elite reconisaince operative trained in stealth and sabotage. These agents have access to a personal cloaking device, a molecular copier, hacking tools and many other items. They excel in non-lethal force, and avoid direct confrontation whenever possible.

Bobcat B-3 Interceptor: A small ship outfitted with the best cloaking and stealth technology available. This ship is used to get the operative to and from the satellite undetected.

Satellite Security: The satellite is garrisoned with security guards and security devices. These guards are tasked with keeping the satelite safe and uncompromised.

//These Characters will be shown in the cut scenes. Merchants: Various merchants that ferry goods throughout the solar system. Those carrying WSI goods are targets of OoO raiders.

Raiders: Various OoO pirates target merchants under WSI contracts. Pirates can be found stealing from all across the galaxy and transporting any valuable cargo to different locations.

Cargo: The OoO is stealing WSI payloads and hiding them on planets to be picked up by other OoO operatives at a later date. Finding these are the objectives of the game. All cargoes will bear an Icon symbolizing the type of material inside.

Planets and Buildings: Pirates and merchants will move cargo from one planet to another, or one building to another.


The game is divided into 3 different phases:

Puzzle Phase Players will explore floors of the satellite to find comm stations. They will have to avoid guards and move from room to room until they find that floor's comm station. Players will have to use their abilities to deactivate traps and guards.

Hacking Phase Players will have to complete an Embedded Figures Test trial whenever they use their hacking tool.

Sally Anne Phase Players will be shown an animation depicting the message the player has found. Players will then be asked the theory-of-mind questions. Game play will then switch back to the Puzzle Phase.


Puzzle Phase


The player will explore the different floors of the satellite. Before a player can move to the next floor the player must explore all the rooms of the floor and hack the communication panel. To do so, players will have to avoid detection by utilizing their various stealth abilities.

The game will be turn-based. The game state will not change until the player performs an action. This will allow players to take as much time as needed to plan their moves. Guards and other interactive objects will not do anything until after the player has done an action. Players will always complete their action before the world takes its turn.

When the player enters the facility, the security system is unaware of them. When a player is caught or fails an event, such as hacking a terminal, the security system will become more aware of them. This awareness is represented by a meter. Once them meter is filled the Security System is fully aware of the player and will send guards to capture the infiltrator. Once this occurs sirens will sound and the player will have to teleport to their ship and escape the station. The awareness level will effectively act as the player's "lives" or attempts. After an interval of turns of not being detected, the awareness level will begin to decrease.


Move - The player will be able to move in 4 unique directions. Wait - This action represents the player's skipping a turn. Cloak - This action will make the player invisible for a specific number of turns. Hack - This action will start the Hacking Phase. If a player is unsuccessful in hacking the object then they will be teleported back to the beginning of the level. Set Trap - Players will be able to set traps for guards Use - Players will be able to interact with their environment using this action.


Guard - Guards will patrol the halls of the facility. A patrolling guard will be able to catch any player in their line of sight. Guards will have predictable paths that they follow. Guards can be avoided by using the cloak ability, or deactivated by placing a trap. A deactivated guard will either disappear or fall to the floor. If guards do not dissappear then the player will have to move them to prevent other guards from finding the unconscious guard.

Sentry Camera - A sentry camera will detect the player if they enter its line of sight. Sentry cameras will not move, but will rotate in place. To disable a sentry camera the player must find its control panel and hack it. Each camera and control panel will have matching colors. Cloaking can be used to avoid the camera.

Espionage PDA

Every infiltrator has their own personal Espionage PDA. This PDA can communicate with the player's ship and provide them with useful information. This will be where the player can see their mission objectives and current mission progress, and can view or retry any tutorial sections or end the game.

Hacking Phase

Encrypted communications are represented by shapes that flow from the left to the right of the screen, somewhat akin to the Matrix. The bottom of the game screen houses the display of the Snifftron ST3, a device that hackers use to decrypt data.

In a manner very similar to the traditional Embedded Figures Test, the ST3 generates an abstract shape and displays it on its screen. As the data stream flows across the top of the game screen, random shapes pop out and appear in the centre of the data stream. If this large shape contains the simpler shape displayed on the ST3, then the player should press the right-arrow before the trial expires. If the large shape does not contain the simpler shape then the player should press the left-arrow. When one of these choices is made correctly, the player successfully "filters" the data stream. The player can fail this process (either by not responding, or by responding incorrectly) only 3 times before the connection is lost and the message become irretrievable. Some objects will be more difficult to hack and will require a greater number of sucessful matches.


If the player filters the data successfully enough times, then the comm is decrypted. Diffrent results will occur depending on the item hacked. If a comm terminal is hacked, a short cut-scene plays before returning to the navigation screen. If the player is unsuccessful, then they return to the navigation screen and their detection level will increase.

The large shapes are generated according the figure below. Generating smaller shapes that are embedded in the large shapes can easily be done by connecting the dots along edge connections.


