IF Comp ’09 – Jack Welch and Ben Collins-Sussman’s Rover’s Day Out!

October 4, 2009

I need something fluffy after Condemned (blargh blargh ugh yuck blargh).  I made Riff tell me about kittens.  He says they’re fluffy and they’re fuzzy and they have whiskers on their faces and some of them don’t have real insides – they’re filled with butterscotch pudding, you see, and those are the tastiest kittens of them all.  Or would be if he liked butterscotch.  I like butterscotch but I don’t want to eat kittens, so there we are.

Anyway, rule of thumb when you’re completely squicked out and traumatized is to play a game about a dog, so here we are, playing a game about a dog.

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: This game is really neat, and I’m enjoying it a lot.  It’s definitely my favorite so far, and might well turn out to be my favorite in the entire competition.  Right now, though, I need to go to bed so I can get up and do a thing (many people probably would not have to set an alarm for 11 AM, but I am just that awesome), so I will post this and finish up later.  While I’m sleeping (hopefully!) you should play this game.  It’s very neat and I think you’ll like it.

Update:  Well, the second half of this game got really science-fictiony and I kind of stopped liking it very much.  It’s still the best I’ve played so far, though.

[spoilers start here]

Rover draws pensively on his stubby cigar, the tip glowing red below his dealer’s hat.  He paws nonchalantly at the scotch and water he has been nursing for the last half hour.
This is not your usual game about a dog, apparently.

Oh, it was a dream, or something.  I’m dreaming about my dog playing poker with Isaac Asimov, Elsa the cleaning lady, and that boy I kissed in fourth grade.  I like this game.

There are many weird future things going on here that I don’t understand, but I’m confident they will be made clear in time, or at least clearer.

Huh.  Interesting.  I think I might be a spaceship.

Oh, yay, REMEMBER function!  I like this feature.

Even the ACU is not immune to the quantum distortions responsible for this effect and is expected to experience dream states while in hibernation mode during Casimir jumps.
And here is your foreshadowing.  It’s code for “shit is gonna get freaky.”

Janet:  My code is not for the faint of heart.  If you wander in there, watch out for grues.
David:  Groo
David never played Zork, I guess.  Or KoL, for that matter.  Probably because this is the Distant Future we’re in here.  I wonder what games people will play in the future?  I bet PopCap’ll come out with some fun ones once we’re able to click on shit with our minds.

Also, the Casimir Drive works “by doing largely incomprehensible things to time/space,” apparently.  I like that.  I am really digging this game so far.

Awww, reference to grues but no xyzzy.  Oh well.

Whoa, in the future you can eat dental floss!  And it’s good for you!  The future is awesome!

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing, so I’m performing acts of oral hygiene and doggy maintenance.  Things are implemented nicely; “fill food bowl” assumes I first want to take the bag of dog food, and all that, which is nice.  Oh, hey, a frying pan.  I think I’ll fry something up.

Wonder what the spaceship equivalent of me flossing my teeth and feeding my dog is?  Oh, hey, David and Janet are talking about a to-do list.  I bet I’m going to be given some direction pretty soon here.

X. Get up
2. Shower
3. Breakfast
4. Take care of business
5. Let Rover go walkies
Wait a minute, who the hell pees fourth thing in the morning, especially if things two and three take as long as showering and breakfast do?  You wake up, then you pee, right?  Because your body has been manufacturing urine for the past ten to twelve – wait, normal people sleep habits – six to eight hours, and you need it evacuated right away?  Right?  I am not crazy here?

The sexual tension among David, Janet, and the naked sudsy spaceship is adorable.

A stream of hot, pearlescent white soap is ejected forcefully from the throbbing button, and pools in your hand.  You rub it over your entire body with wanton abandon and then rinse it off.
David:  No comment.
Janet:  I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that.

What’s a tommygoff?  Also, does it matter that I used the soap first, then the shampoo?  In vital-expensive-spaceship-mission terms, I mean?  I hope not.  Anyway, I better have breakfast now, so I can finally pee.

Oops, I took the frying pan into the shower with me.  The game doesn’t seem to mind.

