IF Comp ’09 – Hannes Schueller’s The Believable Adventures Of an Invisible Man!

October 14, 2009

I will believe these adventures only if they consist entirely of X NAKED CHICK.

There’s probably a lot of poignant stuff you could do about loneliness with an invisible protagonist.  Maybe he really connects with people on the internet, but can never meet them in real life, and the whole thing’s a metaphor for obesity, or disfigurement, or crippling social anxiety, or just plain low self-esteem.  That’d be kind of poignant, huh?  I’d rather play the looking-at-naked-chicks game, though, ’cause man, what a bummer.

I always think that if I were invisible, I would steal a lot of money.  Then I think, wait, how would I spend it?  And do you think your lover would still want to have sex with you if you were invisible?  I mean, it’s not like you gained a bunch of weight and grew a little mustache.  Maybe they’d hang up a picture of you from when you were still visible.  If they hang up a picture of someone else, I think you should break up with them, because that’s pretty cold.

Wait, should you break up with them, though?  It’s gotta be pretty hard to meet new people when you’re invisible.  That’s sort of getting into the question of under what circumstances you would leave a relationship if you knew you would never enter another one.

Maybe I should just play the damn game.

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: The protag was really misanthropic and the game needed way better cluing on its puzzles.  Could’ve been worse, though.  Oh, and remind me when I do the little awards wrap-up that this guy wins Worst Invisible Dude Ever.

[spoilers begin here]

Yes, revenge… the only thing you can think of right now.  Revenge.  Revenge!  REVENGE!
And here we see what this game’s about.  (Crime is everywhere, crime, crime!)  The period/exclamation point/capitalization plus exclamation point escalation is textbook.  I approve.  Approve!  APPROVE!

Not that anyone has ever visited you anyway, but if someone had, he or she certainly wouldn’t have gotten to see your lab!
I chuckled.

The very first thing I’m going to do is take all my clothes off.  That’s another thing about being invisible, you can’t go to cold places.

You try to make sense of last night’s formulas and diagrams, but as usual, you can’t anymore.
Unexpected and interesting bit of characterization there.  I’m pretty damn mental, aren’t I.

> x bed
You use it for sleeping.  Only.
I don’t know if the game’s reminding me I never get laid because nobody likes me (oh, how they’ll regret that now that I am invisible), or just letting me know I adhere to good sleep habits, one of which is supposed to be not using your bed for anything except sleep and sex.  I’m not sure how sex is allowed if, say, reading isn’t.  Maybe whoever came up with the rule just didn’t want to field angry questions about where exactly to have sex, then.

Wow, instantly killed by a moldy pizza.  My last thought “about this one formula which [I] never got quite right:  life” was pretty good though.

> touch guy
Touching another guy?  Disgusting!
I meant, like, on the arm or something, to see what he’d do.  Good Lord my character has issues.

They look as if they’re actually enjoying being outside.  Perverted scum!

Hmm.  I dunno if I should be fucking with people as I find them or not.  The infrastructure to do much of that doesn’t really seem to be in place, so I guess I’ll leave the twisted naturefondlers be.  For now.

I don’t want to touch the secretary, either.  My internal monologue tells me it’s because I’m a conservative and don’t want to try new things.  I am the worst invisible dude ever.

Well, I’ve opened two envelopes.  One was empty, one had a paycheck inside that I couldn’t take.  I’m probably SOL on the whole taking-things thing in this game, since I don’t want people to notice them floating around.  What am I supposed to be doing exactly?

> take key
That seems to belong to the secretary.
Well, I don’t know, steal and pick pocket didn’t work, and you seem to be drawing a lot of attention to this key, so I think I’m going to need it for something.

Okay, when the machine is off, the key is in the bowl, and I can’t take it because she might see it floating around.  When the machine is on, the key is in her pocket, and she is in a hypnotic trance.  I can’t move the bowl because it’s fixed in place.  I don’t know.  I don’t frickin’ know.  Are there hints?  No hints.  Nice knowing you, walkthrough cherry.

