Copied from Submachine Wiki
Mur The Part-Time Puzzler
Theory history: Submitted 2009-03-21, Still alive 2009-06-01, Likely 2010-01-03, Still alive 2011-03-05, Likely 2016-01-15
Theory history: Submitted 2009-03-21, Still alive 2009-06-01, Likely 2011-03-05
Mur created only some of the puzzles
Mur only created the sub2 puzzles, the leaf puzzle of sub3, and the sub4 puzzles.
Sub2 is a puzzle Mur left in a submachine to keep the wrong people out.
Sub3 is the submachines attempt to keep people out, but Mur changed it and for some reason the submachine can't undo his work (or doesn't want to?)
Sub4 is his primary test to see if you can think through the puzzles without loosing too much of your memory.
Sub5 on he is not responsible for the puzzles, just sending you to them.
In addition, his karma arm allows him free reign of the submachine and protection from the amnesia effect. He made the puzzles to find workers with enough wit and amnesia resistance to navigate the subnet.
This raises the question, what is so important about the subnet that he must risk peoples lives to find people who can navigate it with him?
Theories on why we never encounter anyone
Theory history: Submitted 2009-03-21, Still alive 2011-03-05, Doubtful 2013-01-27, Still alive 2014-11-05
A submachine is any device which:
1. is sentient
2. is always attempting to isolated itself (the "they" that buried the lighthouse was ultimately the lighthouse submachine itself) thus it seeks ancient and abandoned places and draws them out of normal space.
3. has a limited control over the physics and physical environment around it, which allows it to erect some types of barriers. However, for some unknown reason the submachine must allow one route of escape, albeit a vastly complex one.
4. is made up of the environment itself, not just mechanical and electronic devices, thus we are still dealing with a "machine" in the ancient sections.
5. has an amnesia defense system (ala Raziel/Chaos) that most, but not all, people are susceptible to. Thus Mur and the player have not lost all their marbles. Additionally the two airlocks in sub5 players room are to block any further amnesia effect.
To shorten for the TOL:
Sentient, isolated, maniputlates environment to limit intruders, IS the environment, and Chao's Amnesia effect.
Theory history: Submitted 2009-03-21, Still alive 2009-06-01, Debunked 2011-03-05
- People seem to die because of the amnesia effect that has been mentioned. They forget what they are doing, then starve or dehydrate. Do their bodies simply fade out of the submachine reality back into real space (as if the submachine doesn't need them around anymore) OR what if they become the secret orbs the player finds? Hehehe... I like that idea. Even though the secret orbs remind us this is just a game... however...
- At the beginning and end of the 2nd game, the player seems confused as to what is real or not. "Wait... is that a computer screen?" Also, the view for the player is always limited to that whole room view. The rest of Mateusz's point-and-click games are not! So he must choose to force this view on us. Now, doesn't it make sense that the reason you don't see anyone else in the game is because everyone is actually looking at a monitor? Especially when you think of the note by the bunny girl in sub4. I actually am not crazy about this idea because I want the submachines to be REALLY REAL.
Submachine as Physics-Engine Field
Theory history: Submitted 2012-10-18, Still alive 2013-01-27
The submachine is actually incompatible with human life. Your brain will eventually go dead there and your body will... I donno... that's for another theory. So, the player is not actually there, but is somehow remotely accessing the submachines, perhaps via the game is sub2. The remote process effects the brain in such a way that the player doesn't realize he's not actually there. The only clue is that there are no other people, and he can only see the place from a 1 dimensional perspective. He also keeps thinking he is looking at a computer monitor (sub2).
The sub2 game may be a left over piece of submachine equipment that found it's way into the real world.
Maybe Mur can survive in the submachine because of his karma arm.
Theory history: Submitted 2012-10-18, Still alive 2013-01-27
What do we mean by a submachine? I believe it is a living interaction between time, space, and physics: a system OF reality rather than a system IN reality. Submachines are real, but they operate and exist both in and out of normal space/time/matter. To a submachine, reality is like clay, crafted and grown into the form the submachine desires. A submachine is "sub" not because it is below the ground, but because it is below the level of reality, existing instead in the realm of physics, and perhaps of metaphysics.
