IF Comp ’12 – Jim Redacted’s The Test is Now READY!October 9, 2012
Searches What Brought You Here Fun Time!
put this sentence “you have to figure it out yourself” into one word
kitten in a party hat
drivefs ed pacin car to play
stool eating & pissying
handkerchief on park bench
That was fun; now what should we play? Let’s read blurbs.
A train hurtles towards your son – or five strangers.
Five strangers are hurtling towards my son? I guess that is what they mean by “stranger danger.” Hey, are you sure you don’t mean the sun? That’s usually what things hurtle towards, in my experience.
Later in the same blurb:
You’re kidnapped and forced to save an innocent life.
OH POOR ME
Okay, I guess I have to play this game, if I’m going to make fun of its blurb. I’m scared, though. There are zombies and potentially dead kids in it. I am not a super fan of zombies and potentially dead kids.
[scary spoilers begin here]
“Run, Harry! Run, you magnificent bastard!” Frank shouts, looking behind you in alarm.
I like Frank. I like people who say things like “Run, you magnificent bastard!”
Yup. Zombie tropes being totes evoked on up in here. This is what we’re doing. I wish I had corn muffins left. That is not a related thought.
Between the cold and the thawing bricks of soup and chili and nacho cheez
No, it is my cheez now. Law of the jungle.
Convenient for exiting the freezer while carrying an armload of food, inconvenient for trying to keep the door closed against the zombie horde.
Yeah, whoever designed this freezer door had their priorities all wrong. Fortunately, they later redeemed themselves by designing the Zune.*
What should I be doing? I know we can’t stay in this freezer forever, but that’s all I know. Let’s have a look around.
Well, shit, Frank and I both got bitten by zombies, and there’s only one dose of antidote. We are both inevitably fucked no matter what, because hey, zombie apocalypse, so I might as well do the self-sacrifice… hey, wait, can I gnaw off my arm? No. Well, poop sex.
Frank says, “Whatever happens, I’m sorry about Julie. Did I ever tell you about my wife, Angie?… Ask me about her sometime.”
>ask frank about angie
Frank smiles in recollection, for just a moment. Then his face falls. “Let’s talk about something else.”
Dude, you brought it up!
Well, I shot myself, and moved on to Chapter 2. Hooray, I guess?
You hear a small crackle in your ear, then a voice, low and deep, says, “We have reason to believe this man knows of an impending terrorist attack that may kill thousands. You need to get the date, method and collaborator’s name from the prisoner.”
Oh, I’ve seen this improv game before! I bet it was Bill Cosby with a butter churn during the French revolution.
They really want me to hit this prisoner. Something about thousands of people dying. Because this is a game, I am approaching this not as a moral choice but a puzzle. Also, I don’t particularly want to hit the prisoner. So I’m leaving.
Oh, fuck, this is the part with the train and my son. Not really looking forward to it.
Your son says, “Mom, stay here. I’m going to go help them.”
crap crap crap crap crap
Do you really want to throw the switch? The train is close, and you will not be able to change it back before the train hits Jeremy.
Of course not! But I’m fucking going to! While feeling very fortunate that this is a game and not my actual life.
“That’s Li Nguyen. Probably the best violinist in the western hemisphere. The only unlucky thing about her is that she has a very rare blood type. Only one other person in the world has it.” The nurse pauses to let this sink in.
“Well, the blood thing, and the fact that she was in a serious accident this morning. So, she needs to be attached to you for the next couple of months.”
“It would be great if you could WAIT here for about eight, nine months. Because if you leave, she dies.” The nurse pauses again. “Of course, it’s your choice.”
And with that, she walks out.
Oh, what the crap? Well, of course I’m not going to be the asshole who tells the best violinist in the western hemisphere she can’t be alive anymore because I can’t handle eight or nine months of hanging around a hospital watching bad TV and eating Jell-O. I could write a book. That sounds like an instant best-seller, doesn’t it? I’d probably get to be on Oprah. I don’t know what I’d say on Oprah. “Yeah, Li’s great, she snores kind of loud, but we really bonded.” Sure, no problem. I just fucking murdered my son. This is gravy.
Oh, man, it really wants me to wait one day at a time. That’s awesome. I never feel that I, the player, am at all put out by these really difficult moral choices, so it is sort of great being asked to type Z, what, two hundred and seventy times?
All your waiting has not been for naught. One day the doctors and nurses come in, and cut the violinist free from you.
But… that wasn’t even twenty! I was gonna go the distance!
Hmm. I’m not sure what the red button on this capital-M Machine does, but if it wants me to push it so badly, I’m not going to.
Now that I’m hammering on the environment trying to find an alternative to pushing the shiny seductive red button, the cracks in the implementation are really showing.
Your mind is consumed with thoughts of pushing the button.
Look, I’m not going to push the button, all right? I’m just not going to push it!
Nothing obvious happens.
Your mind is consumed with thoughts of pushing the button.
The white table is aggressively plain. You think that it might not even exist, except that it is holding up nothing.
This would be one of those cracks in the implementation, yes.
Dammit, even the walkthrough wants me to push the button. I’m not pushing it. I will quit this game, never play it again, and someday I will die without ever having pushed that button. Tab closed. We are done here.
(It’s funny, because in real life I probably would have pushed it within seconds.)
I am not entirely sure how to feel about this game, but it did really impress me when I thought it was going to make me type Z 270 times in order to stand by my decision. I wish more moral choices in games were presented with some approximation of actual cost. Even when I’m, say, paying off a random NPC’s gambling debt with money I could have spent on equipment, I can generally rationalize this from a cost-benefit perspective if I think of it as spending money to gain alignment points. I’d like to see a game with no alignment tracking at all, just realistic narrative consequences (as in, all you get from saving that NPC is the joy of seeing him out fishing). Did Dragon Age do this? I feel like Dragon Age might have done this.
* I am not sure what this joke even means or how you are supposed to parse it, I just thought, hey, time for a Zune joke, right?