From the walkthrough:
What’s up with the creepy guy in front of my apartment?
You don’t know. Maybe he’s selling drugs, maybe he’s a child molester. Maybe he’s just a bum hanging out there. In any case, he’s very evil and he needs to be eliminated!
Oh.  There is something very wrong with my character.

Ah, okay, I was underestimating the scope of these puzzles.  Being able to mail things back and forth between my apartment and the university should be handy.

> enter apartment
Which do you mean, the apartment door, the apartment door’s handle, the apartment door’s keyhole, the apartment window, the apartment window’s handle or the apartment window’s keyhole?
Well, whatever else you can say about this game, you can’t say it never implemented nothin’.

THROW PIZZA OUT OF WINDOW should have more synonyms.  And there we go, I’ve just committed my first act of murder.  Good for me!

Okay, I need to get my badge past these students by mailing it to the university, but I don’t own any envelopes apparently, so I’ve put the empty envelope into my paycheck envelope and stuck it in the secretary’s out tray.  That’s super-fiddly but it’s actually pretty clever.  I wish it’d been clued a bit better so I’d had some impetus for getting into my lab other than “it’s there.”

Oh, you know what else this game could use?  Auto-take.  If I’m going to be putting all these things into other things, it would be nice if the game assumed I wanted to pick them up first instead of failing to move them with the power of my invisible mind.

The post service in this part of the country is great – it’ll arrive at its destination soon.
Five bucks says the postman fails to do anything about the corpse of this creepy guy, though.  Well, I guess technically it’s not his job.

Oh, and automatic fucking door-opening.  Seriously.

I never would have worked out that you’re supposed to rub the experimental chemicals on yourself in order to repel the crowd with your powerful stench.  Oh, and there’s my five bucks for the undisturbed corpse of the creepy guy!

This… okay, I’m going to indulge in a bit of a rant on puzzle design.  This is how every puzzle would go down if I were the Empress of How Shit Went Down:
Step 1:  Present the player with some sort of goal.
Step 2:  Provide, whether hidden or obvious, straightforward or obtuse, the means for them to achieve that goal.
Bonus points:  Give feedback on their experimental fumblings towards that goal.  (This won’t always be applicable.)
Step 3:  Let them know the goal has been reached; provide some sort of reward.

The problem I am having with this game, and have had with other games, is that Step 1 is pretty much missing, leaving me to fuck with shit simply because it’s there.  I don’t enjoy having to do this.  This is a shame, because these puzzles might be fun if better clued (“You wonder if you have something in your lab that might blah blah whatever” would at least give me a reason to want to get into the lab, leading me to remember the badge and wonder how to get past the students, then things I try to get rid of the students should be implemented with failure messages suggesting I can’t get rid of the students and should come up with another solution, etc.)  As it is, I might not even try going east from my apartment because it’s not quite clear I’ll be able to do anything about all the people, and now that I am here, I am overwhelmed with things that might be parts of puzzles, but I have no idea what to look for or attempt.

Smoke is what you see, smoke is what you smell and if smoke had a sound, you’re sure you’d hear it, too.
I kinda like that.

Yeah, I don’t feel the need to finish this one.  The restrictions on my actions because I was invisible added sort of an interesting element, and my character was well-realized as a detestable amoral neurotic nutbag, but at this point, I’d just be typing shit in from the walkthrough, and I’m not interested enough in the plot to bother.  I’m calling it a five.

Update:  Actually, rereading this, you know what?  That key I spent so much time puzzling over isn’t even acquirable, and there’s no real way for me to know that.  Also, there was so much cool shit you could have done with the invisible man premise and none of it materialized.  I’m taking one of your points away and splitting it between the two Duel games, which I’ve been agonizing over since they’re both pretty solid 7.5s and I felt kind of bad rounding down.  You can have four points and go think about what you’ve done.


  1. And do you think your lover would still want to have sex with you if you were invisible?

    This is one of the questions answered in Donald Westlake’s Smoke. (Since I’ve already started spoiling the book, I can probably tell you the answer: If the lights go on in the middle, she’s going to be pretty wigged.)

  2. I guess she’s never starred in a hentai game.

  3. Actually you can get the key, though it’s almost impossible to figure out how. I had to look it up in the walkthrough.j

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