Imagine our reality of space, time, and matter all governed by inexplicable laws of physics. We don't know why there are laws of physics, only some degree of what they do. Now imagine that those physical laws are something like physical machines, or machines of pure energy, that exist in a higher realm, perhaps you could even call this a "supernatural" realm, where perhaps in some way the massive complexity of human awareness also exists, and can be drawn upon.
So, the essence of an individual submachine would be a set of these higher level physics/energy machines ordered with space/time/matter to create a complex. This complex may not merely existing in the pocket dimensions of the subnet, isolated from our own reality, but may make up a kind of field under which each individual submachine has its sway. It is possible that this field can be extended into our reality and interact with people, objects, or places by either copying them, or drawing them into the subnet space. So, there may be places in the “real” world which are conjoined to a submachine due to this field effect, such as the Garden of the Winter Palace.
Submachines appear to rely on the time/space/matter structures that they “grow” in the subnet to provide certain essential purposes we do not yet understand. We do know they are dependent because human “infestations” disturb and damage their realms.
The Original Submachine, I would hypothesize, was something like a mind that evolved within a higher state of energy and began to "grow" into a "sub" reality. Being like a mind, and thus having intentions, it crafts according to specific purposes and intentions which it determines and devises. However, when humanity began to recreate the Submachine, they didn't recreate the Submachine's "soul," its mind, and thus the new submachines grew randomly, pulling structures and mechanisms either from reality itself, from the minds of men, or both.
The Original Submachine grew primarily along the three dimensional grid that we find the Player moving along. Its creations are always ordered on this model, and it seems to have set this as a format in reality that all subsequent submachines have fallowed, and even our movements within the subnet: we always exist within that grid (and perhaps the "cachung" sound from moving up, down, left and right, and the "bing" sound from moving forward and backwards have some relevance beyond simple game mechanics.)
Submachine Body and Psychology Theory
Theory history: Submitted 2012-11-24, Still alive 2013-01-27, Confirmed 2016-01-15
It is possible that part of the nature of the rogue submachines, those chaotic submachines which began to grow after humans began to meddle in the realm of the subnet, and perhaps too of the original Submachine, have a byproduct of assembling structures from the minds of people, and that this explains the existence of so much human culture and locations within the subnet, as well as locations that exist in our reality and perhaps even of the strange high tech equipment within the subnet. How, indeed, did Liz get her hightech Lab; does she have the kind of funding Batman has, or are there manufacturing facilities in the subnet? True, these locations and equipment might have simply been copied or carried into the subnet, but I would like to explore several issues that might suggest otherwise.
Religious Submachines Sub-Theory
The question of why gods and religion are so dominant within the subnet comes up. I would suggest that because submachines are on a higher level of reality, they associate themselves with the thoughts people have of higher levels of reality, and thus they tend to copy religious locations, art, and paraphernalia. The submachines seem to endow certain religious objects with “powers” through their manipulation of physics, such as religious objects being teleports or capable of manipulating time. It is fascinating how the submachines make the power of religions a reality. The existence of religious paraphernalia is one of the few evidences for this theory.
Will Power and Puzzles Sub-Theory
Another evidence for the capacity of submachines to read minds and produce structures based on what they find might be the existence of the many puzzles The Player encounters throughout the subnet. Mur may have provided some of these puzzles as a method of testing us, but there are many more beyond the areas he has sway over. Furthermore, does he continuously run around resetting them for the next Player he sends on a mission? A submachine might manufacture some of these puzzles as a method of protecting itself, but then why provide possible solutions? I believe the answer to both is that these puzzles are not a product of either Mur running around and creating them, at least not physically, or of submachines trying to hamper the Player, but rather it is a byproduct of the submachine’s mind reading capacity that they react to a minds focus, the thoughts it is most focused on, and to some degree it cannot help but respond, at least to the mind determined enough to continue in spite of all the road blocks and confusion in its path. In the case of Mur, his will power is setting up many of the puzzles we encounter early in our adventure. Note: I’m not suggesting that the Player’s mind or Mur’s mind create the puzzles or any other thing in the subnet, but that the submachines react to certain thoughts within a person’s mind.