> touch plate
You switch the black plate on.

*** STOP:  0x76A59BEE20019862F99:  Fatal Exception.  Press a key to continue.

Oh, shit, blue screen of death!  That black plate must not have been the correct way to dry off.  I like “Something unpleasant has happened in the transputational core processor” and “All data lost.  Sorry about that,” though.

No, wait, guess that was how that was supposed to go down.  Seems like David and Janet finally consummated their sexual tension over Thai food, which is cute.  Let’s try this again.

David:  That mole should be on your left side.
Called it!  It’s neat how the little bar on the top tells you what the spaceship is allegedly doing.  This game is neat.  And cute.  Ceat.  Nute.

Yay, the heat lamp worked!  Breakfast time!

Nice fourth-wall moment with Janet complaining about how the ACU has a mind of its own and sometimes walks around trying to take everything that isn’t nailed down.

Yay!  I got to pee!

What is this “unresolved” business?  It isn’t pooping, and I tried wiping and was told “You achieve nothing by this.”  Is it the plunger?  Yeah, guess it’s the plunger.

Oh, man, looks like the plot twist just hit the ventilator.  Morning routine again?  All right.

I like that I can “go kitchen” from the bathroom and go right to the kitchen.  It’s the little things, y’know?

Maybe you’ve been reading too much Lovecraft, but the plunger next to the toilet seems to be somehow misshapen and twisted.  Its suddenly alien geometry suggests to you that some inchoate force of primordial corruption is reaching from across the stars, gibbering and gyrating contemptibly in the half-formed chaos between the toilet and the shower.

Oh, man, there’s a toilet repair puzzle in this game?  I was just thinking the other day how I really have no idea how toilets work, and lying to myself about looking that up sometime in the future.  JIGGLE HANDLE doesn’t work, either.  I’m screwed.

Oh, duh, I’m a dog.  Of course looking won’t get me as far as smelling.

Having some guess-the-verb issues trying to follow the scent of the female dog across the park.  Oh, okay, CROSS PARK worked.  GO FEMALE does too, apparently.  Goooo female!

> do female
I didn’t understand that sentence.
You are pretending not to understand that sentence.  It’s pretty understandable.

Oh, neat, we’re on the actual ship, neat, neat, neat.  Too bad there’s no backup ansible antenna and we’re all going to die.

And now is the test of whether or not I’ve got the morning routine down.  I’m still typing in “shampoo” and “fridge” but all I can see are things like “ablative enamel monomer solution.”  Man this game is neat.

Hey!  Where’s my egg?

Where the fuck is my egg?

Maybe this isn’t the test of whether or not I’ve got the morning routine down.  Maybe it’s a test of something else… wait, no, they wouldn’t have written all that shit about the ablative enamel monomer solution if I wasn’t supposed to go through the routine, right?  And to complete the next step in the routine, I need my egg.  Where is my goddamn egg?  Why is it not in the fridge?  Is this some kind of sleazy Earth sabotage?

Speaking of which, who’s the infiltrator, d’you think?  Law of conservation of characters says it’s either Janet, David, or Tomasz isn’t really dead.  Janet and David would have much more opportunity to fuck with shit, but a betrayal of that nature would weigh down the storyline… hmm.  Also, “fuck with shit,” how often do I use that three-word phrase, this is why I don’t have a Pulitzer.  Well, no, that’s not really why.

Man, I need to get up in six and a half hours so I can put on an ugly oversized t-shirt and distribute brau to Oktoberfest patrons in exchange for a bunch of free beer I’m not going to drink anyway because I’m seeing how long I can go without drinking alcohol and I don’t even like beer.  It’ll probably be a lot of fun, too.  I must be out of my mind.

So, yeah, going to post this and come back to it later.

Update:  It’s later!  I am so tired you guys.  Okay.  So.  Where is my egg?

I’m cheating.  Oh, apparently Rover was not supposed to have forgotten the smelly man in his quest for poontang and part of the Musashi space probe – oh, there’s my egg, good boy!  The presence of a female dog should have suggested to me that there would be another cottage, but I don’t know if I would have thought to send Rover there to pick me up an egg, especially after the walkies portion had apparently ended and we were back on step 3.

