CGDC #7 – Megan Moser and Margaret Moser’s Couch of Doom!

February 11, 2010

I wonder if the Mosers are one of those families that believes in alliterative naming. I knew a family like that, but that’s a story I’ve told already. You can find it by searching this blog for “borscht.” Or, I mean, I could just link it, but that’d deprive you of all the joy you could experience typing “borscht” into a search field and hitting enter, which is, let me assure you, considerable.

Anyway. Couch of Doom. The juxtaposition of the phrase “of doom” with a non-threatening, commonplace noun is textbook Light-Hearted Goofy, but it’s Light-Hearted Goofy of the sort I will always have a soft spot for because I used to get a fair bit of mileage out of it myself. You know, before I discovered dick jokes and being an asshole.

Let us commence the playing it!

[spoilers begin here]

Man it’s depressing to be reminded of how much you suck.  The goal of this game is to get your character off the couch, presumably to do things involving fresh air and sunshine and other people, like all those happy men and women in the herpes ads.  Oh, I know, you’re saying “those ads aren’t for herpes, they’re for the medication you get to treat your herpes!” but it looks to me as though what they’re selling is the Herpes Lifestyle.

Like, you know how vampires are all “let me suck your blood and then you suck my blood and we’ll live forever under a cathedral somewhere?”  Herpes people are all “have unprotected sex with me and we can spend the rest of our lives on bicycles with sweaters tied around our necks, laughing at some joke only herpes people get.  We’ll be laughing, I mean, not the sweaters.”  Huh, now I’m wondering what’d happen if a vampire got herpes, or a herpes person became a vampire.  Sweater cycling by moonlight?  Trying not to rip a cold sore open on your fangs?

Oh, right, playing a game.

READ INVITATION doesn’t do anything, just gives me a fresh prompt.  I’m unsure how to feel about this.

The responses to STAND UP are pretty good.  My favorite:
You could, but given that human civilization results in the permanent extinction of approximately 50 species per day, it’s probably not worth it.
Also the game is right about Plants vs. Zombies.  I’m amazed any part of my body besides my right index finger still works.

Wait a minute, a bunch of these STAND UP failure messages involve me being on the internet, but I don’t seem to have a computer!  What in the vicinity of this couch is wifi-enabled, my cat?

> search wires
In the pile of chargers is a charger.
I rather like that.

Huh, I fell asleep reading Superman and now I am dreaming!  That was more surprising than it had any right to be!

> x robot
Metal, blocky, and ridiculously enormous.  You notice a panel embedded in its right arm.
> x panel
Why bother?
… because you pointed out that I’d noticed it and I wanted to examine it?  I don’t see how I’m being unreasonable here!  Are you still depressed about all that species extinction?

I found an oil can, which I assumed would be for oiling this huge rusted robot.  OIL ROBOT gave me a fresh prompt, as did USE OIL ON ROBOT.  GIVE OIL TO ROBOT worked, by which I mean it let me give the oil to the robot and, I suspect, make the game unwinnable.  I do not mean that it actually accomplished anything.  Let’s try this again.

This game has a comparative many of empty rooms, sparsely described.  I feel like it’s sort of a shame to be in a cool future space city and not really know what shit looks like, other than “it’s cool, it’s from the future, you know, like in B-movies or whatever.  Cool future shit.  We can talk about it in a minuGODDAMN DIGGER ZOMBIES GAAAAH.”