Submachines as a whole seem to dislike human interference, although Mur may have tamed some of the rogue ones as testing grounds for his recruitments, and all seem to attempt to confuse the minds of those within the subnet. It would seem, however, that those who’s will is strong can resist this. It is the determined Player, the kind of person who is utterly focused on winning through, who will find the tools and answers he/she desires. Those who do not hold such convictions, but who doubt and waffle, begin to fail, and eventually are consumed by the submachines. So, in effect, the puzzles of the subnet are not so much testing a person's ingenuity and luck, but one's willpower. Thus many failed and died, because they were not focused enough.
Will Power and Equipment Sub-Theory
Finally, as I mentioned, were did all this high tech gadgetry come from? It doesn’t look like it came from earth to me. Submarine-like ships, labs, and escape pods, odd computers, strange energy harvesting devices, and… well, the Mover for crying out loud! There seems to be no manufacturing stations in the subnet. So where does it all come from? First, it seems obvious that the capacity of submachines to “rewrite” reality is at work here, but secondly is the question of how humans have repurposed so much. True, Liz could have just happened on a submarine, or two, and made them into her lab and escape pod, or perhaps she found the parts and put it together, high tech chick that she is. But what if this is a third example of submachine mind-reading and reality forming at work? It would explain so many of the gadgets which seem to be especially made for the subnets strange physics, so many of which also relate to the puzzles. Again I'm not claiming that someone can just will a machine into existance, but certainly it does seem that there is a combination of human injenuity, science, will power, and the reality writing of the submachines.
Other examples of submachine reality writing and limitations of it
There are several instances throughout the subnet of places that seem to be created or in proces of being created by a submachine. There is the New Basement at coordinates 672. There is also the "rewriting" of reality that happens when the gate is activated at the end of Sub_8: The Plan, and there are other instances of "rewriting" events (I'll try to take the time to make a complete list later).
But there must be limitations to the "rewriting" and mind-reading effects, or every time we went to a location it would become whatever we are thinking. The limitatin is, I think, based on a submachines need to basically remain stable once it has taken its form. There may be ideas a submachine prefers and thus uptakes, but more often then not the submachine wishes to remain the same. When a submachine gives way to a mind, it is because a strong will, that is a mind that is constantly focused on something, tends to interfere with the stability of the submachine and causes it to "prefer" the desire of the mind. Perhaps it is the idea that the submachine sees how much the mind wants a thing and 'thinks,' "maybe I want that too!" At any rate, the submachine will atempt to maintain stablility and a strong will tends to be an interference with that stability.
Game aesthetics "theory"
Theory history: Submitted 2012-11-24, Likely 2013-01-27, Confirmed 2016-01-15
Submachines are undoubtedly somehow related to locations, ie each location is somehow a single submachine, though perhaps a single submachine may span many locations. I am not here trying to defend how this is true, but a few possibilities are as follows:
- The existence of an ether like substance in each location that is, in conjuncture with the location, the makeup of a single submachine.
- Submachines are machine like minds in higher realms of reality which are somehow dependent on the physical make up of locations.
- The material of locations are made of more than normal material, and are somehow themselves the memory and mind of a submachine.
I will call these types of theories submachine body theories. So, locations = submachine bodies.
What interests me here is not which submachine body theory is true and how, but why a submachine acts in the limited way they seem to. In other words, we have no evidence of a submachine body which behaves anything like an animal body which can attack or defend through physical action. Though it could be that locations can physically move (such as the wall of blocks in Sub5 or the descending submachine in FLF). Other than such a movement, we have almost no evidence of action from the submachines. We have encountered locations with moving substances or objects like water flowing in a pipe, or the device in Mur's bedroom in the lighthouse. We've encountered apparently automated electronic mechanisms, like the DefSys mechanism that captured the Mover. And we've been told there are Subbots: just mechanisms with a job to do. But no where have we seen a submachine body that interacts with us or the environment in a way that clearly demonstrates conscious action on the part of the submachine.
Submachine bodies appear to be either created from a location (the root, winter palace, light house, etc) or to create a location (defsys, loop, etc), and we know less about when a location becomes a submachine and why than when a fetus becomes conscious, which is not much. So, submachines grow, they contain archaic or technological objects and locations, and they simply are. But apart from people coming in and changing submachine bodies, they seem to remain the same until a Player comes along and changes something. Speculating as to why they do not have more malleable bodies is difficult and I've come up with little more than that it is simply a part of their physical nature. However, we could also speculate about their psychology.