Um.  I don’t think I want to consent to salvage operations.  I wonder if I have any weapons?  Maybe I could hit them with my frying pan.

They really really want me to surrender.  I don’t know if I should.  I mean, this is the planet that blew up my fiance, unless he’s not really dead.  Wait, no, they blew up Janet’s fiance.  I’m an artificial intelligence and Janet is banging her boss.  Should I surrender?  Doesn’t “surrender” mean “lose?”  Then again, getting the shit kicked out of you doesn’t mean you win.

Okay, fine, Earth fuckers, I’ll surrender.  But I’m saving first.

Oooh, I hope I haven’t been supposed to be spending this whole time doing something clever.  Because I wasn’t.

It is getting a lot more science-fictiony up in here.  Also, I tried to punch a droid, and they told me violence wasn’t the answer to this one.  The only good and proper failure message for PUNCH DROID is “No, but that would be awesome.”  Oh, wait, apparently you can eat the droids.  That’s pretty great.

Inspiration strikes you — if you can’t erase the data, you can at least add another level of encryption, this time with your own key.  A long one.
That’s a super idea!  How the hell do I go about doing that?

Well, David and Janet are here, but I’m not allowed to listen to them talk, or talk to them.  Something about safety and protocol.  Oh, okay, I went to feed Rover and now Janet’s talking to me.

Man.  It’s started reading like the sort of science fiction I don’t care much for, all telling me about the probe and “the stellar wind of a chaotic dying star” and blah blah blah.  I really liked the conceit of all the jargony technical stuff being reduced to simple everyday domestic business that anyone could understand.  Then, when it was stripped away and you could see all the impressive sciency words indicating that complex systems were doing all kinds of cool future shit, it was sort of like having your skin go invisible on you and discovering you’re actually filled with gears, lasers, and tiny samurai riding cyborg dinosaurs.  This science-fictiony bit here is like listening to an explanation of how the cyborg dinosaurs actually work.  (I realize some people really get into that, but man, I am not them.)

David and Janet are not open to questions about their sex life.  So uptight.  They keep going on about the probe and that ansible antenna.  I wonder if that’s like a runcible spoon.  I wonder what a runcible spoon is.

The spy is David, if you’d been wondering about that and not about spoons.  What I am wondering now is whether two authors are listed so that one could write the bits I liked, and the other write the bits I didn’t.  Of course he’s evil, he never played Zork, and he’s got a little goatee.  It’s so obvious.

I’m not sure what I, as the ACU, am supposed to be doing.  He’s just root-commanded me to start a data transfer, but I don’t really want to, because I think he’s a jerk now.  Well, I guess the info is double-encrypted, so he can’t read it anyway.  I might as well.

> start data transfer
That’s not a verb I recognize.
Oh for fuck’s sake.  Oh, okay, it’s automatic.  That’s been happening to me rather a lot lately.

Janet, quit being a pussy girl and karate-chop the back of his neck or something.  Admittedly, I would totally be a pussy girl in that situation, but I’m not a fictional character and therefore unable to suddenly have studied tae kwon do for like twelve years, didn’t I tell you about that?  This is why you so rarely hear them say “By the way, I just want to tell you I did not study tae kwon do for like twelve years, or any years at all, in fact.  Can I have your pudding?”

David snorts cynically, “Actually, you know what?  I hate dogs.”

Well, I can’t get Rover to attack David, maybe because he’s waiting for his food bowl and I seem to be stuck somewhere in the feeding process.  Oh, wait, am I in the kitchen and they’re still in the living room?

Ah.  That worked.  And there’s a preview of the sequel, which contains the words “tachyon,” “zooplankton,” “ansible,” “pulse,” and “anomalies.”  I’m sort of not excited.

The first half of this game was still really awesome, though.  They’ll never take that away from me with all the zooplankton in the known universe.


One comment

  1. I was just coming by to complain about “Violence isn’t the answer to this one.” How can violence not be the answer to this one, of all ones? Honestly.

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