IF Comp ’11 – Joey Jones & Melvin Rangasamy’s Calm!

October 17, 2011

This is the one about how the future has been a happier place since the spores arrived.  I hope it doesn’t make me shit my pants.

(On proofreading this from the future which is a happier place since the spores arrived, I am not sure if these are some long-ass unreadable Dickensian sentences I’ve written, or if it’s just 7 AM and I should go to bed.  Taco Canyon is a cave from the future.  Yes.  Thinking that sentence means I should go to bed.)

[spoilers begin here]

Oh, shit, there’s sound!  I know this because DirectX is freaking out about not being able to initialize it.

Useful tip for life:  if you pay someone to build you a computer, don’t just assume they’re going to include all the components you have come to think of as being healthy parts of a complete computing breakfast, like, oh, an internal sound card.  Second useful tip for life:  quit getting your feet all tangled up in the cord for your USB headphones and yanking them around until you’ve completely warped and destroyed both plug and socket such that they will only form a connection after several minutes of delicate finagling (and break it if you look at them funny).  Actually, you can replace both of those with a third useful tip for life:  don’t be me.  Oh, you’re already not me?  Then you win!  You win life!

Aw come on headphones you know I’m good for it

Yay, there we go!  I’m not actually going to listen to the sound because it’s 4:30 AM, I live alone, and sound has a greater inherent potential for creepiness than text does, I would argue, although frankly not with much conviction.  Maybe I’ve got this game pegged wrong and it’s elevator music or something, but I’m not taking the chance.

Huh, this is interesting.  I’m in a white room being conversation-optioned at by a stranger, and the answers affect what my character’s goal and initial abilities are.  That’s cool.  I choose “gathering supplies” and “meditation.”

…y’know, I’ve been wanting to start doing mindfulness meditation, but I keep forgetting.  That sounds like a joke but it’s my actual life.

It smells a little like pork but the colour is all wrong.
That is almost never a good sign.

>x pots
Do you mean:
[1] The chocolate pot
[2] The coffee pot
A small closed pot containing chocolate.
>open pot
Do you mean:
[1] The chocolate pot
[2] The coffee pot
You open the chocolate pot, revealing some chocolate powder.
>take chocolate
Do you mean:
[1] The chocolate pot
[2] The chocolate powder
Okay admittedly all three of those were my fault but GODDA- shit, wait, gotta stay calm or the spores will kill me.  That’s fine.  The powder please.

You should put the chocolate powder into the cup.

A carton of super-long life milk sits suspiciously, closed, on the shelf.
This is a thing we have in the Future.  It comes, oddly enough, from super-short life cows.

[“No wait,” you say, “that’s not quite how it happened…”]
Nice detail!

Oh, sweet, this game has automatic typo-correction!  I love it!

This signpost puzzle is clever and fun, even if I’m not sure it makes logical sense.

On the barrels of beer are some bottle caps.
Oh, good, I’m saving up for a Nuka-Cola machine.

The River Faymes is a comparatively mighty river: more mighty than the water that runs down the drains in the city of Wells but perhaps a little less mighty than those jumped up wet monstrosities that get called Great Rivers in other, bigger, countries.
If you’re talking about our Mississippi, it’s pretty badass, all right.  I’d totally bring it to a duel if someone challenged me to rivers at dawn, although I’d feel like a douchebag if they then showed up packing Rivers Cuomo.

Y’know, I am starting to get sort of demotivated, like my status bar says.  Finding supplies is a pretty nebulous goal for today’s modern woman who is me.

Oh!  Right!  I have a machete!

Huh, I also have a mental checklist!  That’s helpful.  I would do better at IF if I ever remembered to check my inventory.

*** You succumb to stress and reach the limit of your mortality. You are dead. Jorge looks at you funny. “Did that really happen?” he asks. ***
Hee hee!

Have you not wondered why you haven’t aged? The spores constantly destroy and regenerate your cells. Cortisol production inhibits their regenerative power, but not their destructive power.
That’s actually a much better scientific justification than I was expecting (none at all).  Coincidentally I think it’s also the subject of a friend’s dissertation.

“They were an experimental electronics firm. My sister said that they were working on all kinds of hush hush stuff. I only remember the electro-wave-function-distorter because of its patently absurd name.”
Oh, okay, so these spores were a result of… experimental electronics… gone awry.  It.  Makes!  Sense?