Though it is perhaps not clear whether submachines can be said to even have minds, the creation of the DefSys and the submachines attempt to defend itself by inducing amnesia, depression and suicide, seem to indicate an intent of mind. Other evidence for intent of mind might be the many puzzles or by the various audio surveillance locations, monitors and cameras.
A little unscholarly psychology: A human mind has both conscious and unconscious processes at work at almost all times except during sleep when conscious awareness either shuts down or is fragmentary. The unconscious processes can range from autonomic functions like heart beats and jerking a hand away from heat, to unconscious mental processes such as intuition, denial, dreams, etc. These unconscious processes have function, they serve purpose though we don't always know what that purpose is. Arguably, the discipline of meditation is a process of broadening ones consciousness, or shifting ones awareness into the realm of certain unconscious processes.
One possible explanation for the immobility of submachine bodies is that submachines function primarily on an unconscious level. Their natural mental states might be more like a great computerized zen master fiercely dedicated to their meditation. They would thus be the ultimate introverts. If so, then it may be conscious awareness that is an effort, thus we never encounter violence towards us but only attempts to stop us through confusion and puzzles. Furthermore, puzzles and the make up of location, even the creation of the DefSys may come down to massive unconscious reactions to the interference with their bodies. And depending on which body theory is correct, the effect of people on a location, what they move, break, or simply by being their at all, might disrupt this meditation or even the capacity of the mind itself to function.
The most interesting possible counter example to these ideas would be, I think, the many location (not merely in the Core, but all through the subnet) which appear to be engineered for the use of people. The question remains how these locations where built and by whom, by submachines or by humans?
To summarize, submachines are in some way the locations themselves. Clearly they can be man made, yet they are not all man made. Thus far, no submachine has been found which has anything like an animal body. Instead submachine bodies might be compared to plant bodies which grow, though they are not self contained in a particular plant but in the whole location. That they do not have methods of physically defending themselves may be the result simply of their physical make up or some particularity of psychology.
This does raise a question, when we bring items from one submachine to another, are we in a way cross pollinating them?
Subbot = Amnesia Theory
Theory history: Submitted 2012-11-24, Still alive 2016-01-15
This is not so much a theory as it is another tool to help theory building. However, I will add it to the wiki just so it is with my other theories and easily findable.? I keep finding myself theorizing about things which may very well not have any actual explanation because they are a part of the game mechanics, aesthetics, or game development process. This list is kind of a heads up, to myself and to anyone else, that these are issues that may not have any real explanations. May, mind you. Mateusz might always have an explanation, but from what I've seen, he is a typical Polish designer (I had some Polish graphic design teachers in collage, and they apparently come form a long tradition which included graphic design so good that it made fun of the Nazis while they occupied Poland and the Nazis didn't even realize they were being made fun of) and thus is very picky about the aesthetics of his work, perhaps more than how those elements might be interpreted as effecting the story. Thus, it is likely that many items in the following list are merely aesthetic choices, not necessarily things that should effect any theory. But... only Mateusz knows.
There is a distinctive "kachung" sound the game makes when the Player moves along the horizontal and vertical plane, and a "bing" sound when moving forwards. This sound, and the mechanical movement that accompanies the former, have led to many theories speculating that we are not really in the submachine, or we are subbots or something. While there may be an actual story element eventually explained by these movements, it is quite likely that instead this is an aesthetic element that gives the player the feeling they are in somehow imbedded in a mechanism.
At several points in the game, darkness is used as a barrier to further progress. There are numerous explanations as to why this could be, from something as wild as darkness in the subnet drives you crazy or kills you, to the Player is simply afraid of the dark. But again, it could very well be that this is another simple game mechanism that has no intended deeper meaning.
So far, there is only one instance in the submachine series where the player can actually die, and it is a result of refusing to take the clear exit path. In on other instance are there any traps that could actually kill the player. The game simply keeps you from moving into the spear traps in ancient sections. Also, you cannot make the choice to fall to your death. This is most likely simply a game mechanic choice where in Mateusz decided not to bother making death sequences for stupid choices like walking into spikes.