So here is the thing.  I don’t know if the game is just buggy or what, but I am standing here with an oil can and a rusted robot.  Any time your player is in a situation like this – unlit candle and box of matches, raw meat and barbecue grill, electrified nipple clamps and pile of dead clergymen* – doing the obvious thing should at least result in a non-default failure message.  It is very frustrating to be standing somewhere with an oil can and a rusted robot trying synonyms for OIL ROBOT and have absolutely nothing happen. I can’t even seem to get an “I don’t know how to do that” or a “what robot?” or a “did you just call me fat?  Did you just call me a fat lesbian?”*

You were probably busy selling cookies when they taught the Boy Scouts to do that.
I’m torn on this response to TIE.  On the one hand, it’s funny and mildly feminist, which are things I enjoy, but on the other hand, seriously, I never learned to just tie a regular old knot?  How do I keep my shoes on, or prevent friendship bracelets from unraveling?  How am I supposed to give birth alone in a field if I can’t even knot the umbilical cord after biting it off?*

Oh, huh, now I am getting “There is no reason to lubricate that.”  Not ideal, but I’ll take it!

…how I did not just make a sex joke is beyond me.

Oh, good, and there are hints!  I will be making liberal use of these!  Ah, okay, the thing I needed to oil was behind the panel I couldn’t examine.  Good to know.  Now how do I keep this lever on?  Oh, huh, was I supposed to get the wire?  Would I even have that in my dream?

Also, I don’t know if I would have figured out to enter the cloud without spoilers.

In the little man is a key.
I think you can make the key something wearable instead of making the little man a container.  Maybe he likes being a container, though; I’m certainly not going to judge.

Oh, duh, the bubblegum!  Fair enough.

What do you mean I can’t fight the robot?  I am a superhero!

Gotta say, this game was completely saved from pissing me the fuck off by a good Invisiclues-style hint system.  I haven’t stressed yet this comp how important a good hint system is, especially for a competition game.  It is a made-up scientific fact that if someone is forced to resort to your walkthrough, their opinion of your game decreases by up to one billionty and neeb.  You can’t afford to lose a billionty-neeb points in a ten-point scoring system!  That’s more than half!

Oh, right, so I used the hints, saved the city, and am now… right back on the couch, feeling apathetic.  Wasn’t that my mood to begin with?  I shoulda been paying attention.  Good thing I’ve already popped my hint cherry!

Made a grappling hook out of a fork and the charger for something.  Now it’s guess-the-verb time!  Screw that, no it’s not.  I’ve been at this review for like four days now.  I’m checking the hints.

Oh, okay, I was supposed to bend the fork and throw it at the box.  Huh.  When you look at the box after you’ve already gotten it close enough to open, it still claims to be just a few tantalizing inches out of your reach.  What’s up with this cat?  Should I butter him?

WIPE TIN ON PAJAMAS should probably either work or explain why it doesn’t.  (Yes, Shay’s hinting pretty heavily that he wants to lick the butter off the tin, but I’m not sure butter is good for cats.  Plus I was thinking if my pajamas were butterier, I might be more inclined to put on clean pants.)

Yay, I’m standing!  That was cute.  Could’ve been more fleshed out, but I’m expecting this comp to skew towards the skeletal (ah, the soft racism of lowered expectations) so that’s not a huge deal.  Mainly what it could have used was a lot less “read the author’s mind to guess the verb.”  Testing will generally catch these.  Once they’re caught, it’s nice to go in and implement specific failure messages for things the player is likely to try, hinting as to why the didn’t work.  I’m’a go ahead and post this now before people start thinking I’ve died.

* This is an example of the Comedy Gold Rule of Three right here, two mundane things followed by a silly one.  It’s a tad blatant, n’est ce-pas?  This is why real pros use it sparingly.


  1. So (and this is just repeating what I said in my own review) you’re exactly right about everything, except maybe for how charming it is to have a game that’s about getting undepressed enough that you can stand up off your couch. I feel that this is a situation I can relate to more than most other interactive fiction situations, and that even the ridiculous struggle to reach something that would be perfectly easy to reach if you stood up rings true. Also the giant robot was worked in very smoothly… well, maybe it wasn’t, but giant robot. Also, kitty.

    But speaking of guessing verbs, which is what one must speak of when speaking of this game, did you find any way of discerning that the balloon had passengers before getting to the part of the hints that tells you to rescue them?

  2. By the way, I wonder if you might want to excerpt this for your upper-left hand corner.

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