>tape canteen
What do you want to tape the broken canteen with?
What do you want to tape the unidentifiable meat with?

Your gut is a spanner of pain.
Is this a thing people say, or did someone do a British English find-and-replace?  I’m not complaining, mind you, because I think it’s awesome.

“The spores are a curse,” you say and the vicar is visibly rattled. “They have destroyed us as a species; we can no longer reproduce for the stress of child birth; our numbers have dwindled by the billions and one day we all will die.”
But other than that, the spores are pretty great, am I right?

>x pod
This is a seed of a very fast growing vine, ready for planting.
>plant pod
Was there a better way of phrasing what you meant?
That sort of negativity isn’t going to get you very far.
I laughed.

On reflection, as disengaged as you are, you’re still grateful you never become reliant on mood stabilisers.
[Your level of motivation has increased slightly.]
More games with a status mechanic should include this sort of spontaneous perspectivizing, which is totally a word, I think.  (“You push the key from the keyhole without first sliding the paper under the door, and it bounces away forever, leaving you to starve to death in this locked room.  Your impending demise makes you feel much better about not spending money on another semester of community college, which as it turns out would have been wasted.  [Your self-esteem has gone up three points.]”)

Man, I don’t know from what I’m supposed to do in this game anymore.  The hints are not particularly helpful, and I’m tempted to consult the walkthrough.  I’m also tempted to call time on this game and play something else, although I am curious to find out how the electro-wave-function-distorter created all these spores.

Oh, cool, there’s a hints text file!  [Your level of motivation has increased significantly.]

Aw shit, I can make a grappling hook?  That’s pretty sweet.

>use hook
commaUsecomma is a little vague. Try to be more specific. Type commacommandscomma to see most of the verbs used.
commaIcomma wonder if this is a commabugcomma.

My inability to find a working abbreviation for electro-wave-function-distorter doesn’t mean there isn’t one, right, guys?  Right?

>open black car
A healthy fear of the ominous chittering prevents you from opening the car before first seeing what’s inside.
>look in black car
You’ll need to open the black car first.

“You can do it! Give me a high five!” you say to yourself, triumphantly clapping like an opera-loving seal after a particularly good performance of Tristan and Isolde.
No matter what this game may do to me, this sentence has made it all worthwhile.

Yeah, that’s got to be time by now.  I am not sure what to think about this game.  It’s ambitious, definitely, and you can tell a lot of work went into realizing its world — I am just not sure to what end.  Having meters for calmness and motivation is interesting in theory, but I never had a good sense of how they interacted with each other (two separate meters?  ends of a scale?) or what motivation was even for in practical terms.  It also seemed relatively easy to stay calm, once I’d worked out the irritating series of commands required to make proper hot chocolate.  (It’s noteworthy that one of your possible explanations for having survived the spores is that you’re a sociopath with flattened empathy for other people’s suffering.)  The tone varies between impartial narration and dry humor occasionally verging on the screwball (see opera-loving seal, above), which seems like an odd choice for an apocalypse played straight.  It’s like Simon Pegg remade Children of Men.

So, yeah, I just don’t know.  It wasn’t bad, it’s definitely memorable and had its moments, but it’s not going to be among my top favorites.  (That seal line is really great, though.  I’m sorry to drive a wedge between the guy who wrote the seal line and the guy who didn’t.  I’m sure the guy who didn’t write the seal line has some redeeming characteristics like I don’t know maybe he gives money to aquariums.  They need lots of money because fish.  You know?)


  1. It’s like Simon Pegg remade Children of Men.


    **dies, gets suspicious look from Jorge**

    • Yeah, I would watch the shit out of that. Jorge is really starting to wonder about you. Also, man, I just realized from Jorge’s perspective you are the worst storyteller ever.

      “Then I drank the hot chocolate, but it was freezing, so I tried to put more chocolate powder in the cup, but the pot had closed somehow so I tried putting that in the cup, which clearly didn’t work, so I had to look at a couple things to figure out what was wrong and then I opened the pot, and put the chocolate powder in the cup, well, after rinsing it first, but then I forgot and put the milk in the cup instead of the saucepan and made another cup of cold hot chocolate which I would have just put in the saucepan but I kept deciding against it…”

      • Ah, Jorge finds that sort of thing relaxing.

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