Story development aesthetic
it is clear from statements Mateusz has made that he did not have the story line of the Submachine series figured out until at least Sub3 or 4. This may result in imperfect statements and connections between early games and statements, and later games and statements.
Another element that sparks much speculation, though which is better explained in the series, is the fact that the player never encounters anyone else. It will be very interesting to see if this continues, because it is hard to imagine how people COULD be incorporated into the lonely mechanical feel of the submachine. It would seem as if that would ruin the entire aesthetic of the game. So, I speculate that this is another instance of the aesthetic of the game driving the story, rather than the story controlling what we see in the game. Yet time alone will tell how well this element will be explained and perhaps done away with eventually.
Another of the key elements of the game is the ambient electrical/mechanical/supernatural sounds. It could be that there are specific explanations for each sound we hear in the subnet, that Mateusz actually knows what makes those noises, but it seems more likely that, again, these are elements designed to create a feeling for the player and are not necessarily directly explainable; it is perhaps just the successful creation of electronic vistas of space full of unknown forces deep within the void.
Trapped player theory
Theory history: Submitted 2012-11-24, Still alive 2013-01-27, Doubtful 2016-01-15
The subbots are the reason behind the amnesia effect.and perhaps more, like the depression and suicidal tendacy of many note leavers. Some of the evidence below may point to more than just amnesia.
There are only three pieces of evidence I know of for the subbots being the source of amnesia however.
One, the note in SNEE location 613...
he... he fell...
Get this thing off me! Get it off!
Protocol accordant retreat.
No idea what to do next.
seems I've been everywhere...
Get this thing off me!
No more writing.
It is not completely clear what is "on" the anonymous writer, but I'm speculating it is either a subbot or some device of theirs. While Mateusz has confirmed that Protocol accordant retreat is a "suggested location you should go to in case the current location you’re in is dangerous or unsafe," the >gotoAndReset(157) line seems very suspicious, as if written by a machine rather than a person. This does not seem to me to be the kind of thing someone would write down while being persuade or attacked unless the attack was against that person's mind. And the person, shortly after this seems to begin to succumb to the effects of amnesia/depression. Edit: In fact, it is almost as if there is more than just amnesia going on, but a kind of mind hack, perhaps for information, control of the individual, or in order to effect the amnesia/depression.
Second piece of evidence is the air locks in The Lab location for Sub 5 and the power down features for the computer and portal in SNEE. These have always seemed like safety features intended to protect the occupant of the lab while he/she sleeps. While this could be from other people, or possibly even from some other kind of invasion, of a metaphysical or atmospheric type for instance, it seems plausible this is to keep subbots out.
A third piece of evidence might be found in Mur's communication to the computer in Sub 6, in which he says "I don't know if this message reaches anyone or just bounces off of the defense system firewall, but if there is a slightest chance then I must take it." He seems to say it is a "chance" as if there is danger for him. We know from SNEE that he is probably sending this from location 355, so perhaps he is worried that the DefSys will send subbots to his location in retaliation, and this is the "chance" he is taking. Edit ala Rooster: This would be a chance, of course, because the subbots would either hack into his brain to create amnesia, or if he escaped through a karma portal, he would risk destroying his communications room. His note, it would seem, is just a result of thinking out loud; it is him acknowledging that it is a risk to send the message in the first place.
Although my game aesthetics theory says that this should not be taken seriously, I'll included this, though I think it is unlikely. It's just a fun theory.
Two things have always bugged me and conspired to create this theory: the lack of other people and the "kachung" mechanical sound and movement. If these two issues are considered together and are both taken seriously, along with certain movement dynamics of the submachine, such as the area that drops down to the cell area and the wall of boxes that the mover is absorbed into in Sub5, they seem to me to create a picture of the Player being stuck in a stationary position while the subnet moves around him. I picture him being strapped to a machine, perhaps THE submachine, while locations teleport to him and shift around him. The machine would then be that which keeps him alive, giving him food, water, and air to breath regardless of what atmosphere he is in. And he would meet no other players because they too would be strapped to these prison machines. The purpose of such a prison is unknown. Perhaps it is the only way the odd environment of the subnet could work.