Sally Anne Phase

Once a player successfully hacks the comm station they will be shown a brief series of animations depicting the message that they've intercepted. There will be many different messages, but each will follow the same principles. In animation #1, a friendly ship deposits a resource (e.g. fuel or materials) in a depot on one of several available planets. (Planets are readily distinguishable by their location on the star map and by their surface appearance.) In animation #2, an opponent ship appears and either steals the resource and deposits it on another planet (THEFT, 2/3 probability) or simply scans the resource (¬THEFT, 1/3 probability). Animation #3 is a picture of the friendly ship's control centre including its captain and its viewscreen, which shows either a sensor scan of the opponent's actions (SCAN, ½ probability) or noise representing sensor jamming (¬SCAN, ½ probability). Thus by the end of animation #3, one of three equiprobable situations exists: (1) the friend believes correctly that the resource is in its original location, and the opponent believes correctly that the friend will look for the resource in this location (¬THEFT); (2) the friend believes incorrectly that the resource is in its original location, and the opponent believes correctly that the friend will look for the resource in its original location (THEFT∧¬SCAN); (3) the friend believes correctly that the resource is in its new location, and the opponent believes incorrectly that the friend will look for the resource in its original location (THEFT∧SCAN). Animation #4 reminds the player that the friend will always set course to retrieve the resource, and that the opponent will always set course to intercept the friend. After this fourth animation, the player is prompted pictorially to lay in two intercept courses (by moving the mouse to the appropriate planet), one to rendez-vous with the friend and one to engage the opponent. In order to set these courses the player must infer where the friend thinks the resource is and where the opponent thinks the friend will look for the resource, respectively. Accuracy and response time in these tasks measure first-order and second-order theory-of-mind processing.

These animations will be still shots depicting the cut scene. Animations are planned for future releases.

Sally Anne Video Specification

Artistic Considerations

3 different planets or more. Multiple ethnicities. Textures for all major actors in the animations (ships, cargo, people); it would be useful to have these in case we want to reuse them later.

Technical Considerations

XNA does not support movie playback. There are some workarounds but it will only display a still picture. Currently the Sally-Anne animations are implmented as a series of still frames, but these end up being to large for the scope we are looking at.

One option is to use a Flash swf video. There is a content importer called fluix for XNA that can display Flash movies in XNA. This would allow us to harness the vector-based graphics processing of Flash and its ActionScript language. C# will be able to read and to write to variables in in the Flash file, possibly changing the animation as needed. This will also allow the Flash file to send events to the C# code to be handled. Sadly fluix does not support sound for Flash files. However, we could work around it by having the Flash movie send messages to C#, letting C# know when Flash needs a sound played. Protocols for sending events would need to be determined for this scheme.

One benefit of this method would be that to change the Sally-Anne animations, all the animator would need to do would be to change the Flash file; (s)he wouldn't have to touch the C# code. Also the swf format would drastically reduce the file sizes of our videos, as we may be able to do the entire video in one file.

The other way to do this would be to have a video file playing and to create a sound cue file that plays sounds at specific time intervals. I'm not a big fan of this but it's a decent fallback.


The Sally-Anne phase video will be broken up into a couple different sections. This is to accomodate varying scenarios in the video.

The sections will be:

Cargo drop Pirate scan Pirate steals cargo Pirate can't find cargo Allied ship sees static Allied ship sees pirate steal cargo

Cargo drop

This section will set up the following scenes for the player. It should give all the basic information that the player needs to make sense of the scenes that will follow. The scene should identify the cargo ship and its crew as allies, and indicate a reason as to why they need to drop off their cargo. This reason could be that they need to lighten the load to escape from the pirates following them. The explanation could be delivered via the ship's captain, as this should make it obvious that it is humans and not a machine who are in control of the ships. The cargo ship will then deposit its cargo at a visually distinct planet, and then leave the area.

Pirate scan

After the cargo ship deposits its cargo, pirates ships will appear on the scene, possibly warping in. The pirate ships could be a group of ships with a distinct lead ship or a just singular ship, whichever looks and feels cooler. There will then be a view of the pirate ship's bridge, and the pirate captain will command to scan the planet for any signs of their prey. The view will change to a shot of the ship scanning over the surface of the planet.

Pirate ship steals cargo

If the pirate ship locates cargo, the view will change to show the bridge of the pirate ship. The captain will be notified that they've found something and the image of the cargo will come on screen. The captain will say something along the lines of "Arrrr me mateys! We've found some booty." The view will then change to the pirate ship getting the cargo, possibly by tractor beam, and transporting it to a different planet, which needs to be visually distinct from the first planet.

Pirate ship doesn't find cargo

If the pirate ship fails to detect the cargo, the view will show the bridge and a crew member will inform the captain they haven't found any sign of the cargo ship; the viewport could show a ":(" or a "?". The captain will say something along the lines of "Well they must be farther on." The pirates will then leave the area.

Allied cargo ship watches the pirate steal

A shot of the bridge of the allied ship. Maybe some text indicating that they can't be seen by the pirates, or are out of their sensor range. A crew member will let the captain know they are intercepting a signal and will display the pirate ship moving the cargo to the other planet.

Allied ship sees static

A shot of the bridge of the allied ship. Maybe some text indicating that they can't be seen by the pirates, or are out of their sensor range. A crew member will let the captain know they are intercepting a signal and will display static. Someone will complain that the comm is encrypted and they can't make it out.


Players will be given a score based on how many messages they steal and how many bonus items they find. This score will determine how much money they get. A player's score will be reduced based on the number of times they were caught. Players will also be given resources and trade goods for each correct Sally-Anne response. Players will be given a ranking of sorts, based on their score and responses, that will determine the number of tokens they receive. Players will always receive at least one of the tokens.