Spring Thing ’17 – Daniel Spitz’s Niney!April 8, 2017
I don’t know how many of these games I’ll get through, because I genuinely have tons of other stuff I need to do instead, including but not up to “clean my filthy apartment.”
Which is exactly why I’m playing Spring Thing games.
[spoilers begin here]
> x book
The book, titled The Good Work: Locating Oneself in the World of the Creative Possible, seems to be of the anthropolamarckian self-help variety.
Hang with me, please, while I unpack the word “anthropolamarckian.” Anthropo: human. Lamarckian: an invalidated early evolutionary theory that suggested giraffes saw there was food in the high branches of trees, so their genes decided they would grow long necks. Or, close enough.
What does this compound word mean in the context of a self-help book with that title? I don’t fucking know. Whatever clever point was being rolled for here failed its throw against the likes of me.
You might be nothing.
Huh? Oh, apparently my inventory is listed in terms of Things I Might Be. Also none of these NPCs want to talk to me. Why am I on this train again?
A young woman sits contemplatively in a corner of the lounge car. Emily holds onto a notebook protectively. A look of passive sorrow is in her face, as she stares down at the vacant floor.
Everyone on this train is moody as fuck. It’s gotta be some kind of metaphorical journey, right? Let’s get our bets in. Afterlife train? Memories of dead people train? Personifications of abstract concepts train? I don’t know, but I’m legitimately invested in finding out what the fuck is the deal with this train (and whaaaaat is the deeeeeal with these TRAIN peanuts).
Oh, okay, my one possible interaction with these people seems to involve BEing the various personas that are in my inventory, based on what they need me to be. That’s a cool concept; I wish I got to use it on characters who talked to me & made me give half a shit about them.
I guess one correctly and my reward is a dream where:
You are Niney, the beloved squirrel who, nine times out of ten, does the right thing.
I like this. I’m into this. Curious, though: on the tenth occasion, does Niney simply fail to do the right thing or does Niney do the absolute wrong thing and hose everything up beyond all repair?
You remain like this, losing track of time. Unbeknowst to you, Emily stirs, readying her notebook and a pencil. Your ruminative display has caught her attention.
She roughly sketches your form, capturing the fundamental shapes of your inward-gazing despair. Before long, she is done.
I may not care about any of these people or the situation, having not been given a reason to, but the writing is good; both technically and in conveying those weird emotions you get when the light is changing outside, you’ve been alone a little too long, and everything is just very subtly off and might have been that way for your entire life. And you really need to do the dishes. Okay, no, I’m totally projecting. (The writing is good though.)
The cursory pressures of basic social congress seem to hit you with unintended rinforzando.
Rinforzando?! Literally one paragraph earlier I compliment the writing & you come at me with rinforzando?! What the fuck?!
Oh, it’s a music term, meaning a sudden increase in force. Wait, unintended rinforzando? Unintended by whom? Me? Look, I could probably be talked into rinforzando, but this sentence still has issues.
The contorted mass of flesh writhes in apparent agony.
>do the right thing
You scurry up to the Contorted Mass and pat it on the back.
“Don’t fret!” you squeak.
In case you ever wondered what the right thing to do for a contorted mass of flesh writhing in apparent agony was, now you know.
“I’ll get off soon. Won’t be any different, where I’m going. It’ll be alright, for awhile. But I’ll ruin it,” she says with a shrug.
If this weren’t a cutscene, I’d recommend Lydia listen to that episode of the Primal Potential podcast (yes I know this is the wankiest possible name for a podcast) where she goes off for like a half hour about how the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that our past actions dictate both our character and our future. I don’t know if podcasts exist in this universe though.
Something feels different. You feel curious. There may be possibilities you hadn’t considered before. You consider morphing your interactions today.
HOLY SHIT NEW VERB! Okay, I can use this to morph, say, The One Who Is Weak into The One Who Is Strong, which I think is what my new bunkmate Ben needs me to be. (Because he himself is strong, you see. The hinting as to who needs what is not subtle, which is fine by me.)
…It turns out Ben spends all day trying to remember a really long number that someone told him before he got on the train. This is actually really cool & interesting. Hooky, even.
“Well, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s not a normal train,” she says.
NO FUCKING SHIT AGATHE
“What sort of train do you figure this is, then?” you say.
“Perhaps it’s a metaphor for something else,” she says, staring up and through you.
I KNEW IT!
Huh. I have one inventory item and one NPC left, but the inventory item isn’t working on that NPC. Am I missing something or is this a bug?
Oh, right, I can be something for myself as well as the NPCs! Which I did. So, good for me.
You feel as though you might be the One Who Is Seduced today.
Are you hitting on me? You’re totally hitting on me. If you could see me getting cheese curds in my keyboard (Wisconsin problems), you might rethink that.
Welp, time to go get seduced by Katherine, who has been drawing comic panels & wants me to help her hang them up on the train. As far as manic pixie girlfriends go, she’ll do the job.
…we are definitely about to have sex now.
You wish for Katherine to succeed in whatever goal it is she has in mind. You step into the maintanence room with her, and she closes the door behind you.
Next time someone seduces you, don’t forget to tell them at the outset that you wish for them to succeed in whatever goal they have in mind. This expresses blanket consent while establishing rapport amongst the members of your team. hashtag sex advice
Also, it’s mainTENance, as in “The main ten problems I have with this thing are that it’s broken in ten different ways. Can you call maintenance?”
Unbeknowst to you, your portrait sits within the pages of her notebook.
Wait, so that whole paragraph about how Emily was sketching me consisted of information my character didn’t have? That is a jarring point-of-view derail that I would harp on more but my pedantometer is getting full.
Time to get off the train now! Apparently!
You can see <REDACTED> here.
Uh. I don’t know what’s up, but I find it ominous. Well, I only have one option left…
You contemplate the form, imagining something a bit more predatory.
You settle on a new form: the One Who Seduces.
Oh, groooooooooooss. Also it is not lost on me that Niney is the squirrel who does the right thing nine out of ten times & we are coming up on number ten.
Okay, little test here, <REDACTED> wants me to relinquish all my inventory items in a specific order based on more subtle hints this time. I do it, & now I’m Niney in the dream again, but I can’t bring myself to do the wrong thing this time. Hmmmmm.
The dreadful truth is, this is not a dream.
Okay the name of the room is literally “Dream” though so
You aren’t sure what to try next.
NO SHIT GAME
Yeah, I have no idea, & now I’m salty about it! Maybe I’ll come back to this once there are hints online.
Okay, update from the author:
That is the only ending. It was an “authorial choice” to end it in this way, which I know may disappoint some players, unfortunately…
DISAPPOINTED NOTHING, I AM ENRAAAAAAAAGED
Like, authorial choice all you want, but everything about that sequence in the context of a parser IF indicated that it was a bad ending you got because you still needed to solve the puzzle
HALF HOUR OF MY LIFE JUST GONE
SO ANGRY AT TRAIN GAME
ZERO OUT OF TEN
UPDATE: WAIT NO NOT GOOD DAY!!! I JUST REALIZED YOU NEVER FIND OUT WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THIS FUCKING TRAIN!!!!! IF YOU THOUGHT I WAS YELLING BEFORE YOU WERE CORRECT BUT I AM EVEN MORE YELLING NOW!!!!!!!!!!
okay I love you good night